Do dogs remember when they were puppies?

Dogs have developed a process called imprinting, which utilises the senses of sight and smell to create memories. Their ability to imprint depends on their experience as a puppy, particularly during the first eight weeks of life.

Most pups do not live alongside their mother for long. They are usually separated at around three months old. But after being separated from their mothers, do puppies remember their mothers?

Dogs can form mother-child bonds at a young age because puppies are typically very dependent on their mothers for safety and food. Because of this connection, dogs do retain the scent of their mothers. According to research, a dog can retain memories of its parents even two years after their separation.

Here is a succinct conclusion drawn from all available research and studies regarding a dog’s capacity to recall its mother, children, and siblings.

What is memory?

Let’s first examine two types of memory in order to comprehend the origins of this dog debate.

The first is “semantic memory.” This refers to generalized, long-term knowledge we have accumulated about the world around us. These memories are tied to concepts and facts we consciously learn — such as arithmetic or language — and are not connected to time.

There’s little debate about whether dogs experience semantic memories. Pups remember their owners by their scent and appearance. They remember their favorite toys, their favorite spot on the couch, and their favorite kibble brand.

But whether dogs experience “episodic memory” — the ability to recall specific experiences from moments in the past — isn’t clear. Most of our memories associated with a time and place count as episodic, such as the specific meal you ordered or the color of the car you rented on a trip you took years prior.

It can be challenging to determine whether a memory is episodic, especially in dogs.

“Some definitions are based on the content — what is remembered — and some definitions are based on the way it is remembered,” Claudia Fugazza, a canine cognition researcher at Eötvös Loránd University tells Inverse.

Fugazza views episodic memory as “remembering something that, at the time the event occurred, you did not know it was important [or] to be remembered,” according to her research. ”.

This definition emphasizes how information is encoded in the dog’s brain in both cases, not whether the dog can generally remember its owner’s face or recall a specific past event.

Do dogs remember when they were puppies?

After a few Months of Separation

It is most likely that the puppy will remember their mother even after being separated for a few months. This is where dogs are usually re-homed.

However, the mother will remember the puppy if you give her another chance to meet it. However, this reunion can lead to some tension.

The puppy will be jumping and biting at the mother now that it is bigger and more energetic.

This is expected given that the puppy is eager to see his mother once more. But because of her diminished energy, the mother will exhibit less affection.

Dogs have a very short short-term memory. “Dogs forget an event within two minutes,” reported National Geographic, citing a 2014 study performed on various animals from rats to bees. Other animals have long-term memories, such as dolphins, but dogs dont seem to have a long-term memory that lasts much beyond those two minutes.

Woman sitting on the ground pets a dogs head sitting on the couch.Until recently, it was thought that only humans and a few animals had episodic memories. Some research suggested that dogs sort of have that ability, but a groundbreaking study in Current Biology provided strong “evidence for episodic-like memory” in dogs. The team trained dogs to the point that instead of saying “lie down,” the researcher would say “do it” and the dog would obey.

Anecdotally, training dogs for advanced cognition may not be too far off. Renowned psychologist and dog author Dr. Stanley Coren wrote for Psychology Today that he once interviewed a man who, having lost his short-term memory due to a brain injury as a child, relied on a “memory assistance dog” to help with episodic “new memories” such as where he parked his car. Pretty exciting stuff.

These developments support the notion that adopted dogs may retain memories of their prior owners, but it is still unclear how. For instance, a dog who lived in unfavorable circumstances might link particular things or places with bad feelings or anxious behavior. And it is undeniable that dogs miss their owners when they leave the house. Just observe how ecstatic they become when you enter the front door.

Golden retriever holding a red ball in its mouthWe know that dogs can be smart, but not enough research has been done to determine whether or not memory capacity differs from one dog breed to another. Generally speaking, dogs exhibit varied types of memory cognition, including the following.


Do dogs have memories of being puppies?

Your dog will retain a lot of information from its time as a puppy that, with the right care, will help it become a good dog.

How far back can dogs remember?

According to National Geographic, a study conducted in 2014 on various animals, including rats and bees, revealed that “dogs forget an event within two minutes.” Dogs don’t seem to have a long-term memory that lasts much longer than those two minutes, unlike dolphins and other animals.

How long does a dog remember its puppies?

Additionally, these animals have, at best, associative memories for repeated events. However, it aids in their memory of their favorite things, so the brief period spent together gives mom dogs and her puppies some memory. Information about mothers and puppies is retained for nearly two years.