Umwelt /oom-velt/ noun, defintion: the world as it is experienced by an organism
What is it like to be a dog? If you have thought about this then you have attempted to explore your dog's umwelt. This is a dog's inner world. It is how they see, smell, and think about the world but also their beliefs are about the world.
Here are a few ways to think about umwelt:
- What if the colors I see and the colors you see are actually different colors? What does that mean for our experience with those colors? Is either one better or worse?
- Or let's say we both went on a roller coaster. I had a great time but it was a bit frightening for you? Although we went on the same exact ride, our experiences were very different. This is because we are individuals with different preferences, likes and dislikes, and perceptions.
This is also true for our dogs. Our dogs are so loving and trustful of us that we sometimes forget that we ask them to do things that may be odd or scary for them - and they often do them without question. Our dogs are also so smart, that we forget that they aren't human and don't always know what we mean!
Exploring and understanding your dog's umwelt or inner world means taking your dog's perspective. Ask yourself questions like:
What might be causing my dog to do a certain behavior?
How could my dog be experiencing this event?
What could my dog be seeing, smelling, and feeling at this moment?
Keep in mind that dogs don't see colors the same way we do. Also, that their sense of smell is much stronger than ours.
As you think about these questions, you may find that your world got a little bit bigger too!