We are often amazed by dogs and their capabilities to perform stunning tasks, but how do they do such things in the first place? For a good part, they must thank their senses. Whether you are watching a dog working in a busy airport or wondering how your dog is capable of predicting the moment your husband’s car is about to pull in the driveway, there’s no denial that some of our best friend’s senses are truly a work of art. Let’s take a look at how our dogs perceive the world through their senses.
Dogs sure like to sniff, there’s no doubt about it, but when Rover puts his nose to work he’s truly capable of doing some amazing things. Just think about dogs who are capable of finding missing people, even when buried under several feet of snow, or dogs who can detect drugs or bombs. To make things even more amazing, some dogs can be even trained to detect cancer. How can they possibly do all that? According to Ted Gansler, doctor and director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, malignant tissues tend to release chemicals that are different from normal tissue and dogs are capable of recognizing them when allowed to sniff breath and urine samples. This is made possible because the lining inside a dog’s nose has 200 million receptors while we humans have only a mere 5 million!
When it comes to seeing colors, dogs compare poorly to humans. Indeed, they’re barely capable of distinguishing certain colors. If you would like to see the world through the eyes of a dog, it likely would be mostly in the shades of yellow, blue and gray. Dogs also seem to have poor visual acuity when compared to humans. This means that an object we may see clearly will appear blurry to man’s best friend, according to Pedigree. However, dogs are winners when it comes to detecting motion; this explains Rover’s uncanny ability in seeing those squirrels running around the yard.
Raise your hand if your dog has barked at something outside and then when you run to the window there’s no one there. Unless you believe in ghosts, his behavior may appear odd, but it all makes sense once you learn how good your dog’s sense of hearing is. Dogs are capable of hearing much better than we do, often sensing sounds from far away. Even better, unlike us, dogs are capable of hearing sounds in the ultrasonic range. This means they detect high tones between 40,000 and 100.000 acoustic vibrations per second (kHz) whereas humans can only hear about 20,000, according to the book “Dogs: how to take care of them and understand them” by Wegler Monika.
You are certainly aware of the fact your dog loves to be pet. Indeed, he may often stop by the couch to get his daily dose of cuddles. Just like us, a dog’s skin is sensitive to touch. Indeed, just like us a dog’s skin is covered with touch-sensitive nerve endings, according to Bark Busters. Touch is one of the first senses puppies develop when they are born. Mother dog will lick the puppies and they will sleep soundly together touching each other to keep warm. Once weaned and welcomed into our homes, their innate need for being touched will persist.
The fact that dogs seem to be so food oriented may suggest a strong sense of taste but it really isn’t so. When Rover eats food, he mostly uses his sense of smell. Compared to humans, dogs have significantly less taste buds. We have about 9000, while our canine companions only have a mere 1700, according to Stanley Coren. When it comes to enjoying flavors, it appears that dogs lack taste receptors that are sensitive to salt. This is because, in the wild, dogs had sufficient intake of salt from the meat they ate; therefore, from an evolutionary standpoint, they didn’t need taste receptors for the appreciation of salty foods.
And what about sixth senses? You’ll often hear remarkable stories of dogs predicting things that are difficult for us to comprehend. Some unexplainable stories even seem to be nearing the supernatural. Often though what may appear to be a sixth sense in reality is the result of a dog’s keener senses, explains Animal Planet. What may look like a dog barking at nothing, may be triggered by some critter living in your attic or under the deck.
Yet, there are still many mysteries that are yet to be comprehended. How can dogs know their owners is coming home, miles before they pull in the driveway? Biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake believes that the strong connection between humans and animals lies beyond our present scientific understanding. Until dogs can talk, we really can’t know exactly what is going and can only make assumptions.