I also tried this ... ( trying to generalize from latin "sentio" meaning more generally "to perceive with the senses" -- and inferring that a dog's most likely sense was smell ). I guess it doesn't carry this meaning in Spanish though.
The free Ascendo online Spanish-English dictionary gives "smell" as one of numerous sense-impression translations: detect, sense, regret, deplore, lament, feel, experience. But as a cautious Duo user I went with "felt" as the least likely to get dinged.
Perhaps it has a darker meaning...like animal abuse. "If you don't shut up, you'll feel my hand."
Does this mean that the dog sensed that my hand was there, that my dog felt the contact of my hand or that my dog took action to make contact with my hand?
The second sentence would be the most accurately translation, but the first one is correct too (depending of the context). About the third one, I'd tranlate as: "El perro tocó mi mano".
You are right. Body parts are referred to as 'la' but in this case it says 'mi' to clarify or you might think it was 'the dog felt his own hand" [paw:)] If I said I touched my arm it would be "yo toqué el brazo"
In English, to say someone "felt my hand" can be a euphemism for saying that you hit them. When talking about a person this would be ambiguous, as they might have felt your hand in such a way as a child would to explore how it feels, or a loved one might for comfort. But we don't really think about dogs as feeling objects in this way, they simply touch them, nudge them, or do other actions that don't imply sentient reflection. So to me, this sentence sounds like "I hit the dog" :(
Not silly at all because what is implied here is that the man touched or petted the dog.
Noted in comments, but in English the dog felt my hand would likely be interpreted as the person hit the dog with their hand..
You wouldn't hear this so much in english, "the dog touched my hand" would make more sense