Memories are a powerful thing for both dogs and humans. But since we don’t share the same neurological configuration, dogs’ brains work a bit differently. 

So, do dogs remember people? Keep reading to find out this and other cool memory stuff:

How Good Are Dogs at Remembering? 

Dog memory is fairly different from a human one. We can access memories stored in our brains at any given time. These are called episodic memories, and they can be incredibly detailed. They allow us to live out our lives over and over again in our minds.

Our furry friends’ memories differ slightly. They are what we call associative memories. So, dogs remember things based on association, such as a smell, sound, or sight. Your dog uses these senses to remember people, places, things, and feelings. Still, some studies show that dogs also have episodic memories.

Canine Short-Term Memory

How far back can dogs remember? This question has mixed answers, but the general notion is that dogs have a very short memory span, lasting anywhere between two and three minutes.

So, your dog will obey a command in your presence, but once left alone, they’ll start wreaking havoc again. That’s why we don’t recommend scolding or punishing your pup when they’ve done some damage while you were far away.

Canine Long-Term Memory

Do dogs have long-term memory? Our furry pets can remember certain places, other dogs, or people by linking them to a specific smell, sight, or feeling. 

They may not know the exact time when the meeting occurred, but they’ll know the scent and link that to their memory. According to a study by the Open Science Royal Society, they can even remember certain words or objects.

Dogs Remember Thanks to Associative Memory

The topic of dog memory is a vast sea of complexities and scientific findings. We know that our furry pals remember thanks to a neurological process known as associative memory. They create positive or negative associations with objects, places, scents, paths, people, and other dogs.

For example, this kind of memory helps your dog remember when you take their leash in your hand. They associate the leash with going for a walk, which is a positive association. So, your dog will probably start jumping around and become eager for the adventure.

How to Improve the Associative Memory of Your Dog

There are some trainings and techniques for improving puppy memory, and you can use them to change your dog’s associative memory over time. The goal is to replace the negative associations with positive ones.

If your dog has a disruptive behavior or is afraid of going to the vet, try some positive reinforcement techniques like clicker and correction-based training. If they’re a picky eater, try some delicious food for your dog.

Like humans, older dogs struggle with cognitive functions, like memory, learned behavior, or disorientation. Luckily, you can find vet-recommended chews, like Ark Naturals on Amazon, that help with that. 

What Do Dogs Remember?

By using associations, dogs can recognize people, places, or animals. They achieve this by linking the memory to a specific scent, sight, or sound, which helps them remember.

Unfortunately, your dog can remember positive and negative experiences. For instance, your pet might have bad memories of being hit with an object like a newspaper or a stick. A loud vacuum cleaner could also traumatize some dogs. And so, they link the object to a past negative experience.

How Good Are Dogs at Remembering People? — What Science Says

And just how long do dogs remember people? 

Dogs are smarter than you think, and they can remember people for many years. We’ve all seen those adorable videos of dogs reuniting with their owners after a long time, which is another testimony to this truth.

Dogs can use their sight and scents to familiarize themselves with humans, even after being separated for long periods. They can remember your face, and even if you’ve changed over the years, they can still smell you from miles away.

Do Dogs Use Scents to Remember People?

A dog’s scent is 40 times more powerful than ours, as they possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about 6 million in the human nose. 

So, how long can a dog remember a scent? The answer is many, many years.

Dogs are even more responsive to familiar scents. For instance, if your dog sniffs you after you’ve been away for some time, they’re more likely to get excited and be overcome with emotions at the sight of you. Talk about being adorable!

dog lying on its owner looking towards him

How to Tell if Your Dog Remembers a Scent

Dogs are natural sniffers, so they’ll put their noses anywhere and sniff just about anything. 

If your dog remembers a scent, once done sniffing, it’ll tilt its head towards the place and start wagging its tail with excitement.

How Long Does a Scent Stay in Your Dog’s Memory?

When your dog sniffs another dog, they’ll likely remember the scent forever. Dogs associate scents with humans and objects, linking them to how they made them feel.

Signs That Dogs Can Remember People From Their Past

Let’s get this straight, how good are dogs’ memories exactly? It depends. If we’re talking about people, they can remember anyone they’ve sniffed long enough. So, your pet will remember family members and friends more than acquaintances.

We’ll explore some signs that dogs have emotions and can link people to happy or sad memories. If you see a dog doing the following, they must have encountered a specific scent from their past that reminds them of a friend:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Wagging tail
  • Whimpering

Can Dogs Recognize Faces?

How do dogs remember you? And can they do it just by looking at you?

According to a study by the Journal of Neuroscience, dogs aren’t programmed to focus on your face. They’re more likely to focus on the face of another dog. Ouch. 

Our precious four-legged friends can remember, scan, and notice our faces, but it’s not in their nature to do so.

Can Dogs Recognize Voices?

Since they have impeccable hearing, dogs can recognize their owners by voices alone. They can distinguish voices by properties such as pitch and noisiness.

Your Dog’s Body Language Reveals It All 

Dogs are “talking” to you all the time. They just have a different way of communicating with body language. So, you must pay attention to every detail if you want to understand them. That’s also an opportunity to develop a genuine bond of love, trust, and respect.

An Amazing Story of a Dog Remembering His Owner

Do dogs remember their owners? We often hear or read about incredible stories of dogs reuniting with their owners. Here’s one of our favorites:

A 4-year-old Boxer named Chuck and his human mom were getting ready to go out of the driveway. Suddenly, Chuck started acting unusual. 

The soldier’s wife was in for a surprise as she glimpsed her husband, walking in the distance towards them. Once she said, “Daddy’s home!” Chuck leaped out of the vehicle and ran straight toward the soldier. After four years of deployment, they were finally reunited. 

How Long Will a Dog Remember Its Owner?

There are myths on the web that your dog will forget you after two weeks. Others ask, “Will my dog remember me after a year?” Don’t worry. Your pooch will remember you much longer.

Thanks to their associative memory, dogs can smell you from miles away and recognize your scent years after you’ve been apart. So even if some unfortunate event separates you, your bond will be just as strong once you reunite.

Does Your Dog Remember Your First Meeting? 

Let’s go over it once again — do dogs remember people? Yes, they do. But do they remember the first time they met you? This might be a special occasion for you, and it might even be a core memory, but it’s not the same for your furry companion.

Your dog probably doesn’t remember the first time it laid eyes on you. While some studies show they can have episodic memory, that’s yet to be confirmed. But don’t fret. Your dog remembers you and knows they met you some time ago. It’s just not in the same way that we remember them.

Does Your Dog Remember Your Guests?

If you have guests over, your dog will likely go out and greet them. And if some of them give your dog attention or treats, your pet’s associative memory will trigger. So, they’ll remember these people for getting attention and treats.

If any guest scolds or is mean to your dog, your dog will associate them with a negative experience. So, do dogs remember bad experiences? Yes, they do.

Top 10 Breeds With The Best Memory

Some dog breeds have a better memory and are generally smarter than others. For example, your dog can walk without a leash and stay next to you at all times, but your friend’s dog might get distracted and run away. If you have a large dog that drifts away, try a harness for a big dog’s adventures to keep them close to you.

These are the top 10 breeds with the best memory:

  1. Border Collie
  2. Australian Shepherd
  3. Labrador Retriever
  4. Golden Retriever 
  5. German Shepherd
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Papillon
  8. Doberman Pinscher
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Jack Russell Terrier

You’ll Always Be a Part of Your Dog’s Memories

Will my dog remember me even after we’re no longer together? Don’t worry. While your dog might not remember your first meeting, they’ll definitely remember you every day after you leave the house. Dogs know when you’re gone, and they’re eager for you to come back and cuddle up. 

If you want to know what your dog thinks about you, we have a few things to share. In any case, your dog remembers you through their favorite toys, an empty bowl of food, or their favorite spot on the couch.

A Parting Memory

So, do dogs remember people? We hope that we’ve answered this question and helped you learn new facts about memory and dogs.

In short, don’t worry or be sad about your dog and their recollection of you. Although they aren’t wired to think and relive memories like us, with the help of positive association, your dog will always think of you and give you the biggest cuddle whenever they see you.

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