Dogs are not only man’s best friend, but they remember almost everything we do, even if we would rather they didn’t.
In fact, their memory is so complex that researchers did not believe any animal other than humans had such an innate sense of the past. However, it is has been discovered that dogs may be closer to us in cognitive skills than we think.
The new study, published in Current Biology, studied 17 dogs and their owners. According to the research, dogs can both remember and then imitate the same actions their own did up to one hour previously.
Humans have always suspected that dogs could relieve memories and events, but this latest research, conducted in Budapest, Hungary, revealed this for the first time scientifically.
“The results of our study can be considered as a further step to break down artificially erected barriers between non-human animals and humans.
Dogs are among the few species that people consider ‘clever’, and yet we are still surprised whenever a study reveals that dogs and their owners may share some mental abilities despite our distant evolutionary relationship.”
In order to prove that dogs were able to remember events, researchers asked the dogs’ owners to perform an action, such as tapping an umbrella with their hand. They then commanded their dogs to do the same action, but instead tapping the umbrella with their paw. Researchers found that they could mimic the action immediately after their owner demonstrated it and up to an hour later.
While this experiment does prove complex memory, researchers have decided to stop just short of stating that dogs definitely have episodic memory.
Fugazza says of this conclusion:
“Episodic memory is traditionally linked to self-awareness and so far there is no evidence of self awareness in dogs and I think there is no method for testing it.”
Because dogs are so in tune with human beings, we may be teaching them to mimic behavior, the study found. This may be for better or worse, depending on the behavior we are teaching them.
The team concluded of the experiment:
“These findings show that dogs recall past events as complex as human actions even if they do not expect the memory test, providing evidence for episodic-like memory.”