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How much and what do Golden Retrievers actually remember?

How much and what do Golden Retrievers actually remember?

Have you ever wondered how much Golden Retrievers remember? Or whether your dog remembers all the special moments you’ve shared. Like the first time, you saw him or her and fell in love.

Dogs seem to have an uncanny memory for where they left their favorite toy, or when it is time for dinner. We have heard stories of lost pets finding their way home to their families through unfamiliar territories. Do these incidents prove that dogs have long and short term memory like humans? Well not exactly. While dogs do remember things, it’s a bit differently than the way humans do.

So, How Much Do Golden Retrievers Remember?

Episodic memory

Goldens are able to recall some personal events and specific moments, like where their toy is. The term for this type of memory is “episodic memory”. There is still an ongoing debate whether dogs really possess this type of memory. Episodic memory theory states that dogs remember who and what happened, but not the precise time it was done. This would indicate that dogs could have the ability to think about themselves. It’s difficult to confirm because as much as we want to think our dogs can clearly communicate with us, they really can’t.

But do dogs have a memory or not?

 In a 2017 study, researchers looked at whether dogs could recall things that weren’t strictly necessary for survival, or someone else’s actions. Researchers requested 17 pet parents teach their dogs a trick called “do as I do.” These dogs learned that after watching their owner jump in the air, they should do the same when commanded to “do it!” 

The lead researcher, Claudia Fugazza, an ethologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, stated, “that alone doesn’t prove episodic-like memory. You have to test them when they don’t expect it.” During the next round of training, pet parents taught dogs to lie down after watching them do something like touching an open umbrella or stepping up on a chair. This portion of the study did not require the dogs to imitate their owners.

In the final portion of the testing, they surprised the dogs. The pet parents would perform an action, but then after the dog laid down, the owner would command, “Do it!” These dogs were expected to recall what they had seen the owner do 1 minute and 1 hour after watching them. The dogs succeeded in 33 of 35 trials.

These research findings suggests that dogs have something similar to episodic memory. So we can say that you and your dog really do make memories together, some that you will hold for a lifetime and others that your pup will retain in his own special way.