The study showed dogs could remember their owner's actions up to an hour after seeing them performed.
The information a dog can retain and remember is much better than we first thought, according to a new study.
While some of us may struggle to remember what we did an hour ago, our canine companions are likely to remember exactly what we did.
Scientist conducted a study involving 17 trained dogs who watched their own perform an action unfamiliar to the dog. They were then taken behind a partition for a minute, brought back out and asked to copy what the owner had done. Each dog imitated exactly what they had seen even up to an hour after witnessing the new action.
“If you ask a dog to imitate an action that was demonstrated some time ago, then it is something like asking, ‘Do you remember what your owner did?’ ” stated Claudia Fugazza, an author of the study and an animal behavior researcher at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest.
One theory could be a dog’s ability to possess episodic memory which is linked to a sense of self-awareness, however, even though episodic memory has been found in other animals such as rats, monkeys and birds, proving that dogs also have this type of self-awareness is hard due to the close relationships they have with humans.
“Episodic memory is traditionally linked to self-awareness,” Fugazza says, “and so far there is no evidence of self awareness in dogs and I think there is no method for testing it.”
“They’re so tuned into human cues, which can be a good thing,” Victoria Templer, behavioral neuroscientist at Providence College not involved in the study says. “But it also can be a disadvantage and make it very difficult, because we might be cuing dogs when we’re totally unaware of it.”
What the study does show is that a dog’s memory, whether fully trained or not, is more similar to ours than we thought.
Details of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.