Surprising Facts on How Your Dog Perceives His World

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by Janice Jones     |Last Updated February 3, 2020

Dog Senses are the same as
people in that we both share the ability to see, hear, smell, taste, and

Beyond that, we live in very
different worlds when it comes to the senses. 
Dogs share our homes, our lives and often our pillows, but we perceive
the world is different from what the dog experiences.

Understanding what our
dogs are experiencing can help us understand them better and lead to deeper
bonds, improved behaviors, and successful training sessions.

The Five Dog Senses


A dog's sense of sightSight

As humans, we live in a visual
world, perceiving tens of millions of colors which allows us to enjoy the rich
colors of spring and warm tones of autumn.

We probably receive about 9 million
bits of information coming in through our eyes every second. Our ability to see
like this takes up a large part of our brains. 
Without stopping to think, we may assume that our dogs are seeing
exactly what we see, which is not the case.

It is time to reconsider the old stereotypes of people living in a visual world and a dog in an auditory/olfactory realm.  Science is proving this wrong.  What is known though, is that dogs and humans see things a little differently.  Dogs can see better at night due to some unusual anatomical differences.  

We can’t generalize about vision in dogs without taking into consideration breed differences.

Read more about the dog’s vision


Our sense of hearing, while
adequate for our needs is not nearly as refined as the dog. If given a letter
grade for our sense of smell, we would not fare well, either.  We would end up with a C- or D+ at best, with
our little dog outshining us with his usual A+.  

As humans, we can hear frequencies up to about
20,000 hertz, but our little dogs can detect sounds upwards of 45,000 to 67,000
Hertz giving them an edge on hearing the high pitched sounds of small prey.

Read more about the dog’s sense
of hearing


Of all the dog senses, smell is the most important one to the dog. The part of our
brains that deals with odors is significantly reduced, compared to the dog and we have far fewer
odor receptors making it difficult for people to understand the subtleties that dogs can experience. 

Most people are just fine with this
“impairment” because we would likely turn our noses up on many of the odors
that dogs fine irresistible.  

This is a
big difference between how we use our sense of smell and that of our small
dogs.  We experience the world primarily
through our eyes and our ears.  Our dogs
rely on their noses to make sense of their world.

Read more about the dog’s sense
of smell


Taste is an incredibly important
sense for humans.  While the appearance
and aroma of our favorite dish is important, we would probably leave it sitting
on the plate if the food didn’t taste good. 

Dogs can gulp down a meal in less than a minute, barely tasting the
food.  The difference lies in the number
of taste buds we possess. 

Humans have a
whopping 9000 to a dog’s measly 1700 giving us the upper hand when it comes to
taste. If smell is the most important of the dog senses, then taste is the least significant.

Just as young babies and toddlers explore their world with their tongue, puppies do the same thing.  You might even be surprised to learn that puppies and older dogs will lick you because they think you taste good.

Read more about the dog’s sense
of taste


Touch is important to both you
and your dog.  Of all the senses, touch
is perhaps the most similar in humans and dogs. 
A dog’s sense of touch is one of only a couple of senses present at
birth, which also includes smell and taste. 

Our mutual need to touch and be touched may be one reason why the bond
between humans and dogs become so strong.

Read more about a dog’s sense of

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