Why Does My Dog Act Like He Doesn’t Know Me (Here’s Why!)

Why does my dog act like he doesn’t know me? Does it strike you as odd that your dog is unfamiliar with you?

We’ve listed some potential factors for your dog’s behavior.

Perhaps you’ve had the unsettling impression that Fido doesn’t seem to recognize you, and he’s confirmed your worst fears by ignoring you or showing some hostile behaviors like barking or snarling at you. Sure, most dog owners have experienced this mixed reaction with their dogs, but why do they do it?

Why does my dog act like he doesn’t know me

Your dog may act like he doesn’t know you If he has an underlying memory problem or you’ve changed much in look. Similarly, the same behavior can be seen in dogs who are depressed, don’t recognize your scent, or have vision problems. 

Yet, if you’re having trouble understanding why your dog has started acting as though he doesn’t know you, here is a list of things you should be aware of.

You just recently got him

It’s okay to be overly excited to pick up your new furry friend at the shelter. However, it could be a little too early to expect him to recognize you immediately as his owner after just a few days of having him.

Remember, your dog has most likely been separated from his family and the one place he knows as home. As such, getting him adapted to you may take a while. 

So if you recently got your puppy or senior dog, it’s a possible reason he doesn’t know you.

He is just acting up

Ever wondered why your dog lays still without getting excited or jumping over you when you return from work? Or perhaps, he snarls at you when you try to touch him? Like humans, dogs do act out as well.

It doesn’t really matter who owns Fido, whether it’s you or the old lady who owns a lot of cats next door. All that matters to your furry companion is who takes care of him; that includes feeding, playing, exercising, etc.

If you’re not doing any of that, then your dog may as well act out on you. In most cases, he will totally act like he doesn’t recognize you.

You got a new haircut

Did you just get a haircut? It may be difficult for fido to tell you apart too. 

A dog’s ability to recognize its owner can be altered by even the smallest changes to the face, such as when you just changed a haircut.

Aside from the new haircut, there are a few other ways a haircut might throw off a dog’s perception of who you are.

The first and most obvious reason your dog may not recognize you after a haircut is that your scent has changed. One plausible reason for a change in scent is that certain chemicals may have been used during the cause of the haircut; certain hair wax or even aftershaves can leave you smelling like a different person entirely.

Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to tell their owners apart, and in situations where your usual scent changes, it causes your dog to start asking questions. 

The second reason dogs may not seem to recognize you is if you had significant hair makeovers; a massive change in haircut can make your dog question your identity.

This coupled with a difference in your scent, is probably why your dog doesn’t seem to know you.

You look weird

When humans look different from how they usually have, it can be challenging for their furry companions to tell them apart.

For example, if you’re trying out a new wig or a facial makeover, your dog may be confused by the change. He may question your identity numerous times throughout the day.

Or maybe he believes it’s a stranger invading his territory. For this reason, your dog may ignore you totally due to his lingering suspicion or perception of the new you.

Your dog is experiencing the “zone”

Have you ever been lost in contemplation when suddenly someone slams into you, completely unaware? You definitely got lost in thought, but thankfully they yanked you out of it quickly. Your dog may be experiencing the same thing. 

He dog may have zoned off while you came in, and at this moment, it would seem as though he doesn’t recognize you, which can get dog owners a little worried as to the status of their beloved furry friend. However, a little yank can return your dog to its normal senses.

He’s trying to warn you

When a dog switches to its threat detection mode, it can seem as though he doesn’t know you. That’s because he’s more concerned with protecting you than knowing you. 

In many cases, your dog may have seen something that’s otherwise unnoticeable to the human eyes or heard something that the human ears can’t pick up.

More so, they can see finer details in dim light than humans. So, in such situations, your dog may begin to act weird like barking or totally ignoring you while snarling at what they’ve sensed.

He is having issues with his sight

If your dog acts like it doesn’t know you, it could be because of vision problems. Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to discover their surroundings; hence, your dog will typically be able to detect if it is you simply by smelling you.

But, if you’re too far away or wearing too much cologne, it can be difficult, so he barks.

Is he clumsy and frequently falls over? Or growl at you the second you walk through the door? Then it’s highly likely that your dog is experiencing vision problems and needs to see a vet quickly.


Sometimes even dogs get the blues. Your dog may be unhappy if he suddenly loses interest in things that used to delight them, such as you or other people.

Dogs can suffer from depression if they’ve recently lost or been separated from a family member. It’s possible that your dog’s depression could make it look like he doesn’t know you. If the problem persists, a visit to an animal behaviorist may be in order.

You just returned from a vacation

Getting back from a vacation after a long time could be a problem to deal with if your dog doesn’t seem to know you. First, dogs have a good memory, so in most cases, your dog hasn’t forgotten about you. However, certain factors may throw him off. 

The first is your scent! Again, dogs rely deeply on their sense of smell to different objects and people. One thing that can alter your scent is a long vacation. This could change how you smell and leave your dog confused when you come home.

Secondly, another issue could be that your dog may have suffered a possible memory issue, such as dementia, while you were away. This can be a culprit for why your dog doesn’t seem to know you.

How do you know if your dog doesn’t recognize you?

He becomes hostile towards you.

Your dog could become hostile towards you if he cannot recognize you, perhaps your scent has changed or he has problems with his sight. When this happens, dogs may snarl or growl at you because they perceive you as a stranger and not a familiar face.

He exhibits fear

Dogs who don’t know you may either show aggression or fear. Scared dogs will most like pace, shake, crouch or go into hiding once you go close to them.


Your dog may act as though he doesn’t know you for a number of different reasons. Because of this, dog owners may find themselves wondering, “Why does my dog act like he doesn’t recognize me?”

Your dog can struggle to distinguish your scent from other people’s or have poor vision. Or perhaps he is simply miserable.

In any case, if he doesn’t know you, he can become afraid or aggressive toward you.

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