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Dog Senses

The handler must have an understanding of the dog's senses if he expects to train the dog successfully.

It is difficult, at times, to draw a line in the twilight zone between acts which arise out of pure intelligence on the part of the dog and acts which arise out of its ability to learn by repetition.

The five common senses of the dog, which can be placed in order of importance as means of communication, are:

  1. Smell
  2. Hearing
  3. Sight
  4. Touch
  5. Taste


Smell is the dog's most developed sense, far superior to that of the human. It is not based on the discrimination of flavours or odours, but on the general classification of smells, useful and useless, friendly and dangerous.


A dog is born deaf and cannot hear until approximately it's 21 days old. The young dog has problems telling what direction sounds come from until it is fairly mature. Dogs are sensitive to extremely loud noises and also to high pitched sound. Some researchers indicate a dog's hearing is somewhat more acute than that of a human while others indicate it is about the same. However, the dog has a higher range of pitch. That is to say, dogs can hear sounds that a human cannot.


For a long time, it was maintained that dogs were mostly colour blind, an opinion which was soundly condemned. It is likely that the external world appears to them as varying highlights of black and gray. Experimental evidence supports the opinion that to dogs the world looks like a black and white photograph. Perception of movement is the type of visual stimulation to which dogs seem very sensitive. If an object is moved, ever so slightly, most dogs will detect it and respond to the movement. Dogs make little use of their eyes in learning except for their perception of movements. They cannot see as far distant as humans.


Touch has little development in the dog because it is little needed. The hairy covering of the dogs entire body, except nose, makes its use almost impossible.


One must be careful not to overfeed a dog or feed it incorrectly.

In taste, the dog has not developed variety. The dog can be taught to like almost any taste whether it is evil or agreeable.

Do Dogs Reason?

The mind of the dog responds to memory, whether the memory is that of fear or pleasure. To memory or association is added the ability to imitate. These, together, form the main background of the dog's mental processes. They may be acquired through the instinct handed down generation after generation or through the training of the dog by its handler.