Your dog remembers a lot more about you than you realize, a new finding that caught scientists by surprise.
There’s a lot more to your dog than meets the eye. That’s what scientists are saying in a new study, claiming that dogs are capable of remembering and recalling events from the past, even when those events didn’t hold any real importance when it happened.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology this week, show that dogs are capable of the same episodic memory that we have, in a sense. Researchers found that dogs can recall complex actions by a person, which could help scientists better understand the differences, or lack thereof, between dogs and humans, or between humans and non-humans in general.
After all, we have a distant evolutionary relationship to all animals, including dogs, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if dogs were capable of similar brain activity as us. But it’s been tough to confirm that, because you can’t exactly ask dogs what they remember. So in the study, researchers had dogs watch a person perform an action, and then have them perform the same action. Then they used this training method to explore the issue further, telling dogs to “do it,” referring to something a human had done earlier that they had no reason to believe they would have to replicate later.
“The results of our study can be considered as a further step to break down artificially erected barriers between non-human animals and humans,” says Claudia Fugazza of MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Budapest, Hungary. “Dogs are among the few species that people consider ‘clever,’ and yet we are still surprised whenever a study reveals that dogs and their owners may share some mental abilities despite our distant evolutionary relationship.”