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Do Dogs Miss Their Previous Owners? 2 Minute Memory

When you adopt a dog you are welcoming it into a loving home. You gotta wonder though – will your rescue bond with you? Do dogs miss their previous owners?

do dogs miss their previous owners
Do dogs miss their previous owners?

Dogs can develop deep connections with their owners over a relatively short period. It doesn’t take long for most of these animals to feel at home somewhere. If you have recently adopted a dog or are planning to soon, you must learn about this.

There are several things about these pets that are interesting and can help you become a good owner. Adopting a dog that currently lives with someone else is not something you should take lightly.

How Long Can a Dog Remember?

The short-term memory of a dog only lasts up to about five minutes at a time. Short-term memories can be as low as 2 minutes for some dogs (National Geographic)!

This is why you should avoid yelling at your dog for chewing up your shoes. If you have been gone for any period of time – your dog will NOT know why it is being scolded! They won’t understand why you are doing this because they don’t even remember doing it.

However – not everything is forgotten. Dogs have long-term memories that can be quite strong. They just might not remember things in the same way that humans do.

These animals have what is called “associative memory.” This means that they use memories of situations in the past to determine their behavior later on.

For example, a dog that was abused by a previous owner with a belt might act skittishly when you take out a belt while getting dressed. Associative memory can also be positive, and it is an essential part of the training. When you reward your dog with a yummy treat for doing something, in particular, they will eventually make the connection and do it on command.

poochon puppy
A super cute Poochon puppy. A great non-shedding small dog for families.
Photo by mbtrama /CC BY

Dogs can remember people and places they haven’t seen in years, especially if there is a very positive or negative feeling associated with them. Your dog’s long-term memory allows it to recognize you and give you slobbery kisses after you’ve been on vacation for a week or two. 

A dog’s powerful sense of smell plays a significant role in its memory. They can remember a particular person or place from the scent alone.

Do Dogs Miss Their Owners?

Anyone who has ever owned a dog will say that these animals are capable of missing their owners. This is clear from a dog’s anxious and excited behavior when it sees its owner come home each day.

Some dogs can barely stand to be away from their owners for more than a few hours.

Most dogs do not simply forget about their previous owners when adopted by new ones, at least not immediately. The longer a dog lives with someone, the more attached they tend to become.

Some dogs may seem a bit depressed at first when suddenly uprooted from their familiar surroundings. They might lay around and sleep more than is reasonable. In some cases, a homesick dog will even stop eating for a while.

happy cockapoo puppy running
A Cockapoo puppy leaping for joy! Learn about the Cockapoo temperament.
Photo by Ray Larabie /CC BY

While some dogs show signs of depression when they are adopted, others become anxious and hyperactive. You might notice your dog panting, barking, or whining a lot. They might also pace back and forth, which is a common sign of anxiety in these animals.

There is no way of truly knowing what a dog is thinking or feeling. Still, their behavior and body language can be very telling. There’s no telling how long this behavior will last, as it depends on several factors.

Keep in mind that the younger a dog is, the less likely they are to become stressed or anxious over missing their owners. It is pretty easy to transition a dog to a new environment if they anywhere from two to four months old.

If you rescue a puppy that is younger than three months, the adjustment shouldn’t take long at all.

A fun game to play with your puppy! See more dog videos on our YouTube channel.

How to Make Your New Rescue Comfortable

When you bring home a new rescue dog, you must do everything possible to make it feel comfortable in its new environment. There are lots of little things you can do to make this transition easier for your pet.

Devote a Few Days to stay at home with them

If you are planning to adopt a dog, you should try to carve out two or three days to spend with them. Cash in some vacation days so you can bond with your new canine companion. This can go a long way towards making them feel at ease in this strange new place. Make sure that you stay close by as much as possible, and don’t forget to play with them.

Introduce them to others Gradually

When it comes to introducing your rescue to friends and relatives, you should do so slowly. You don’t want them to feel overwhelmed, so it’s good to pace out these interactions.

Your dog will feel intimidated as it is just in a new place. Let your dog adjust to the people in your home before introducing them to anyone else.

You’ll want to instruct every new person who meets your rescue to act calmly and be gentle with them at first. This is particularly important for young children. 

puppy at the vet
Take special care to instruct children how to act around your rescue. Taking a little extra time can result in a happy relationship between rescue and kids.

Give Them a Room of their own

You should also give your little puppy a room of their own when bringing them home. This will provide them with a quiet and peaceful space, which will provide them with a sense of security. This is an especially good idea if you have small children or other pets in the house. Don’t forget to put a beautiful comfy bed in this area so your rescue can relax and sleep comfortably. 

Take on the Role of Alpha

You will need to take on the role of alpha/leader with your dog to make it feel safe and comfortable. This means providing them with plenty of structure. If you let them do whatever they want, it will take them much longer to adjust to their home entirely. A lack of structure tends to bring all sorts of behavior issues, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

cavapoo puppy toys
A Cavapoo puppy playing with a soft toy.
Photo Mia Anderson/Unsplash

Tips for Bonding with Your Rescue

It can take a while to establish a deep bond with your new dog if you aren’t careful. These tips will help you connect with your rescue and form a rewarding connection that will last for many years.

Consistency is Key

Before you do anything with your dog, you’ll need to understand the importance of consistency. You’ll want to make a point of spending time with your dog every single day. This is particularly important when you first bring them home.

The more consistent you are with your pooch, the easier it will be to solidify a genuine bond. This also means using positive and negative reinforcement when training them. You cannot do this only some of the time, as it will only serve to confuse your dog.

One of the most critical parts of consistency relating to pets is maintaining a schedule. You should feed them, take them for walks, and take them outside to do their business around the same time. This will be sure to give your rescue a sense of structure, which we’ve already mentioned is essential.

black goldendoodle sitting for a photo
A beautiful black Labradoodle puppy!
Photo by Bennilover CC-by-SA no modifications

Follow their Lead

When you are in the initial stages of bonding with your rescue, you’ll want to follow their lead. This means assessing their current emotional state before engaging them in play. If they seem tired, you’ll want to let them rest for a bit. It would be best if you never tried to force your dog to play, as it will only hurt your relationship with them. 

The fact is that not all dogs are the same in terms of their energy levels. This is why you need to pay close attention to how your dog is behaving at all times.

Keep it Fun and Interesting.

You should find a variety of fun and exciting ways to spend time with your rescue. This could be anything from playing fetch with a Frisbee to going for a swim with them.

You and your dog must get the right amount of physical exercise regularly. There are lots of different things that you can do together. If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy a particular activity, you should move on to another. This is a great way to create a strong bond with them in no time.

If you have a very hyperactive dog, you shouldn’t be afraid to roll around on the floor and play with them. This can be a compelling bonding experience. Just make sure that they understand you are the leader of the pack.

Do Dogs Miss Their Previous Owners Conclusion

Many dogs go through a period of missing their previous owners when they are adopted by someone new. How much your dog misses them depends on how strong their bond was.

You need to consider this when bringing them home for the first time. You’ll want to let your dog process what is happening, which can take some time.

You can help them adjust to their new home by following the tips and advice listed above. Remember to be patient with them, and always be grateful for their love and affection.