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Just for Kids: Your Dog's Senses

By: Virginia Wells

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Your dog has the same senses as you do – smell, sight hearing, touch and taste – but some of his are truly amazing.

Smell

What's the first thing your dog does when you walk in the door? He sniffs your legs. This tells him everything about you, such as where you've been and how you feel. Dogs sniff each other, too, just to get information.

Your dog's sense of smell is his best sense. That's because the lining of the inside of his nose is so much larger than yours, and he has 200 million receptors – you only have 5 million. Their noses are so good that a bloodhound can identify tiny scales of skin that humans shed three days before. Because their sense of smell is so good, dogs can do a lot of useful jobs. Some of them are:

  • Find missing persons
  • Detect drugs
  • Detect bombs
  • Find people buried in the snow
  • Detect cancer

    Sight

    Have you ever noticed how your dog acts when you approach him from far away? He sees you immediately, and he stops and stares; but it's obvious that he doesn't know it is you. You start talking to him, perhaps calling his name, but he is still unsure, although he will act interested. Finally, when you get close enough to him so that he picks up your scent, he will run to you happily.

    Dogs don't see colors very well, but your dog can see better in dim light than you can. Although he doesn't see well, he can see the slightest movement of a hiding animal. He may not see the animal while it remains still, but as soon as it moves your dog will see it. This helps your dog to be a good hunter.

    Hearing

    You are lying on the couch watching TV with your dog, and suddenly he leaps to his feet and begins to bark loudly – his loud protective bark. You run to the window to see who is coming, but there is no one there. At least not at first. A few minutes later, your friend is at the front door.

    Your dog's hearing is really good. He can hear sounds from far away – a lot farther than we can. You might see your dog cock one ear at first, then both ears perk up while he really listens. This is why some dogs make good watchdogs.

    Touch

    Your dog probably loves to be petted. As soon as he was born his mother started touching him by licking and nuzzling him. Your dog has sensitive hairs around his eyes, on his muzzle and below his jaw. These are called vibrissae. The rest of his body is covered with sensitive nerves. The most sensitive part is along his spine and toward his tail. That's one reason why he likes to roll around in the grass.

    Taste

    Even though your dog would probably gobble up anything you give him, he doesn't taste very well. What makes him really enjoy his food is his sense of smell. He can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty tastes, but not as well as you can. Maybe that's why he likes to chew on old shoes.

    Sixth Sense

    Have you ever heard of a sixth sense? This allows him to do things that cannot be explained. He can tell when a storm is coming; he can find his way home from far away; he can detect the kind of heat called infrared light that living animals give off; he can even tell if you are in a bad mood.
    Isn't your dog amazing?

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