They have episodic memories (just like us!)
Even though we all sensibly know that dogs can’t talk human, it doesn’t stop us from having long, conscientious conversations with them. They give us cues that allow us to keep going without feeling completely insane. Their heads tilt to the side, their eyes widen when our voices go an octave higher and their tails wag whenever we say a word that even minutely resembles ‘walk.’
Well, the good news is that you’re not crazy at all, because researchers have just discovered that dogs have memories that are linked to specific times, people and places. What does this mean? It means that dogs are super smart and can remember that lovely long stroll you took yesterday, or that sofa cuddle you shared while watching The Crown (even though, apparently dogs actually don’t like cuddles, sob), as they’re remembering actions and events, even when not instructed to do so.
Because episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (it’s how you can remember exactly how your last birthday cake tasted, looked and smelled), it suggests a self-awareness that has traditionally only been linked to to humans.
Scientist Claudia Fugazza from the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group conducted a study to see if dogs would recall new actions that they hadn’t been trained or instructed to remember. Rather than just proving direct mimicry, it shows that dogs are able to remember events, even if they didn’t deem them important at the time. Claudia said, ‘this study shows that they can use a type of memory that allows them to recall and remember events that were not known to be important.’