Can Dogs Remember the Day Before?

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Introduction

The ability to remember past events is part of what makes us human. We have a keen ability to remember certain places, events, and other specific things with great and precise detail. Studying the animal mind and its ability to remember past events is a favorite topic among researchers. Although it was believed that animals were not able to remember much, more studies have come out that suggest dogs can remember much more than we ever thought possible. 

It is very likely your dog can remember things that have happened in the past and especially events that happened recently, like where they left their ball outside yesterday. So in short, your dog can probably remember certain things from the day before!

Signs of a Dog Remembering the Day Before

Since studies have shown that dogs have the ability to remember commands and past events, looking for certain signs that can recall events from the past becomes a bit easier. One of the biggest signs you dog can recall things from the day before is if they remember where they left a toy inside or outside of the house. Often times, your dog will leave a favorite toy in a safe spot in the house like stuffed between the couch.

Perhaps when they wake up in the morning and go downstairs with you they will run right over to the couch and retrieve the toy. This is a sign they remembered where they put the toy the day before. 

Some dogs will also show they remember things from the past by staring at something intently they remember from the days before, tilting their head to the side at something familiar, or spinning, barking, and getting excited over something that happened in the days before. 

Your dog performing their training skills properly can also suggest that they can pull from their memory to do certain learned commands like "sit," "stay," "come," and more at the right times and when asked. 

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice if your dog can remember the day before:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Listening

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog can remember the day before:
  • Finding toys with ease
  • Responding to trained commands
  • Following a routine

History of Dogs Remembering Past Events

For a very long time, it was believed that dogs and other animals had no sense of time and were not able to remember events and other things or information from the past. Dogs lack a fully functioning episodic memory, which led many to believe they had no ability to recall things from the day before, or any length of time. 

However, as time progressed, more studies and interest was shown on this subject, which led to some very interesting findings of a dog's ability to remember events from the past. In short, we now know that dogs can definitely remember things from the past, but not exactly in the same way as humans can. 

For instance, dog owners often tell stories of their dog's uncanny ability to know a certain car drive leads to their favorite walking trail. Others claim their dogs can very distinctly remember when they hid a bone or a toy the day before. Some dogs will even dig, burry, and cover their bones with dirt outside in the yard and leave it there for a day or more. The dog will go right back to the same spot to dig the bone back out. Although this may have to do a bit with scent, it had to do with memory as well. 

Science Behind Dogs Remembering the Day Before

A recent study shows that dogs are able to imitate actions performed by humans by simply observing their behavior. This shows your dog is able to recall, do the action, and learn these actions since they have watched humans do it before. This study was conducted at the Univerity of Budapest in an attempt to understand if dogs were able to use declarative memory. This form of memory is the ability to remember facts and information from the past and use it correctly.  

For the study, they had the dogs watch their owners do a certain task and in some instances, the dogs would be encouraged to do that certain task as well. The dogs were then taken away from the task/object for some time and then brought back to where they were learning this task.

They found that the dogs were able to perform the task they had been doing previously but they also were able to recall and imitate the tasks they just watched their owners do. The researchers behind this study claim this is evidence to support the theory a dog is able to remember specific events, things, and tasks from the past and actually act on those memories as well. Dogs do indeed have declarative memory. 

Training Dogs to Remember Things from the Day Before

You can perform a version of the study we discussed above at home to test your dog's declarative memory! Doing this little test with them at home is a fun and creative way to have you and your dog bond some more, while also expanding their training and recall capabilities. 

Choose a task to do with your dog. For instance, you can show them where a squeaker on a new toy is and how they should squeak it. Do this for a little while and then guide your dog away for a bit and distract them with something else. You can take them for a walk, feed them, or play with them outside. 

After a few hours, take your dog back into the room with the toy and then simply observe their behavior. See if they go for the toy, pick it up, and try to squeak the toy. Do they play with the toy in the same way you were playing with the toy with them? You will likely see that your dog has gone to play with the toy in the same manner that they were playing with the toy when you were there. They will likely also remember how to squeak the toy and squeak the toy in the correct place.  

How to React to Your Dog's Memory:

  • Put effort into to daily training. Your dog will pick up and remember the information.
  • Establish a routine. Dogs thrive when they know what's next.
  • If your dog gets especially excited before walks to certain places, use these excursions to reward your pooch.