What Your Dog's Thinking

Guess what: When he slobbers all over your face, that's not love
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2010 11:22 AM CDT

When your dog licks your face, he's not trying to “kiss” you or demonstrate his affection; he's hoping to lap up any regurgitated food you might have to offer him. That's just one of the many unsettling revelations doled out by Alexandra Horowitz in an interview with ABC News promoting her new book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know. Horowitz says she's trying to describe a dog's umwelt, a German term that translates to “self-world.” About that regurgitation thing: It seems that dogs do that in greeting when one is rejoining a pack.

A dog's very perceptions are vastly different from ours, she explains. Dogs experience the world primarily through smell—they can even “smell time,” sensing exactly how old everything they sniff is. Their eyes are actually faster than ours, registering 70 or 80 snapshots per second to our 60, making them better at, say, catching a frisbee. She adds that the “alpha dog” concept is probably a myth. A wolf pack is “more like a family unit.” (Read more dogs stories.)

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