Yes, puppies do remember their owners. However, dogs’ memories don’t work the same as humans' memories.
Therefore, if you gave your puppy away to another owner or even traveled abroad for a long time, leaving them behind, they’ll still remember you.
On the other hand, if you’re the new owner, there’s no need to worry, as they develop emotional attachment over a relatively short period.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about puppies remembering their previous owners and how they’re able to remember them. In addition, you’ll find tips that’ll help you get them comfortable in their new homes.
How Do Puppies’ Memories Work?
To know if your pup remembers you or not, we have first to understand how their memory works.
Any dog’s memory, the same as a human's memory, can be divided into two types: short-term memory and long-term memory.
Your dog’s short-term memory can be much shorter than you think. You’ll be surprised that some dogs possess short-term memories as short as two minutes.
For this reason, you might catch your dog several times chewing on your shoes. And no matter how many times you yell at them for it, they still might not remember the repeated incident because of their shortened memory.
On the contrary, you’ll find a dog’s long-term memory to be stronger. However, you have to be careful not to confuse it with human memory, as they don’t work the same way.
For instance, you can remember being in certain events at certain times with something called episodic memory. Your dog, on the other hand, remembers through something called associative memory.
From its name, you can think of this memory as being associated with something. This association is how your pooch thinks.
Simply, Your pup associates objects, places, and people with the memory or the emotion they have of it/them. That’s why reaching for the leash will make them immediately understand that you’re going to take them for a walk.
Moreover, if you want your doggy to love a friend of yours, you could make your friend give the doggy a treat that they’ll associate your friend with.
Finally, that’s why they can remember people and places after being long gone from them/it. And that’s the answer to our big question: yes, they can remember us even if they don’t remember the times we were together fully.
How Can Puppies Remember Their Owners?
Sometimes you might wonder, “can my pooch remember me the same way I remember them”? Yet, the answer to this question isn’t that simple.
In a way, your dog might remember your memories together in an episodic memory type of way, recent studies suggest. However, this might not work in a way that we can completely understand.
As mentioned earlier, puppies use the associative memory method more than they can use the episodic one. And due to puppies’ heightened sense of smell, this method can be easily achievable.
Your pup will remember you from your smell and appearance, but primarily because of the smell. That’s why even after years of disappearance, once meeting you, your dog will make a proper welcome.
Do Puppies Miss Their Owners?
It’s not easy to forget that special moment of returning home to your pup. Their excitement by your arrival can’t be matched by anything else in your day.
If this doesn’t tell you that they miss you, what can? The fact is, having new owners doesn’t make the pup forget its old owners, at least not immediately and not definitely.
Therefore, changing between owners can be very challenging for your dog. Several symptoms might start appearing on them once they enter their new home, such as the following:
- Refraining from food
- Sleeping for long times
- Continuous panting
- Continuous barking
- Continuous whining
- Pacing back and forth
However, the younger they are when this change happens, the easier the transition. Furthermore, puppies will eventually get attached to their new owner; it just takes time.
How to Make Puppies More Comfortable in Their New Homes?
If you’re adopting a puppy that had a previous owner, the first few weeks can be very hard for you and your puppy. That’s why trying one or more of the next few tips can be helpful in easing up this stage:
Spend the First Few Days With Your Puppy
When your puppy is getting to know their new home, it would be of great benefit to know its new master too. Try to take the first two to three days off from your work, friends, and other activities and spend them with your pup.
This could really ease up the tension as you stay close to them and play with them until they get familiar with the place and you.
Provide Your Puppy With Their Own Space
If you have other pets or small children in your home, it might be a good idea to put your puppy in a private area where it can get to know the place first.
Aim for a quiet and peaceful space containing a comfy bed that’ll allow them to relax and sleep calmly.
Introduce Your Puppy to Other People Gradually
You don’t want your puppy to feel overwhelmed. Let them get comfortable with the house first, then introduce them to your family, then to other people.
When you’re doing this, it's really important that you let other people approach the puppy slowly and act gently with them. This is especially crucial if you have small children, as they may act harshly with the pup.
Let Your Puppy Act On Their Own
Don’t force your pooch into doing what you want them to do in the first few days; this can only hurt your relationship with them. Instead, let them have their own pace.
Furthermore, evaluate their emotional needs. If you feel that they’re sad, try to cheer them up, and if you think that they’re tired, let them rest.
Paul has been creating content for the dog niche for many years. The information he shares comes his first hand experience growing up in dog lovers household and then owning multiple dog breeds of his own as an adult. Paul enjoys doing the hard research to collect, analyze and present our dogtemperament.com readers with the best answers to their questions.