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How Much Do Rescue Dogs Remember of Their Past?


We begin this week’s “RUFF TAILS” featuring a beautiful 2-year-old Boxer mix named Marie.



Our sweet southern belle comes from Texas through Redemption Paws, a registered adoption agency in Toronto. Marie loves her forever home! She is a silent protector and loves staying on guard in case a silly squirrel tries to come onto her property.





When Marie is “off-duty” she enjoys her cuddles and a glass of Rose’. HEE! HEE!




Welcome to Doggie Dialogue


This is a subject that researchers really need to spend more time on. Humans and dog’s abilities to remember are quite different.


Many of our clients have rescue dog/dogs and each dog is unique and display different personalities special to them.


When you adopt a rescue dog, try to first determine whether they have had any previous training. Ask them to sit, stay, or see if they respond when you get their leash out.


Paul recommends trying to obtain any past canine information that you can gather, about your rescue dog. Paul has witnessed, rescue dogs that have brought forward with them associative memories, which may be triggered by other humans/dogs or environmental. This could be the sound of a car/bicycle/or even the weather.


Paul recommends if you do not have any background information on your rescue dog, then it is important to have a professional canine trainer do a thorough assessment with behaviour or obedience training.


During the first few months the rescue dog will eventually climatize to the new household pack and environment. With proper behaviour modification and obedience techniques this will be seamless.


Thanks to semantic memory, if your dog has had previous training, they would not forget. Your dog’s training will stay with them, as the rest of their life changes for the better.


This is very different from when humans remember their past. We remember time, place, events, this is called episodic memory.


Now science, so far, has been inconclusive whether animals have this same ability to remember like humans, but some research has shown “unexpected potential”.


What research has found, is dogs use associative memory. If your dog has a positive association with excitement and fun, such as a hike, trial walk, or dog park, they will associate those emotions to that location.


Dogs do make associations with many things they encounter. For example, their food, toys, other dogs, family members and even the dreaded vacuum. LOL.

With this ability they can also learn what people to stay away from.



Some dogs may have a poor experience with car rides, using their associative memory to recall a negative experience.



The best way to assist your dog is to be patient, move slowly, use a firm but calm voice, and gradually introduce them to new surroundings.


It is important to set up a “safe place” for your dog.

Whether it is a soft bed, or their own room, so they can retreat to, if they are feeling overwhelmed.



Remember long walks, talks, attention, and love will help restore your dog’s trust and your rescue, in a short time, will know that this is their “Fur-ever Home”.

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