25 November 2016
London For all dog owners out there, your canine friends are paying attention to what you say and do and they'll remember too.
A new study has suggested that just like humans, dogs too have "episodic memory" -- the ability to remember and recall events from the past.
The study revealed that dogs can recall a person's complex actions even when they don't expect to have their memory tested.
"The results of our study can be considered as a further step to break down artificially erected barriers between animals and humans," said Claudia Fugazza from Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE) in Budapest, Hungary.
For the study, the team first trained 17 dogs to imitate human actions with the "Do as I Do" training method, in which dogs watch a person perform an action and then do the action themselves.
For example, if their owner jumps in the air and then gives the "Do it!" command, the dog would jump in the air too.
Next, the dogs were trained to lie down after watching the human action, no matter what it was.
After the dogs had learned to lie down reliably, the researchers surprised them by saying "Do It" and the dogs did.
The dogs were then tested in that way after one minute and after one hour.
The results showed they were able to recall the demonstrated actions after both short and long time intervals. However, their memory faded somewhat over time, the researchers observed.
The same approach can most likely be used and adapted in a wide range of animal species, to better understand how animals' minds process their own actions and that of others around them, the researchers noted, in the study published in the journal Current Biology.