Dogs and Perception

Olivia Lefere
The primary author is the individual who drafted the first version of this section; a section that could have been modified since it was originally published.

Humans and dogs both have primary senses that include smelling, seeing, and hearing. While these perceptions are crucial for both beings, dogs perceive an environment very differently than do humans. When put in a new environment, the first sense dogs use to access the area is smell. "A dog's sense of smell is about 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human's (depending on the breed)" (Maguire). The strength of the dog's nose allows them to understand more than just one scent. For example, when a dog smells a sandwich it will smell each ingredient independently from each other. If a human were to smell a sandwich, they would classify it as a whole; not by its ingredients.

The next sense a dog uses in a new environment is sight. Dogs can distinguish a large variety of diverse shades of dark colors. This fact leads them to having better night vision than humans. For example, bright colors like red are seen as a dark blue or gray color. They can also see objects in motion much more clearly than humans. If an object is moving around at night, the dog will be able to detect the object quickly. When dogs were wild, their prime hunting time was around dawn or dusk. For this reason, dogs can assist their human owners at night when the human's vision is lacking.

The last sense that a dog relies on substantially is hearing. Dogs have 18 muscles in their ears to help them move depending on where the sound is coming from. The sound a dog hears can be amplified by their ears becoming erect. When a sound can be detected, the dogs' ears will pop up and swivel towards the sound. Compared to humans, dogs can detect noise from farther distances and can hear a broader range of audio frequencies.

All of these heightened senses in dogs are currently assisting humans around the globe in performing tasks. For example, search and rescue dogs can detect the scent of a human from very far distances. Dogs can find missing individuals in hazardous climates that humans would be unable to do. Another common job a dog is used for is police work. Police dogs help with cadaver detection, protection, and many more essential tasks. A dog that aids in cadaver detection handles finding the scent of decomposing bodies. There are numerous jobs like these that dogs are qualified for because of their profound perception.

A dog's sharpened senses help humans see a large part of the world that has been unknown to them. Dogs help us interpret environments with their profound hearing, seeing, and smelling. The short-comings of the human's perceptions can be made up by the dog's keen perception.

Works Consulted

Nick Sousanis' Dog
Reprinted from "A Dog's View"