DEC 01, 2016 10:39 AM PST

Study Illustrates How Dogs Can Remember Your Actions

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Humans have called dogs “man’s best friend” for ages. Dogs and people just get along so well, and it’s not just a coincidence. It turns out we really understand each other; our minds may have more in common than we think.
A new study published in Current Biology demonstrates that dogs too can exhibit signs of using episodic memory, a type of memory once thought to be a human-only trait that allows you to remember nearly everything that happened at a specific point in time.

 Image Credit: 123RF

With episodic memory, you’re not necessarily paying full attention to all of your surroundings when something happens, but despite that, you can still look back on everything and remember what went on.
In the study, 17 dogs were reportedly trained to expect treats after sitting down, and the research would not begin until all of them would sit down reliably after their training. They were taught to expect a treat after sitting down.
Despite expecting a treat and having their mind solely set on getting one after sitting down, the dogs were able to remember specific actions carried out by their owner despite being unrelated to sitting down and getting a treat for it.
In this instance, a video demonstration shows a dog expecting to receive a treat for sitting down, but when the owner says, “do it,” the dog repeats what the owner did leading up to the treat expectation:

Because tapping on the umbrella wasn’t a part of the dog’s routine for sitting down and getting a treat for it, the dog was not trained to tap on the umbrella specifically. The dog, instead, remembered what the owner did. So, when the owner said “do it,” the dog went ahead and did what it remembered happening leading up to the expectation to receive a treat.
This demonstrates episodic memory because the dog was not focusing on the umbrella at all during the entire research study. Instead, it was focusing on the owner and sitting down to get the treat. While the dog didn’t pay much attention to the umbrella, the owner was able to tap into the dog’s episodic memory to get the dog to tap on the umbrella too.
"From a broad evolutionary perspective, this implies that episodic-like memory is not unique and did not evolve only in primates but is a more widespread skill in the animal kingdom," researcher Claudia Fugazza says.
"We suggest that dogs may provide a good model to study the complexity of episodic-like memory in a natural setting, especially because this species has the evolutionary and developmental advantage to live in human social groups."
Episodic memory may also pertain to many other animal species, but scientific research hasn’t spanned across the animal kingdom just yet. Further research may help us better understand the thought processes of other types of animals in similar situations in the future.
Source: EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 15, 2019
For Squirrels, Benefits to Moving Away From Home Are Sex-Dependent
When squirrels grow up, they often face the tough choice of staying at or near the same location where they were born or moving on to bigger and better pla...
DEC 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 16, 2019
Sloths Are More Interesting Than You Might Think...
The humble sloth – an animal that is renowned for its slowness. In fact, it’s considered one of the slowest mammals on the entire planet. But w...
DEC 27, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 27, 2019
How Dog Genomics Can Teach Us More About Human Health
It's been estimated that there are around 70 million pet dogs in the United States, with around 36 percent of households owning at least one dog....
JAN 03, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 03, 2020
Breathalyzers for Cannabis Users?
With Cannabis use on the rise across the country, scientists and law enforcement are working to develop technology to determine when a driver is stoned and...
JAN 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 23, 2020
Scientists Assess the Value of the Ocean's Twilight Zone
Fifteen years ago, an international cohort of scientists and policy experts introduced the idea of assessing ecosystems by the "services" they pr...
FEB 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 16, 2020
These Jellyfish Deliver Stings Without Touching You
Most people are accustomed to thinking that if you avoid a jellyfish’s tentacles while swimming in the ocean, then you won’t be stung. For the...
Loading Comments...