Dogs recognize their owner's face

It was found that dogs mainly recognize their owners on the basis of their face. When the owners' face is covered up recognition is more difficult. Older dogs have more difficulty recognizing their owners.
Researchers investigated this by putting the dog in an empty room. Its owner and an unknown person had to walk trough the room a number of times. Each time the two persons met right in front of the dog. It was monitored which person the do looked at and for how long. Then the two persons left the room through separate doors. Now it was monitored near which door the dog would sit. The results were clear: The dogs looked at their owner more often and longer and they would sit near the door the owner went though. A second experiment was conducted in the same way, but this time the faces of both persons were covered. The dogs paid much less attention to their owners in this experiment.

Wild dogs look at body signals to identify others. Domesticated dogs have adapted so much to humans that they are capable of recognizing their owners’ facial expressions. This study confirms once again that domestication has a strong influence on behaviour.

Older dogs (more than seven years of age) did not look at their owners as long as the younger dogs did. They also didn’t sit as much near the door their owners exited the room through. The researchers believe that the animals are having trouble remembering because of their age. Earlier studies showed that the aging process in dogs is fairly similar to that in humans.