Can a dog find a way home
Even if the dog walks with the owner, who leads her on a leash, or runs on a limited territory herself, she can easily find her way home within the whole familiar and studied space. How great the distance at which she knows more or less depends on the distance from her home to the route of her walks. However, one often hears opinions that dogs have a unique ability to navigate and find, for example, a house shortly after the animal enters an unknown place before it even at a decent distance from the house.
Let’s try to find out how much stories about the ability of dogs to navigate far distances have real ground. And can dogs really find their way home? Being in an unfamiliar area. Here is the first point that contradicts these statements: when they hunt dogs in an unfamiliar place, often the dogs are lost, having lost their orientation. It is rare that a dog lagging behind its owner can find a way home in a completely unfamiliar place.
It happens that dogs that are lost can find their own food to live on, and full-bodied dogs, if they have something to drink, can live without food for several weeks. Most likely, the dogs that got into an unfamiliar place are looking for a way home either purely by chance, or because in the past the dog was here during hunting or fishing, and just remembered which way the house is located. If such an experience exists, and the dog is in an unfamiliar place, it will most likely go in the direction where the house should be in relation to the previously visited lands. Much will depend on luck. And if the house is somewhere in the other direction, an attempt to find the road will be in vain.
Probably, being even very far from home, the dog can smell some kind of native smells reminiscent of the house. But they are not enough to form an idea of which direction to move or how far the dog is from home.
At the same time, the dog, having received a signal in the form of a smell, can begin an instinctive search until he finds the place that he already knows in order to determine how to find a house there. If the dog herself ran away from home, without coercion and not under the influence of the feverish instinct of the hunter, then we can assume that she will be able to return back. This is exactly the case when the sense of smell plays a paramount role, and the role of trails and roads along which the dog likes to walk is secondary.
If we talk about the closest relatives of the dog – the wolves, then they have vast territories for their winter and summer hunting, because the number of animals that the wolf hunts is not so large. The male returns from the hunt to the lair, where the female with the wolfs is located, quite simply and quickly. At the same time, he chooses the most convenient way for himself, which is not necessarily the shortest. A dog can also find a way, not only thanks to the knowledge of the area, in the same way and on the same size area, if it is large and attentive, and, of course, if she travels regularly through the forest, which contradicts the Hunting Law.
Let’s try to understand how the dog determines in which direction to move, being in an unfamiliar place. For this, we again recall the lifestyle of the wolf. In the seasons of a pack-like way of life (that is, when a wolf does not have a family), wolves roam pretty decent distances – for example, chasing game. There are wolves and loners (for example, in Finland). So they can sometimes run through the entire country from border to border. These so-called “local” wolves in the areas bordering the former USSR basically know how to return, although for this purpose they have to run a long distance again.
To safely overcome such distances, wolves, apparently, have to use the heavenly bodies as a compass. Therefore, it should be thought that the “inheritance” of dogs has remained such an ability to move in a certain direction. But, of course, it all depends on the breed. Because it’s one thing – a noble domestic animal, and quite another – a moving active greyhound or a shepherd dog with a good scent.
Of course, the initial principles of selection and selection features, on which pedigree features depend, influenced the ability of dogs to orient. However, even the Pekingese and other individuals, completely unlike the original image of the dog, can, having appeared in a certain number of meters from the house, freely return, not even necessarily along the previous trajectory. Apparently, the dogs perfectly retained the ability to look for the way to their native doors from close surroundings. How big the territory familiar to the dog determines its way of life. And if the dog is walking well, then she knows about a few square kilometers around.
A dog can navigate a much larger area not only based on the direction of the sun’s movement, but also by catching smells coming from large distances.