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Understanding the Dog’s Senses

Kersti Seksal: Understanding the dog’s senses


In order to try to understand how a dog behaves it is also important to know just how it perceives the world. Each species has different sensory capacities from man and hence its perception of the world will vary. This will affect the way the dogs communicate with each other as well as with other species.

i) Sight:

• can discriminate colours, see world like red green colour blind people

• very sensitive to moving objects • poor vision for detail or close up • good night vision

ii) Hearing:

• four times more acute than man • can hear higher frequency • can hear ultrasonic noises

iii) Smell:

• predominant sense • 1,000 times greater than man • can discriminate between thousands of different

odours • can detect very low concentrations of odours

iv) Taste:

• poorly developed • sucrose is highly acceptable • palatability based on odour, mouth feel then taste • prefer beef > pork > lamb • prefer meat to cereals • prefer canned > cooked cubes > raw minced > raw

cubes • eat during day

• indicate emotional state • bark • whine • howl

• growl

iii) Smell:

• scent marking • pheromones are signalling chemicals that are excreted

to transmit information to members of the same species • urine

• faeces • anal glands • skin

iv) Body Language:

• indicate emotional state, eg, fear to aggression • tail • body posture • facial expressions


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