Canine Bible is reader-supported. We receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Learn more.
So, how long do dogs remember people? Do dogs remember people’s scents? Do dogs forget people?
In short, your dog will remember you and your scent forever. A dog’s memory is so complex and good at the same time that he will remember how you look, smell, voice, movements, and any specific events and the emotions and feelings associated with you or each person they’ve met.
We are sure you’ve seen videos on YouTube of dog parents surprising their dogs after being away for several months or even years. And sure enough, dogs instantly recognize their masters and greet them.
But, can dogs remember you after years? How long until a dog forgets you? A dog’s memory scent is so powerful that a dog will recognize your scent no matter how long you are gone. But how do they do it? Read on to learn!
- How Do Dogs Remember A Scent?
- Sense of Smell Helps Dogs Remember Scents
- Signs Your Dog Is Remembering a Scent
- How Dogs Remember People
- How Long Does A Dog Remember a Person?
- How Long Will Your Dog Remember Another Dog Scent?
- Dog Memory Span & Scent
- How to Train Your Dog To Remember Scents
- Top 10 Dog Breeds With The Best Sense of Smell
- Dogs Will Remember Your Scent
How Do Dogs Remember A Scent?
A study by neuroeconomist Gregory Berns of Emory University discovered that your scent activates the pleasure centers in your pet’s brain. According to Berns, your scent acts in a similar way the human brain responds to the perfume or cologne of a loved one.
Berns found that an area of the dog’s brain known as the caudate nucleus was the most triggered by a familiar person’s scent. This means that the human scent remains stored in a dog’s brain, making your dog able to remember you with just your scent.
So, how good are dogs at remembering a scent? In an interview with Discovery News, Berns said that:
“It’s one thing when you come home and your dog sees you and jumps on you and licks you and knows that good things are about to happen. In our experiment, however, the scent donors were not physically present. That means the canine brain responses were being triggered by something distant in space and time.”
This shows how powerful a dog’s brain is at recalling scents. This finding demonstrates that our dogs have mental representations of us, and such representations persist even when we are not in the room with our dogs.
Sense of Smell Helps Dogs Remember Scents
If you are still in doubt about how good dogs are at remembering scents, think again.
Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors inside their nose compared to only 6 million in humans. And the part of a dog’s brain devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours.
So, what does that tell us? Are dogs good at distinguishing and remembering scents?
Yes. Experts reported some stories about the acuteness of a dog’s olfactory prowess.
- Once a drug-sniffing dog “found” a plastic container packed with 35 pounds of marijuana submerged in gasoline within a gas tank.
- A black lab name ‘Tucker’ can detect floating feces floating atop the Salish Sea, some as far as a nautical mile away.
- A cancer-sniffing dog that “insisted” on melanoma in a spot on a patient’s skin that doctors had already pronounced cancer-free. A subsequent biopsy confirmed melanoma in a small fraction of the cells.
These are just a few of the hundreds of stories where a dog’s keen sense of smell has paid dividends when remembering scents from their loved ones and other types of scents.
Dog Sense of Smell Facts
This is how powerful dogs are at detecting different scents:
- A dog’s sense of smell it’s 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than a human’s
- Dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion
Signs Your Dog Is Remembering a Scent
These are the most common behaviors and signs of dogs remembering scents they have smelled in the past.
- The obvious, your puppy will begin to sniff around the person or object you brought home.
- Once the sniffing is done and they’ve recognized the scent, they may tilt their heads to the place where it came from.
- After this, the furry friend may become excited and start jumping and wagging its tail.
- This may indicate that your dog remembers a scent.
- They may not remember every detail associated with the scent but remember if the scent was associated with something good or bad.
Note: Your dog may bark at you as though you are not familiar after an extended separation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t remember you. Still, they may just be feeling anxious and confused about your return.
Do Dogs Forget People?
We’ve covered how a dog’s keen sense of smell can help remember people, but you may still wonder if your pup can remember you and for how long?
Besides scent recognition, two other factors help dogs remember people.
Dog Facial Recognition
Yes, a dog also relies on their visual memory to remember something.
A study by the University of Padua, called “Discrimination of Familiar Human Faces In Dogs,” revealed that dogs could recognize their master and familiar humans based on visual information.
So as long as your dog has healthy eyes, he won’t forget you.
Dog Voice Recognition
Studies show that dogs recognize individual voices and are far more responsive to the tone of voice than specific words.
“Dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant,” Attila Andics, an animal behaviorist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and lead author of the paper said in a press release. “This is very similar to what human brains do.”
How Long Do Dogs Remember People?
So, how long does it take for a dog to forget a person? A dog will not forget you. A dog can remember someone his entire life. It’s safe to say that your dog will not forget you after two weeks, a month, or even if you are gone for many years.
If we combine a dog’s ability to remember scents, facial recognition, and voice recognition, we are very confident that your dog has the ability to remember you no matter how long you are gone.
Based on scientific evidence, dogs can indefinitely store visual, olfactory, and auditory experiences in their brains. Dogs may not be able to remember a specific event, but your pup will associate any gesture, movement, voice, and smell with you.
How Long Will Your Dog Remember Another Dog Scent?
For dogs to remember other dogs, they will first few minutes sniff each other. After they sniff each other and spend some time playing, they will remember each other after weeks. Allow your dog to socialize with other furry friends so they can build a friendly and amazing relationship with other dogs. Socialization will help them remember their tail-wagging friends forever.
Dog Memory Span & Scent
Like humans, dogs can store an array of memories.
According to Dr. Bruce Kornreich, associate director at the Cornell Feline Health Center in Ithaca, New York, says that “[a dog’s] short-term memory is anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds and long-term memory can remain almost indefinitely.”
A dog’s memory span is directly related to its ability to retain different scents.
How to Train Your Dog To Remember Scents
You don’t have to own a military or police K-9 to teach your dog how to remember a scent. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your house.
Top 10 Dog Breeds With The Best Sense of Smell
Afraid your dog will not remember your scent? Get one of these dog breeds. These pooches possess the best sense of smell, so you can rest assured your pup will never forget your scent.
- Bloodhound. Bloodhound
- Basset Hound. Basset Hound
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Belgian Malinois
- English Springer Spaniel
- German Shorthaired Pointer
Dogs Will Remember Your Scent
Now that you know how long dogs remember a scent don’t go on to leave your dog without a proper assessment of their feelings.
Yes, doggies have hearts and sometimes suffer from separation anxiety. While your dog will wait for you and remember you, they may seek out something extra-scented to remind them of you when left alone.
So, if you are planning a trip for an extended period, be sure to find proper care for your beloved friend.