The owners’ assessment of “everyday dog memory”
A questionnaire study
In a questionnaire study we surveyed the owners of 113 companion dogs. Owners had to mark on a four-grade scale how long their dog remembered particular memory items (persons, other animals, events, objects). Additionally we collected descriptive data on the demographical characteristics of the dog and the keeping conditions.A principal component analysis on the memory items resulted in five components. From these, two were connected to people (‘Family’ and ‘Intruders’), three other components contained individual items of memory of objects and events (‘Going out’, Playing’ and ‘Doing something’). Analyses of variance revealed that the dog-owner relationship, the keeping conditions, age and breed of the dog affect the dogs’ memory as described by the owner. The amount of time spent together or the education of the owner had no or minimal effect on these components.Our study showed that owners form stable opinions about their dogs’ episodic memory capacity. Nevertheless, the results can be biased by such factors that affect either the owners’ opinions about their dog-companions, or the dogs’ access to particular stimuli, which can modify the formation of memory traces. In the future, these results can serve as a starting point for empirical testing of family dogs’ memory. Keywords: dogs; dog owners; memory; questionnaire
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