What more can be said of dogs? They're loyal, they're fun, they're energetic. They can pick you up when you're down, and you can pick them up when they're down — and they won't get up, because they're being stubborn and don't want to leave the fire hydrant. But there's lots we never knew about dogs — what's going on in their heads — that is just incredible.
You don't want your dog peeing in your house, but you also don't want them peeing on metal in the neighborhood. Why? Because the acids in dog urine can actually corrode metal. In fact, in San Diego, dog urine was the cause of a lamp post tumbling over — it had eaten through the casing, and compromised the integrity of the structure! Their pee is so strong!
It's a common misconception that dogs only see in black and white. They can, in fact, see color... just not as well as humans can. Dogs have two cones instead of three in their eyes, which means they can see blue and yellow, but not red and green. However, they do have better night vision than humans do. So there.
Those whiskers aren't just for show — they play a very functional role. They perform like tactile hairs that pick up on sensory changes and cues from the environment. Air currents, movement, wind, distance: this is all information that a whisker can pick up. They're especially active at night when it's dark.
Dogs have a sense of smell that's 10,000 to 1 million times more powerful than that of humans. Studies have shown that dogs are able to apply this awesome power to sniffing out melanoma, or skin cancer. The theory is that because cancer cells have different metabolic processes, they release different odors — ones which dogs, but not humans, can pick up on.
Although the scientific research in how well dogs can predict earthquakes is scant, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence. Plenty of people have reported that their dogs start freaking out in the hours before an earthquake. Seismologists attribute this to the fact that dogs, with their keen senses, are able to detect early-stage P waves emitted by the earthquake early on in the shudder. These waves are more or less undetected by humans — but not dogs.
And your other emotions. Dogs can not only use their vastly superior sense of smell to pick up on your emotional state (fear, joy, etc.), but they will actually empathize with it, and take on that emotional state as well. Though they pick up cues from lots of different factors, the sweat scent was the most informative to dogs.
Dogs can comprehend and make sense of language much better than we previously thought. Firstly, they're able to combine the meaning of a word with the intonation with which it is delivered — meaning they can understand messages in a well-rounded manner. They're also able to distinguish between over 150 learned words, and though they're not necessarily able grasp the "meaning" of the words, they can get the connotation.
Dogs actually can fall in love with other dogs. It's not just a cute thing to say. A professor at Claremont Graduate University in California found that dogs' brains release oxytocin, which is the same love drug released in the human brain that facilitates companionship. So when a dog gets that going through its head around another dog... it's a match made in the pen.
Again, although there isn't any concrete evidence of this, it is believed that dogs are able to predict when bad weather is on the rise. This has to do with the electrical signals sent out by a storm in advance, which dogs' hypersensitivity is able to pick up. You might notice in your dog that they start to get a little jittery hours before a lightning strike.
Dogs need exercise, just like people do. But if they go without it long enough, they can lose the innate drive for outdoor runs, and fall into languor. Luckily, dogs can learn to use the treadmill. What's most important is to make treadmill a fun place for dogs. Once it's established, you can start to slowly crank up the speed on the treadmill, and let your dog trot on its own.
We already discussed how dogs see dichromatically, not trichromatically like humans. But when they're watching TV, they can definitely recognize another dog on the program. Even if there are different dog breeds featured on the TV, dogs are still able to pick them out. Advertising agencies have even gone so far as to make commercials specifically to pique dogs' interests.
Dogs aren't dupes, as one study proved. They're very quick to learn when a person is trying to trick them. A study out of Kyoto, Japan had humans pretend that there was food in a container, and get their dog to go for it. After two tries, the dogs knew that the containers were empty, and that they were being mislead.
Dogs' ears have so much going on. First off, they're highly muscular, with 18 discreet muscles in them. Not only do their size and mobility help dogs hear better (about 10 times better than humans), but they can also be used to communicate emotion and feeling to people and other dogs. If the ears are forward, it means the dog is engaged. Back and pointed means she's in a playful mood. Down and floppy means she might be scared or shy. They've got a whole semaphore language!