Everyone knows that dog’s noses are way, way more sensitive than human ones, some say 10, some 100, some 10.000 and even a million times, they are used to discover explosives, drugs, so there’s no arguing that they are way stronger.
However, call your dog, hide behind a door (not close it, just move it like when you are playing hide and seek) and he’ll come, but probably won’t realize that you are standing literally behind the door. How? How is that even possible? Here’s a random video of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnYoHHBoKpo , in this case the person is not even really hiding, all he had to do was move his head a little to see her. My dog also does this.
Dogs’ vision is very keyed in on movement. A dog may not recognize their clearly visible owner until the owner moves or speaks.
Also, the owner’s scent might permeate the house.
Final point - what has the dog been trained to do in such situations? I suspect that few owners train their dogs to seek them out when hidden. If the dog knew that was what was wanted/expected, I suspect he could sniff the owner out with no difficulty. Instead, the dog is reporting for duty, ready for any further commands. Even if you were training the dog to simply come when called, the general practice would be to provide some reward/acknowledgement - even a simple “good dog” or a pat on the head. In this situation, the hiding owner is failing to provide such recognition/reward, which I imagine would confuse the dog.
Anecdote - I often play hide and seek w/ my 2.5 yr old granddaughter. My dog pretty consistently joins in, clearly pointing out where I am hidden.
For the dog, your scent is all over the house, so pinpointing the exact location of the large scent pool of where the person is hiding, may not be as easy as just smelling them. As well, dogs differ in their ability and desire to hunt for something and may need to be taught or encouraged to use their noses to search. Lots of dogs rely on their eyes and ears, as well as their nose to locate something they are searching for.
Our German Shepherd Kalihas been trained in basic and advanced obedience, agility, and “nose work”. We started out the scent training with “find me” in our home. I would sit with Kali while my gf hid. She would, when ready, yell, “find me” and I would release the dog.
We started out easy and progressively made it more difficult and Kali quickly learned to look everywhere that the scent was strong.
We then moved this to outdoor find-me. Eventually we would keep in touch over our phones, as my gf would hike for 5 or 10 minutes into the woods before I’d get a “ready” text.
We eventually replaced the person with a tiny bit of cotton soaked in a scent (balsam?) that went into a small container that could be hidden. Watching her sniff a room and zero in on the scent (which we coulodn’t smell) was really cool.
My brilliant canines can only smell food, I fear.
They would lost in the bathroom if I wasn’t watching.
Also if I knock on the table they both run to the door barking, sometimes 2 different doors.
I think this may be it. Or maybe not. Whatever it is, assuming it’s an olfactory sensory thing and a (sort of) trained response to it isn’t simply the case.
My dog, a retriever, has been trained “find it” means get the thing I dropped, smell it out by your scent or my hands’, and bring it back. He’s killer.
But for some reason–I was inconsistent one time perhaps, and he took it hard–who knows?–he didn’t come when I picked up the leash to for a walk–a constant miracle of joy–or, as he had before, like so many dogs, when he heard the keys jingle even from another room.
But then he started sitting on the couch staring at me as I went through the show, and added, for the first time in ages with the usual excited tone of voice, “walkies,” “let’s go,” and even “come,” a red-letter command which did nothing and worried me. No trauma I remember ever on a walk, so what gives? I’d then kind of frustrated walk over to him, put the harness on, and boom! it’s walk time and joy reigns supreme. For weeks.
My trainer: Right now he’s waiting, something happened, for you to walk over to him. Not full-bore training, but it’s not the real deal until he has that happen. Her great concluding summary, which is beautiful when anthropormorphising is well understood to overlap, as it does here: dogs are superstitious.
All’s well again.
tl;dr: As the famous philosopher said, nobody knows what it’s like to be a bat.
One, that it used to be very common on farms to use the farm dog to carry messages to the fields and back. You tie a message to the dog’s collar and say “go find Pete”, and off he would go. It is one of the easier things to train an eagerly helpful and intelligent dog (like farm collies for example) to do. Dogs love finding people.
Two, I once spent a few weekends helping the local K9 search and rescue unit train their dogs. These teams used a device called a bringsel (german word) which is a little leather sausage that hangs off the dog’s collar and when the dog comes back to the handler with the bringsel in its mouth, that means he has found something he wants to take the handler back to. The young dog we were working with, a German Shepherd imported from Czechia, had gotten to the point of training where he would locate the ‘victim’, who would hand him a bringsel and he would run back to his handler with it and guide her back to the victim. The next step was for him to learn grab the bringsel on his own collar.
Yes, I was the victim. I was buried in leaves underneath a log in a forest. I waited there for what seemed a long time and then I heard this crashing sound, some casting back and forth, and then the enormous head of Scout the dog appeared above me. He stared at me from about twelve inches away. I had a bringsel in my hand in case he didn’t grab his own, and he had caught sight of it. Imagine yourself as a helpless tennis ball faced by a Labrador. That dog was not leaving without his bringsel. He barked imperatively. I said feebly, “Scout, you have your own bringsel, look!” His eyes widened with recognition and delight, he grabbed up his dangling bringsel and disappeared, crashing through the forest like a rhino. And in a bit, he came back with his handler.
“Why did he bark?” she wanted to know. I explained. “Oh, Scoutie” she cried proudly, and began to cry with joy.