It is well known that dogs have a strong sense of smell and that they know how to use it, in particular to recognize their masters. A recently published study has confirmed this.
In an article in Psychology Today , Dr. Daniel Marston , a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy , commented on the results of a study published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology . Work carried out by Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College ( New York ), on the recognition of handlers by their dogs and the role of smell in this process.
We all know that dogs rely a lot on their flair in most of the situations they encounter on a daily basis, including when it comes to recognizing their owners and, more generally, the individuals they are familiar with . Our canine friends also rely on their sense of smell to recognize their fellows , gauge the dangerousness of the individual they face, identify the objects that belong to them (toys, bowl, etc.) or even assess the distances separating them from people or moving animals.
They also use their sight and hearing (voice recognition), but to what extent compared to smell ? This is what the team led by Alexandra Horowitz wanted to determine, who immediately recalls that “ the smell is recognized as the primary source of information ” in dogs.
The researchers subjected the dogs that participated in the study, a test to examine their reaction vis-à-vis the smells familiar people, even when they are absent. The exercise consisted of hiding, in separate boxes, a t-shirt worn by the master and an item of clothing worn by someone the dog did not know .
The quadrupeds were then encouraged to search the room for something . Unsurprisingly, the study authors noted that dogs more often went to the box containing the clothing worn by their owner .
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This experiment is yet another demonstration of the importance of smell in a dog’s life. It goes far beyond that of vision and hearing , even if these senses are also involved. Dr. Daniel Marston invites canine owners to avoid behaviors that are likely to interfere with the need that dogs have to use their flair . This includes situations that can be embarrassing , such as when the animal wants to sniff someone .