Every day, millions of people come home to their pet after work or school and they are greeted by tons of enthusiastic barking and jumping around. One of the best parts about being a pet owner is coming home to your dogs wagging tail and smiling face, tongue out and panting. We love our pets because we know they’re always excited to see us, they fill us up with their enthusiasm and simple affection. However, the question remains, how exactly does doggy memory work?
Associative Memory vs Episodic
Episodic memory is when you’re contemplating the past and you can recall different instances of the same situation. Unless you’re a maniac, you probably commute to work the exact same way every day—or at least close. You wake up at the same time, it takes about the same time every day to brush your teeth, shower, have breakfast, and hit the road. Like clockwork, you could say that these parts of our day are routine and nearly indistinguishable if it were not for the small details—it was raining on Tuesday, you stubbed your toe after you got out of bed on Wednesday, on Friday morning for some reason your puppy took a bit longer than usual to relieve themselves, etc. These small differences, and the ability to recount them, are what define episodic memory in human beings.
While dogs are somewhat capable of this in a very limited capacity, they are effectively without this ability to discern. Nope, your doggo is a wonderfully simply being. This is why in meditation, sometimes our distracted awareness is called the puppy mind. The puppy mind is what your fully distracted awareness is. Your mind flits from one thing to the next without any thought on where it has been or where it is going, it only knows the current experience.
Associative memory is like that for dogs. For example, when you train your puppy to respond to certain cues or signals, you’re associating the action with a specific reward, otherwise known as operant conditioning. Operant conditioning doesn’t require any particular memory, it just requires the most basic remembering of what emotions were felt at that time. Don’t believe us? How about National Geographic?
Your Dogs Emotions Are Their Memory
As the heading suggests, dogs remember through their feelings. They may not remember a particular walk they went on with you or what happened yesterday, however, they will remember that every time you grab the leash—it’s time to go for a walk! Because they loved being outside and smelling new smells and getting to run and stretch their legs, they’ll associate all those positive things with their leash.
This is also why when crate training, it is always critical that you make the crate a positive place where your puppy would want to stay! It’s the difference between the crate being a happy place where they can rest and relax as opposed to feeling punished.
So does your dog remember? Sorry, probably not the way you think. Don’t feel bad though! In their own way, dogs DO remember us, maybe even in a better way than humans would. You see, when your dog sees you, and they’re filled with excitement and love, it means that they associate all of those things with you, you really are their world.
New Jersey Puppy Store
At Silver Nickel Puppies, we’ve raised so many puppies and facilitated many new beginnings between our pups and their new owners. We’ve seen first hand that while dogs don’t remember quite the way we’d expect, positive associations can last for their entire lifetimes! If you’d like to welcome a new family member into your life, contact us here or call us at (201)-871-2040!