Your dog steals your food when you have your back turned or they bark at a stranger when they shouldn’t. What do you do? You yell at them to let them know that what they did was wrong.
Your dog may get scared but they definitely won’t remember it a few minutes later, a recent study has found.
Contrary to what some dog owners believe, dogs do have a sense of time. Studies have found that they know when you’ve left them and react differently depending on how long you were gone for, even though they might look super excited every time they see you. Dogs have a very short short-term memory for anything that doesn’t have to do with their survival, meaning they won’t remember something if food isn’t involved.
Dogs have a short-term memory of less than two minutes, which isn’t that bad considering humans have the longest memory on the planet and some people can’t seem to remember something for more than 30 seconds. The study, which tested the memories of 25 species consisting of mostly birds and mammals and bees, found that the average short-term memory span of animals was 27 seconds. Surprisingly, chimpanzees were below the average with a memory span of around 20 seconds, making your seemingly dumb but lovable canine friend pretty smart.
According to Johan Lind, an ethologist at Stockholm University who led the study:
“The data tell us that animals have no long-term memory of arbitrary events … we think humans’ ability to remember arbitrary events is unique.”
When you want to shame your dog for whatever act you don’t approve of, to the dog it’s just “arbitrary.” Of course, if you are talking about a bone in the backyard, that memory will stay practically forever.
Our furry friends might not be able to remember exactly what they did wrong or when we yelled at them, but we love them anyways.