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treating your dog
"Dogs can identify smells at least 1,000 times better than we can!"

What Dogs are Better at Than Humans

Dr Jo discusses 5 things that dogs are far superior to humans at doing.


Dogs are born to sniff. It’s how they analyse the world around them. It’s how they say hello, as impolite as it may seem to owners!

It’s no wonder that dogs like to use their sense of smell, as the area of the canine brain that is devoted to analysing scent is 40 times greater than that of the human and dogs can identify smells at least 1,000 times better than we can! The dog’s superior sense of smell comes from 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose. Compared to the human’s paltry 5 million, it’s no wonder smell is considered to be the dog’s primary sense.

Fast-paced living

Dogs are not only in tune with our routines, they are often one step ahead of us. They are first at the door for a walk, pulling us along as they strive for the next best smell. They love to chase anything that moves, fetch balls, wrestle with one another, jump up on visitors or steal your slippers and ran away before you can catch them. They wolf their food down barely pausing to taste.

Living at a fast pace comes naturally to most dogs. This aids survival, helping them escape from any would-be predators or rivals and a fast pace would also help them hunt – if that was allowed. We cannot convince dogs to sit in an armchair all day long, especially the more active breeds, so we need to think up suitable activities for them to use their energy. Then they are more willing to snooze alongside us.


People enjoy keeping dogs for the companionship they bring. Surely there is no other animal that makes a more faithful friend then our canine companion. Many dogs are so attached to their owners that they fret when left alone, suffering separation anxiety. They may exhibit unwanted barking, whining, try to escape or show inappropriate toileting or destructive behaviour.

Dogs like to be with their owners. Given the chance many will follow you from room to room, even sleeping with you, if you let them. While this can be trying at times for owners, many of us enjoy that level of adoration and companionship.


Nobody welcomes you like your dog. Even when the rest of the family barely lifts an eyebrow at your return home, your dog greets you enthusiastically every time. Sometimes it only takes a 60 second trip to the garbage bin for your dog to greet you like you’ve been absent for months!

Some pooches even get a little over-enthusiastic in their greeting behaviour - jumping up, sniffing crotches and generally being over-the-top. It can help to put a leash on your dog or to teach them an alternative, acceptable behaviour such as sitting or fetching a toy.

Unconditional love

In a world full of judgemental people, and that can include your family and friends, it is very empowering to be accepted for exactly who you are. This is what your dog does. They do not care if you are having a ‘bad hair day’, you’ve just lost your job, or your house or car is not the flashiest in the street. They love you. If only we could love as unconditionally as our dogs!

About Dr Joanne Righetti

Dr Joanne RighettiDr Joanne Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating the public and professionals in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She also consults to a variety of organisations including non-profit organisations, commercial companies and councils and is involved in a variety of media including regular spots on radio. Joanne is an honorary associate of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney. Find out more about Joanne at

Last updated: 24 April 2015 at 05:16 PM
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