3 min read


Can Dogs Remember Their Owners?



3 min read


Can Dogs Remember Their Owners?


You undoubtedly remember the first time you laid eyes on your furry companion, it was probably love at first sight, right? But have you ever wondered if your dog also reminisces about the fateful day? 

Before we look at whether or not dogs really remember meeting their owners, it's important to understand how a dog's memory works. Dogs typically use two different types of memory: short-term and long-term. Sounds familiar, right? Where dogs differ from humans is that their short-term memory is very well, short, compared to humans. Experts say it takes a trivial 70 seconds for your dog to forget what just happened.

But while their short-term memory could maybe use some improving, their long-term memory is impressive, to say the least. Dogs most certainly recognize and remember their owners, even after long absences. This can be attributed to numerous factors, but they mainly rely on their sense of smell. 

According to PBS, dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. Not sure what this means? To compare, humans have just 6 million. That means that your dog's sense of smell is somewhere around 40 times greater than ours. This also means that your dog will remember scents long after the fact. This could be other animals, sure, but it also applies to their owner. So even if your face were to change, your dog would still remember you just based on the way you smell. Pretty neat, don't you think?! 


Signs Your Dog Remembers You

Dogs react to seeing their owner in many different ways. Some may whine, bark, lick, jump, and wiggle their bodies in every which way, whereas others may have a more subdued reaction. There is no one way for a dog to express how much he loves or missed his owner, which is just one of the things that make dogs so great! They are truly individuals with individual reactions and personalities. 

If you are looking for a sign that your dog remembers you, all you have to do is walk in the front door and wait for their unique greeting! While your dog may not be able to tell time or count the number of days you've been gone, they will notice if their routine is different. Your dog is very dependent on you, so when you are no longer around to feed, walk, or provide them with general companionship, they notice. 

Body Language

Here are signs your dog remembers you:

  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail
  • Hugging
  • Whimpering
  • Tail Up
  • Licking

Other Signs

Here are other signs your dog remembers you:

  • Kissing Your Face
  • Extreme Excitement

History of Dogs Remembering Their Owners


Scientists and historians alike all over the world have long been conducting studies to determine if - and how - dogs remember their owners. One of the most popular studies to date was conducted by scientists at Italy's University of Padua. It was there that they discovered dogs not only remember their owners, but that they use facial recognition to do so. During this study they also determined that dogs use their sense of smell, hearing, and distinct physical features to find their owner.

Science Behind Your Dog Remembering You


There have been countless studies conducted over the years showing that dogs most certainly do remember their owners. You may have seen one of the many popular YouTube videos of soldiers returning from service to their crying, fainting, overzealous dog. If this doesn't prove our point, we don't know what does! 

Scientifically speaking, dogs are more likely to remember things and people they have an emotional connection to. They can feel basic emotions such as happiness, love, anger, surprise, and fear, but their emotional capacity isn't much more complex than that. Many strongly believe that dogs do understand what it feels like to genuinely miss those they love, but they may not get exactly why they were gone. 

As mentioned, memory and emotions in a dog are connected to their sense of smell. So when it comes to the question of if they remember their owners or not, the answer is yes because they recognize their smell. When they smell a familiar human such as their owner, a specific part of the brain is triggered. 

Training Your Dog to Recognize Your Face


Dogs rely on their instincts and sense of smell to recognize their masters, so there isn't necessarily one way to train them to do so. Your dog will remember you based on the pheromones you produce, not on whether you've spent countless hours trying to make sure they know who you are. 

That being said, there are different things you can do to adjust your dog's reaction when they see you. Practice basic obedience training and work with them to recognize their master and others in your household. This will go a long way and will not only strengthen your bond but will help your dog in the long run.

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By a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall

Published: 03/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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