Why dogs stick their heads out of car windows

Have you ever wondered why dogs put their heads out of car windows? Watch this video and learn more about this common behaviour.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.

Transcript

For dogs too, getting out and about excites their wild senses. And for such intelligent animals, you can't beat a road trip. While we are obsessed with visual landmarks, they focus only on scents. We have a measly six million smell receptors, but a dog's nose contains 300 million.

They use it to unravel stories about the world around them. Predictably, most are about food. 

Forty times more of their brain than ours is devoted to deciphering smells.

They home in on those with special significance. A single chemical aldehyde found in blood makes this one-time hunter drool.

There is a way to bring their smelly world to life. Schlieren photography visualises the air currents that carry odours and shows the remarkable workings of a dog's nose. Dogs breathe out through the side slits in their nostrils. As the expelled air rotates, it helps draw more scent into the nose. This two-way current helps a dog gather scent almost continuously. But that's not all. 

A male can smell a female in heat at concentrations of one part in a trillion.

Licking helps capture more of her alluring scent. His tongue takes the odour to a second smell organ in the mouth, hardwired to the brain and tuned to these sexual pheromones. It's love at first sniff.

For dogs, being a passenger rivals any wild experience, but it can be tinged with disappointment too.

The streets of Paris may be full of romantic promise, but pet dogs are seldom in control of their destiny.

Love may be in the air, but it's so rarely fulfilled.

© BBC

Discussion

Download
Worksheet57.73 KB
Average: 4.3 (16 votes)
Do you need to improve your English?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are making great progress with their English level with our online courses.

Submitted by Dalenty on Tue, 14/03/2023 - 08:03

Permalink

Hi guys & girls. I also used to have a dog when I was a little boy. Now I am a grown up but the reason I don't have a pet is about the age, it is hidden in the last lines of the video above - the pets are not able to live life Mother Nature has created them for and to follow their animal instincts. In fact they are gently forced to do what pleases their owners - humans. I've many times witnessed how my friends, pets owners, cut their dogs' ears, tails, neuter them, you know it, for their dogs' good. I really don't want to think what all that feels like from a dog's perspective. But does it seem a good life, at least it is not my idea of it. Sorry for being that candid but that is just like me. Val

Submitted by victor1980bcn on Mon, 06/03/2023 - 21:22

Permalink

Yes, of course! I have always had different pets: fishes, hamsters, guinea pigs, parakeets, turtles, dogs, etc., because I can't live withouts animals, so I love them.
Actually I have a wonderful dog called "Vicky": she is clever, good and very sensitive. My life without her wouldn't be the same.
For me, animals are the best thing in the world.

Submitted by AlexandraMT on Sat, 18/02/2023 - 14:03

Permalink

I had a pet, but it died last year.

Profile picture for user srossin600

Submitted by srossin600 on Mon, 05/09/2022 - 23:03

Permalink

I had many cats in my life.
I prefer cats rather than dogs. Cats are proud, more indipendent, you don't have to take them for a walk.
Dogs are more servants and dipendent on their masters.
The most beloved by me was secretely named by me Mascarina, by the local language same word which means "little mask", because of the black and white "mask on her face".
But now I don't have and I want cats no more.: the last two females, one was Mascarina, fell ill and my sister and I had to take care of them, take them to the vet and give them medicines, easy for pills, more difficult for drops. I saw both of them when they died.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Mon, 02/05/2022 - 13:41

Permalink

I had many dogs in my life. my mom is very kind to animals. she always loves her own dog as well as outsider dogs. she always gives food to outsider dogs and dogs always love unconditionally. they protect you and when you feel sad they always understand everything. I'm in Manali at my cousin's house. I have been here for 1years and here is one dog german shepherd he loves me a lot we both sleep with each other he is very intelligent and understands everything.

Submitted by Hector Zavala on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 01:24

Permalink

Dogs are awesome friends and they have incredible abilities.

Submitted by Ccj271 on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 19:06

Permalink

Since my mom doesn't allow pets, I couldn't have a dog of my own, however I have always loved animals and most of my friends and family have more than one pet so even thought I couldn't have a pet I was always playing and taking care of many pets

Submitted by Ccj271 on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 19:02

Permalink

I really like dog and It hink they are really amazing animals with more abilities than we think, Having on ein your life can really make a great difference for good :)

Submitted by Carlos Enrique on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 19:01

Permalink

It is very important that dogs are cared for in a good way, that they are looked after and above all that they are stimulated in a good way so that when they have to live with other people they do not become aggressive or afraid of new people. Dogs are also one of the animals with the best sense of smell on the planet, they use it to unravel stories about the world around them. As expected, most of them are about food. A male can smell a female in heat in concentrations of one part in a trillion.

Submitted by Frida Luna on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 18:53

Permalink

It was a very interesting video. My dog loves car rides, and he never misses sticking its head out. It's amazing! It seems like an overwhelming and refreshing thing to do.