dogs and their memory capacity

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Joined:Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:05 am
dogs and their memory capacity

Post by katej215 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:47 am

My fox terrier Hattie is a constant source of amazement (and amusement) as how sharp she is..she seems to have this incredible memory..but then i'm wondering whether i am totally under estimating her and dogs do retain more random info than we think..

So to give you an example..when she was tiny, we'd go for a walk down a particular street, and cross the road at a certain point. We wouldn't go there again for a few days, but when we did she be pulling to cross the road at the same point we had last time after going there only once before??

Another example (which has made me write this) was yesterday, we were walking on the beach, I could see up ahead a women and two tiny kids having a little picnic on the beach. I put Hattie on the lead as she can get a bit OTT around kids (especially when food in involved). We walked by, not particularly close to them, Hattie didnt seem that interested, and once past, let her off and we carried on walking for about half an hour, doing a bit of training, playing in the sea, Hats chased about with a couple of dogs etc etc etc So then, we head back , as normal for a while, and then I see her bombing off up the beach ( she hasnt done any bombing since she was a pup) -and I'm thinking what is she doing...surely she's not..?? Well, luckily the family had gone, but Hattie was straight over to the same spot snuffling around after bits of bread in the sand. I cannot believe she could smell a few bits of bread from so far away..but i'm also amazed as the possibility she's retained that bit of information given all of the other stimulus she'd had!! ?

so wondering whether i've got a wirey little genius on my hands..or whether other people' have got similar stories?? :)

Joined:Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by jacksdad » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:39 am

don't ever underestimate a dog's sense of smell :wink: it is entirely possible your dog smelled the bread.

But yes, dogs do have memory. While they "live in the now" for the most part, that doesn't mean they don't retain memory of things that scare them, interest them, hurt them, enjoy, etc. if they didn't we couldn't train them, and if out on their own they would die because they would not remember food sources.

It's been a while since I read it, but in the book "dog sense" John Bradshaw addresses this question among other very interesting things about dogs. ... B0064X82SY

Joined:Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location:Dorset, UK

Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:10 pm

Jasper's done similar things - for a long time he'd go and search in one spot of the heath where he'd previously found a bone in case another had appeared.

I think compared to humans, they're excellent at remembering what's important to them (food, in the main!) rather than the trivia (what 'fetch' means, in Jasper's case!). We tend to forget the important things (anniversaries, where we left the keys...) and remember stuff that is only ever likely to be useful in a pub quiz. Or maybe that's just me...
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Joined:Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:42 am

Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by bendog » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:20 pm

Judy if that's the case we could do with you in our pub quiz team. We lose every week!

My dogs absolutely remember people at least. My family don't visit often but when they do Ben tends to plonk himself on my dad all evening. Poppy is very wary of new people but if shes met someone once she generally greets them like they are her best buddy the next time she sees them, so shes retained some memory of "ive met this person before". I think they must remember places too, for example if we visit my dads flat they will go to the correct door, out of about 4 different flats on that floor. Obviously this is probably smell - but that means they must remember what my dad/brother smell like.

Joined:Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:01 pm
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Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by dontpugme » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:13 pm

I'm just really thankful that Max has "forgiven" me for how awful I was to him when he and I were younger and I hadn't discovered a different way of training.

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Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by Nettle » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:25 pm

Dogs and other animals have awesomely good memories. They'd die pretty soon if they didn't, as Jacksdad touched upon.

My own remember every single place they have ever caught anything - and go to check if the animal they caught, sometimes years ago, might still be there.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog


Joined:Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:18 pm

Re: dogs and their memory capacity

Post by MPbandmom » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:07 pm

Sky remembers what yards have barkey dogs in them. Even if the dog moved away years ago, she will still obviously look for the dog.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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