Thursday, January 12, 2017

You Dog Might Remember More Than You Think!

“I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again”

The words may be from the musical Cats, but with new research about dogs’ memories, someone may want to create a new musical.

A recent article in The Washington Post reports on research findings that dogs may have episodic-like memory similar to humans.  While they can’t actually know what the dogs are thinking (after all, The Secret Life of Pets is only a movie), their research shows that dogs can remember what their humans do even if the dog doesn’t need to know the action.
The study, published by Current Biology, tested the dogs’ memory by first training the dogs to “do what I do” and then, after the dogs performed correctly, increased the time between the action and telling them to do it. Two time intervals were tested: 1 minute and 1 hour.
While the dogs memory was better after only one minute (60% of dogs performed the action) and did decrease after an hour, a number of them (35%) were still able to recall and perform the action they were initially taught to imitate.

The Washington Post article quotes study author Claudia Fugazza as saying that most dog owners probably already realize that their dogs have memories. “What is new and important” she says, “is that dogs can remember events even if those events do not seem to be important.”

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why a Dog's Hair Turns Gray at a Young Age

Many of us have been there--finding that lone gray hair that signals to us a change. While we humans associate graying hair with getting older, in dogs, graying hair can signal loneliness.

Yes, loneliness.

According to a recent article on CNN, the anxiety and stress of being alone can contribute to dogs' fur turning gray prematurely. Dogs who are anxious, according to the research cited, may whine or bark when left alone.

The study that the article reports on even surprised one of the researchers. The Chicago Tribune reports that Northern Illinois University professor Thomas Smith was skeptical at first, but once the data was collected, he saw how stressed dogs were prematurely gray. It was also found that female dogs were more likely to gray than male dogs.

The dogs in the study were from the ages of one to four. Pet owners with dogs in this age range who might be concerned about their dog’s level of anxiety can check with their veterinarian or a dog trainer to help alleviate the anxiety. Other suggestions are to not leave the dog alone for so long each day—Perhaps a dog daycare provider that can provide the dog with care and attention.

Dogs are often not only great companions, but a big part of a family, and need care just like humans do.