Let’s start by saying that, just like us humans, dogs are also endowed with the 5 canonical senses: sight , hearing , smell , touch and taste . What changes is how and how much they are developed compared to ours (more or less) and the way they use them.
Knowing the mechanisms by which our trusted friend interacts with us and with the world is very important to understand something more about them, about their behaviors but also about their needs.
Let’s see how the 5 senses of our furry loved ones differ from ours.
THE SMELL IN THE DOG
Smell is certainly the most powerful and most important sense for dogs , because it is mainly through this that they interact with the world.
In fact, in dogs the sense of smell is infinitely more developed than ours , up to 100,000 times more! Suffice it to say that these animals have about 220 million olfactory receptors, compared to 5-10 million of us humans. And not only that: the part of the brain that is involved in recognizing and processing odors is 40 times larger than ours and occupies about 30% of the brain.
Do you think that a dog would be able to perceive a teaspoon of coffee even inside an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and recognize a smell that is even several weeks old. And this is why dogs are trained to recognize the tracks for the finding of missing persons. Moreover, it is always thanks to the sense of smell that dogs know and relate to other dogs, because thanks to the smells they are able to acquire a lot of information of their own kind including sex, age, health, diet but also emotions.
HEARING IN THE DOG
Hearing is the other sense that dogs possess much more enhanced than we do. These animals are able to perceive a sound even at distances up to four times greater than ours. In fact, the hearing of our furry is so sensitive that it can perceive frequencies up to 60,000 hertz, while we only reach up to 20,000 hertz.
Furthermore, their ears are composed of more than 18 muscles that allow them to move them in a very wide and articulated way, so as to allow them to direct them towards the source of the sound they intend to decipher.
THE SIGHT IN THE DOG
Also with regard to the view we find several differences. Meanwhile, we can say that it is less developed than ours . We boast a higher resolution and overall therefore a more detailed view. Even in color we are better placed: our visual spectrum is much wider than theirs, who instead have a vision very similar to that of color blind people.
Our four-legged friends, on the other hand, beat us in terms of night vision , and the amplitude of the visual field , which can cover up to 250 degrees, against 180 for us humans.
Dogs tend to see objects placed at a distance of at least 50 cm more clearly, while objects that are closer are more blurred.
A substantial difference from us is that their vision is sensitive to movement, an aspect that certainly has to do with being predators.
THE TOUCH IN THE DOG
Dogs do not have a tactile ability on the ends of their legs. The most sensitive part of their body is the mustache, also called “Vibrisse” . In fact, on the vibrissae there are a large number of nerve endings at the height of the follicles, which allow you to perceive the external space and send information directly to the brain.
The sensitivity of the mustache allows in fact to fill some gaps in sight, and these are very useful tools for them to be able to move in a suitable way in space, as they are able to intercept even the smallest movements of the air.
TASTE IN THE DOG
Taste is the sense that dogs have less developed (always compared to us humans). In fact, they have about 1700 taste buds, compared to our 9000.
Our four-legged friends can perceive few flavors: salty, sweet, bitter and sour. But a refined perception of taste is of no use to them, because before putting food in their mouth they smell it: and this is the discriminating factor that makes them choose whether to put that bite in their mouth or not. As we explained earlier, in fact, for many things it is a matter of smell for dogs, and food is certainly one of them.
DOGS AND THEIR “SIXTH SENSE”
Those who know dogs well know that often our furry loved ones seem to have an inexplicable ” sixth sense “ …
They can understand our state of mind , but also where we are heading when we move and anticipate our return home.
But dogs are also famous for “predicting” thunderstorms and earthquakes, recognizing certain diseases even before they manifest obvious symptoms, perceiving when a woman is pregnant and many other things …
Sixth Sense? In reality all these “predictions” are possible for our animals thanks to their 5 senses, which are developed and enhanced in a very different way from ours, as we have seen, and which allow them to capture a whole series of factors that we completely escape , and that they are able to read and interpret as clear signals of upcoming events.
Our dogs are therefore not seers, but they are able to perceive many more messages from the surrounding environment than we do, and to give them meaning.