How long does it take for a dog to forget its owner?

4 min


Dogs are known to have an associative memory, for example, when you open their pack of favorite croquettes, they do not remember all the times you have given them, they only remember that after that sound, they ingest something they like.

So if you have to leave the animal in the care of other people for a while or give it up for adoption and you are distressed that during that time it will forget you, we have prepared this article so you can know how long it will take your dog to forget about you.

How does a dog’s memory work?

Dogs are known to have a good memory, they are capable of remembering their owners until a long time after they have stopped seeing them , it is not difficult for them to learn tricks and routines, they recognize situations such as when you take the leash to take them for a walk , or they put nervous when they approach the street where their veterinary office is.

All this shows us that they do have a cognitive capacity and despite not remembering in the same way that we humans do, their brain does similar processes.

Short term memory

Your immediate memory is related to specific facts , which are forgotten within 15 to 30 seconds after switching activities. So if when you get home you discover that she has done something wrong, do not scold her, she does not have the ability to understand what is bothering you.

Long term memory

Their long-term memory works differently, for example, a friend goes to your house, plays and pampers your pet, months later he returns to visit and the dog, thanks to the smell of this person, recognizes him immediately and treats him with kindness, but he is not able to remember the afternoon they spent playing together, however he will always associate that smell with someone he likes.

A different memory than human 

That is why we say that your memory works through associations . He does not remember specific events, but he is able to associate things like smells, sounds and places with feelings of well-being, happiness and even dangerous situations. 

So we can ensure that dogs have a good memory, only that their memory works differently from the memory capacity of humans. 

How long does a dog remember its owner?

Who has not seen the viral video of the dog that spent seven years separated from its owner and recognized him from meters away?

Well, it seems that dogs remember all their lives those people who gave them love and tenderness. Just as they will be afraid of whoever has attacked them. 

If what worries you is that you have to leave your beloved pet for a while, due to a trip or a health situation, do not worry since you can be sure that upon your return, he will receive you with the same love as always. 

On the contrary, if you have to separate from your dog because you must give it up for adoption, you should not be anxious that your departure prevents it from becoming fond of its new owners, or that it will become a more suspicious animal. 

Dogs have a big and noble heart, although they will not forget you as long as they live, they will also be able to love their new owners. 

You may have a depressed time as you get used to your new home and its new owners, but soon the new routine and good care will restore your well-being and good spirits.

For a dog to forget its owner, 1 to 3 years must pass without having direct contact with himself, however, the connection regarding experiences, smells, sounds, among others, can cause immediate recognition by the dog.

How does a dog behave when it changes families?

If you are going to adopt a dog that has already lived with another family for some time or you must give your pet to another family, it is positive that you take into consideration a series of aspects that will help you to be prepared for the change in attitude and reactions of the animal facing this change.

Dogs need their leader 

To begin with, you must understand that dogs recognize human leadership within the family, it is the person they pay the most attention to and with whom they spend the most time. With that person they have a greater emotional relationship.

It is important to know how to identify who that person is, since the responsibility of accustoming them to new leadership rests on them, without major complications. 

If the departure of this person is something foreseeable, travel, moving or illness, it is important that within the family the responsibility of care and emotional contact is transferred to another person in charge.

This way, the dog will not find it so difficult to get used to a change of owner.

Not all dogs have the same character 

In addition, the attitude of the pet will depend largely on its character , there are animals that are more homelike than others and the change of environment can be fatal. There are others who are more attached to people, so they don’t even get depressed when moving. It will be helpful to identify your pet’s character type so that you can anticipate how it will react to change. 

When the dog has just arrived in a new home, and even more so in the case of adult animals, it is normal for them to react nervously , not wanting to eat or play and to hide under furniture and corners. 

To help the dog get used to it, it is important to make him feel safe, not force him to do things he does not want or scold him for having that attitude. Arm yourself with patience and you will see how slowly he will gain confidence. 

Help him all you can 

Let him explore the new territory at his leisure and time. Let him know the place without pressure and get used to it. Try to gain their trust by giving them prizes such as special croquettes or sweets – in this link you will find the best ones -, bones or other toys and that they enjoy them at will. 

His adaptation will be a matter of time, do not try to pressure his friendship. Keep in mind that the canine instinct is powerful and he will quickly perceive that the new family and space are not a risk for him. 

But not all dogs are the same and some can be more sensitive than others. In some cases saying goodbye to their owners generates severe depressions that must be treated with antidepressant medications, properly prescribed by a veterinarian with experience in this type of case. 

You must observe their behavior and watch for signs such as loss of appetite, the fact that they spend a lot of time in hiding, not wanting to play, avoid relating to the new family, or unwarranted outbursts of violence. All these are signs that emotionally the animal is very sad, and will require extra help to pass the farewell mourning. 

Luckily the dog breed is noble and kind in spirit, so it is rare when a pet does not get used to these changes. They have plenty of love to give their human owners, so we can assure you that no matter how painful the game may be, in a short time, your dog will return to his cheerful and playful nature. Of course, its memory is powerful and it will take a while to forget its owner. 

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Divyesh Patel