2 tips on a lost dog: prevention and reaction

This couple of tips in preventing losing your dog and then, when needs must, finding him or her, come from David Tennant writing in The Sunday Times today. I thought they were interesting tips because I’ve not seen them mentioned before and as you might expect there are probably tens of thousands of articles providing advice on this topic.

As it happens, David Tennant was writing about finding Nicola Bulley, a lady who is in the news today because she disappeared completely when walking her dog along the River Wye which is not far from her home, as I understand it. There is not a trace of her but the police believe that she fell into the river but they have no evidence of it.

Colin Tennant’s advice is about how her dog might help to find her. In the Infographic this advice is referred to as reacting to a lost dog.

2 tips on preventing lost dogs and finding them
2 tips on preventing lost dogs and finding them in an infographic by MikeB

Olfactory mapping

He says that dogs don’t visualise with their eyes the area where they are and the general landscape. They map it through their sense of smell which, he says is about 10,000 times more powerful than that of humans. Although a dog’s vision is inferior to that of humans.

Every part of the landscape where a dog has been has its own peculiar scent and so a dog “maps the land with that olfactory system”. The second point is that dogs will tend to circulate the area where their owner went missing because “that’s where all the owner’s scents are, on the ground and [on] vegetation.”

Reaction – returning to place where owner last seen/smelled

And therefore, sometimes, perhaps commonly, dogs who have lost their owners (the other side of the coin to owners losing their dogs) will return to the place where they’ve lost them. And in the case of Nicola Bulley, David Tennant would hope that her dog returns to the site at the river’s edge where she went into the water if that indeed did happen. This might help locate Nicola Bulley.

And in the spirit of that form of canine behaviour, Tennant says that if you lose your dog one way to be reunited is to return to or remain in the position where you lost your dog. He would hope that the dog would backtrack, return to that position because you are the leader of the pack and your dog has mapped that area and want to return to their leader.

Prevention – line of sight

On the topic of prevention of losing your dog, Tennant says that he trains his German shepherd puppies to keep him in their eye line. I mention that in the Infographic. He achieves this by doing the following. When he is out walking with a puppy, he hides from them behind trees “to teach them not to leave my sight”.

When they can’t see him, they don’t understand where he’s gone and they panic slightly. When they start to run in the wrong direction, he makes himself visible to them. Doing that over a period of a month, on many occasions, the puppy learns that “whatever it’s doing, it should keep me in its eye line”.

Obviously, there are many other ways to find a lost dog and of course to prevent them being lost. These are two tips from a very well-known dog behaviourist. David Tennant is a former police officer and the director of the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training, and chairman of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association.

Below are some more articles on dog senses.

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Post Category: Dogs