Many dog owners can vividly recall the first time they met their future best friend. But do you know how much your dog remembers of you? How does your dog make memories and what kinds of things can he recall?
Dogs remember things differently than humans. Human memories come in the form of vivid images. And we can recall our memories in the order that they happened.
Dogs, on the other hand, live in the here and now. But that doesn’t mean they forget the past entirely. Dogs don’t have vivid visual memories like we do, but they do have something called imprints.
Memories Versus Imprints
Imprints are more like associations than memories. Your dog could not explain why he feels the way he does about certain objects, places, or words, but he feels them anyways.
Take, for example, a classic struggle: Your dog versus the vacuum.
Your dog probably does not remember the first time the big loud cleaning device scared the kibble out of him as a puppy. But he will forever retain that fearful association with it.
Your dog remembers his obedience commands in a similar way. Your dog likely won’t recall his training sessions with you, but he certainly associates the word “sit” with a tasty treat.
These imprints are especially strong when it comes to scent. It’s what makes your dog so excited to see you when you get home. It’s also what gives dogs the ability to sniff out scents for law enforcement or search and rescue missions.