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wildpotato's avatar

How does my dog know where my ears are?

Asked by wildpotato (12766 points ) October 6th, 2009

I’m pretty sure that she knows they are equivalent to the pointy things that stick up on top of her head, because she specifically washes my ears whenever she is greeting me and is able to get close to my face. This parallels the way that dogs greet each other. But my ears look nothing like dog ears, and are positioned differently on my head – so how does she know? For that matter, how do they know where other dogs’ ears are? It’s not like they are able to look in the mirror and conceptualize “ears.” So between dogs, it would make sense that it’s just an automatic thing to go for the pointy/floppy things on top of the head – but how can Molly transfer this automatic greeting-behavior to me, when I have no pointy or floppy things on top of my head? Do ears emit a particular inter-species waxy smell?

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16 Answers

chyna's avatar

They can see and they aren’t stupid. :)

Darwin's avatar

They love the smell of ear wax. Besides, their licking makes you giggle and dogs can recognize a giggle from 20 paces.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

dogs, unlike humans, are scent dominant. They can smell their surroundings, whereas humans are sight based. We can see more colors than a dog, as far as can be ascertained thru scientific experimentation, but dogs can smell things that we could never begin to smell.

A bloodhound, a dog known for its incredible sense of smell, is able to smell a day-old human footprint through 18 inches of snow. We couldn’t smell a day old footprint on the ground without any snow at all, even with our nose pressed to the dirt.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin wow, a short answer, I may have to take you off that LWLD list.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I can do longer. I’m just tired. It’s been a long day.

augustlan's avatar

What a cute dog!

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

how do you know where your dogs ears are?

you’re dog might not be able to order a latte or microwave some leftover chinese but it’s not like it lives in a constant state of confusion and lack of understanding.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Dogs are not like us. For them the first sense utilized is scent, second is often sound, followed by sight. Whereas, we trust our sight, and utilize our sense of scent much less.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

It’s probably just the smell of your ears.

wildpotato's avatar

So it seems it might be a combination of the scent thing plus conditioning due to my laughing from being licked. I ought to have thought about this a bit more before asking the question – seems kind of obvious in retrospect.

@augustlan Thanks! On Molly’s behalf, of course. It always seems odd to me to take credit for my dog’s awesomeness when people compliment her, but I never know quite what else to say. You get to see my disembodied hands and the tip of my foot, too. Here’s an even cuter picture.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@wildpotato Thanks for sharing…She’s a keeper;) Even if your ears do smell like doggy breath ;)

gussnarp's avatar

Hmm, scent, conditioning, and possibly it’s just not that hard to figure out. My cat does this, she licks and nips at my ears, just like she does the other cats. In this case it is not likely to be conditioning, since I really don’t like her licking or nipping my ears and it usually gets her tossed out of bed. I think it’s just obvious that the two things sticking out of the head are ears.

gailcalled's avatar

Apropros of absolutely nothing, @chyna has a sweet dog named Molly, also.

Darwin's avatar

@wildpotatoOur dog sleeps like that, too. She just takes up a lot more of the couch.

BTW, she also likes ears and doesn’t even have to jump to reach them. But then she also likes crotches, butts, legs, hands, and more as long as they are attached to her people.

bea2345's avatar

In the same way, birds recognize the front of your head (that is, your face) from the back. In other words, they know when they are being looked at. And if you feed them regularly, wild birds will distinguish you from other observers – not that they will trust you more, far from it.

Just_Justine's avatar

Maybe your dog calls them something else you know and maybe in his land they are tasty!!

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