By Monday, June 6, 2016 16 No tags Permalink

Last week we were back in Virginia. As I drove the Boys around to various places looking for some ole familiar faces, I couldn’t help but wonder, how much do dogs remember?…

howWhen your daily activities are publicized on social media (says the husband of “this” blogger) it’s pretty “Doodle-difficult” to arrive in the vicinity of your old neighborhood without paying a few people a visit.

Sitting at a traffic light, it dawned on me that I was expecting Harley and Jaxson to remember people they hadn’t seen in more than 8 months.

Would they? #rememberthatis

The primary difference in how a dog’s memory works compared to humans is that dogs do not have the ability to recall specific events.

Short term memory for a dog is about five minutes. Long term memory is harder to determine. We know dogs have a long term memory because they can remember hand signals and words for their lifetime. Source: Canidae



  • Episodic Memorymeans they live in the moment. They focus on “present time.”
  • Natural Rhythms Memorythey remember certain things like; going to the park for a walk, obedience training, or a favorite treat. These are actually natural rhythms which has a strong resemblance to our normal memory.
  • Procedural or Associative Memorythey learn commands or tricks through training (in exchange for a treat). They remember not because of conscious memory but more so the way the brain has been wired to associate it with the training. Behavior and reward have become routine. 
  • Spatial Memorythey have the ability to recall information pertaining to locations or arrangements. A dogs way of referencing information stored in their long-term memory. 


A dogs memory is both similar and different in the same way humans remember things.

Their ability to learn is based on a type of rudimentary memory opposed to true understanding.

It also helps that dogs are incredibly intelligent animals!

Their memory is often specific too. Scent is very powerful for dogs and they have the ability to lock into a memory connected with scent far easier than we can.

Their keen hearing ability makes it easy for them to recall things associated with this sense. Think about it – dogs are valuable when searching for survivors buried in collapsed buildings.


Regardless to how they were able to recall who these individuals were, I willingly accepted the fact that while they seemed genuinely happy to greet old friends, they probably couldn’t distinguish nor remember the last time they saw them.


The humans had no idea #untilrightaboutnow

*the inserted photos (on the pictures) were taken when we used to live in VA.

A stop at Olde Towne Pet Resort was a must!

Harley practically vaulted himself into Fernando’s arms…

fern 1

Ashley and Katie received GOLDEN hugs & DOODLE kisses from both Boys. Ashley loved to dress Jaxson in the latest pup apparel #backinthedoodleday...

ashley 1

Everyone gasped out loud when Tyler wanted to see if Jaxson remembered sitting on the lobby counter.

We were scared “Doodle-less” when he leaped up there by himself #flyingdoodle

tyler 1

You know you’ve been blessed when you’re old vet (the O.G. of Doodle Doc’s) reads your blog and follows your dogs on social media. We had to swing by and get kisses from her along with harassing Bert the cat…

bert 1

Jaxson’s very first canine companion (outside of Harley) was lil’ Ms. Piper. While one dog grew in size more so than the other, the love remains the same…

piper 1

Jaxson was a G.I.T. (Greeter in Training) at our old church right before we moved.

I wanted them to see how much he’d grown…

ebc 1

But the highlight of this trip for Jaxson, was reuniting with the love of his life – Finley the Goldendoodle from next door…

finley 1

You can find oodles upon doodles of fascinating information covering memory capabilities for both dogs (and cats).

And while I’m neither a veterinarian nor a scientist, I do believe Harley & Jaxson remembered enough to leave every creature smiling and happy after each visit.

How much do you think dogs remember?



How Dogs Remember

National Geographic

How Long is Your Pet’s Memory Span

Animal Minds



  • Emma
    June 6, 2016

    Dogs remember a lot through scent too. We remember people we haven’t seen in years from Germany when they come here to visit us. We remember places by scent too. We are not surprised the boys remembered pretty much everything.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      I’m a believer that “scent” plays a major role too Emma!

  • Ann Staub
    June 6, 2016

    Aw how awesome you got to go back and visit everyone. It is an interesting question too… It’s easier for me to tell if Shiner remembers a person. Since she will typically bark at strangers, I know that she doesn’t remember a person if she does it. She did this to an old friend, but he hadn’t really been around since she was very young anyways and not for extended periods of time. She always remembers my brother, and has started to remember my Grandpa better in recent years.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      For long term memory I believe the theory about “scent.” I watch them smell people as their tail wags, and depending on the individual – the tail wags faster and faster.

  • Lauren Miller
    June 6, 2016

    That’s so cool you got to go back and visit everyone!

    I’m not sure about Phoenix, but Zoe remembers everyone and every dog she’s ever met. We used to be regulars at a dog park but when we moved we had to stop going. Now every once in a while we run into an old buddy at the bid park and Zoe always remembers them and their owners. It’s pretty neat.

    My old family dog also had a great memory and even though he hadn’t seen me in a few years he still remember every trick I had taught him.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      It was a true circus! We ran all over town and still wasn’t able to surprise everyone. It was fun – our first “reunion tour”

  • Rachel & Rooney
    June 6, 2016

    What a great post! I love when time with your dogs makes you ask yourself a question that leads to finding answers for other pet parents! Looks like the boys had so much fun visiting friends!

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      I find myself thinking that way all the time now. They are so fascinating.

  • Valerie
    June 7, 2016

    I’ve been wondering about this topic too! They can’t seem to remember who peed in the corner, but they do know exactly where the cookies are hidden! Haha! Lovely article!

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      Yep! let’s call that “selective recall” LOL Take care Valerie!

  • Lindsay
    June 7, 2016

    Have the boys rested up from all the fun?

    One thing I know for certain is that your boys are incredibly happy, just look at them! But I know every time I come to your blog, I’m guaranteed to have a smile on my face the entire time. 🙂

    Hope you’re well love. Xo

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 7, 2016

      Thank you so much Lindsay. You’re making me blush 🙂 The Boys are happy – all the time, and consequently I am able to share their happiness with all of you! You should be leaving for your fab vacay soon – have a blast and make sure you take plenty of pics! XOXO

  • Monika & Sam
    June 9, 2016

    Like you, I am convinced that dogs do remember the past. It’s been 5 years since Sam’s OES sister & BFF passed and yet, he does a double take E.V.E.R.Y. time he passes an OES. Still makes me smile. ღ

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 9, 2016

      That’s got to be so sweet to see. Sometimes one of us messes up and calls Jaxson “Leo” and you should see the way Harley tilts his head as if he’s wondering if Leo is coming around the corner. #touching

  • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom
    June 16, 2016

    Knowing AngelCallie and my Dad, they probably saw each other at the Rainbow Bridge and went for a long walk together before meeting up with my Mom, Kissy, and the three poodles I grew up with. I have no doubt that when it’s Shadow’s turn to join them, Dad and Callie will both be waiting to show her around.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 16, 2016

      No doubt in my mind at all!