Humans are known to have 3 different types of memory: Procedural (muscle memory), semantic (facts and data) and episodic (old conversations and feelings relating to the past). It has been widely believed that dogs share in both procedural (catching a ball in the air) and semantic (following commands) memory, but lacked episodic. However, some studies have begun to show that dogs may possess episodic memory as well.
Using the “Do as I do” method, a human would touch an object and the dog would be trained to copy them and touch the object as well, with the command, “Do it.” Then, dogs learned to lie down after seeing a human perform an action, regardless of what the action was. Next, experimenters began to unexpectedly give the “Do it” command and at varying intervals of one minute to one hour later. The study concluded that, “The results show they were able to recall the demonstrated actions after both short and long time intervals. However, their memory faded somewhat over time.”
This demonstrates that dogs have a more complex memory than previously assumed!
So, in appreciation of your dog and their complex memory, we’ve compiled a list of ways to keep challenging your dog’s memory to keep them mentally stimulated and healthy!
- Learn new tricks - Mental stimulation is easily provided in working to learn new tricks, whether it’s basic obedience and commands, to intermediate or advanced skills.
- Give your dog a job - In line with their breed, most dogs are born and bred for certain activities, such as herding and hunting. Run, hike, swim, play frisbee or fetch, giving your dog an activity they were bred for and stave off restlessness.
- Rotate out toys - Playing with the same toy gets boring for anyone! Have a variety of toys for your pup and rotate them out every few days to give them different stimulation.
- Play interactive games - There are all sorts of puzzle games and toys available these days which will challenge your dog. You can hide treats inside of these games and allow your dog to figure them out for that sweet reward.
- Run errands together - Take your dog to new and different places, allowing them to get new sights and sounds, along with meeting new people and other dogs. These new experiences will engage their senses and provide many stimulants.
Remember, it’s important not only to make sure that your dog gets plenty of physical exercise but mental exercise as well, for a happy, healthy and well adjusted pack member!
** This important blog post was written by our Lead Trainer: Mark Dunlap