Dogs remember events like humans do, study suggests

This is because it's impossible to ask an animal, in this case a dog, what they remember.

You may not remember what you were doing a few minutes ago.

"Dogs probably pay more attention to us than we think and observe us more than we think", Fugazza added.

In the new study, the researchers took advantage of a trick called "Do as I Do", during which 17 dogs first watch a person perform an action and then do the action themselves.

'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. Fugazza owns a Czechoslovakian wolfdog named Velvet.

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Scientists have confirmed what dog-owners have often suspected - that their pets know more than they are able to let on.

But demonstrating this ability has been tricky.

Dogs are not only man's best friend they have the ability to recall simple emotional moments the way we do, suggests a new study. Then, after making sure that dogs did not expect to imitate anymore, we showed them demonstrations of everyday actions and, after a delay, surprised them with the "Do it!" command. Scientists did not prove that dogs are self-aware, but they called their memory episodic-like memory.

Later, the animals were shown an action, but instead of being asked to perform it right away, they were told to lie down. Now, after seeing the trick with the umbrella, when the dog heard "do it!" again, he went to touch the umbrella. In that one, the dogs were not taught to lie down, but just to "Do it!" - which the researchers say means the dogs expected to be told to imitate. The owners made the same command after waiting an interval of one hour. If the dog is well-trained, it should tap the umbrella with its paw. In the unexpected tests, dogs looked longer at their owners, a behavioural sign of violation of expectation, suggesting that they were indeed surprised to be required to imitate. In order to recall an event that was encoded incidentally, one has to mentally travel back in time to the situation where the event occurred and remember it.

When it comes to having a short memory and getting easily distracted, dogs often get a bad rap.

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Episodic memory is defined by the study's authors as memory of personal events and specific episodes in one's life.

Evidence of episodic memory has been found in other species, including primates, rats and pigeons.

The skill is usually tied to self-awareness, so the findings intriguingly hint that dogs could possess that form of cognition too, although Fugazza says it's "extremely challenging to design a study to test for it in dogs".

"They're so tuned into human cues, which can be a good thing", Templer says.

"They're so tuned into human cues, which can be a good thing.But it also can be a disadvantage and make it very hard, because we might be cuing dogs when we're totally unaware of it".

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Clive Wynne, a behavioral scientist who directs the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, also expressed doubt that the results clearly demonstrated episodic memory, or something like it, in dogs.


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