If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a dog, this book is for you.
“Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” is a new book by Alexandra Horowitz that shows what the world is like from a dog’s point of view.
It may be the first neurological study of dogs.
Horowitz writes that their sense of smell, hearing and vision shape their perception of their surroundings.
Creatures of the nose.
Dogs have extraordinary sense of smell. A beagle nose has 300 million receptor sites, for example, compared with the six million that we have. And they can smell things continuously because of their snout design.
We have exhale before we can inhale fresh air. On the other hand, dogs pull air deeper into their nose as well as exhaling some air through the side slits in their snout. So dogs can hold a scent longer than we can and they can continuously refresh what they smell without interruption.
The nose knows.
Not only do dogs detect odors better than us but this continuous sniffing provides them with a sense of time based on the strengthening and weakening of the odor.
For example a dog senses a familiar odor ahead (usually a spray of some dog’s urine), it grows stronger as the dog approaches and grows weaker as the dog moves on. This gives a dog a sense of the passage of time.
A dog’s vision also affects its sense of time.
Dogs have a higher “flicker fusion” rate than we do, which is the rate at which retinal cells can process incoming light, that is “the number of snapshots of the world that the eye takes in every second.”
This is one of the reasons dogs respond so well to subtle human facial reactions: “They pay attention to the slivers of time between our blinks.”
It also explains why dogs are so good at grabbing a Frisbee or a tennis ball right out of the air. Horowitz says that dogs are not only seeing the world faster than we do but actually seeing a little more of it each second.
Dogs with long noses, those bred for hunting or herding, have photo¬receptors clustered along a horizontal band spanning the middle of the eye. This is called a visual streak, and those dogs “have better panoramic, high-quality ¬vision, and much more peripheral vision than humans.”
Responding to your tone.
We know that dogs hear high pitched sounds that we can’t hear. But their ability to pinpoint where a sound is coming from is not as good as ours. Their hearing helps them find the general direction of a sound and then their acute sight and sense of smell take over.
And dogs don’t really understand exactly what you are saying when you say “sit.” They are responding to the “prosody” (the patterns of stress and intonation in a language). High-pitched sounds mean something different than low sounds; rising sounds contrast with falling sounds,” Horowitz writes.
Dogs respond to baby talk “partially because it distinguishes speech that is directed at them from the rest of the continuous yammering above their heads.”
From wolves to pets.
While dogs are descendants of wolves they’ve discarded many of their traits along the way. For example they don’t form packs and they hunt individually rather than cooperatively.
And unlike wolves, dogs will look you in the eye. Horowitz writes that dogs seem to be predisposed to inspect our faces for information, for reassurance, for guidance.
Here’s a good description of the book and a short video at Simon and Schuster, the publisher’s site.
One thing is for sure, despite a strong sense of smell, super vision and hearing, dogs are just not ever going to be good at playing games on their PC’s. So exercise some of your human superiority and show your pet what a wiz you are a gaming. There are lots of them at our website, Brain Games Software.
Share this post
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::