Have you ever parked outside a restaurant or concert, had an exciting few hours, and then walked outside to realize you have no idea where you left your car? Why can we easily recall our childhood street address but forget something we knew just a short time earlier?
Just like us, dogs have short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory helps us remember where we parked, or where to go next on an agility course. It helps your dog remember where he put the bully stick he was enjoying before he had to leap up and bark at the door when the doorbell rang.
When we train our dogs, we want what they learn to persist much longer than a few hours. To accomplish this, those lessons need to be placed in long-term memory. Numerous studies have shown that reward-based training is the most effective way for dogs to learn. Dogs trained with positive reinforcement and without aversives are less stressed, which permits optimal learning. (Have you ever tried to memorize some facts with your boss or teacher staring at you as opposed to in the comfortable solace of your bedroom?) However, training methods aside, a recent study examined what kinds of post-training activities will help your dog send those newly learned lessons into long term storage. To find out more, check this out.
CHRIS ZINK DVM PhD DACVP DACVSMR CCRT CVSMT CVA is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians.