Dog Science unleashed

Get started on some doggone good science!

In the Nat Geo Kids book Dog Science Unleashed, you'll discover 22 safe and dog-friendly activities you can enjoy alongside your canine companion while discovering what makes Fido tick. Uncover the secrets behind how your pooch moves, drinks, stays warm, gets clean, cools off, and so much more.

Check out a sneak peek of some of the fun activities from Dog Science Unleashed!

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Have fun with your pet.

It’s not just people who favor one hand over the other! Dogs can be left-handed, or rather, left-pawed, too.
With these two activities, you can find out if your dog is a righty or a lefty.


Photograph by Matthew Rakola


Place a small bit of painter’s tape on the end of your dog’s nose, right in the center.
Record how many times he uses each paw as he removes it.


Find a piece of furniture with a low edge, such as a sofa or a bookshelf. It should be low enough that your dog cannot stick his head under, but with enough room for a paw. Show your dog a treat and then slide it under the furniture. Record how many times he uses each paw to try to reach the treat.
Add up how many times your dog used each paw in the tests. Did he favor one paw more often?

About one-third of dogs are rightpawed, one-third are left-pawed, and one-third don’t seem to have a preference. So whatever your results, your dog is in good company. Dog (and human!) brains have two sides, called hemispheres. These hemispheres show a strange reversal: Body parts on the right side of the body, such as a dog’s right paws, right legs, and right eye, are controlled by the left side of his brain. Body parts on the left side of the body are controlled by the right side of the brain. If your dog favors his right paw, he’s using his left hemisphere. If he prefers his left paw, you could say he’s in his “right mind.”


It’s no secret that dogs like smells that make people say P.U.! Your pup may love to find the stinkiest corner of the yard and roll, roll, roll. Or he may get into the garbage and spread the stench high and low. When those icky odor chemicals enter your dog’s nose, they travel through the air until they smack into a smell receptor. That receptor notifies the brain, and the brain tries to recognize the smell—like a matching game. Humans have about five million smell receptors, but dogs have up to 300 million!
Try this activity to find some smells that will make those receptors happy.


Photograph by Matthew Rakola


  • hammer and nail
  • 4 identical plastic containers with lids
  • 4 unusual odors (some ideas: mint mouthwash, Worcestershire sauce, ginger or another strong spice, dirty sock, or toy that a friend’s dog has used)

1. Ask an adult to help you use the hammer and nail to punch 10 holes in the top of each plastic container.


2. Place some of each scent into its own separate plastic container and put the lid on it. Shake to get the smell circulating.


3. With your dog out of the room, place the containers in a row with a few inches between them.


4. Let your dog into the room. Record how long he spends with each container over one minute. He will spend the most time with the scent that is most interesting to him.


When a dog gets a whiff of something new, he sniffs the odor into an amazing smelling machine. His nose has a special pocket called the olfactory recess that is separated from the rest of his nose by a thin bone. He can store air in that recess while he continues to breathe in and out normally, which gives his brain more time to interpret the smell. And if he wants more of that same smell? Take a close look at his nose. He has two big nostrils with slits along the sides. Air goes in the round section and out through the slits. This way, the exhaled air doesn’t get in the way of the incoming smells.

Moment of Woof!

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Moment of Woof

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DISCLAIMER: Various steps in some of the activities in this book involve potential risk of personal injury, property damage, and other dangers associated with the use of fire, sharp objects, and/or other materials. Some potential dangers include burns, cuts, and abrasions. By performing and/or allowing your child to perform any activities presented in this book, you: (i) assume all risks of damages or injury to any person or property as a result of you and/or your young scientist’s performance of the activities; and (ii) acknowledge that author and publisher disclaim all responsibility and liability for any damage or injury that may result from you and/or your young scientist’s performance of the activities.


The activities in this book are designed to be fun for both kids and their pets. Just like humans, dogs enjoy new challenges! Please review these guidelines with your child to make sure any participating pup is safe, comfortable, and having fun. Only do these activities with a dog that knows your child well and is comfortable around your child. Watch for signs that the dog is unhappy. If any of these activities seem to make the dog uncomfortable or upset, stop immediately. Even a dog that is enjoying an activity needs a break. Make sure the dog has access to water throughout these activities and if he wants to stop, let him. If your dog is on a special diet, check with his veterinarian before feeding him treats. Always check with the dog’s owner before feeding him anything. Clean up when you are done, so your pooch doesn’t accidentally eat any leftover materials. If you decide to alter an activity or try a new version, make sure the new plan is safe for both your child and the dog.