Dogs also recognize us in photographs


A study by the University of Padua has shown that dogs are able to recognize faces of their owner’s in photographs.
“Many think that dogs mainly used their sense of smell to recognize people or other animals. Yet, visual information is just as, if not more, important than their sense of smell, explains one of the authors, Paolo Mongillo, Professor of Veterinarian Physiology and Ethology at the University of Padua. “For dog lovers it will seem a foregone conclusion, but it is the first known confirmation that dogs use information about our faces to recognize us. For humans, the face contains special information, processed by specific and dedicated mechanisms of our nervous system. These studies lay the foundations for understanding whether dogs also use the same visual processing mechanisms.”
In the study, recently published in the prestigious Animal Cognition journal, the dogs were temporarily separated from their owner’s. To find them, the dogs were shown a photograph of the dog’s owner’s face and a photograph of a stranger's face, located within two different places of a room. Most of the dogs approached the photograph of their owner, rather than that of the stranger, thus showing that dogs are capable of recognising individuals in photographs.

Prof. Paolo Mongillo and Prof. Lieta Marinelli coordinate the DogUP Dog Behaviour Laboratory of the University of Padua, an internationally recognized centre for the study of the behaviour, perception and cognitive abilities of dogs.