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How do dogs recognise each other?

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Josie, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Josie

    Josie Administrator Administrator Registered

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    When Dennis was a puppy he grew up with our friends dog Ted, a border Collie. Sadly he is no longer with us.

    Our friend has now taken on her sisters dog who happens to be a border collie also but brown/white and long haired.

    Whenever we see this dog out Dennis is SO excited! He runs off (which is unusual as he usually just plods!) and with his tail wagging so hard! Even once he’s caught up with the dog he stays so excited and wants to follow him everywhere.

    He doesn’t seem to register that the dog isn’t Ted. The only thing I can think of is that this other dog smells the same as what Ted did (living in same house/same owner)

    Does this mean dogs don’t recognise others in appearance? Just by smell?
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Ooh, interesting subject. I wonder if it's a case of 'Anyone from Ted's gang is a friend of mine', and/or 'Hey, you both look and smell like the sort of dog I like, therefore you're automatically my special mate.' Maybe they don't quite have the same concept of an individual person/animal that we do - we would't regard a clone of our partner as a perfectly good substitute but maybe to a dog, 'If it looks (pretty much) like a Ted and smells like a Ted, then it might just as well be a Ted.'

    Dogs definitely recognise other dogs by sight as well as smell. Jasper got quite excited by a white fluffy standard poodle in the distance a while back, and the poodle seemed excited to see Jasper. When we met up, the dogs lost interest in each other. I said to the poodle's owner that I think Jasper thought the poodle was his friend Ted (a very shaggy white lurcher) and the woman replied that her poodle had thought Jasper was Ted!

    Sighthounds recognise other sighthounds by sight (well it would be, wouldn't it!!). They don't even have to look similar to them - it happens between whippets and deerhounds, and every pointy size & shape in between. And occasionally Jasper will greet what looks like a skinny collie cross as if it's a sighthound and I'll wonder why, then the other dog will run... and it moves like a whippet. How he recognises the pointy-dog influence before I'm sure, I really don't know.

    Jasper does sometimes mistake people for someone he knows if they look similar, which is a bit embarrassing when he runs up to them with his tail rotating like a windmill!
     
  3. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    For a while after Oscar (bc)died Benny and Remy would get excited at every border collie they saw ears up tails wagging madly until the other dog got close and they realised it wasn't him. I think sight plays a part in recognition but smell is the deal breaker.
     
    merlina and Biker John like this.
  4. Biker John

    Biker John Well-Known Member Registered

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    Agree with Mad Murphy, When I lost my Shih Tzu, (a black and white0, Folly missed him. Not to bad but it was obvious. Anyway, after a few months we were at racing and during a break we were walking down to the snack van. Folly suddenly went in front so her lead actually tightened which is very unusual, tail wagging like mad. Looking ahead a woman was walking towards us with a black and white Shih Tzu. Folly then relaxed and returned to her normal walking when they got close. I thought then that at a distance sight fooled her but close up scent let her know the truth.
     
  5. Josie

    Josie Administrator Administrator Registered

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    That’s true Judy. Den often thinks he sees his friend Ted (a lot of Teds around!) the Bichon when it’s just another small white dog.

    He also does this with people. It really is embarrassing!!
     
  6. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    There was a good example of this on TV recently - Dogs Behaving Badly. There was a westie (I think) that was having problems as the other westie it lived with had died. To diagnose the problem, they showed the dog with the issues a picture of the his deceased friend, and he immediately reacted to it (sight). Then he walked up to it, sniffed it and walked off, shoing that he could tell it wasn't his mate.
     
  7. Nanny71

    Nanny71 Well-Known Member Registered

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    Dudley was attacked by a border collie in our street. This dog was off lead and escaped from the house when the door was opened.
    Every time we walk past the house or see the dog, Dudley barks.
    I visit a border collie daily and I was worried he would react the same. He knows the difference and still happily plays with Kylo.
    He can obviously tell the difference
     
  8. Dibbythedog

    Dibbythedog Member Registered

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    My dogs have been attacked by german shepherds so all at one point they would react to all German shepherds but fortunately there are a couple of brilliant GSD dogs and kind owners who were patient and let me use them as stooge dogs so to speak and they get on fine.
     

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