Do Dogs Remember Their Moms?

do dogs remember their moms
How long do dogs remember their moms?

Most dogs will not live alongside their mother. Most dogs will be separated from their mothers at around 3-months old.

In the early part of their life, are heavily reliant on their moms for food and protection. There is a bond forming even that early on!

Many people wonder whether dogs are able to remember their moms? The answer is that studies have shown that YES dogs DO remember their moms (Science Direct).  

Let’s find out more!

French bulldog puppy and mom
A proud French Bulldog Mom watches over her puppies!

Do Dogs Remember Their Moms?

We can often guess what our dogs are thinking. WALK! FOOD TIME! TREATS! 

When it comes to more complex thoughts and ideas, it is sadly impossible to read our dogs’ minds.

Scientists have had to develop complicated (and expensive) methods to tell if dogs remember their moms. The studies do seem to show that puppies, and sometimes even older dogs, mothers.

“At least as far as the data is concerned, it appears clear that a dog, even as an adult, will still recognize its biological mother.” (Psychology Today).

Wait, Don’t Dogs Have a 2 Minute Memory?

Dogs are not goldfish but have a famously short memory. For some things, they won’t remember even a few minutes before! HOWEVER, for other memories (like happiness, fear, odd smells, walking, or foods), dogs have an excellent memory.

So what is the deal with long term memory for dogs?

Back in 2013, a study (Science Direct) found that dogs have long-term memory. This means that, somewhere, in their memory, will be the thought of their mother. If it is a rescue dog, then they may even be able to remember their previous owners.

Another study looked at whether puppies were able to remember the scent of their mother. A whopping 82% of the puppies did. 

These puppies were given a choice between two pieces of cloth—one with the scent of their mother and the other with a random dog’s smell. Nearly every single dog went with the smell of their mother.

Obviously, several things will determine how much they remember of their mother. This includes how long they spent with them. The recommended age to remove a puppy from their mother is 12-weeks (some breeders will go as low as 8-weeks). 

If they are kept with their mother much beyond that, they will miss them more. It is not advised to remove a puppy too early – especially before the 8-week mark. If adopted earlier, we run into the issue that the puppy has a confused and stronger attachment because, at that point, they will still be reliant on the mother.

do puppies remember their moms
Do dogs remember their moms? Is it limited to 2 years?

What Still Needs to Be Studied to Tell if Dogs Remember Their Moms

Studies do still need to be carried out to see how long term this memory actually is. At the moment, there have only been studies on younger dogs. There is no telling whether dogs that are a few years old will remember their mothers. However, the chances are relatively high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that dogs can remember older owners, even if they have not interacted with them for a few years.

How We Can Ease the Transition for a New Puppy (We Become the Mom)

When we take ownership of a puppy, we become their new parent. We take on the role of their mother. 

This means that we need to learn how to soothe the dog. We need to know how to ensure that the needs of a puppy are met. This is something that we need to do for the rest of our dog’s life.

golden cavapoo puppy image
An image of a light or Golden Cavapoo. Photo Mia Anderson/Unsplash

While there is a chance that your puppy will never forget their mother, there are plenty of things you can do to take on that mother figure’s role. This includes:

  • Regularly playing with the puppy. Dogs love stimulation. In fact, a lack of stimulation can be alarming for their mental health. So, give them some age-appropriate toys. Let your dog go crazy with them. In fact, better yet, play with the dog yourself. Play fetch with them. Chase them around. Do something to strengthen that bond.
  • If your puppy is still young, then you will need to regularly pet and play with the dogs face and ears gently. It is touch that helps to build up that bond. Obviously, this is something that you will be doing for the rest of your puppy’s life. Still, it is especially important when they are young and especially crucial if they have just been introduced to a brand-new environment.
  • Give your dog treats or positively reward them using vocal praise . Their mother would have positively rewarded them for good behavior, so you should be doing the same. Of course, this also means that you can start training your dog from a young age. Another thing that helps to forge a bond that will (hopefully) last a lifetime.

You will also want to be on the lookout for dangers or anything that may stress your animal out (e.g., loud noises or sudden movements). If you can’t avoid the things that stress out the animal, you must soothe them. Teach them that it is OK.

Over time, your dog will become less and less stressed by certain things. Again, this is you taking on the role of the mother. You will be teaching your puppy what they should and shouldn’t be scared of.

cavapoo puppy costume
A stylish Waldo Cavapoo puppy. Photo Mia Anderson/Unsplash

Do Puppies Cry Because They Miss Their Mom?

Dogs have been known to cry shortly after they have been separated from their mom.

We do not know for sure whether it is because they miss their mother. There is a good chance that they are crying because they are in a brand new environment and scared of it.

However, we are sure that that they probably miss their mother a little bit. Dogs, particularly younger ones, are susceptible to social anxiety.

Over time, your puppy will cry less and less. They will become more familiar with your home, and one day the crying will stop completely. However, it isn’t nice to listen to a puppy cry, is it? You want your puppy to be as happy as possible. They are part of your family, after all. 

This is why we want to share a few tips with you to soothe your furry friend.

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Soothing a Puppy That Misses Its Mom

  • Interact with your puppy. Pet them. Talk frequently to them in a soothing voice. This will help to calm them down. It can even provide a little bit of a distraction for them. Over time, they will become used to your voice’s sound, and they will start to bond with you in the same way they used to connect with their mothers.
  • Some new puppy owners find that playing soothing music is fantastic for calming a crying pup. A bit of classical music wouldn’t go amiss here. Just make sure that there are no loud bangs because it could make the crying a lot worse.
  • For the first few nights you have your dog, you should keep the crate in your bedroom. Again, this is something that is going to help your dog to bond with you and start to feel less attached to their mother.
  • Take your dog for a long walk before you head to bed, or if they seem to be crying a lot. This should tire them out to the point where they stop crying.
  • Make sure that there are no other issues with your dog. This means ensuring they have access to food, water, and the bathroom whenever they need it. Remember, puppies need to pee a lot more frequently than older dogs!

Over time, you will find that the crying starts to tail off. Most puppies will only cry for the first week or two. Some will stop after a couple of days. If you find that your dog hasn’t stopped crying at it has been at least two months, then talk to a vet. There could be another issue that needs to be dealt with.

See more dog videos on our YouTube channel.

How Do Puppies React If They See Their Mom on the Street?

This depends on how long it has been. If the dog hasn’t seen the mother in a few years, chances are that they will not do anything. However, if it has been under a year since separation from their mother, they will likely be quite playful.

Remember, your dog has a great nose. Even if its mother was on the opposite side of the street, they would recognize it. If this happens, you can expect them to playfully bark and wag their tail. If they get up close to their mother, there will not be any aggression. In fact, their mother is likely to recognize them too!

For the most part, a puppy bumping into their mother in the street will not cause any issues. It will not make them sad or confused – if anything it will make them short term happy (with no sadness after)

However, suppose you have a younger puppy (under 6-months old). In that case, it may cause them separation anxiety once they can no longer see their mother. Sadly, the best you can do is comfort them here.

Do Dogs Remember Their Siblings?

Yes. Although not quite to the extent that they remember their mothers.

Remember that study we talked about before? Where puppies were tested to see if they remember the scent of their mothers? The same test was carried out to see whether puppies could recognize the scent of their littermates. 70% of them were able to do so.

Again, we do not really know whether they will remember their siblings for the rest of their life. However, there is a good chance that they will. What we do know, however, is that over time you will become their family. While they will always have that bond with their siblings, they will be your family with the strongest bond.

That being said, if you can, you should try and track down your puppy’s siblings. You can organize a play date with them. Try to make it a regular play date. Dogs absolutely thrive on frequent social interactions with other dogs. Who better for them to interact with than their siblings? They already have that bond, so why not make it stronger?

Conclusion

Dogs will remember their mothers and their siblings, mainly if they are still relatively young. Sadly, there is not much you can do about it. However, if you try to build up your dog’s bond, you will eventually become their new family. This means that while the memory may remain, they won’t miss them as much.

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