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How well do dogs remember places?

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How well do dogs remember places?
  • After being on the East Coast since January, I recently got back to Southern California where the dog and I both grew up (though at different times, haha). Rascal flipped out with joy. He ran around the house, then cried at the door to be let out, and ran right over the the corner where he was taught to go potty. When I took him for a walk yesterday, once we neared the greenbelt he started whining and lunging like crazy to get closer and, once there, stopped to smell EVERY smell and do a little happy digging dance after each sniff. He also seems to remember all of his commands relating to the house ("upstairs," "downstairs," "go to the office").

    So how well do dogs remember things? How do they remember places? I'm intrigued!

    Anyone else's dogs seem to remember uncannily well?
  • First off, smell is the sense that is most associated with memory.  If you were to catch a whiff of something you had a strong association with, whether good or bad, chances are that memory will flash into your mind.  "Hey that smells just like.....<fill in the blank>"
     
    With animals it's even stronger.  It really has to be since smell is their primary sense of dealing with their environment.
     
    So IMO Rascal was truly excited because he remembered the smells, and those smells were comforting, safe smells.
  • My Mother got a lab at 7 months, I lived witht them for about 3 weeks.  We had a funny routine where the lab would bring me up in the morning from a downstairs bedroom by the sleeve of a robe and I would give her a treat.  Four years later, I spent the night again- guess who what there waiting at the side of the bed to bring my up by my sleeve again?  Yep, amazing  memory- an she was so tickled- the tail truly wagged the dog!
     
  • The smell memory makes sense to me. Ixa is beginning to recongize more and more of our neighborhood from the car. So, further and further from my house, she'll notice that we're headed home. I noticed this after I started rolling the windows down more, and even letting her stick her nose out a little bit.

    I also notice, that when she wanders off trail to sniff something she always makes her way back by the same path, even if I've advanced, and returning to me by another route would be more efficient. It's like she tracks and maps with her nose.

    I wonder if any of hte stories abut pets finding their way home, across vast distances are true. That would take awesome memory.
  • It's not memory, it is the scent IMO. 

    My girlfriend had to find her two 5 year old male labs a new homes (she had them both since they were 8 weeks old) - fortunately a co-worker took them both.  After 3 months she went to the co-worker house to visit and was nervous the dogs would be sad.  You know what?  They ignored her and didn't pay her any mind.  She was crushed, they were her babies.  If memory played a part why didn't they care or reconize her with any excitement?  I think they don't remember and she is in the past and not in the now.

    HOWEVER,  My sister brings her dog to my house every time she comes to visit (weekly) and the moment she turns on to my street the dog starts to go crazy with excitement!!  I believe its scent, she know the smell associated with coming to my house.

    My own dog every year we go to Maine (200 miles away from my house) and he too perks up and starts to get excited the closer we get to our cabin, he know too - from sight, scent or memory? - I go with scent.
  • I wonder if any of hte stories abut pets finding their way home, across vast distances are true. That would take awesome memory



    Here is a story.  I moved 3.5 miles from where I use to live.  It was traumatic to my cats – they would hide in my new house, cried all day and all night.  They were indoor outdoor cats in our old home so that made it even worse - they wanted out of this new house and outside!!  So I was forced to leave them inside my new home for two months because I was fearful they would run away.

    Finally after "two month" and they seemed settled my DH and I decided it would be alright to allow them their outside freedoms that they missed so much!  The first day they were around all day in the yard and checking the new surrounding out.  That night my one cat came in to eat the second was no where to be found.  Naturally we went on the hunt, looking all over for him.  Two days passed and no cat!  On the third day my old next door neighbor called me to ask if I was missing pursey?  I was like holy crap YES!!  Three days after disappearing he turned up back to our old house 3 miles away!!!  We brought him home and the next week he did it again! [:D]
     
    It wasn't memory, he was in a car carrier covered up when we moved - he didn't watch and see the route.  I can't even imagion that there is enough scent for them to pick up on for 3.5 miles but...  somehow, some way this cat found his way back home - twice!
  • HOWEVER,  My sister brings her dog to my house every time she comes to visit (weekly) and the moment she turns on to my street the dog starts to go crazy with excitement!!  I believe its scent, she know the smell associated with coming to my house.

     
    My sister's dog does the same thing. She'll be sleeping the entire hour drive over but as soon as my sister pulls into the neighborhood her dog starts going nuts with excitement.
     
    In college, I used to move around a lot. After one move, my husky got loose. Guess where I found her? Hanging out in the front yard of our old house a couple miles away.
     
    My husky also recognizes certain places I take her to - like her kennel/grooming shop, certain parks we hike at and so on. I believe that is it part memory and part scent related.
  • They remember places well enough to get excited when the car turns up the drive to where the play group is held.  [;)]
  • Do you guys think there's a time limit on these memories? How long do they remember familiar places? Or familiar people/animals?
  • Sasha seems to remember everyone she's ever met.  People and dogs.  For instance, strange dogs freak her out, but if we run into a dog she knew as a puppy (she's 5.5 now) she gets happy and excited. And people?  She goes nuts with joy to see people she hasn't seen in years. 


  • ORIGINAL: Dog_ma

    Sasha seems to remember everyone she's ever met.  People and dogs.  For instance, strange dogs freak her out, but if we run into a dog she knew as a puppy (she's 5.5 now) she gets happy and excited. And people?  She goes nuts with joy to see people she hasn't seen in years. 


     
    Xerxes, on our walks, will keep his nose down sniffing, and when we get into one of his friends (shihtzus) territories, he will start doing his happy, happy dance complete with tail wag and lowered ears. 
  • It wasn't memory, he was in a car carrier covered up when we moved - he didn't watch and see the route. I can't even imagion that there is enough scent for them to pick up on for 3.5 miles but... somehow, some way this cat found his way back home - twice!
    ORIGINAL: luvmyswissy

    I believe it is  d) All of the above reasons...and then some.   I don't think their abilities and ours are comparable in all respects.  I believe there is both a GPS and gyroscopic element in their abilities that we do not have. 
     
    A week or two ago I was watching a nature documentary which showed wolves (or some other wild dog) in Alaska (or the region).  They were tracking (and hunting) a Caribou migration for days and would go a couple of hundred miles from home during that time and then return.  I imagine something like that could be attributable to smell since they can backtrack over the scent of thousands of Caribou but the lost dog/cat returning over terrain they've never travelled is not easily explicable but scent alone.  That is something that has been documented many times over great distances.
     
    I mentioned "gyroscopic ability" (for lack of a better term) in reference to their sensing certain things askew in nature like barometric pressure or seismic activity that triggers inexplicable behavior prior to natural disasters and related acts of nature.
  • ORIGINAL: Cita

    Do you guys think there's a time limit on these memories? How long do they remember familiar places? Or familiar people/animals?


    My first dog lived with me at one home from when he was three months old until he was six months old. During that time we took nearly daily walks that included crossing an old barbed wire fence. There was one spot across the path that was only about a foot and a half high that I could easily step over, but he couldn't easily jump. About 20 feet to the side there was a ditch that provided about a foot of clearance that he could wiggle under.

    Then I moved to a new location about 10 miles away. Five years later I was visiting my former neighbor and brought my now five year old dog along. For old time's sake I strolled along our old walking route. Although my now full grown and very athletic dog was capable of jumping three foot fences effortlessly, when we got to that barbed wire fence he ignored the low portion of the fence that he could now easily hop over, and with no hesitation veered over to the ditch and squirmed his big ol' adult body through the spot that he had used as a puppy. Five years prior.

    Another somewhat less impressive length of time, but an amusing example of his sense of place occurred when this same dog was almost seven years old. We had been living for five years in a farm house that I rented. Then, I moved out of the area to attend school for a year. The farm house was sublet for the year, with the understanding that the tenants would be moved out a few days before I returned and resumed rental of the house. So, a year passed, and I pulled into the driveway of our farm house very late one night. The interim tenants had not yet moved out. No problem, it was a big farm and it was the wee hours of the morning - I just unrolled my sleeping bag in the barn and figured I would deal with reclaiming residence the next day. But, about a half hour after I arrived, and before I had fallen asleep, one of the interim tenants made a trip to the outhouse (yes, this house still had an outhouse, albeit a nice self-composting, clean-smelling, environmentally friendly one). He foolishly left the door to the house open as he trudged out back. My dog and my cat, who both clearly showed they knew we were back home, saw the open door to "their" house, and casually walked in, just as the tenant was returning from his visit to the little house out back. He had no idea who the dog and cat were, and from my vantage in the barn I could clearly follow his voice trying unsuccessfully to shoo them out as they made their way directly to my old bedroom. I had no problem the next morning convincing the tenant that his sub-lease had expired.