The things a dog can and cannot see can surprise us. What about human teeth? While you may have never wondered this, the fact is, dogs see the world very differently from the way we see it.
So, can your dog see your chompers? A dog’s eyesight is not nearly as sharp as a human’s but it excels in other ways. Can your canine friend make out your teeth? Whether you are smiling, frowning, or shouting, it is interesting to think whether your doggo can see your teeth or not.
Signs Your Dog Sees Human Teeth
Studies continue to stack up evidence that dogs can understand our facial expressions. This means that they can, at the very least, differentiate between happy and angry facial expressions. Obviously, teeth are an important element of our face and many of our expressions.
Your dog will show they can understand what you’re feeling and react to seeing your teeth with a variety of actions. This can be by sympathetically tilting their head or excitedly sweeping their tail.
The signs will depend on the type and personality of your dog, as well, and whether they are perceiving your teeth as positive or negative. If you are showing your teeth while being angry, their reaction may be cowering or barking, depending on your canine friend’s temperament.
Dogs also tend to mimic the facial expressions of the human in front of them. So if they see human teeth, they might show their own teeth. Again, this can be warm or hostile – depending on your feelings and the dog’s own nature.
History of Dogs Seeing Human Teeth
Historically, dogs have grown closer to humans as the centuries pass. More and more domesticated canines are living with humans than ever before. This proximity and intimacy lends itself well to a dog’s ability to see, understand, and react appropriately to their human owners - their physical characteristics and even their idiosyncrasy. This includes dogs seeing our teeth, whichever feeling or expression their revelation may be part of.
Remember that teeth are what dogs use to defend themselves. So if your doggo is baring their teeth, they are probably not “smiling” or “grinning” like you do. It can very well be an aggressive or at least defensive reaction.
Instances of dogs seeing and reacting to human teeth have been as old as the relation between man and man’s best friend. As dogs became more attuned to human needs and behavior, they became more skilled at reading physical cues we give. This includes our teeth.
Thousands of years ago, dogs were wolves. Those that grew closer to humans reacted to our expressions and bodies and evolved into dogs as we know and love today. These more human-friendly creatures gave birth to puppies with the same traits. Seeing and reacting to human teeth remain among those traits.
Science of Dogs Seeing Human Teeth
You may already know that dogs are much better at smelling and hearing things than us. However, did you know there are some things your doggo can see that we cannot? This is due to a dog’s ability to see UV rays. So, your pup is actually seeing a different world than you.
Connecting this ability to the matter of dogs seeing human teeth, they may especially be able to see your teeth if you use a lot of fluoride-based products. This will, in your dog’s eyes, light up your teeth. The same is the case if you use dental prosthetics.
Dogs are also known to have the same social recognition skills as a 2-year-old does. While this may seem young, 2-year-olds are actually more perceptive at reading social cues than we tend to believe. So if you are showing your teeth, your dog has the ability to see them, even if it is in a different way than you see them.
Training Your Dog to See Human Teeth
The best way to train your dog to get more accustomed to seeing human teeth is by spending more time with your pup. You can figure out a range of activities that you can do together. This will let your doggo get more familiar with, and become better at understanding your expressions. So when your teeth are visible, your dog will react in a way that’s more appropriate to the reason your teeth are visible.
You can also introduce your dog to new people. This will enable your canine friend to pick up on a range of personalities and what it means when their teeth are showing. Such exposure will contribute to the dog’s overall comprehension.
You can show your dog your feelings. If you show your teeth while happy, and your dog responds happily as well, reward them with a treat. This will reinforce their positive behavior and reaction to seeing human teeth. It is important to be patient as it may take longer than expected depending on your dog’s personality. In any case, remember that dogs learn things more quickly if they are comfortable and feeling safe.
By Fatima Mansoor
Published: 07/09/2018, edited: 04/06/2020