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How do Dogs Find their Way Home

Updated on January 28, 2010
how do dogs return home? gracey, morguefile.com
how do dogs return home? gracey, morguefile.com

Amazing Abilities or Super Powers?

The amazing stories of dogs walking for miles in the hopes of reuniting with their owners have entertained humans for quite some time. From fictional stories like Old Yeller or The Incredible Journey, to the credible and down to earth latest news lines, such stories often leave people wondering how dogs at times may return home as if almost their brains were equipped with the best global positioning systems available.

Saying that dogs are intelligent creatures is an under statement, as it takes much more than intelligence to wander through unknown streets and prairies in search of a familiar face. Rather, it takes a strikingly incomparable attention to detail along with the ability of being perfectly tuned up with all five senses to make it possible to happen.

These dog's qualities have been regularly in use for many years by human kind, turning dogs into magnificent retrieving tools in search and rescue efforts. Such dogs are capable of detecting scents for great distances and with great accuracy. Not to mention bomb detecting dogs that can detect fragments of explosives among hundreds of other smells.

There is no place like home..

The Recipe for Coming Home

However, it takes more than a great sense of smell to sniff the way back home. Some studies suggest that dogs have an electromagnetic sense that makes time quite sensitive to minimal vibrations. This sixth sense is something that allows dogs to predict earthquakes and find their way home across several miles. 

These awe inspiring abilities may stem from the dog's ancestor's past when wolves and wild dogs were forced to walk for miles each day in search of food and water and then come back to their territory. This has occurred thanks to special navigational maps dogs are capable of creating courtesy of a winning combination of abilities: exceptional sense of smell, a good observation of the terrain surrounding them, a good sense of hearing and possibly, an uncanny ability to perceive magnetic fields and the position of the sun

As amazing as these capabilites may sound, yet at times one would wonder why dogs still get lost on a daily basis if they have these uncanny  navigational qualities of finding their way home? Why are newspaper columns full of lost and found dogs? And why is it so difficult to find a match between the lost and found dogs?

This still remains a mystery. Indeed, there is still much more research to be done. Yet, it feels good to believe that some dogs are equipped with some super powers, some form of extra sensorial perception coming from the supernatural and perhaps something that human kind will never find a plausible explanation for. 

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    • profile image

      SUE BLANCHARD 

      6 years ago

      We had a Bovina de Flundes named Rembrandt, who lived in Miami with my husband and I. When my husband would travel the dog always know when he was coming home. At the time my husband boarded the airplane the dog would let me know, by going to the door and waiting until he arrived home. Many times I did not know which flight my husband was able to catch, but Ramey always knew.

    • profile image

      will 

      6 years ago

      I had adog that regularly traveled between two homes miles apart and across a busy highway, did this for years. Once he ran off while shooting a gun, about 10 miles from home. Hours later, in the rain while looking for him, I picked him up on the highway about 2 miles from home. He had crossed the interstate and traveled about 8 miles and was on a dead straight mission running home. How? beats me!

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 years ago from USA

      Wow, those are some incredibly stories of loyalty!

    • profile image

      Zack Armstrong 

      6 years ago

      I had a small Alaskan mix that found his way home twice from a friends about ten miles away after I had transported him by car. How did he do it? I'd love to know. My Grandfather had a Great Dane that was dognapped and obviously found his way back home over hundreds of miles because when he collapsed on the front porch and died his paws were raw and bloody....amazing. Explain that one to me.

    • profile image

      mandy 

      7 years ago

      i wonder my dog a very cleaver russel terrier.was home not by choice by me but the dog pound only a few days ago,we had a very close bond with love that is beond my own understanding.i no if he was able to be free for just a second he would run but would he find me would he no where to go..i have no idea where to hunt for him but im sure 100% i feel him fret,i cry and fret for him also,do you think its possiable he knows when im thinking of him or crying for him,where ever he maybe homed do you think if he was able to get away would he come home would he find home.what do you think,i love him so so so much its like i morn for him and im sure he is doing the same,comment about this would be greatfull please

    • dashingclaire profile image

      dashingclaire 

      8 years ago from United States

      Great article - I had 2 dogs that were chased by other dogs and ran off. Both made it home before I did. The last one is the dog I have now. My neighbor told me, "Your dog been sitting and waiting for you for along time. She's been very patient!"

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