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NatureHow dogs recognize their owners from a distance

How dogs recognize their owners from a distance

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In a new study, scientists have found that dogs do not need to smell, see and touch to recognize their owners.

A new study by scientists from the Faculty of Ethology at Eötvös Lorand University (ELTE) in Hungary has shown that dogs can only recognize their owners by their voice. The results of the work are published by the journal Animal Cognition.

Employees of the Hungarian Department of Ethology invited 28 dogs and their owners to play hide-and-seek in the laboratory. The animals had to find the owner behind one of two hiding places (a stranger hid behind the other). Both read recipes in a neutral tone. The task of the dogs was to understand from a distance where the owner is hiding. The experiment took place in several stages.

Dogs found their owner in 82% of cases. To make sure the animals weren’t helped by smells, for the last two rounds, the researchers played the owner’s voice from where the stranger was hiding. The dogs still went exactly to the voice (and, therefore, in this case, the scent did not help the animals, they used the familiar voice of the owner for guidance).

During the experiment, scientists also found that if the voice of the owner and the stranger differed in height and volume, then this helped the dogs. At the same time, the timbre and other sound markers had no effect on the choice of the animal.

Photo: Animals had to find the owner behind one of two shelters (a stranger hid behind the other). DOI: 10.1007/s10071-022-01601-z

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