Dog Training – Knowing Different Dog Senses

Picture taken from from

Picture taken from from

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From the desk of Sharda Baker.

Hi and welcome everyone!

This is Sharda with dog training newsletter!

Here we go!

Today, we will discuss the different dog senses.

Just like humans, dogs have different senses. However, they just don’t always use them in the same way and order of preference that we do. Knowing their senses and capabilities on adapting in different kinds of situations will lead to a good and successful dog training.

A human’s most valuable sense is his sight. Whereas, a dog finds his sense of smell to be his number one sense. This is actually the reason why dogs and humans work so well together, particularly in crime investigation.

With a man or woman’s ability to use sharp eyesight skills, and a dog’s ability to use precise smelling skills, the two make a very compatible team.


A dog truly has a phenomenal sense of smell. It is the most developed of the dog’s senses. A dog’s life is to a large extent guided and conditioned by the scents that he picks up.

A dog’s sense of smell is significantly stronger than a human’s. In fact, the lining inside a dog’s nose has about 200 million receptors, while a human only has about 5 million receptors.

A dog sees his environment as a composition of many different scent trails that overlap, intersect, and change continually. In this confusion of good—and not so good smells—a dog can distinguish between odours that a person cannot even detect.

A dog’s smell is so precise that he can even distinguish the different bloods of different animals. He can even distinguish the odours of different people (which is why they are used so often in crime investigation.)

Dogs also are able to smell scents such as illegal drugs, bombs, and even cancer!

Have you ever wondered why a dog’s nose is always moist? It is because the moist surface actually absorbs the smells that are airborne and holds them on the perceptive papillae.

A dog can catch the scent of a person either by the wind or because a scent falls on that ground and provides a trail for the dog to track later.

However, if the track is interrupted by a body of water or is stopped because a person got into a car, then the dog will stop because he has lost the track.

Catching the scent by the wind can be done immediately because the scent is always being excreted. A trail scent is trickier because the scent is fighting with other older scents—meaning that there are many other smells that the dog has to sort through.

A dog’s sense is so powerful that it can even detect what kind of mood a person is in. A dog can tell if his owner is happy or sad, nervous or relaxed, outraged or calm, insecure or confident, energetic or tired, and even sick or healthy.

Happiness, sadness, and nervousness are perhaps the easiest for a dog to distinguish.


A dog’s sense of hearing is also highly developed and highly sensitive. So developed, in fact, that it can pick up on ultrasonic vibrations—which is something humans cannot do!

A dog’s sense of hearing is so sensitive that a sound a man can barely hear at 13 feet, a dog can hear at 80 feet. This is why a dog makes such a good watch dog—he can hear someone approaching from a greater distance.

A dog can really pick up on how we speak to him too. For example, in training exercises, a dog will respond to our words—not necessary because of the words we use but how we say them.

For example, if you speak a word or phrase using a different intonation than you would normally use, he may give you a look of confusion or he may not respond at all.

Or, you could say a word or phrase, and use a few different tones and get the results you desire depending on the circumstance. For example, when you are speaking the “come” command, you may need to say it firmly if he is distracted. Or, if he is looking right at you, you could say “come” in a very enthusiastically tone as if he can expect a big reward for his arrival!


A dog is also known for its keen sense of sight. A puppy that is only a couple weeks old has underdeveloped eye sight as it still has a short focal distance. As he develops and grows, his focal distance increases significantly.

However, it is not necessarily a dog’s sense of eye sight that is so excellent, but rather his ability to detect gestures and movements from a far away location—his sense of motion.

For example, a dog might not see an animal hiding in a bush, but as soon as the animal moves, the dog can detect the movement.

A dog also uses his sense of scent to help him see. If you are standing quite a distance away from him, he will most likely see your body, but won’t be able to detect that it is you until he is close enough to pick up your scent.

Since dogs are so low to the ground, they have a harder time determining three dimensions, but it improves with experience and age.

Dogs have very good vision at night, it is actually better than man’s. However dogs tend to be overly alert and suspicious at night. With so many unusual shadows, things look different to dogs, so they become concerned.

Dogs that are taken for walks outside in the evening get accustomed to the differences, so they become less suspicious.


As mentioned in the previous chapter, some dogs are highly sensitive to touch and others are not. Handle your dog according to his degree of sensitivity.

A dog’s head includes vibrissae, which are sensitive hairs around both of his eyes, along his muzzle, and underneath his jaw.

Additionally, the remainder of his body consists of sensitive nerves. A dog is most sensitive along the spine and towards the tail. This is one of the reasons why a dog enjoys rolling around in the green grass!

Whenever you physically praise your dog, stroke him on the head lightly and slowly. This will calm your dog and keep him from getting too excited.

Be careful not to pat your dog’s head too forcefully regardless of how excited you might be about something he did. Children have a tendency to do this. A fast hard pat just does not feel as good as a stroke. Your dog could get easily annoyed with you!


A dog likes to chew on things that humans would never consider such as magazines, old shoes, electrical cords, and tree branches!

Therefore, we tend to believe that a dog’s sense of taste is not as developed as humans.

A dog always seems to be hungry! He loves to hang around the kitchen when someone is cooking a meal—just hoping that something will drop on the floor.

A dog’s sense of smell is closely connected with his sense of taste. He can detect the difference between something that is sweet or sour, bitter or salty.

There are some foods that dogs like to eat, and other foods that they don’t, however is usually happy with anything he can sink his teeth into!



Interestingly, dogs have a sense of balance. This will be important to you as you are training your dog to sit in Chapter 10.

Also, how you use the leash when you want the dog to perform such commands as sit, stand, etc. If the leash is used incorrectly, for example, at the wrong angle, it can throw your dog off balance and he will either perform the exercise incorrectly, or he won’t perform it at all.


Dogs are very susceptible to the sense of heat. Some breeds, especially those with short noses feel much more uncomfortable in hot temperatures than others.

If you live in a hot climate, train and exercise your dog when the temperatures are lower, such as the early morning or evening.

Watch out for the type of surfaces you take your dog on. Heat can be absorbed into some surfaces, making it very painful on the dog’s paws.


You will be amazed how a dog can develop a sense of time! If a dog is part of a household’s regular routine, he will become familiar with such activities or dog trainings as when it is time to go out, when it is time to eat, when it is time for a nap, when it is time for you to go to work, etc.

Dogs learn from repetition and since humans are usually on tight schedules it is easy for your dog to predict what you will do next!

I hope you learned a lot from today’s Dog training newsletter.

I will be back for more!

Warmest regards,
Sharda Baker