Understanding your Dogs' Senses

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Understanding your Dogs' Senses

Dogs are known for having great hearing, great senses of smell, and mediocre eyesight. Is that really true? What kinds of things can they sense that we can't? And what about their other senses? Let's break down dogs' senses and what they can do.


We all know that dogs can hear sounds at much higher frequencies than the human ear can. This is why they respond to dog whistles that humans can't hear. But their hearing is much more sophisticated than that. Some experts estimate that dogs' ears are up to four times better than humans'. They can hear most things louder and clearer than we can and can identify you by sound from the way you walk, the car you drive, and a host of other factors.

However, puppies are actually deaf when they're born. You might know that they're born with their eyes closed, but their ears are closed too for the first couple of weeks of their lives.


Dogs don't have red/green color receptors, but they can see in blue and yellow. They can also see much better at night than we can as well as right at dawn or dusk. Their eyesight is largely based on movement, which is why they love chasing after things. If you throw a toy for them to fetch, they might have a harder time finding it once it stops moving.


Smell is by far a dog's strongest sense - up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. Not only that, the section of their brains that processes smell is around 40 times greater than ours. This incredible sense has been used for everything from finding truffles in the woods to locating hidden contraband and much more.

It's been said that when a dog stops to sniff a hydrant, or a bit of grass, it's like a message board, letting them know what's happening with the other dogs in the area. When they're sniffing something, they can tell who was there before them and gather tons of other information about that particular object.

That's why it's helpful to let a dog sniff you when meeting them for the first time. Once they know your scent, they'll know who you are and can remember you in the future.


A dog's sense of taste is a lot less sharp than their other senses. This is one of the reasons why they'll eat almost anything you put in front of them. It's difficult to tell if it's good or bad. However, their ability to taste is bolstered by their sense of smell - much like ours is. Smelling the food as they eat it helps them enjoy it more.


Dogs thrive on touch. Their fur is very touch-sensitive as are their whiskers. It's one of the reasons they love being petted, scratched, and cuddled.

In addition to their regular senses, it's thought that dogs can perceive other things more acutely than we can as well. They can tell when a storm is coming and sometimes even sense earthquakes before they happen. Some have proposed that dogs can sense the paranormal as well: ghosts, spirits, and other presences that go beyond the realm of ordinary perception.

Whether that's true or not depends on what you believe. But one thing is certain: dogs' senses have saved lives and provided us with a host of valuable services. Try thanking your dog by giving them something fun to smell.

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