Can dogs recognise their mothers and siblings: scientists' answer

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Time spent with mum and siblings is very important for a dog's development

Humans are creatures with the most complex and extensive system of family ties. We know even our distant relatives, remember the degree of kinship and attach great importance to this. We also unconsciously transfer this feature to the animals living next to us. We tend to remember where our dog's parents live, greet the owners of his brothers and sisters, and throw parties for every birthday of our pet. But does the dog itself remember its relatives?

Experts have conducted several studies. Their results were reported by Mail Online.

As it turned out, dogs that were taken away from their mothers and siblings at the age of 8 to 12 weeks usually forget about their siblings after two years. But that's only if they live alone. Dogs remember and recognise their mothers even longer. And mothers often recognise their children after a two-year period.

Researchers at the Royal University began studying this issue back in 1994. They conducted scent-based tests using a group of mother dogs and their puppies as subjects. The participants included representatives of such breeds as golden retrievers, labradors, and sheepdogs. All of them demonstrated the same behaviour.

Of the 25 dogs, 19 showed that they preferred their mother's scent during the scent tests. And 14 of the 18 mothers tested also preferred the scent of their offspring when presented with a cloth.

According to the authors of the study, dogs are a species whose pups are born underdeveloped and, with the help of their parents, acquire all the necessary qualities and traits for a successful life. Therefore, recognising their mother is crucial for their survival. Recognition of siblings plays a secondary role.

Veterinarians were also pleased with those people who were worried that they were causing their dogs moral suffering when they took them away from their families. It turned out that puppies are painlessly separated from the relationships established in their past lives.

It is widely believed that dogs' memories and emotions work in a completely different way from ours, which allows them to easily bond with people. A study conducted in 2016 showed that dogs can have episodic memory, meaning they can remember certain events in the past. However, this ability is quite limited, as in the long run, these animals forget past events.

Nevertheless, veterinarians recommend not taking puppies from their mothers until they are 8-12 weeks old. Doing so earlier can cause quite serious problems in the animal's later life. That's because during this period, with the help of their mother and siblings, dogs develop their motor skills, resistance to stress and the ability to control their bite. If weaned before this training is complete, it can lead to anxiety, jealousy and aggression in the future.

Some dogs may even have nightmares as adults if they experienced a traumatic event in childhood, such as being separated from their family too early. Veterinarians advise against humanising dog behaviour too much, as observing them from a human perspective can make it difficult to truly understand them.

To get closer to dogs, veterinarians suggest setting aside time for socialisation and establishing a healthy routine of walking, eating and playing. It is also worth creating an area for the young animal where it can do something interesting and feel calm and safe. For example, if they want to hide from everyone, and if they want to play.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told how to recognise that your dog has started to consider himself a human. And what behavioural problems it can cause.

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