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Can Dogs Find Their Way Home If They Get Lost?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

lost dog

We have all heard amazing stories about dogs finding their way back home, even when they were hundreds of miles away. While not all dogs will find their way home after getting lost, they usually have the ability to do so. It’s just that there are many roadblocks in the world that dogs simply don’t know how to deal with.

After all, they don’t understand the concept of things like highways, stop lights, and back roads. So, how can dogs find their way home if they get lost? There are a couple of ways that dogs can do this — namely, through sight and smell. Keep reading to learn more about how dogs can find their way home if they get lost.

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Can Dogs Find Their Way Home Using Their Noses?

A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times more efficient than a human’s. Therefore, we can expect dogs to pick up on many more scents and to smell more effectively than we do. Dogs tune in to odors when they’re out and about, whether on walks or road trips. They can associate the odors they smell with places they visit. They can pick up on the scent of a dog living down the street whenever they pass the neighborhood fire hydrant.

They can also tell when they’re approaching places that they are familiar with, including their home, due to the smells that are associated with those places. If your dog spends a great deal of time walking and playing at the park, you can bet that they’re leaving their own scent all around town.

So, if your pooch gets lost somehow while away from home, there is a good chance that they’ll be able to use their nose and all the scents they are familiar with to find their way back home again. They will be searching for familiar scents that let them know where they are in relation to your home. With any luck, those scents will help get them home safely.

sniffing dog
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

How Dogs Use Their Vision to Find Their Way Home

Dogs don’t see as well as humans do. While they do see color, they can’t see all the same colors that we do. They’re limited to seeing only shades of grey, blues, and yellows. Even so, dogs will use their vision to find their way home if they get lost. Dogs use their sight to create their own unique mental map of the places they travel on foot and by vehicle.

When they find themselves in a strange place on their own, they’ll use the visual cues they’ve already identified to figure out where they are and where they need to go. Stop signs, objects in the park, and other landmarks can all play an important role when it comes to your lost dog finding their own way home.

dog eye sight
Image Credit: BOKEH STOCK, Shutterstock

What You Can Do to Help Your Dog Find Their Way Home

Even though your dog can use their eyes and nose to find their way home after getting lost, they can always use a little help from you. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help ensure that your dog can find their way home after getting lost. One important thing that you can do as soon as you learn that your dog is missing is leave a piece of your clothing or your dog’s bed or blanket outside, where the scent of the items can be picked up in the air and alert your dog of where home is. You can also ensure that strangers will be able to get your lost dog home by getting the dog microchipped. Be sure to alert the Humane Society and other rescue organizations in your area so they can be on the lookout for your pooch.

German Shepherd in the snow covered trail
Image Credit: Suchavadee, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

While not every dog gets lost, millions do every year. So, even if you keep a close eye on your pooch, they could still get lost somehow.

In addition to looking for your dog, understanding how they can find their way home and taking steps to help them do so is all you can really do to get your dog back. Do you have any tips or tricks for pet parents whose dogs have gone missing? Share your insight with us in the comments section below!

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Featured Image: Pezibear, Pixabay

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