Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know

December 14, 2010

I’ve been reading the excellent Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz.  If you haven’t already, run out and buy this book! I’d give it my highest recommendation.

Since Ms. Hororwitz takes a scientific approach in fulfilling her subtitle you’ll learn a lot about your dog’s senses. About how sound and smell are more important than sight, for example. She also makes the point that of all the domesticated animals, dogs are the only one who regularly look us in the eye.  Traditionally, the Window to the Soul, should you chose to believe in souls or spirits. Certainly, a window into another consciousness.

It’s true, of course, that a hard stare between two dogs can be read as aggressive and could be the prelude to a fight. But most of can easily tell the difference between and aggressive, challenging stare and the soulful gazing that occurs between primate and canines.

Visually dogs are dichromats having receptors for two color values (blue and yellow) as compared to humans who are trichromats with three (blue, blue-green, yellow-green).  There’s a cool piece of Mac software called Sim Daltonism that’s a Color Blindness Simulator. If you select protanopia, (in humans we call this condition red-green color blindness) you’ll get an idea of what the world looks like to your dog. Click on the image below for larger size.




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