Do dogs have memory?
Numerous studies on the learning capabilities of dogs and animals, have also focused particularly on the memorization of actions and objects useful in executing specific tasks. According to recent studies, mans best friend is able to elaborate strategies to solve problems and learn through imitation
Our four legged friends do remember some things, so it can be said that they have memory,it just works differently from a humans. Dogs can remember some things, whilst some others quickly disappear from their heads. According to some studies , a dogs memory is not episode based like a humans. Episode based memory allows to absorb, withhold and conserve memories as episodes in life, giving a very vivid account when thinking of the past.
The dogs memory: a feature for every occasion
Here are the types of memory that our best friend uses in the different situations in which it finds itself.
Short term memory: allows to remember actions that have just been done and once the task is completed what is memorized can be forgotten. Fido uses it to complete successive actions: get the ball, put it in the den, find a better hiding place, find the ball.
Long term memory: could be compared to a vast library from which through the help of an expert librarian,
the hippocampus, you can recuperate what you need in the exact moment that you need it. This kind of memory collects all the references of your life(experiences, faces, smells, known sounds and objects)and a lot of information incorporated during sensitive periods( first 3-4 months of the pups life, the dogs adolescence that is around sexual development age). Every experiences the dog has in these periods will remain imprinted in its memory , absolving an adaptive function as it allows an individual to not repeat potentially fatal errors and to recognize danger, also, the dog, like humans, never stops learning and thus memorizing but with old age repetitions of the experience will be necessary so as it to be fixed in the mind.
Procedural memory: it allows to complete complex actions such as, for example, solving a mind activity game, making an object pass through an opening by rotating it, finding the way home. In fact, a sort of map is created in its head to which it will go back to every time it finds itself in a similar situation, adapting it to a new context. A study conducted by the ethologist Johan Lind, which examines 25 species of animals, from dolphins to bees, reveals that the average time for short term memory is 27 seconds.
Dogs forget an event in about two minutes; chimpanzees , with only 20 seconds, forget things in less time than mice, and other three primates- baboons, nemo macaws and simiris- precede only bees, the only subjects that aren’t birds or mammals.
These cases are in fact “fruit of associative memory”, he says. They are not based on “memories of specific events. The cat, for example, associates the travel box with danger. These kind of memories persist in an animals mind for a long time, even their whole life”, this because , said by the author of the study, the memory of an animal is specialized in remembering “relevant biological information”, like those finalized in the search of food.
Instead, the dogs memory is associative. As indicated by the word itself, dogs associate determined things and transform them into a sort of memory. We could practically say that dogs are animals that follow habits and repetition. For example, it is possible that a dog survives a fall from a balcony and that, in future, doesn’t want to go near the place where it fell. It doesn’t do so because it remembers what happened but because it associates that place with fear and pain. The same thing happens with certain other objects, like for example the leash when you go to put it on the dog to take it out for a walk, the dog is happy to go out and have a walk, so it stretches its legs and is in relaxation when this moment arrives.
Yes, we can finish by affirming that dogs have a memory. What we must keep in mind, however, is that the dog has a short term memory and, above all else, is associative. They learn the rules of coexistence and basic training commands by associating them to words and gestures and are able to recognize body smells and tone of voice. Therefore, even if they remember people, animals and objects by association, dogs do not have long term memory. As seen, to understand if a stimulus is positive or not, they don’t remember moments or passed experiences, but the emotions felt in any determined situation.
Have a great Sunday