Dogs sense of hearing

› Sense of Hearing

Dogs Sense of hearing is truly remarkable considering they begin life unable to hear at all. 

When it comes to the sense of hearing, your small dog’s ability to hear far outranks yours. 

Even with floppy ears, their hearing is more sensitive and versatile than yours. Dogs with ears that stand upright have even better hearing.

You share the same ability to hear low frequency sounds, but there are high-pitched sounds that we cannot hear and they can hear.

To get some idea of this ability, think about the piano with its 88 keys.  You would need to add four more octaves about the highest note to hear what dogs can hear.    It is easy to forget and get annoyed at this ability in our fur babies.

When all is quiet and still, your dog suddenly perks up, runs to the door or window and starts to bark.  You reluctantly follow only to see nothing. What you could not see, they can hear. I always joke that my dogs are barking at the squirrels and chipmunks in the neighbor’s yard, but in reality, they may be doing just that.

Dogs Sense of Hearing

Puppies are born deaf with their ears sealed shut.  By about two weeks of age, the ears begin to open up and by about four weeks, they are hearing as well as an adult dog.

The anatomy of yours and your dog’s ears is very similar with a few exceptions. One difference lies in the ear flap or pinna. Dogs sense of hearing rely on their more than 18 muscles at the base of their ears.  This  allows them to move their ears to pick up sounds in many different directions. People, on the other hand, have limited ability to move their ears. Most cannot move their ears at all.

Dogs can attribute their ability to hear sounds at high frequency to their evolutionary past.  Wild dogs, wolves, and foxes prey on small rodents that make high-pitched sounds as they move. The ability to hear these sounds give dogs an advantage when hunting their prey.

Dogs begin to lose their hearing as they age similar to people. Ear infections, trauma, and loud noises also lead to hearing loss.

Some dogs suffer from congenital deafness, but this is extremely rare in most small breed dogs.  To protect our dog’s hearing, prompt attention and treatment for ear infections is important. Since we know that loud noises can harm our fur baby’s ears as well as our own, we would do well to avoid situations where our hearing could be compromised.

This amazing ability to hear does have its drawbacks. Just as people filter out unnecessary incoming visual pictures, dogs learn to filter out invasive sounds.  If they don’t some of these dogs will suffer from phobias of fireworks, thunderstorms and even sirens. 

One of my dogs, a little Maltese named Jasmine, hates garbage trucks and will bark and race to the door every time one stops at or near the house.  Perhaps the sounds generated with trash being compacted has a negative effect on her ear. This dog's sense of hearing is extremely keen.

Dogs with these auditory sensitivities can benefit from music therapy as a way to sooth and create a calm environment.

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