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Do dogs know who their mother is?

Does My Dog Think I’m His Mom?

I get it. You treat your dog like your child. Apparently this is a millennial thing? Regardless, I’m completely here for it. Letting us sleep in your bed with you, taking us on all of your vacations, and showering us with birthday parties every year are completely worth the horrendous costumes you all make us wear at Halloween. But the question still remains even after all of this. Does your dog think you’re his mom?

Your dog does not think you’re his mom and is well aware that you are a different “breed”. While your dog will display acts of adoration and behavioral affection towards you, this has more to do with their trust and love for you than them thinking of you as a parent figure.

Aside from the technicalities here, I need all of you wonderful dog parents to know that it is completely acceptable to your dog to continue to refer to them as your “child”. We love it. Just understand from a cognitive wherewithal that we do know the difference between you and our birth mom that had way more fur.

Oh, and we love you just the same! Now, let’s go deeper.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Does My Dog Know I’m a Human?

Your dog doesn’t know the term “human”, but they do understand that you are different from them and any other animal for that matter.

They recognize your advanced ability to communicate and command.

Your dog recognizes your ability to maneuver, travel, and control as heightened in comparison to other animals.

In short, yes. Your dog knows that you are a human.

This plays right into the long winded answer of whether or not your dog may think you’re his mom or not. Dog’s are highly cognitive and conscious creatures with the fortitude and insight to realize that you’re a human and they are not. This comes from hundreds of years of evolutionary behavior traits and pack mentality.

Think of it like this: some dogs hate other dogs but love humans. Some dogs are weird around humans but love to frolic with a random dog in the park.

It’s a scent and comfort thing. They know the difference and it all comes down to situational preference.

Would My Dog Remember His Birth Mom?

The question here is directly related to the overall topic. If your dog remembers his birth mom, or would remember her if they were to meet again, then it would stand to reason that they understand you are different.

So let’s take a look at what the science and psychological observations say.

Your dog has 200 million olfactory receptors in their noses. Compare this to a human’s 5 million olfactory receptors and you can begin to understand just how powerful a dog’s sense of smell actually is.

But would this be enough for a dog to remember their birth mother after being separated from her for a while?

As you may have guessed – there’s a study for that.

The study took a group of puppies from different mothers who had all been separated from their mothers for months. They placed all puppies and all mothers in one room together. The puppies were able to find their birth mother 84% of the time based solely on memory from sense of smell.

Incredible statistic, if you ask me.

What about adult dogs?

I’ll cut directly to the chase. The same type of experiment was performed using dogs who were at least 2 years old and had been separated from their mothers since they were 8 weeks old.

The study brought the mothers of these dogs in first to sniff around on blankets that belonged to their offspring. The mothers sniffed much longer on the blankets that belonged to their dog children 78% of the time.

To further solidify the findings, the test was reversed and the offspring were brought in to sniff blankets belonging to their mothers. The dogs chose their mother’s blanket 76% of the time.

7 Signs You’re an Awesome Dog Parent

You’re reading this article, aren’t you? Then you’re already doing a good job as a dog parent. You clearly care what your dog thinks about you.

Having the desire to understand how your dog thinks, acts, and feels speaks volumes to the type of dog parent you actually are. Your dog just wants you to love them. It’s a simple language and an even better relationship between dog and dog mom.

Try not to be too hard on yourself.

  1. You read articles about things you’ve noticed in your dog or things you want to better understand regarding your dog.
  2. You have full conversations with your dog.
  3. You’re an awesome dog parent if you shop online for random things for your dog.
  4. You say “bless you”, when your dog sneezes.
  5. Is your phone’s camera roll mostly of your dog?
  6. You’ve cancelled plans because you didn’t want to leave your dog home alone.
  7. You sacrifice comfort to make sure your dog is snuggled and sleeping perfectly.

Is this you? If you read those with a guilty smile, then rest assured. You’re an awesome dog mom!


I completely understand the intent behind the original question here. You want to know how your dog views you. You want to know how your dog respects you, looks up to you, and adores you.

Are you a sister to your dog? A mom? Are you a best friend?

How does your dog view this relationship?

I’ll tell you how.

Like you are our WORLD. You’re our heart, mind, and soul and we absolutely cannot live without you. And that’s even better than mom status.

As always, you precious dog moms, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!

P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

Related Questions

Does My Dog Think About Me When I’m Gone?

Your dog has what’s called episodic memory, enabling them to think about you in terms of situational awareness when you’re away from them.

Not only that, but your dog has a relatively clear understanding of just how long you’ve already been gone.

Studies suggest that your dog can differentiate you being gone for only 5 minutes versus you being gone for 2 hours. However, results remain unclear as to whether a dog can truly understand the difference in time past 2 hours.

I linked the full article I wrote on this 2 paragraphs above. Click there if you’re at all interested in diving a bit deeper.

Does My Dog Know How Much I Love Them?

Your dog absolutely knows how much you love them.

Love and emotions are the only form of communication that your dog is most comfortable with.

While there are varying factors playing a role in whether or not your dog knows you love them, the most common one is – how long have you had your dog?

This weighs heavy on this topic for many reasons.

For starters, if you’ve had your dog for several years, you’ve both had the time to learn about one another. You’ve both had the time to build a bond which strengthens the lines of communication.

On the flip side of this coin, if your dog is new to your family, they may not know quite yet just how much you love them. Not to mention, your love will grow overtime, just like any other relationship.

Click the following link to take a comprehensive quiz: Does My Dog Know I Love Him?

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

Buying a puppy? Seven reasons why you should meet the parents

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an amazing time but with the fun comes responsibility – and this starts by doing your research. One vital aspect of this research is meeting the parents or the surrogate parents of a puppy before you buy it. Taking time to research your breeders to find out how and where the puppies are bred is as important as how you bring your dog up. Here are several reasons why:

1. See their temperament

Meeting the parents will let you see their temperament which will give you an idea of how your puppy may behave in later life.

2. Check their health

Image of DEFRA

Could you spot a deceitful seller online?

In all the excitement of getting a new puppy or kitten, it’s important that you make sure the seller is responsible and trustworthy. Buying from a deceitful seller who puts profit before welfare could have tragic consequences.

That’s why we’re proud to support DEFRA’s #Petfished campaign which aims to raise awareness of deceitful sellers and how to spot them.

If the mother is in poor health the puppies may not be getting enough milk and this will, in turn, affect their health and ability to fight off any disease.

3. See how the puppies are being raised

Puppies need to be socialised from a very early age to things they are going to encounter as they grow up (such as children, cats, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines). Being shut away in an impoverished environment during these crucial early weeks may cause a number of behavioural problems in later life.

4. Check out where they’re being raised

Many breeders have purpose-built puppy raising areas. How clean are these areas? How many other dogs are around? Are the other dogs happy? Are they healthy? What sort of diet are these puppies and their mother receiving? Is there clean water available? Dirty environments, run-down sheds, cages stacked up on top of each other are going to attract rats and disease.

Image of DEFRA

Could you spot a deceitful seller online?

In all the excitement of getting a new puppy or kitten, it’s important that you make sure the seller is responsible and trustworthy. Buying from a deceitful seller who puts profit before welfare could have tragic consequences.

That’s why we’re proud to support DEFRA’s #Petfished campaign which aims to raise awareness of deceitful sellers and how to spot them.

Image of a puppy for Vets Now article on buying a puppy

5. How good are the breeders?

Do they offer you a puppy contract so you can follow your puppy’s progress from the day it was born? It’s important that you know how healthy the parents are, how often the mother and puppies were wormed, any health checks received, and whether they are all up to date with their vaccinations. If you want a specific breed of puppy then it’s important that you are aware of any heritable medical conditions. The RSPCA and the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation are among the organisations that support and recommend the use of a “puppy contract” which includes lots of information about all the questions you should be asking and why. You can find out more information about the puppy contract here.

6. Avoid being conned

Most importantly, if you are allowed to see the puppies before they are old enough to leave the mother you will be less likely to be conned by someone obtaining puppies from undesirable “puppy farms”. Do not believe all that you see on fancy websites or free advertising sites. If the puppy is being offered at a low cost or they offer to bring the puppy to you, usually for a small fee, alarm bells should ring. If they have to get rid of the puppy due to their child being allergic to it, alarm bells should ring. If they only allow you one visit on the day of collection and you do not see the mother because she is at the vet, at a friend’s house, or on a walk, alarm bells should ring. If you notice that there are other puppies around but they are different breeds and ages, and the kitchen area just doesn’t look as if it has housed a litter of 6 puppies for the last 8-10 weeks this could be a problem sign.

7. What about rescue puppies?

Of course, the puppy may have been left at a rescue centre with no mother. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rescue it. Rescue centre staff can still give the puppy the best start in life by making sure it meets other people, children, cats, etc. Nowadays, most welfare organisations will have puppy socialising areas where you can go along and help raise your new puppy until it is old enough to leave, or they may even have foster carers specially trained to look after motherless puppies.

About the Author

Vets Now Team Member

Our emergency vets, vet nurses and support staff are all encouraged to provide insightful, evidence-based advice and content for our website. This article is one of many written by a member of our frontline team.

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