I’m sitting on a comfortable seat on my porch on a lazy Sunday afternoon, interesting book in hand and a cold drink within reach. My massive Rottweiler is sleeping beside me, enjoying some silent bonding time with me. Suddenly, he shifts from his side and sits, ears perked and looking ready for action. This position soon changes as he rushes towards the gate jumping up and whining excitedly. I follow him to find out what the fuss is for, only to find it’s my husband and kids coming back from a birthday party.
I marvel at how Buster is able to sense his human family from that distance, even when they are not making any noise. It is all because of what his unique dog senses.
A dog’s sense of smell is many times better than that of the average human. This is thanks to its large surface area, which is as large as the dog’s entire body. The dog’s nose is even more sensitive to smell when it is moist, which could be why most dogs have some form of moisture in the nose. I’m sure you’ve had a dog sniff at you and leave a wet spot where his nose just touched your skin.
Dogs have either laterally placed eyes or frontally placed eyes. The former are best in hunting and chasing dogs as they enhance their peripheral sight, while the frontally placed eyes like those of a pug give the dog impressive binocular vision. In general, dogs see better than the average human, especially at night.
Unlike their impressive sight and hearing senses, dogs have a poor sense of taste. They only recognize three types of tastes: pleasant, unpleasant and indifferent. This is because they have fewer taste buds compared to other animals, an adaptation that was originally meant to enable them eat what other animals found inedible.
My dog could hear my kids and husband approaching long before I could either see or hear them. That’s because dogs can hear sounds four times further away than humans can, and can also pin point the exact location of the noise. In addition, they can hear higher frequency sounds than humans can, and can also differentiate sounds- just like how my dog was able to differentiate his human family’s voices from those of the other people walking on the street.
Since a young age, dogs are able to cherish contact with other members of the litter and the mother. Their sense of touch is something they have with them throughout life, and one that benefits humans as well; all dog owners cherish some cuddle time with their dogs and thank goodness dogs love being touched.