Has your dog ever reacted after you’ve shown them a picture of someone they know? Do dogs actually have the ability to recognize people in photographs?
There are two parts to this question: Can your dog tell the difference between different people and animals and can they recognize that information in a stationary, two-dimensional image such as a photo?
According to veterinarians, the answer to both of those questions, is yes — under the right circumstances. Dogs can distinguish between different people based on appearance at that time. In other words, if you’re sporting a drastically different hair style or are wearing a uniform instead of your everyday clothing, your dog may not be able to identify you in a picture.
Research does show that dogs can identify a familiar person in a photograph. In a study published in the Journal of Vision, 12 beagles and 12 cats were given individual handlers who worked with them two hours a day for six months. Afterwards, they were given a visual test to recognize the face of their handler versus a non-handler. The result? The dogs chose the face of their handlers 88% of the time, while the cats chose their handlers 55% of the time.
Additionally, these dogs were also able to identify the face of an animal that lived with them. In fact, they chose the familiar animal more often than an unfamiliar animal. The study found that dogs chose the face of a dog they knew 85% of the time, while the felines chose the face of a familiar feline 91% of the time.
Don’t forget that most dogs do not just depend on their vision to recognize familiar people and other animals. Due to their well-developed senses, many rely more heavily on your scent and the sound of your voice to identify you, so don’t be too upset if Fido doesn’t recognize you in that picture on the mantle!
So what about video chatting with your dog while you’re away on vacation? Interestingly enough, while they may recognize the sound of your voice, dogs don’t have the same ability to blend the flickering light that makes a video image as humans do. Therefore, the image would appear very shaky! So for now, stick to showing your dog pictures of their family members while they are away and see what happens!
Source: Animal Planet