Dogs can hear sounds up to four times the distance that we can. They can also hear a wider frequency of sounds than we can. Sometimes I wonder what they are hearing that I am missing. Other times, I am trying to get their attention, and they seem completely oblivious. If their hearing is so good, then why does it seem they can't hear me calling them to come in from outside?
Dogs might be able to hear more than we can, but it doesn't mean they are always focused on certain noises. Just as we can tune things out or not notice things if we're not paying attention, I'm sure it's the same for dogs. If my dogs are busy napping or playing or searching for bunnies, they might not be paying any attention to me or whatever else is going on.
This reminds me of a study I heard about done on people. I don't remember the exact details, but it went something like this. People were asked to watch a video of kids playing basketball. Some were wearing red jerseys, others were wearing blue. They were asked to count how many kids they saw in red jerseys. Afterward, they asked how many people had noticed the person in the gorilla costume pass through the picture. Everyone was so focused on what they'd been asked to do – count the red jerseys, that they had not even noticed the costumed person run through the middle of the scene. The real test was not if people could count the red jerseys, but if people would notice something in the picture completely out of the ordinary when they were focused on something else in particular. When we are so focused on one thing, something that seems so obvious is not even noticed.
If we were able to run a similar test for dogs, I'm sure we'd see something similar. If our dogs were so focused on squirrels or balls or other dogs or whatever it was, they might not even realize we were calling them. It seems obvious to us, because we're the ones calling them. But they are so focused elsewhere that they really don't even hear us despite the fact that their hearing is so much better than ours.
As much as I would like my dogs to respond immediately when I am trying to get their attention, I do understand that sometimes we are all focused elsewhere and have tuned out the rest of the world. I just have to accept the fact that, to my dogs, sometimes I am part of the “rest of the world” that has been momentarily tuned out.
I try to keep reminding myself that the world doesn't really revolve around me. I try to keep reminding Romeo that the world doesn't revolve around him either.
I think we'll take a quiet walk this afternoon and keep our ears open. I wonder what we'll hear today.