What's it Like to Be a Dog?


To best understand and build a relationship with our dog friends, it is helpful to understand what life is like from their perspective.

So, what is it like to be a dog?


A dog's sense of smell is approximately 10,000x stronger than a human's. While we could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee...a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Here are some more fun facts about your dog's sense of smell!


Did you know...dogs can see color...just not like we do. While we have 3 types of color receptors in our eyes, dog only has 2! This means they likely see the world in shades of yellow-blue...or the equivalent of a human with red-green color blindness.

Petsdoc.org explains that "the retina contains two types of light sensitive cells; rods and cones. Cones provide color perception and detailed sight, while rods detect motion and vision in dim light. Dogs have rod-dominated retinas that allow them to see well in the dark. Along with superior night vision, dogs have better motion visibility than humans have."

While humans primarily read other human's expressions by looking at their face, dogs factor in body language and other visuals far more than just the face alone. This is according to a 2020 study shared by NBC news.


Dogs hear noises louder and clearer than humans. They can hear something at four times the distance that we can! They also hear at higher frequencies than we do so may be more sensitive to high-pitched noises than we are.

Here are some fun facts:

  • Dogs move their ears to best pick up sound.
  • Their ability to discriminate between words” or recognize subtle changes in our tone and intonation helps them understand how we are feeling - which is what makes them such great pets!
  • It stands to reason that dogs also distinguish and gain meaning in what they hear from other dogs. Growls, whimpers, and barks are part of a two-way communication.
  • Puppies are born deaf!


Does your dog like to be touched? Is there a favorite spot they like rubbed or scratched? Are there times or places your dog seems to prefer being left alone? In general, dogs enjoy being pet on their back, chest and, by their tail. They may love to have their tummy rubbed too but because it requires them to be in a vulnerable position on their back, this is reserved for people they have complete trust in. Paws, ears, and muzzle tend to be sensitive areas and should be approached with caution.

Did you know....

  • That dogs have sensitive nerve ending all over their body?
  • That petting your dog can release Oxytocin in both you and your dog? Remember that this is only the case when your dog has a choice and is giving consent!
  • That petting can be used as a reward and for some dogs it may be even more of an incentive than treats?
  • That dog whiskers are extremely sensitve, and can detect small changes in air movement which can alert them to danger?


According to Stanley Coren, taste is one area where humans excel over dogs. We have over 9,000 taste buds while dogs have only about 1,900. As carnivores, they are happy to eat most kinds of meats but aren't highly sophisticated in distinguishing between meats such as a piece of steak versus a piece of ham. They can distinguish between the four main taste categories: sweet, salt, sour, and bitter.

Here are some fun dog taste facts:

- Dogs prefer smelly or aromatic foods because of their keen sense of smell.

- Dogs have a special taste bud on their tongues that become more sensitive as they become thirsty. No wonder they drink from their bowls like that water is the best thing ever!

- Since dogs eat a diet primarily made of meats that already have a high salt content, they are not genetically wired to crave salt like us humans.

Now that we know how our dogs smell, see, hear and taste differently than we do, how can we use that information to better understand their behavior? How can it help us bond with and train them? And, how else can we take your dog's perspective?







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