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How Do Dogs Process Information

Updated on September 5, 2013

The Beautiful Mind Of A Dog

Sitting back and observing my dogs, I have often thought about what they think about, and just how their thoughts manifest. As one who has devoted almost 40 years to deciphering animal behavior, I see real evidence that these warm hearten beasts we call friend, have emotions and can think and reason on many levels. From the time I could walk (possibly before) I have been surrounded by dogs. Owning, showing, treating, rescuing and above all loving these wonderful beings. Learning first hand their communication and gestures, studying and educating myself on the science and behavior of animals where, primarily the canine, has long been my path and passion. So, what have I truly learned about how the brain of a dog works? I have learned much, and I am happy to share information with you today.

... the dog brain, like the human brain, has special areas set aside only used for certain activities.

Are Dogs Capable Of Reasoning

Other experts have stated they feel that dogs are capable of reasoning using the same mental process as do we humans, (although simpler in how it is all put together). For these experts, the dog is viewed as a version of the human, with the only difference being that dogs romp on all fours rather than balancing on a stilted two. A number of cultures (Ainu of Japan, the Kalang of Java and the Niasese of Sumatra, to name a few) tell historical tales of dogs that are said to actually be the ancestors of humans.

A few Tibetan monasteries bring a dog into the room of a passing priest so that his soul may rest their until he can find a human body to be reincarnated into. Some secs go a step (or two) further believing that every dog holds a human soul until they are restored to human form in the afterlife. My beliefs, as are that of many scholarly minds, are that we will find within our dogs skin, only the beautiful mind of a dog.

Mapping the dog brain-      Image complements of
Mapping the dog brain- Image complements of
Diogenes with his pack of dogs-   Image complements of
Diogenes with his pack of dogs- Image complements of

Looking At Dogs, Beyond the Microscope

"Say, Dog, I pray, what guard you in that tomb?"

Research has shown that the nerve cells of the dog brain work the same as do the nerve cells of the human brain. The patterns of electrical activity between the two are identical, the neurons in both brains are made up of the same chemical composite. The dog brain has within it most of the same structural design as that of a human brain.

The construction of the dog brain, like the human brain, has special areas set aside only used for certain activities. As remarkable as it may seem, if we mapped out both brains and labeled where the various functions are located within each, the dog brain would be amazingly similar to that of the human brains architecture. In example, along the side of the head near the temples we will find the part of the brain where hearing is placed, while the section dedicated to vision is located at the very back of the brain in both species. And the thin strip of material that runs across the top of the brain controls movement and the sense of touch in the dog as well as in the human brain.

We have been witness to many things that dogs can do that we humans have not or ever could teach them to do.

Differences Between The Dog And Human Brain

Looking beyond the microscope however, I am reassured in finding that there are important differences between the human and the dog brain! Some psychologists find that 60% of the human brain is dedicated to solving problems, storing memories, processing conscious thoughts, and interpreting and producing language. As dog owner's, we find more reassurance from our own proven and daily research that, 60% of the dog brain is dedicated to the study of obtaining food, scooby-snacks and snuggles.

—lacking the power of speech—not a lack of intellect.

Plato's Noble Dog

It has been written that many ancient sages held the dogs intelligence in great esteem. The Greek philosopher Plato defined the "noble dog" as "a lover of learning" and "a beast worthy of wonder." Diogenes—a later Greek philosopher and founder of the Cynic school who advocated self-control and the pursuit of virtue through simple living. He is said to have wandered through the streets of Athens with a lantern in daylight, searching for an honest man —believed that the common dog was one of high intellect. Diogenes eventually adopted the nick name "Cyon" (dog). When he founded his school, his followers were called "Cynics" (meaning dog thinkers). Upon his death, Athenians built a huge marble pillar in his memory. A dog image was carved and mounted at the very top of the monument.

They scribed a lengthy inscription under the dog carving that begins as follows;

"Say, Dog, I pray, what guard you in that tomb?"

"A dog."

"His name?"


Dog Trivia

In Scotland, a strange dog showing up at your house means a new friendship; In England to meet a spotted or black and white dog on your way to a business meeting is very lucky. Three white dogs seen together are considered to be lucky in many western U.S. areas.

It's important to know what "dumb" means...

Running the trails beside the older dogs and deciding for himself which roll he will play at the rescue scene...

Ancient and even in more recent centuries, writers referred to our fuzzy friends the K9, as "dumb brutes." We must consider the meaning of the word "dumb" in its original definition—lacking the power of speech—not a lack of intellect. Questioning just how smart a canine is remains a debate among many great scientific minds. We have been witness to many things that dogs can do that we humans have not or ever could teach them to do. Take, for example, the Saint Bernard rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps. These gentle giants work remarkably well in groups of three or more. After a storm passes, the dogs are sent out on patrol to search the trails for missing or injured travelers. When they arrive at a sight where a person is down, two of the dogs lay tightly —one on each side— to the person to keep the human warm; one dog will lick the face of the person attempting to jar him awake. In the interim, a different dog will have set-out on the path back to camp to retain assistance from the hospice monks and guide them to where the weary traveler lies.

Rescue Dog Trivia

By the way, when you think of the classic image of the gallant Saint Bernard arriving on scene with a keg of brandy attached to its collar, you are recalling a myth. It was in fact the hospice monks that the dogs would alert that brought the brandy keg to help warm up the wickedly chilly victims.

Saint Bernard Dogs Rescue Out Of Instinct Not Training

These Saint Bernard dogs are not trained to conduct this activity and have received no special directions from man—as a matter of fact, no clear way to train these dogs to take such life saving measures is known. The up and coming young-dog search teams are trained simply (or not so simply it would seem) by following and observing the manners of their predecessors. Running the trails beside the older dogs and deciding for himself which role he will play at the rescue scene, lay with the victim, reviving the unconscious, or going for help, each determined by the individual dogs' choosing.

General G. Patton and his 'dream' white dog.
General G. Patton and his 'dream' white dog. | Source

Dreaming only doggy things

"Last night I had a dream about a big white dog. I don't know what that means, but I know I am that dog."

As we have determined, the structure of the human brain has much in common with the canine brain. We can go one step further and say that our mental processes have similarity as well. In one particular process, dogs function just as we do; in the manner of a dream. Although so far we have only caught K9s dreaming of doggy things, I suspect their dreams may be deeper than we know. We can say that a dog dreams like a human because we have determined that they, like humans, operate within the special structure of the brain that keeps us all from acting out our dreams while sleeping. (I am not fond of this part, but it is part of science and discovery) We know that this animation-block resides in the dog brain (as in humans) because when scientists remove this portion of a dogs brain, the animals start to animate their dreams by moving about as electric brain measurements confirm that the dog is still asleep.

During this time, the still sleeping K9 started acting out the events of the dreams. One example provided is that a Pointer, while asleep would start looking for game and even go on-point, or that a Golden Retriever might retrieve imaginary game, while a Rottweiler may defend his front door from a would-be robber.

...dreaming of a red dog with white blazes can mean a quick recovery following an illness.

K9 Folklore In Dreams

In some folklore, it is said that dreaming can foretell future events. For those who agree with this practice, dreams about dogs can have significant meaning. Deciphering the meaning of the message within the dream would have to be the real breakthrough I would imagine. With this in mind, dreaming of barking dogs is said to be a good omen, while dreaming of a dog howling is said to be a bad omen. Calpurnia -Julius Caesar wife- spoke of a dream she had of a yellow dog howling, due to this dream she begged Caesar to not attend the meeting of Senate on that fateful day. History recalls Calpurnia was correct. Caesar met his demise upon greeting Brutus and the complying Senate members, who proceeded to stab Caesar many times, taking him swiftly to his death.

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Do humans underestimate the intelligence of dogs?

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What Do Dogs Mean In Dreams

A few particular differences in what a "dream dog's" meaning has to do with their appearance, such as the importance of their color. Dreaming of a black or grey dog can signify misfortune, while on the other-paw, dreaming of a red dog with white blazes can mean a quick recovery following an illness. A white dog in your dream is attributed to an up-and-coming victory. This type of victory dream has been documented by none other than biographers of General George S. Paton, who in 1942 lead the U.S. Armor Corps in the invasion of North Africa. Upon awakening one morning he spoke to an aide saying,"Last night I had a dream about a big white dog. I don't know what that means, but I know I am that dog." Possibly German General Erwin Rommel, who lead the Afrika Corps in defeat, would understand that meaning best, because as we know Patton had his first and well documented major victory in a tank battle against Rommel that very afternoon.

A random youtube family visits the AKC Museum of the Dog

American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

AKC Museum of the DOG

Queeny Park, where the museum is located, is accessible from highway/interstate 40/64 at the Mason Rd. exit or from 1-270 by taking the Manchester exit to Mason Rd.

If you are a tried-and-true dog lover, then the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog was made just for you! The world's finest collection of art inspired and devoted purely by our K9 friends resides within. The place is huge, offering 14,000 square feet for you to indulge your canine addiction. The museum holds over 700 original paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, bronzes, and porcelain figures, and a variety of other art pieces celebrating our dog friends throughout history. Sir Edwin Landseer's Deerhound and Recumbent Foxhound and Maud Earl portraits of a variety of terrier breeds can be found in full view for your enjoyment.

When Is The Dog Museum Open

The museum is open year-round and available to visitors Tuesday - Saturday from 10 AM - 4 PM, and Sundays 1PM - 5 PM (closed Monday's and holidays).

The Museum Gift Shop has many choices of gift products including T-shirts, jeweled dog dishes, books on dogs, umbrellas, stationary and one-of-a-kind things available only through the Dog Museum. A book and video library is available by appointment for research on purebred dogs and animal artists.

AKC Museum of the DOG map and directions

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, located at 1721 S. Mason Rd., in beautiful Queeny Park, :
St Louis, Missouri, USA

get directions

Dog Museum Fees and Information

This amazing place is not to be missed! You will find that once you are among the beautiful dog memorabilia, you may never want to leave! The very low entry cost is well worth the price!

Entry Fees:

  • Adults - $5.00
  • Seniors - $2.50
  • Children (5 to 14) $1.00

Find out more by contacting them at;

For full directions on how to get to 'The Museum of the Dog', the map page below has been provided for your convenience.

Comments for "How Do Dogs Think and Dream"

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  • Minnetonka Twin profile image

    Linda Rogers 

    7 years ago from Minnesota

    Really interesting and informative hub K9. I totally believe dogs are smarter than most people give them credit for. We live in the suburbs and when one family is on their way home, they start barking before the car is even in sight. It always blows us away.

  • shibashake profile image


    7 years ago

    Great article!

    Dogs are very good observers, great 'listeners', and they are extremely patient. As a result my dogs have me wrapped around their little paws. But that is ok because I enjoy every minute of it!

    If only people were more like dogs. :D

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Just Ask Susan~ How interesting your personal study of the dog brain. And it does not sound strange to me, I actually appreciate you reaching into this area of study on dogs. If we can open our minds to the things we do not understand, we may just gain the understanding we never imagined knowing. Thank you so much for your delightful comments, I enjoyed them very much.


  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Such an interesting hub. I have always known my dogs are smart and some days it amazes me how well they understand everything. I have at many times tried to see if they could read my mind by thinking okay let's go for a walk. This may sound strange but they get excited and go to where I keep their leashes. Works the same way with thinking about giving them a treat. Really enjoyed reading this hub!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Susan~You are so sweet to shout your love for your dog friends! It sounds as if yours take as much room as do mine. I gripe about it, but I also love it! I don't have kids around anymore so these darling beasts have filled the nest, of sorts. thank you for your delightful comments and for stopping by for a read! I really appreciate your words.

    ~Always choose love~


  • Susan K. Earl profile image

    Susan K. Earl 

    8 years ago from North Central Texas

    I loved your article. It only confirms what I already believed... my two dogs "think" they are human, and we basically treat as if they are. They are very loyal and always make me smile when they greet me at the door with their favorite toy in their mouth. They're also prone to staring at us with their soft eyes until we give up our seat to them or move over and share... and they get most of the room. I really believe they understand us, love us, and expect us to give them complete devotion, which we do! We have two Shiba Inu's and they are(as you can tell from this comment) very spoiled! Thanks K9 for this insightful, delightful post!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    nrash~Thank you for your comments. It is amazing to find just how loved these kind beasts are. Humans adore them and read, write and design art around them every minute of the day! Your stopping by is always a smile for me!


    equealla~I am always honored when you stop by. Nero is a good example of the misunderstood era of the dog. At Nero's place in history the cat held a superior standing whereas our k9 friends were strictly guardians, warriors and hunters. Great reference! Thanks for the read and I really appreciate your thoughtful comments.


    Pegcole17~You are so right about dogs being such a beautiful example of how humans should be,...without all of the scratching and shedding of course! It was interesting to me as well to study the deep dream state that the canine experiences, eye opening at least. I just love them and would sadly be lost without their good company. Thank you for the comments, they are warmly received.


    Kaltopsyd~Thank you so much for your high praise K. I value your words highly. I hope that puppy of yours is settling in so you can again find some dream time of your own! They are so worth it. The level of intellect a dog carries with him in a day could solve the worlds wars and bad politics, I am sure. If only we could get them to run for office! ;~)


    ~Always choose love~

  • kaltopsyd profile image


    8 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

    That was a fascinating article, K9. I found it very interesting to read. Dogs really are intelligent. I'm always surprised by some of the things that my puppy figures out how to do. Again, great Hub!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    8 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    One day we may be surprised when we find out just how much our dogs really knew. They're amazingly smart, deeply emotional and dream vividly. They have compassion and joy and love and give it freely. What great examples they are.

  • equealla profile image


    8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

    When I was a little girl, I listened in fascination to the story of Nero the tyrant. His punishment was that dogs would be named after him. I could not bring this to a conclusion of it being a punishment. Dogs has been called "man's best friend" for a reason.

    I also had dogs in my life since before I could remember, and cannot imagine it to be otherwise!

    Good article. You have taken a lot of effort putting this together for us to enjoy.

  • nrasch profile image


    8 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

    I often think about what might be going through my dog's mind. I had no idea there was so much information out there!


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