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Caissie Canine Instruction: How Do Dogs Find Their Way Home?

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We begin this week’s “RUFF TAILS” featuring a beautiful 4-month-old Black Labrador named Koba.

Hello everyone, I am the new member to the Pabon pack.

I have learned how to sit, stay, and I am working on my recall. I love playing tag with my Yorkie packmate, going for walks, and snoozing by the fireplace.

My favourite game is hide and seek with my small humans and of course helping around the house, by carrying everything in my mouth. HEE! HEE!

Welcome to Doggie Dialogue

We have all heard stories of amazing dogs finding their way home after weeks, months, or even years.

When dogs go missing, it is often suggested to leave their bedding or a piece of clothing out, as research has found dogs rely on familiar scents.

Dogs have the ability to hone in on one specific smell, such as a pee marked tree, a familiar person or animal. Dogs have a strong sense of smell. They have over 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose (humans 25 million).

Dogs rely on “overlapping circles” of familiar scents to find their way back home. A 10-mile distance or longer, if wind conditions are good, your dog will be able to follow a scent. This is much like humans relying on cell phone “pings” on the towers to find specific locations.

For an example, if your dog wanders out of range, yet picks up a scent of a familiar dog in the next “circle”, it may point back to a “circle” that contains a familiar tree or person.

Some dogs will rely on their noses, other dogs may use their ability to detect magnetic fields to find their way home. Some dogs will run along the north-south axis, to help orient themselves, and may find a different way to get back home.

Everywhere your dog travels, he/she will register all surrounding sights, sounds, scents, and then will internalize it, sort of like an internal visual map.

When you leave your house for a walk your dog will also leave his/her distinct scent from their own paws, creating a bigger chemical signal.

When your dog travels the same route repeatedly, they renew the scent markers on his/her trail.

Unfortunately, not all dogs make it home. To maximize your chances of your dog/dogs finding their way home is to ensure your canine has a I.D. tag, collar and if possible have them microchipped.

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