MythBuster #8 Do Dogs Remember?

Share Button


Last spring they planted a crop of peppers in the fields at the end of our street. At the time, I posted a picture of Jack looking over the field wishing and hoping they were growing bacon.

Well, the crop has grown and they harvested it 2 weeks ago. I posted some pictures of the workers and the big trucks carting off all the bacon red peppers. I took Jack and Maggie down there again today to snap a few pictures since they are plowing over the field and obviously getting ready to plant something else. And I snapped this picture of Jack & Maggie.

peppers102 They seemed to be saying…Where’s the Bacon?

That got me to thinking about dogs and memories. Do dogs remember? And if they do, what do they remember?  I would answer of course they remember, they get excited when they see ME, they remember me. They look for their dinner everyday at the same time, they remember when dinnertime is. The get excited when I pull the ‘Jack bag’ out of the closet as they know that means a hike, they remember. So my answer would be of course dogs remember.

But the research says otherwise, that dogs lack the capacity for episodic memory. What does that mean – simple that dogs have no sense of time, so no past, or future. The old adage of dogs “live in the moment” is true. But dogs do have some type of memory capabilities.

Jack may remember the park we go to (where the peppers are) because we go there all the time, so he has an associative memory with that place. Dogs also have spatial memories and procedural memories. For example, our dog Tino was blind – but he had a spatial memory of where the furniture was located in our house and never ran into anything, unless I moved it. Another example is that a dog may know many tricks – or a sequence of tricks, that’s procedural memory – they learn and remember a procedure. “If I sit when she says sit, I get a treat”. What delivers a treat – THAT they can remember.

But dogs do not have a sense of “It’s been 3 days since I went to Bradley Park – I want to go there tomorrow when we go for our walk because we haven’t been there in days”. Nor do know they know what you are talking about when you scold them for getting in the trash 15 minutes after it happens. Their short term memory is only a few minutes long. This is also one of the reasons they are so happy to see you even though you were only gone for 5 minutes…they don’t have that concept of time.

So, contrary to my cute photos of Jack & Maggie wondering where the bacon is, he really doesn’t have any memory of the pepper field, or the fact that he hoped for bacon 6 months ago. But, what do you think – what does your dog remember? Or NOT remember?

Here’s a few more resources for some additional reading if you are interested:

We’re joining up with 2 Brown Dawgs and Ruckus the Eskie for This ‘N That Thursday Hop, so be sure to visit our other Hoppers:


Share Button


  1. We remember things by smell mostly…like oh yeah, I’ve smelled this dude before, or I have been to this park before because I remember the smell, but I don’t remember it all with time, I think that is the difference.
    emma recently posted…Looking Smart | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  2. Very intresting. Never thought about memory and the different memories. Norman would remember special places, whenever we would turn on those roads he would start barking. Gliry now picked up where gpa left off as she does it. Last winter nellie remembered where the dead deer was and visited it each day to eat ob it and get fat.
    sand spring chesapeakes recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Well food is a great motivator and hard to forget special things like that!
      mkob recently posted…MythBuster #8 Do Dogs Remember?My Profile

  3. Hmmm……well that’s weird! I would never have guessed they weren’t able to remember places they have been. I could swear that my Huskies remember! Darn myth buster! LOL 😀
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Yep, this is Lexus sleeping! 🙂 (Wordless Wednesday!)My Profile

  4. You’ve sparked a sweet memory of my poodle, Kissy. Before I knew my husband, I dated a guy who used to spend weekends with Kissy and me. We would always go for rides in the car up to Bear Mountain State Park (not too far from the Military Academy at West Point) and walk around the lake and the grounds with Kissy. It got to the point where she seemed to know exactly where we were going once we reached a certain point in our route. She would wake up from a nap on the back seat and start getting excited — going from one window to the other and back again — and wouldn’t settle down until we had parked the car and taken her out to walk around the grounds. I’m smiling just thinking about it! I mentioned Kissy’s excitement to one of my friends one day at lunch and she didn’t believe me. So, the following weekend — after several months of not having gone up to the park — my friend and I took Kissy and went to the park. And Kissy woke up from her nap at the same point in the route — and started her routine — that she always had before. My friend was awestruck, speechless, but finally believed me. She never doubted another thing I told her about Kissy’s “memory”. 🙂

  5. It sounds as though dog memories and three year old memories are very much the same. 🙂
    Flea recently posted…This n That Thursday, TBT, TooMy Profile

  6. These guys remember places, especially Torrey. When we went back to our same spot on the river this summer, they remembered being there from last summer. We lived there all summer, and it was like going home for them. I tested them just a little while ago. I drove to our house that we sold last year. They remembered the road driving up there, They were all excited a mile from the house, and wanted out of the truck when we drove past.

  7. So … Do you remember that video of the two guys and the lion that was all over the Internet – Christian was his name I think ? How do you explain that ? The lion saw the two men from a distance, after having been separated for years, and ran over and hugged them both ….. The best animal reunion ever !

    • Staged.

      No, just kidding – he did remember them – long term memory, especially associative memory works. But if they had been gone for 30 minutes they might have gotten the same reaction 😉
      mkob recently posted…MythBuster #8 Do Dogs Remember?My Profile

  8. Dogs remember some things for years and years, the place where we chased that squirrel that time. But some things they forget the next day.
    jan recently posted…Family dog survives deadly tornadoMy Profile

  9. So in truth they do have memories, but just not linear ones. (or as you say episodic) All of their other kinds of memory capabilities are important and perfect for them. Maybe that’s why they are such happy creatures… they don’t expect something (bad) that might be in an episodic memory.
    Meghan from Two Cats and a Cattledog recently posted…Buffy’s Haiku Thursday: It’s Not Just Black & WhiteMy Profile

  10. Thanks for linking up to This ‘N That Thursday blog hop this week! Great topic to discuss because my sapiens often wonder the same about my canine memory. They will discipline me and then wonder if I ever learned my lesson since I tend to repeat the same ole things over and over again. Call it a force of habit?
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…This N’ That Thursday: Movember 2013!My Profile

  11. Thanks for joining TNT. I agree they don’t really understand the passage of time, but I think they do have the ability to remember certain things. For example, if Storm sees something extra that wasn’t there the last time we walked a certain route, say a bike left on a lawn, she is very suspicious of the something.

    This is something I have long puzzled over with Storm. When she was a very young pup, about 4 months old, we had a trainer come over to train her to our Invisible Fence system. The trainer came over three times one week apart. The trainer was with Storm maybe 20 minutes each time. There were no treats involved, just some leash work and praise (and a correction if Storm broke the fence line, but mostly praise). Then about 8 weeks later we took Storm to a pet expo to be part of our Chessie booth and to socialize her. She was not too happy with all the noise and strange people. Then she spotted someone she knew. The Invisible Fence trainer. Storm remembered her and was so happy to see her, it was like her long lost friend because she was a familiar face. It really was the darndest thing that she remembered her and picked her our in a crowd. I could give more examples…lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday–Happy Birthday FreighterMy Profile

    • Sweet story…she saw a friend – a port in the storm 😉 Sally had the ability to remember where a piece of food was left on a walk from three weeks earlier…never forgot where she found a scrap of food.
      mkob recently posted…MythBuster #8 Do Dogs Remember?My Profile

  12. I agree, they remember, but not the entire affect behind the memory!
    Michelle Liew recently posted…To the dog park!My Profile

  13. I remember everyone who’s ever given me treats or played a game of fetch with me. I also remember exactly where the cats hang out, and where the good spots for swimming are *Waggy tail*
    Alfie – Alfie’s Blog recently posted…Alfie is Feeling Better – but he really wants a game of fetchMy Profile

    • Well those are all worth remembering aren’t they Alfie…well done!
      mkob recently posted…Senior Fit TipsMy Profile

  14. Thanks for sharing this information! I’ve always wondered about this. This also helps me understand more about why scolding them after the fact doesn’t do any good. I’ve always felt that, but now I can prove it!
    Jessica recently posted…Following Up on FridayMy Profile

  15. Our elderly neighbors have passed on several years ago now, and two different sets of people have lived in their house since. They used to help us care for Kobi and he spent time at their house when we were working. To this day, whenever we walk by their house, he wants to go into their yard and up to the door. He hasn’t been in that house since they’ve been gone. I don’t know if he remembers them in particular, or just the fact that he’s been there (and got treats of course), but I know he remembers the house. Maybe their long term memory is stronger then their short term?
    Jan K recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday – Books & PuppiesMy Profile

  16. Jasmine certainly remembered. EVERYTHING. Well, at least things she found of importance. She remembered people she saw once few years later. She remembered where her toy was supposed to be. She remembered the sequence of every one of our daily routines and got curious if anything changed in any way.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II)My Profile

  17. I love this post! I’ve always wondered that about our dogs. I’m always amazed at how well our dogs adapt to change and how they do the same things day after day. It gives the analytical side of me comfort, and the creative side of me loves coming up with ideas explaining why they like routine.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Wag More, Bark Less | An Accidental Litter for Christmas #3TrueDogsMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.