Do dogs remember?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – Do dogs remember their owners after they have been separated – if so up to how many years will they remember their owners and how long would the dog have known their owner for in order for it to remember its owner, and do they suffer any anxiety if separated from their owners?


Geraldine Bradford


Hi Geraldine– thanks for your email. Interesting question – how long do dogs remember you? and…How do they deal with separation?

I think this really varies with the dog. I think that dogs do remember you. And I think they miss you and can suffer from stress or anxiety in your absence.

Some dogs are more affected than others. Some dogs even suffer from a condition called Separation Anxiety which is a medical/behavioral problem where some dogs actually become destructive when alone.

How long dogs remember is hard to say. I've read stories about dogs that were reunited after years and remember their owners.

I have friend who has a Grandfather that was injured in a mining accident in Ohio when he was young. The accident caused him to be paralyzed and was treated in a hospital in New York for several months. He had a dog that greeted him every day after work. For months, this dog waited on his master to come home. He never came. This dog was inconsolable. He would wait for hours. And one day he ran away. Never came back. Finally his owner did come home but the dog had gone.

I think dogs do remember and miss their owners but how long varies with the dog. Dogs are smart but also also very instinctual. If they have shelter, food and love, most dogs can be happy.

Thanks for your question.

Dr. Debra

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