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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
  • Karen London, Ph.D.
    London is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in the domestic dog.

« Teaching Dogs A Group Name | Main | Myths About Dominance »

March 09, 2010


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fantastically enlightening for a layman such as me..thanks


This article helps me understand how it is that my dog has a grudge against certain breeds after being "jumped" by 3 off-leash dogs. He sees dogs of those particular breeds and flips out. Now I just have to figure out how to resocialize him with those breeds, it's been 2 years. For obvious reasons I cannot find a nice dog of those breeds to teach my dog that he doesn't have to be offensively aggressive. Any tips?

Jonathan P Klein

Thank you for your entry. I found it very intresting. I find that to be very true when we here at "I Siad Sit!" Personalized Dog Training train Aggressive dogs. They dont react after they have already seem or been around a familiar face.

Randall Johnson

Excellent post! Interesting that the other species on the list are all social in nature and three of them, sheep, cows, and budgies, are domesticated. Based on my experience with cats, I would expect them to be equally capable. However, here is the Abstract from an article published in the JOURNAL OF VISION in 2005 which indicates otherwise:

Dogs, but not cats, can readily recognize the face of their handler
Stephen G. Lomber

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

Paul Cornwell

Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State Univerisity


It should be expected that there are multiple factors that a domestic animal could use to recognize its human handler including face recognition, speech patterns, olfactory signals, and cutaneous cues. The purpose of this study was to examine if either cats or dogs are able to identify their handler using only face recognition. Shortly after weaning, twelve pure-breed beagles and twelve domestic cats were each assigned a different human handler who worked with the animal for two hours each day for six months. The animals were trained to work in a two-alternative forced choice testing apparatus and mastered many different types of pattern and object discriminations. At about 9 months of age, each animal was tested on four different visual discriminations (for 50 trials each), with both stimuli in each pair being rewarded on all trials. Stimulus pairs and results: 1) The face of the handler versus an unfamiliar face. Dogs chose the face of their handler at 88.2%, while the cats chose their handler at 54.5%. 2) The face of an animal that lived with them in the colony versus an unfamiliar animal. Dogs chose the face of the familiar dog at 85.1% and the cats chose the face of the familiar cat at 90.7%. 3) A previously learned natural scene versus and unfamiliar scene. The dogs chose the familiar scene at 89.0% and the cats chose the familiar scene at 85.8%. 4) An unfamiliar natural scene versus an unfamiliar natural scene. The dogs chose one scene at 49.8% and the cats chose one scene at 51.7%. Overall, the only significant difference between the performance of the dogs and cats was in the recognition of the face of their handlers. Neither dogs nor cats had any difficulty recognizing other animals they lived with or a previously-viewed scene. As expected, neither dogs nor do cats have any preference for two scenes that they had not previously seen. Therefore, dogs are able to discriminate their handler from another human based solely upon face recognition.
Supported by NSF.

Received September 15, 2005; published September 23, 2005
Lomber, S. G., & Cornwell, P. (2005). Dogs, but not cats, can readily recognize the face of their handler [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):49, 49a,, doi:10.1167/5.8.49.

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