'How Dogs Think'

Plenty of dog owners swear that their pets really understand them. But is it possible to know what's going on inside Fido's head?

Dr. Stanley Coren is a psychologist who says the answer is definitely yes. His latest book on the subject is called "How Dogs Think."

Coren gives a wealth of background on the history of dogs and the scientific capacity of their brains. He visits The Early Show on Friday to not only talk but demonstrate some of a dog's simple behavior by telling them to do something and then rewarding them with dog treats.

Petey, a 4-month-old Great Dane mix, is from Bide-A-Wee in Manhattan. And it is up for adoption.

Click here to read an excerpt:

Odd Facts From The Book
A dog's eye is considerably more sensitive than the human eye in dim light: it has been estimated that the dog needs only one-quarter of the amount of light that humans do to see things at night. (Chapter 2)

A dog's visual acuity is considerably less than that of a normal human. The overall effect is something like viewing the world through a fine mesh gauze or a piece of cellophane that has been smeared with a light coat of petroleum jelly. (Chapter 2)

Dogs do see colors, but the colors that they see are neither as rich nor as many as those seen by humans. Dogs see the colors of the world in shades of blue, yellow, and gray. Red is difficult for dogs to see and may register with them as a very dark gray or perhaps even a black. (Chapter 2)

The proportion of the dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than that of humans and it has been estimated that dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times better than humans can. (Chapter 4)

Humans win the sensitivity contest for taste, with around 9,000 taste buds compared to a dog's 1,700. Dogs have considerably more taste buds than cats, which average only about 470. (Chapter 5)

Dogs prefer meats over vegetables and they prefer beef and pork over lamb, chicken, and horse meat. They also prefer moist food over dry food, probably because the taste is more readily available if the taste chemicals are already dissolved in some fluid. (Chapter 5)

Dogs' feet convey a lot of touch information: The pads of the feet have specialized nerves that respond to vibration and allow the dog to determine how stable the surface is when he is running. (Chapter 6)

The personalities of the parents are passed on to the offspring and many personality characteristics of dogs, including the willingness to work for humans, are carried genetically. (Chapter 10)

The shape of a dog's face can help predict how long he will live: Dogs with sharp, pointed faces that look like wolves generally have longer lives. Dogs with very flat faces, like bulldogs and pugs, often have shorter lives. (Chapter 15)

Small dogs dream more frequently than big dogs: A small dog, such as a toy poodle, may dream once every 10 minutes, while a dog as large as a mastiff or an Irish wolfhound may spend an hour and a half between each dream. (Chapter 16)
  • Tatiana Morales

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