“I remember the time I knew what happiness was…let the memory live again”
The words may be from the musical Cats, but with new research about dogs’ memories, someone may want to create a new musical.
A recent article in The Washington Post reports on research findings that dogs may have episodic-like memory similar to humans. While they can’t actually know what the dogs are thinking (after all, The Secret Life of Pets is only a movie), their research shows that dogs can remember what their humans do even if the dog doesn’t need to know the action.
The study, published by Current Biology, tested the dogs’ memory by first training the dogs to “do what I do” and then, after the dogs performed correctly, increased the time between the action and telling them to do it. Two time intervals were tested: 1 minute and 1 hour.
While the dogs memory was better after only one minute (60% of dogs performed the action) and did decrease after an hour, a number of them (35%) were still able to recall and perform the action they were initially taught to imitate.
The Washington Post article quotes study author Claudia Fugazza as saying that most dog owners probably already realize that their dogs have memories. “What is new and important” she says, “is that dogs can remember events even if those events do not seem to be important.”