Can Dogs Remember You After Months?

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Sometimes we have to leave our furry pals. Whether it's to go to work, school, or on vacation, there are just certain places our pups can't go. But as we're leaving, a lot of us will wonder if our dog will remember us by the time we get home. Sure, if it's just a day, you expect your dog to recognize your face and smell and be excited to see you home! 

But what about if it's for longer - say months at a time? Will your dog remember you after months apart? 

Luckily, the answer is yes! In fact, studies have shown that the longer a dog is separated from their owner, the happier the dog will be when they return! So, it's actually true, even for your pups, that time really does make the heart grow fonder!

Signs Your Dog Recognizes You After A Long Time Apart

The fact of the matter is that your dog will almost always remember you, regardless of how long you're gone. While studies haven't necessarily been done to see how long it takes for your pup to realize that their owner is absent, "it is evident that they will ultimately see it as a loss if they (the owner) don't return within a certain period of time." "If you are not around, your dog knows things have changed and a certain level of comfort is lost."

That's why our pups get so excited when we return! Studies have also shown that the longer you're gone, the more excited your doggo will be upon your return. Just look at the countless YouTube videos of soldiers returning home to their pups after months, or even years, of being deployed. Read the stories about dogs who have been lost for years, only to come upon a previous owner and recognize them immediately. There are endless numbers of examples and stories of pups reuniting with their owners after a long time and knowing they're back with their best friends. Dogs react almost directly upon seeing them, with excited and happy behavior. 

Even if you're gone for months, as long as your pup associates you with happy, loving memories, expect to see pure and utter joy from your fluffy BFF. They may jump up on you, give you slobbery kisses, or even whine, bark, or howl, since they can't contain their happiness! Tails will wag, ears will perk up, and an amazing reunion will ensue. 

Other times, they may not recognize you right away by your face (especially if it's been a while and you've changed!). Your pup will get it, though, it may just take a little sniff test before the lightbulb goes off! Studies show that regardless of how long it takes, eventually, "your dog is going to be happy and relieved to see you, so it's important to give him your full and undivided attention."

Body Language

Some body language to look out for to see if your pup remembers you include:
  • Raise ears
  • Wag tail
  • Howling
  • Jumping up
  • Panting
  • Whining
  • Head tilting
  • Barking
  • Alert

Other Signs

Other signs that your dog remembers you are:
  • Following You Around
  • Happy-Dancing
  • Sing-song Whining
  • Almost Suffocating You with Attention

The Science Behind Dogs Remembering Us

There are several ways your dog can remember you, although most studies show that it's primarily either by facial recognition, or simply remembering your scent. A study done in Itlay showed that dogs actually rely sometimes on their eyes to pick out their masters from a group of people. 

In one instance, two individuals allowed their faces to be clearly displayed in front of the dog, one being their owner. In the other, both humans faces were covered. In the second, the dogs did not react the same way, and even showed disinterest towards their owner when their faces were covered. "Even more than smell, a dog usees his sense of sight to determine who you are. So long as your dog has strong, healthy eyes, [the study showed] that he won't forget you." 

Your dog also can recognize you through their smell. According to research, dogs "possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about 6 million in us." Because of that, a lot of their brain is reserved for remembering and distinguishing smells. 

When a dog recognizes a particular scent associated with a human that has brought them joy, a particular portion of their brain is triggered, and they remember them. So even if your face has changed or its been years since you've last seen your dog, your doggo will remember how you smelled, remember how you loved them, and will be super excited to see you've returned! 

Regardless of whether your dog recognizes you by scent, by vision, or by anything else, it remains true that the longer you're gone, the more excited they'll be when you return. Every study has shown a more exuberant, noticeable reaction to their owner the longer they've been gone. That doesn't mean we should try to stay away from our dogs, but it does mean that they'll be super happy when you return!

Training Your Dog to Remember You

By nature, dogs store happy memories and scents, and keep them with them throughout their lives. So, because of that, you don't really need to train your pooch to remember you. But what you can do is work to ensure that your pupper has the happiest association to you as possible.

The best part of this "training" is that it basically just requires you to love your pooch and treat them as well as possible. Buy out time each day to do fun activities together, like going for walks or playing games in the park. Make sure you never leave your doggo alone for too long and do your best to always deal with them in a calm, patient manner. Oh, and don't forget to pet them and cuddle them like crazy!

By doing your best to be an amazing owner, you are giving your dog every reason in the world to remember you for all of the positive things you've brought to their life. And if you've developed that close bond, you'll be happy to know that your hound will always think of you fondly - even if you aren't around at that moment!

How To React Around Your Dog If You've Been Gone A While

  • Let them show their love! Your dog will probably jump all over you, whining, barking, and just acting very overly-excited to see you. Some have been even known to pee in their excitement! Just let them be themselves, and be happy that they love you.
  • Patience! Sometimes dogs may not recognize your face, so they may need to sniff you out in order to recognize you. Let them take their time - once they finally do, it's definitely worth the wait!
  • Acceptance. Rarely, some dogs will show avoidance or be clingy once you return. They may be upset that you left, or afraid that you're going to leave again. This relates back to patience - give your dog time to adjust to you being around again. Show your dog unconditional love and affection, and they'll soon realize that things are returning to normal!

We Want To Hear About You and Your Pup's Reunion!