Can Our Dogs Remember Their Pasts?

Can Our Dogs Remember Their Pasts?

Much research has been carried out over the years on the topic of animal memory. Studies have shown that animals are capable of short-term memory and long-term memory in varying levels of retention.

And researchers at Brooklyn College and Stockholm University have found that animals have different memory systems from humans.

How about cats and dogs? Experts interpret how capable pets are in remembering things through a series of behavioral research into five memory categories:

Associative Memory

Canines and felines associate certain activities and events, and whether they are related to negative or positive memories, with what they hear, see, or smell. For example, pet owners who take their dogs out for a drive to the beach or similar adventures will associate cars with positive memories and hop inside for the next drive, even to the veterinarian. However, dogs who are allowed into a car during veterinary visits alone will relate the vehicle with negative memories.

Another example is the discipline and reward method in pet training.

Episodic Memory

In a project sponsored by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, dogs were trained to imitate human actions with the ‘Do as I Do’ method. Dogs demonstrated that they could recall the actions of their owners when the request was immediate and unexpected.

Spatial Memory

According to a report published in Applied Animal Behavior, cats exhibit good spatial memory, and remember details that aid them with hunting and prowling.

Specialized Memory

On one hand, specialized memories are limited to what is considered useful to cats or dogs based on evolution. On the other hand, useful information is retained for the long term.

A study from the Oregon State University led by Monique Udell shows that dogs have excellent working memories when it comes to food. Strays, in particular, utilize working memories to help them scavenge and survive on the streets.

Commands such as ‘fetch’ and ‘sit’, when applied consistently, are also retained for a lifetime.

Short-Term Memory

Animals can remember virtually anything, but much of the stored information is forgotten within seconds or minutes. The most important memory triggers are around food. And the ability to remember declines with age.

Feature Image Source: Pixabay

Back to blog