How Long Can Dogs Remember?
Believe it or not, dogs do have memories. However, there is some debate on how much dogs can remember and how their memories work. So, how long can dogs remember, and do they have memories of people, places, and other dogs?
How Far Back Do Dogs Remember?
Dogs remember as far back as when they were with their mother. For example, they remember their mother’s lessons when they were young. Also, they’ll remember the training that you did with them when they were a puppy.
There are different types of memories that dogs can have that go deeper than short term or long term memory. So, let’s talk about the few that dogs present.
Dogs have been known to have excellent spatial memory. For instance, this type of memory will remind your dog of the layout of places.
For instance, your dog remembers the layout of their house. It helps them navigate the neighborhood around them when you take them for a walk.
In the wild, dogs are known to have great spatial memory if they need to know where their territory is. For example, wolves need to remember when they buried their food to have for later.
This type of memory allows your dog to remember certain events that happened in the past. It’s been proven that dogs have this type of memory, but it’s not known how far back in time the dog can remember.
On the other hand, this type of memory allows your dog to remember certain bits of information but not necessarily know where they came from.
Similar to episodic memory, it wasn’t known that dogs had this type of member until fairly recently.
The strongest form of memory that dogs have is called associative memory. This occurs when your dog has something to associate the memory with. For example, this can be anything such as a person, place, object, smell, or anything else.
One example of this is when you take your dog for a walk. They remember that their leash is involved when you go for a walk. So, when you pick up their leash, your pup may immediately know that they’re going for a walk.
So, What Exactly Can Dogs Remember?
Knowing all of this, let’s take a closer look at what dogs may or may not be able to remember about their lives.
Can Dogs Remember Their Mother And Littermates?
Do you think dogs can remember their mother and their littermates? Believe it or not, yes. They can remember them.
Mothers, for example, will remember their litter for up to two years after the puppies are rehomed.
On the other hand, puppies will remember their mothers (and everything their mothers taught them) indefinitely. They may also not forget their littermates if they see some of their siblings regularly.
Can Dogs Remember Their Previous Owners?
Depending on the relationship with their previous owners, then yes. Dogs can remember their previous owners.
For example, if they were abandoned, they may have fears of being abandoned again but might not necessarily remember their old family.
On the other hand, the dog’s age has a lot to do with it.
If the dog is younger than two years old, they have a short memory span. So, it might be harder for them to remember their old family.
However, if the dog is older than two years old, they’ll have a greater chance of remembering their previous owners.
What Else Can Dogs Remember?
In a nutshell, it’s been known that the dogs can remember the following:
- Their owners
- Family members
- Objects associated with going out (their leash, harness, travel carrier, etc.)
- Activities or objects relating to food (from positive reinforcement, etc.)
- Certain scents (other dogs, their family, specific locations, etc.)
Do Dogs Have A Short Term Memory Or A Long Term Memory?
Dogs have an excellent long term memory. Their long term memory helps them remember positive behavior that’s expected of them, places they’ve been to, people and dogs they’ve met, and more.
It’s not known how long dogs can hold onto these long term memories, but it is known that proper sleep can help improve long term memory.
However, when it comes to short term memory, it’s not nearly as strong as the long term.
For example, it’s believed that a dog’s short term memory only lasts for about two minutes. So, if you had just given your dog a treat, they won’t remember and may be begging for another one within five minutes.
The short term memory will tell your dog what is happening at that moment. So, it’s nothing they need to remember for a while in most cases. However, if you’re training, for example, then there are other factors involved that will help your dog remember the training and specific commands.
Dogs Remember More Than We Think
Even though it’s still not entirely known what dogs can and can’t remember, it is proven that they do have strong memories of people, places, and certain objects.