Inside a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell & Know

Hi everyone.  I initially typed “Inside a God”.  Ha!  That is where dogs are on my pedestal.  After reading terrific comments from a couple different blogs on animal behavior, I went to my dog library and re-pulled one of my favorite recent dog books. 

book shelf

Alexandra Horowitz does a terrific job researching dogs from a psychological approach and urges us humans to look at dogs without our natural inclination to anthropomorphizing them.  


It has been about 2 years since I last read “Inside a Dog”.  In thumbing through pages again, I am amazed and want to re-read it again, starting tonight.  What struck me was a couple things.  

First was “umwelt”  or better explained what is our self-world or self perception.  If we no longer look at the dog through our prism, what is their umwelt?  How do they perceive the world. 

In one sense, when you get down to their level and take pictures, you can see from their eye level.  But, our lack of smell must make that “view” so two dimensional compared to their sight, smell, and hearing.  Do they see furniture and plants the way we do?  I am sure my lavender plants have a sweet pungent smell, but Scout doesn’t know that they are MINE and he “shouldn’t eat it”.  From his perspective, the yard is his and there to explore.  The fence merely prevents him from exploring further. The sounds from the other side of the fence are beckoning him to “bark” back.  “Hi, I’m Here!!  or  My Yard, Go Way”.



Second was “theory of mind”, or that we humans can think about what others are thinking.  For most humans, theory of mind allows you to realize that others have perspectives different from your own.  When you struggle with “theory of mind”, as many of us do with Aspergers, even simple interactions can be utterly unpredictable and mysterious.  You have a “what the %$*# just happened moment”. 

Dogs don’t seem to have those WTF moments.  They seemingly have mind reading ability.  They know when the kids will arrive home from school.  They know when it is dinner time.  They plop themselves as obstacles while I am cooking at the stove or exiting the bathroom.  I change positions at my desk, and they are at the ready for me to go get water.  Best of all, on awful days, the dogs seem to realize I am in woeful need of dog therapy and insist on laying on me or touching me in some fashion.  Do they know?  Do they sense the need?  or are they simply trained with stimulus and response.  

I love taking video and pictures from a dog or child’s eye level.  You can see things from their perspective.  What do the weeds and the trail look like when you run through them.  I tried to mute the wind background.  But I wanted you to hear the grass crunching and the dogs huffing as they run through the tall weeds.


Easy to Read

I spend a lot of time watching people and even more time watching dogs.  Quite frankly, dogs are so much easier to read.  They say what they have to say and move on.  

To help me get my thoughts together for this post, I took Buck and Scout to Heritage Dog Park.  It is a really nice enclosed dog park.  The perimeter walk is just under a mile.  Up hills and down, the dogs can be, well, dogs.  We go there often enough, that Buck knows when we get close. He starts that chortle whine.  The one that is way back in his throat.  If he were angry it would be a growl, but the excitement pinches off his vocal cords a bit and it comes out like a squeal.  

Buck's lips are pulled back as he chortle's that it's his turn.

Buck’s lips are pulled back as he chortle’s that it’s his turn.

Buck doesn’t do a lot of vocalizations beyond the “i’m done, Scout.  leave me alone” or “yes” and loud style one word bark that his way of saying loudly get moving already, it’s time for the walk!!!!!

Scout, on the other hand, is a chronic talker.  Not only is it incessant, it is LOUD.  Scout has about as much volume control as a 3 year old at Chucky Cheese.  When Scout has something to say it comes out in sharp staccato sentences.  “I WANT IT NOW.” or “THROW!! IT!!” Scout seems to use the exact number of syllables needed to complete his request.

Since the dogs are with me nearly all day, I get to watch their routines both as a spectator and a participant. In the morning, they climb over each other to be first in line for food.  Buck takes his time eating, while Scout hoarfs it quickly down.  Next, is the in and out of the dog door.  Pooches taking care of business and drinking lots of water.  As I settle in to work, Scout starts a round of “rharr rarrrr” games.  Nibble on the back of Buck’s foot to instigate being chased.  The seconds turn into minutes.  Rharr.  Chase.  grrrrrr.  Until mommy is tired of the noise and pulls out the water squirt gun.  

But what is most fascinating about the back and forth is that the dogs have a behavioral dance they go through.  A declarative, “I’m ready to play.”  Next comes the nibble or nudge to insist “I am ready to play now!”  Shoulder’s go down, butt’s go up, the give an take commences.  Chase me.  And the neat thing is for a dog, Chase ME actually means Chase ME!!  

Dogs have the language written down in their genes.  When they get to dog park, Chase ME still means Chase ME, even if they have not met that dog before.  The back and forth dance still make sense to them.  They are not strangers.  They still know the dance.

I took a series of pictures this week while Scout was playing.  When you have the camera taking multiple shots you can capture the little nuances as they happen.  The excitement.  The anticipation.  The thrill.  

This is why I really love dogs.  Simple.  Easy.  Lovable.


Infinity color grey left dog in car Kansas plate 134DSL

Dude in the grey infinity KS license 134 DSL.

You skated past me at Home Depot when I tried to report you. You CAN NOT leave your small corgie dog in a car on a 100 deg day.

Posting the plate if any one in Overland Park KS KNOWS WHO THIS BAD PERSON IS!!!!!

Shame shame shame!!!!!!!!


Scout was NAUGHTY!!!!

Go Figure.  I know.  Tell you a story you don’t know.

After a day of laundry and moderate put away, Rob and I picked up the dogs at Sidney’s in the afternoon.  Same questions.  How was your trip?  Great!  How were the Dogs?

“Well”, the nice young lady said, “Buck is just the best dog ever.”  Yeah we know!

Then she says, “and Scout decided that he could jump the 5 foot fence to get out of the day care area so he could visit the ladies at the front desk.”

jaws dropping a bit. . . I ask, “Did he scale the wall or just go over?”

“Nope, he essentially did the steeple chase.  Gazelle to the top of the first low 3 foot wall and then up and over the taller wall to the front of the shop.”

I seriously felt like I was in the principal’s office.  If she wasn’t trying to hide her OMG smirk I think I would have felt worse.

Go Figure.  He IS THAT DOG.

Scout is THAT DOGAND he grew at least 2 inches!!!  Scout is now taller than Buck.


You know it’s time for a bath when . . .

your dogs purposely side swipe every blossomed bush and tree

your pooch smells about as lovely as the goodie bag you brought home from the walk

your little baby angel is spending a vast amount of time licking off his undercarriage

your hound trots into the room and you smell him over your teenager

and best of all

when your lovely chien, takes every opportunity to roll in ickies that you don’t even want to know who or what left that laying on the side of the pathway.

yes. it was that kind of morning, when even the Queen Anne’s Lace or fresh daisy’s can’t help this foul smelling scout.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!!!!!!




Sunday is a Rest day

After a nasty 60+ hour week this week. This has been a non techno weekend. So countdown for what was great???? (Not in any order except put down on ‘paper’)

1) Hang with my boyfriend and rrrrhh
2) go on walkies
3) dinner drinks with our “best’ies”
4) sleep in both days (thanks Rob!!!!)
5) dog park
6) helping Kathi start a quilt.
7) mindless sewing
8) laundry can be therapeutic
9) buying lemonaide from from the neighbor kids
10) hanging on the deck