Let your Dog’s Awareness Guide you

by Loree Walden, Marketing Manager, Yavapai Humane Society

How aware of their surroundings are our dogs? My guess is far more than we may understand.

When I’m out walking Cassidy Roo, she’s always on “alert.” After all, her sight, hearing and sense of smell are far greater than mine. If we’re walking along and she suddenly stops, looks around and turns back, I don’t question her — I follow her.

This happened recently, and after we turned around to go back, I looked behind us and there was a coyote standing on the sidewalk. (The coyote turned around and went the other way, and Cassidy Roo and I made it home safe.)

We travel out to see my mom in California three to four times a year. When we reach the street three turns before her place, Cassidy Roo is clawing at the window, wagging her tail. As soon as we turn onto mom’s street, she is ready to see her Tutu!

I see it in her sense of people or other dogs. She’s aware of the “mojo” people and other dogs put out. Because Cassidy Roo loves everyone, if she has trepidations or feels scared, there is a reason.

She is well aware of me and my emotions. She knows if I’ve had a bad day or if I’m feeling sad, and she’s right there on my lap, licking my tears away, making everything better.

But are they aware of themselves?

Experts find they are both self-aware and simply, aware. They are able to feel and sense others’ feelings. They understand how they affect us.

Dogs recognize themselves by odor, but they don’t recognize themselves by sight, as the “mirror test” reveals. They don’t realize the dog they are looking at in the mirror is them. Cassidy Roo will sit on my bed and stare at the mirror on the closet door. I now pick her up and hold her next to me in front of the mirror. Does she then know it’s her with me? I’m not sure.

All I know is that our pets are far more aware of the world around us than we are, and perhaps we have a lot to learn from them. They love us, and it’s a beautiful thing.