Rachel
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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Dogs

Can A Rescue Dog Remember Its Past?

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel
May 4 ·
can a rescue dog remember its past

Can a rescue dog remember its past? When we adopt a pup from a rescue or animal shelter, we may not get to know much of their background. However, your dog might remember some pieces of its past.

How Far Back Can Dogs Remember?

It’s unknown how far back dogs can remember. For example, humans may remember a person, place, or event and say, “that happened five years ago.” On the other hand, dogs may recall a person, place, or event but not be able to associate it with any moment in time.

However, if the person or event had a big enough impact, the dog will remember it.

Episodic Memory

This type of memory is what humans have, and it’s been proven that dogs have this type of memory as well. However, it’s unknown how far back their episodic memory can go.

Episodic memory allows your dog to remember things that happened in the past. For example, this may be a person they met that impacted them, whether it’s a positive or negative memory.

The same goes for places they’ve visited and events that have happened to them.

Whether the memory is positive or negative, if it affects your dog in a big way, they’ll remember it.

In other words, you can be sure that your new furry friend will remember the day that you brought them home from the shelter. But, on the other hand, they may also not forget the day that they were brought to the shelter in the first place, depending on how good or bad the experience was.

Incidental Memory

This is another type of memory that has to do with time. It allows your dog to remember bits of information but not where or when they got the information from.

So, if you rescue an older dog who has been trained, they’ll remember the training. For example, they may remember the basics of sitting, staying, and coming.

Also, they might remember how to behave when people come over to the house and how to walk properly on the leash if they were taught well.

Like humans, dogs don’t usually forget what they’ve learned, even if they learned it long ago.

However, because dogs have no concept of time, they don’t remember where or when they learned the command. So instead, the knowledge sits in their mind whenever they need to know it.

Associative Memory

Finally, there’s associate memory. This is the type of memory that shows up most often in dogs.

This type of memory is when your dog remembers something upon seeing an object or person, smelling a certain scent, or hearing a certain sound.

For example, you might not need to say a word if you want to go for a walk. However, you might need to pick up their leash and harness, and your dog will know they’re going outside.

Once again, dogs don’t have a memory that associates anything with time. They can remember their past, but it’s not known how far back they can remember.

We know that dogs associate certain sights, smells, and sounds with their memory.

Can Rescue Dogs Remember Everything From Their Past?

Most likely not. As humans, we don’t remember too much of our time being a baby. 

Depending on the experience, dogs will remember it, though. For example, if their previous owner abandoned them, they’ll remember that negative experience. However, if they loved their previous owner, they’ll remember them even though they had a sad experience with them. 

On the other hand, they’ll remember the day that they got adopted by you from the shelter or rescue organization. That will undoubtedly be a happy day for them, and your pup will remember that day indefinitely.

In addition, dogs may remember other dogs from their scent. If a family member or close friend has a dog at home, your pup may associate the other dog with your family member if they come over often enough.

Your dog might not remember the other dog exists until they see that specific family member again or they see the dog and recognize their scent. But when it comes to thinking about that other dog during the day, your pup isn’t going to know who you’re talking about.

Dogs Have An Amazing Memory

When it comes to remembering their past, rescue dogs can remember a lot. However, they associate most of their memories with positive or negative feelings. They’ll remember the good and bad times to be cautious. 

Rachel Poli Author
WRITTEN BY
Rachel
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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