Dogs Short Term Memory, How Short Is It?

Your dog might be happy to see you but chances are he/ she can’t remember when you last interacted even if that was 30 or 5 minutes ago. Essentially, dogs have been found to have better short term memories than the average animal and even much better than a Chimpanzee that forgets 20 seconds later. Dogs are actually on the higher end of the memory scale at about two minutes. On average, the memory span of an animal is just 27 seconds, meaning your dog is way higher on the memory spectrum within the animal kingdom. At less than two minutes it’s not easy to explain why your furry friend acts the way he does considering how pretty short his short term memory is. Of course there’s a reason the canine has such a pretty short memory.

This explains why a dog is always happy and excited to see the owner re-enter the house 10 minutes later; they have no recollection how long the owner was away. However, it’s a little hard to explain how your dog understands when you touch the leash it’s time for a walk around the park, which could help unravel why their memory is like that.

Associative memory

The difference between the memory of a human being and a dog is very wide. Human beings manifest episodic memory able to recollect arbitrary events without a problem. Dogs do not have this, which allows us to remember even the smallest of details years later. With their associative memory, the dog has a unique memory specifically designed to help it survive.

Repeated events help them survive

A dog might have a short term memory span of 2 minutes and under but they usually store any useful information from repetition of events, such as visiting a certain place all the time and interacting with specific group of people frequently. A good example is interacting with the owner all the time when he or she feeds the dog. As time progresses, the canine associates a specific activity with a certain action or reward, such as touching of the bowl as a sign that dinner is about to be served.

According to a new study on animal memory, its clear animals have two types of memory systems; one is the brief memory that retains information for a short time. On the other hand, the other type of memory gives an animal the chance to retain memories for a longer time but only for certain kinds of info.

Your relationship with your pet dog isn’t a lie

With such a memory it doesn’t mean the entire relationship one has with a furry friend is a lie. The short term memory might not be the best but the associative memory they have make the relationship dogs have with their owners go beyond providing them with food or playing around with them. It means a dog might not really remember being offered a bone or let in the house from the fiery wind outside but will definitely associate the owner in a way with being secure, safe and happy.

Through circadian oscillators a dog uses neural activity, body temperature and hormonal fluctuations on a daily basis to know when a particular activity is about to happen, such as when the owner is about to arrive from work or food to be added into a bowl. Dogs don’t remember the time that has gone by or the time they took the last meal, but their reaction is wholly to a biological disposition they reach at a specific period of the day.

Procedural or associative memory helps a dog attain positive experience but there’re also negative references that’ll probably stick inside the head of a dog a bit longer. Of course the negative memories can be reversed or calmed without a problem, but it might take a bit of time for this to happen. This simply proves a dog has a long-term memory as much as the short-term memory is only 2 minutes or less.