How Dogs Find Their Way Home Without a GPS

The migration patterns of certain animals have always been a mystery to scientists. Species such as birds and humpback whales demonstrate precision and consistency every time they migrate to a new climate with whales migrating as far as 3,000 miles to the exact same feeding area every year! (I need a GPS to go just 10 miles up the road.) Another animal who demonstrated this impressive feat was a sheepdog from Wales who about a month ago traveled 240 miles to his previous owners home.

Pero is a working sheepdog who escaped from a farm in Cockermouth to reunite with his former owners in Aberystwyth. His owners heard of a farmer who was in need of a dog that could round sheep and do other farm work so they thought Pero would be perfect for the job. Apparently Pero didn’t agree because a little over a month later he ended up back on their doorstep waiting to greet them with a ton of enthusiasm and excitement.

Stories like this make scientists speculate a number of different reasons why Pero was able to make the 240 mile journey. Is it just animal instinct? Animals usually use their sensory systems when they’re traveling such as smell or the light from the stars to navigate the way. Other species, such as turtles and lobsters, use a “magnetic compass” to orientate themselves to specific locations.

Or is it something more? Could the deep bond that forms between people and dogs have something to do with it? There have been studies testing the evidence of attachment between humans and dogs and dogs also respond well to a reward system. They associate positive interactions with the places or people it happened with which will make them more likely to return.

Whatever is responsible for getting Pero home safely we are glad because unfortunately cases like this are the exception and not the rule. We think it’s safe to say though that biological cues mixed with an animals natural instincts were able to help this sheepdog find his way home.


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