Tag: Budapest

I remember everything …

except the things I forget!

Taken in the round I don’t think I’m ageing too badly. But there is one aspect of my world that does drive me bonkers from time to time. That is a decline (and that’s putting it politely) in my short-term memory. Everything from forgetting what it was I wanted to say to Jeannie to still being unsure of finding regularly visited places in Grants Pass, our local city. To put that last point into context we moved here to Merlin, some 12 miles from Grants Pass, back in September, 2012.

Turning to the cognitive skills of our wonderful dogs it is clear to me that we can only go so far in understanding how our dogs think and how much of their world is dealing with the present supported by their memories of previous events. (Frankly, in writing the last sentence I realised how even that premise was more of a guess than a known fact.)

A recent study at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest about the memories of dogs has been widely referred to across many news outlets. So when it appeared on the Care2 site it was a natural to republish it for all you good people.


New Study Finds Dogs Remember a Whole Lot

3195202-largeBy: Laura Goldman December 2, 2016

About Laura

My doorbell has been broken for a few years, but every time my 9-year-old dog, Leroy, hears one chiming on a TV show, he looks at the front door.

Many pet owners have similar tales to tell about their dogs being able to remember long-ago experiences and events. And now we have proof that this really is possible. A new study found that dogs may have a more complex form of memory than most other nonhuman animals (sorry, elephants).

“Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you,” Sting once sang, and these lyrics could apply to our dogs, too. They’re not only watching us, but they’re remembering what they’re observing, no matter how trivial it may seem to us.

In the study at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, published Nov. 23 in Current Biology, 17 dogs were taught a training method called “Do As I Do.” The dogs would watch their owners perform an action. When the dogs were told, “Do it” and imitated their owners’ action, they were rewarded with a treat.

Next, the owners performed various actions but told the dogs to lie down instead of “Do it.” After a while, the dogs began lying down without being told to do so. The study’s authors noted that this showed the dogs had lost the expectation that they would be given the “Do it” command to imitate their owners.

Finally, the owners performed various actions, and when their dogs would lie down, the owners would wait either a minute or an hour and then give them the “Do it” command.

Some of the actions were unfamiliar to the dogs, such as their owners tapping on an open umbrella. The dogs would be led behind a partition, and a minute to an hour later would be led back to the umbrella and given the “Do it” command.

The dogs were able to remember what their owners had done, and tapped the umbrella with their paws.

“We cannot directly investigate what is in the dog’s mind,” psychologist Claudia Fugazza, an author of the study and owner of a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog who participated, told the Washington Post. “So we have to find behavioral evidence of what they expect or not.”

Remembering events in our lives is known as episodic memory. Until recently, only humans were thought to have this ability, but studies have found evidence that rats, monkeys and birds also have it, and so do dogs.

However, the researchers said the dogs don’t have full-fledged episodic memory, which would give them self awareness. Fugazza told NPR she didn’t think there was a method available to test whether dogs are self aware.

Victoria Templer, a behavioral neuroscientist at Providence College who wasn’t involved in the study, told NPR the results could be useful in helping scientists understand how episodic memory developed in humans and how it’s helped us to survive.

One interesting possibility Templer suggested is that “we evolved the ability to relive the past in order to imagine the future.”


Of course what would be a marvelous aspect of a dog’s memory is being able to take note and remember where his male human companion left items around the house!

It’s all in the eyes!

What makes a dog a dog and a wolf a wolf?

I can’t recall why it was many months ago that I came across the website of Frontiers in Science. But I did and, in particular, I came across a fundamental difference between the two species.  In an article entitled: A simple reason for a big difference: wolves do not look back at humans, but dogs do. I’m going to take a chance, as in not having formal permission to republish it, in reposting it in full here.  Because it means so much to me and other dog lovers!


A simple reason for a big difference: wolves do not look back at humans, but dogs do.

Adám Miklósi, Enikö Kubinyi, József Topál, Márta Gácsi, Zsófia Virányi and Vilmos Csányi
Department of Ethology, Eötvös University, Budapest, Pázmány P. 1c, 1117, Hungary. miklosa@ludens.elte.hu

The present investigations were undertaken to compare interspecific communicative abilities of dogs and wolves, which were socialized to humans at comparable levels. The first study demonstrated that socialized wolves were able to locate the place of hidden food indicated by the touching and, to some extent, pointing cues provided by the familiar human experimenter, but their performance remained inferior to that of dogs. In the second study, we have found that, after undergoing training to solve a simple manipulation task, dogs that are faced with an insoluble version of the same problem look/gaze at the human, while socialized wolves do not. Based on these observations, we suggest that the key difference between dog and wolf behavior is the dogs’ ability to look at the human’s face. Since looking behavior has an important function in initializing and maintaining communicative interaction in human communication systems, we suppose that by positive feedback processes (both evolutionary and ontogenetically) the readiness of dogs to look at the human face has lead to complex forms of dog-human communication that cannot be achieved in wolves even after extended socialization.


Actually, that article from the Department of Ethology at Eötvös University in Budapest is just an excuse for me to post three photographs confirming the good scientists results!

Young Cleo, May 12th, 2012.
Young Cleo, May 12th, 2012.


Mr Pharaoh's look from June, 2007.
Mr Pharaoh’s look from June, 2007.


The second Cleo look from May, 2012.
The second Cleo look from May, 2012.


There’s no question in my mind that millions of dog lovers across the world know the intimacy that is conveyed in a dog’s eyes!