A dog's memory: a type for every occasionThere are three types of memory that our best friend uses:
– Short-term memory: allows them to recall recent events and actions however they may forget the things memorised after completing the task. Dogs use this type of memory to make consecutive actions: ‘I take the ball, I put it in the kennel, I look for a better hiding place, I recover the ball'.
– Long-term memory: can be compared to a big library from which, with the help of an expert librarian, i.e. the hippocampus, it's possible to recover the memories when needed. This type of memory collects all the dog's life references (experiences, faces, smells, objects and noises) and much of the information collected during the sensitive periods (the first 3-4 months of life and adolescence up to the age of the sexual maturity). Every thing dogs experience during these periods will be etched in their memories, performing an adaptive function that reminds the pups to not repeat potentially fatal mistakes and to recognise danger. In addition, a dog, just like a human being, never stops learning, thus adding to their memory, however more repetitions of the experience will be necessary to imprint the event in their minds with the passage of time.
– Procedural memory: allows the animal to carry out complex actions such as solving a mental activation game, passing an object through an opening by rotating it or finding its own way home. In fact, it creates a sort of map in its mind that it will use when faced with similar situations, thus adapting its actions accordingly.