How do dogs use their sense of touch?

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Touch is the first sense that a dog becomes aware of after birth, as dogs are born both deaf and blind. A dog will rely on touch from its mother and siblings to find milk and a safe place to sleep. A puppy will also use touch to find warmth and detect possible threats. Once a puppy gains her sense of hearing and smell, she still relies heavily on touch throughout its entire life.

Dogs have touch-sensitive hairs on their bodies known as vibrissae. These hairs are noticeable above a dog’s eyes, on the muzzle, and along the jaw line. Vibrissae detect and sense airflow and help a dog orient itself. Dogs also have nerve endings, just like humans do, that cover their entire bodies. The most sensitive places on a dog, or the places with the most nerve endings, are along the spine and at the base of the tail.

Each dog may have a different level of touch-sensitivity. While some dogs do not respond as positively to being petted, others seem to thoroughly enjoy petting. Touch can be used to convey positive or negative emotions. Because of this, many dogs regard touch differently and may react in a variety of ways towards it.

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