Most of us humans think of their dogs as human and think they have memories like us. We want to think that for all we do for our dogs like feeding them, loving them and caring for them... that when we look into their eyes that they know and remember all we have done for them. This is not the case...
Extensive research has concluded how animals perceive time, animal cognition research has made some remarkable conclusions regarding animal memories, anticipation and more. Animals are stuck in time. By this it means that, without the sophisticated abilities it takes to perceive time - like truly forming memories.
Humans can consciously and willfully think back to specific memories and anticipate events that animals cannot. To many people, this seems fallacious theory. After all, can't we train animals? And does not this training depend on the animas' own memories?
Not necessarily - at least not in the way we usually think of memories. Animals might be trained to do things in the same way young children are trained to do things. According to studies on children, by the age of four, kids have learned lots of things - crawling, walking, but without the ability to remember where or how they learned them. In other words, they don't have the power of episodic memory or the ability to remember particular events in the past. A dog can know how to respond to the command "sit" without having a memory of the specific event in which it learned that command.
That is not all that's at work in the dog's brain to help it, for example, impeccably predict the arrival of its owner when coming home from work or the times it is being fed. Dogs use daily fluctuations of hormones, body temperature and neural activity-to know when food is likely to the bowl or when owners are likely to return from work. Instead of remembering how much time has passed between meals or what time meals are given, dogs react to a biological state they reach at a particular time of day. They react the same way at the same time every day to this stimulus.
I argue that time is a human construction, created to keep track of such things as days and significant events. Time keeping devices from clocks to wristwatches revolutionized how humans perceive time for past, present and future. Dogs don't have the advantage of these tools. They always live in the now, something we humans can benefit from our best friend. Remember this phrase, "Stop and smell the flowers". I personally think if we just stop ourselves several times each day and just enjoy the moment and take in our surroundings, we would learn to appreciate everything and everyone around us, just like our dogs. This may explain why they are always so grateful and happy all the time.
Dogs react to commands by no thought or memory from learning in the past. They just react and all is good. If we have not seen our dogs, lets say, in a year and we find them, they do not remember you as you would hope like humans. They would smell you and your smell would trigger the feelings of security, love, loyalty, trust and respect they had with you at a previous time.
I hope this article helps you understand how your dog relates differently from human memory and dogs triggers.