Dogs Pawesome Superpowers!
We all know that we have the best dog in the World right!?!
Us and our precious pups have great bonds, they are a comfort, a companion and we love to shower our dogs with our affection. They make us laugh and get us up and out (even on days we don't want to). For all this and more we are grateful and we know how amazing dogs are, but do you know about how truly incredible your dogs senses are?
Once we learn about how they experience the world around them it makes it easier for us to understand them and support them in the best ways. After all, we have invited them into our lives, which are very human and they are canines (yes, even the fur babies), so we need to help them best navigate the human world. This is why it is so important to go to training classes and learn how to train our dogs using the latest positive reinforcement methods. It is all based on research and the growth of learning how best to live in harmony with our pooches.
To learn how tricky it is to learn as dogs do from us I always point people in the direction of this clip from Chet Womach (very American name). It is clicker training and most people do not do this with their pet dogs, but it shows how much they have to work out as they do not speak our language and we do not speak theirs. It helps me every time to find even more patience for the incredible dogs I get to spend time with.
Before I go in to dogs really impressive senses, their superpowers, I want to touch on the ones that are not quite as good as ours;
Sight - It was previously believed that dogs could not see any colour, they just saw in Black & White and greyscale. Research has shown that dogs definitely see blue and yellow. So why are so many dog toys red? Because that is the colour that most catches the human eye, to dogs its a grey toy on grey grass. Get your dogs toys that have yellow and blue on them and they will enjoy them all the more.
Taste - being a foodie I am grateful that as a human I have around 9000 taste buds, poor old Ash and our pooch pals have a measly 1700 (no wonder they're not worried about eating some of the things they do!). (Fun fact - cats only have 470 taste buds!) They do use their tongues to gain more information about things and they lick to reduce stress and purely to show affection. Awww.
On to the impressive ones!
Smell - I must start with what they do... their sense of smell. The technical name for how dogs perceive the world is olfactory first, meaning their nose is their most used sense and their first way of experiencing the world. With us we are visual first, we use our eyes most and first. We mere humans have only 6 millions scent receptors, but mans best friend have on average 300 million to 1 billion scent receptors!!! This means dogs can smell at least 10,000 times better than we can! They have a unique nose and brain structure; the nose has two channels; one for breathing that goes to the lungs and one for scent that goes to their olfactory cortex (the bit in the brain for smells to be processed), their olfactory cortex is 40 times bigger than a humans! They can smell diseases and as we know are used for detecting drugs and bombs, they can even smell emotions using their awesome sense! Wow right!!!
Hearing - the dogs sense of hearing is another incredible super power they have. They have 18 muscles in each ear to move them in all directions like a satellite dish which helps them to hear 4 times better than we do. They can even pin point an exact location of something a lot farther away than we can due to these muscles and their much longer ear canal. Dogs can also hear much higher frequencies than we can, Victoria Stillwell explains it this way; "Imagine a piano with an extra 48 notes at the high end, we would hear maybe 20 more of the notes, dogs would hear all of them."
Touch - this is also very important to our dogs. all those whiskers around their eyes and on their snout detect changes in airflow. When they approach things they can sense how the airflow changes to go around an object so if possible it is best to leave your dogs whiskers as they are (don't have them cut) because they are there for a reason. The sensations under dogs paws can also play a part in their behaviour. Their paws are pretty hardy overall, but some dogs won't like certain textures, Ash is really not keen on wet mud for instance, as they also feel a lot under the paws as you could imagine. If your dog doesn't like walking on something don't force them, encourage with treats and toys and go at their pace of comfort. Forcing them may just create a deeper problem.
So I bet you are looking at your fur baby in a different way now, they are such impressive animals! Once we learn more about them it can help us understand their behaviours, as all behaviours are communications. With this knowledge of the dogs Pawsome Superpowers we can better understand them and adjust how we teach them to suit their needs.
I hope you enjoyed reading and as always if you have any questions feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to help.
Happy wags and woofs from Kate and Ash at A Dog's Tale