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January 25, 2016

How Do Dogs Recognize People?

Like my human friends and family, my dogs know who I am – even when they’d like to pretend otherwise. “Will? Yeah we know him. What did he do now?” Recently I’ve started thinking about the different ways our dogs identify and recognize who we are. Smell,
Like my human friends and family, my dogs know who I am – even when they’d like to pretend otherwise.Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

“Will? Yeah we know him. What did he do now?”

Recently I’ve started thinking about the different ways our dogs identify and recognize who we are.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

Smell, of course, is a big one for pups. To Eko and Penny, I imagine an individual’s scent is as recognizable as their face

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

But for my two, I also know sight plays a big role. If I say “Who’s that?” both Eko and Penny immediately swivel their heads looking for a familiar face

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

Even when that face is far away, the dogs still recognize the silhouette and go running

What cracks me up is that even with their heightened senses, the pups have made a few mistakes. Women with a similar winter coat to Emily have on multiple occasions been mistaken for Emily. Eko and Penny even act sheepishly when they realize the mix up!

I’ve found there are also a number of subtle ways the dogs recognize us.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

We hear car doors outside all the time, but the dogs wait until around the time Emily comes home before they expectantly run to our door after hearing a car pull in

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, puppy, cute, chicago

And you don’t even have to be in the room for the dogs to recognize you. These two always perk up when they hear Emily on the other end of the phone

We often say our dogs know us better than we know ourselves and I think this post lends further credence to the saying. While we all think of ourselves in one way, our dogs recognize who we are in a networked multitude of ways. Smell, sight, sound, body language – you name it, and our dogs have our number.

There’s very few personal subtleties which slip by a pup. So, of the ways your dog knows who you are, what’s your favorite?

Comments for How Do Dogs Recognize People?

  1. I sometimes wonder why Easy sniffs for minutes on new stuff I wear the first time… he reminds me of the customs somehow… either he will storage the smell and the look on his harddisk or he wants to get the attention of his dad that way what leads to a grumpy look for the money-waster (me) :o)

  2. paws2smile says:

    Oh my gosh, that up close shot?!? So cuuuuuuuuute! 🙂

  3. nerdgrl (Kim S.) says:

    I swear that Steffi knew our cars and could tell when we pulled on to the road a half mile from our house. By the time the car pulled in to the garage, she was at the back door waiting to pounce in greeting. And now, Amara is starting to do the same thing.

  4. dashlilly says:

    Definitely there are cues that the dogs know. But I also love the mistakes. We walked for about a year with a friend who would have her 12 month old in a big red stroller. That little one is now in 2nd grade and when she comes over, both Dash and Lilly know her and go crazy over her and love walking with her. If they see her across the park, they head her way. BUT still to this day when Dash sees a big red stroller he gets excited and pulls over to see the baby. I always have to apologize! So Dash’s cues are not 100 percent!! or he needs to do some deleting!!!

  5. Stef says:

    My Lucky whimpers when I get home from work uncontrollably! It’s the sweetest thing and yes, they hear me pull in and POUNCE the second I walk in the door! Great photos today as always Will!!

  6. coastingnz says:

    our boys are great with locations – they know if we head in one direction chances are we’re doing the 10 mile valley walk and there are amazing noises of excitement coming from the back seat – then we drive by and all goes quiet……. now they are just waiting in anticipation of where exactly are we going. Nico our Dali is so good – he knows towns, miles away – I mean like 7 hours drive miles away, but when we turn off about 10kms from the town, the excitement noise starts in the back seat – he’s remembered and knows exactly where we are going – holiday time, adventure time, running time……. Incredible.

  7. Kismet says:

    The one thing the dogs know best about the peeps is when the peeps yell “Dinner!”.Most of the time the dogs are already there. They must recognize the peeps; thought patterns.

  8. Eve says:

    Juley is a very visual dog as when my late hubby was driving his truck and came home she would be barking at him until he got out of the truck. Now me she must be able to see me as I don’t think she barks quite as much at me, but then again I’m not in the house when I come home. lol

  9. Emmadog says:

    Routine, sound, and smell are our top three recognizers. We can tell by the sound of the clothing if we are going for a walk, or should keep on napping!

  10. Smell is a big one – I notice it now that Jack’s eyesight is so poor – we can be outside in the evening and if I’m standing still he might walk right by me…but then he gets a whiff (not that I stink, just my regular body smells I guess) and he stops in his tracks.

  11. I see Mom coming from a mile away when I wait in the window. My tail is a blur from wagging so fast!

    Love and licks,

  12. realappetite says:

    Since Scott travels for work we do video chatting when he’s gone. It is uncanny that Atlas knows his voice but he clearly gets frustrated when he can’t see or smell him. He seems to be able to see the screen but can’t necessarily scale up to life size, I guess.

    It also cracks me up when we drive to the dog park, he is able to differentiate any ol’ speed bump in the world from THAT speed bump at the park entrance!

  13. Jim says:

    I’m astounded that our Golden Retriever can recognize my car….well maybe not exactly mine but any white Honda CRV.

  14. You posted Eko and Penny in their nakedness!!!! The top picture!!!

    I like talking to Mom on the phone when she’s away. Dad, too. It makes my tail wag and I lick the phone. *ear licks*

  15. Mine will recognize the sound of each of our cars. But when out hunting if we get separated and then we come across John walking towards us glory will bark at him like he is an intruder.

  16. That double take look Sam gives me makes me crack up every. single. time. His feet move faster than his body and he practically leaves rubber getting to me once he’s recognized it really is me. And then I love when he recognizes our car when we’ve been out and about-that just blows me away. How DO they do that? 😉

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