A common question that lingers in the minds of dog owners and enthusiasts alike is whether or not dogs remember if they’ve been hit.

This query often stems from a genuine concern for the well-being of our canine companions and a desire to understand the inner workings of their minds.

In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of canine memory, the impact of physical discipline on dogs, and the importance of forging healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with our furry friends.

II. Dogs’ Memory Capabilities

A. Short-Term Memory In Dogs

Dogs possess a short-term memory that typically lasts up to two minutes. This characteristic underscores the importance of addressing any misbehavior promptly, as any corrective action taken after this period will likely be ineffective.

Dog being hit

Intriguingly, larger dogs appear to have a more extended short-term memory compared to their smaller counterparts. Dogs are inherently forgiving animals with a strong desire to please their owners.

Provided that you don’t consistently mistreat your dog or resort to excessive force, they are unlikely to remember an isolated incident for more than two days—if they don’t forget it within the initial two minutes.

Duration and differences between dog breeds

Can Dogs Recall Instances of Physical Discipline? The ephemeral nature of a dog’s short-term memory is a fascinating aspect of their cognitive abilities.

Typically, dogs can retain information in their short-term memory for up to two minutes, with this fleeting capacity serving as a crucial factor when addressing a dog’s behavior.

Interestingly, the duration of short-term memory tends to vary among breeds, with larger dogs often possessing a more expansive memory than their smaller counterparts.

B. Long-Term Memory in Dogs

A groundbreaking Hungarian study from 2016 demonstrated that dogs possess episodic memory, enabling them to recall specific events from their past.

Dogs Brain - memory

This type of memory is distinct from associative memory, as it goes beyond merely connecting two related elements.

In the study, dogs were taught to imitate their owner’s actions using the “Do it” command. Subsequently, they were trained to lie down after observing any human action, thereby removing the expectation of remembering and mimicking their owner’s actions.

Surprisingly, when the owner unexpectedly issued the “Do it” command after performing an action, the dogs continued to imitate the movement successfully.

Researchers tested this command at various time intervals, ranging from one minute to one hour. While the Dogs’ accuracy diminished over time – they were still able to replicate the action most of the time.

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory in dogs refers to their ability to recall specific events or experiences that have occurred in their lives. It is a form of long-term memory that involves the capacity to remember particular episodes or occurrences, including the context, time, and emotions associated with those events.

In humans, episodic memory allows us to remember specific experiences from our past, like what we ate for breakfast or a conversation we had with a friend. However, the concept of episodic memory in dogs is still a topic of ongoing research and debate among scientists.

Some researchers suggest that dogs may possess a form of episodic-like memory, which allows them to remember certain events like you have punished your dog – albeit in a more limited capacity compared to humans.

This episodic-like memory may enable dogs to recall specific interactions, places, or people based on associative learning and emotional experiences.

3. Associative Memory

Associative memory refers to a dog’s ability to link a sound, smell, sight, or other sensory input to a specific event, typically a positive one. For example, when your dog sees their leash in your hand, they may immediately associate it with the excitement of going for a walk.

Dogs boast an exceptional memory for scents and sounds, and they can even link their owner’s diminishing scent with the passage of time. One study discovered that a dog could correlate the level of their owner’s remaining scent with the anticipated time of their return.

Various animals exhibit strong and long-lasting associative memories, such as a dog that recalls the smell of a veterinarian after undergoing surgery. Dogs can also develop associative memories from being hit. If you strike your dog more than once in a similar context, they may begin to associate being hit with that particular situation, leading to the formation of long-term associative memories.

While gentle corrective taps can be beneficial for training purposes, excessive force may result in your dog associating you with negative experiences, ultimately jeopardizing your relationship.

Associative learning and emotionally-charged events

While dogs possess relatively short short-term memory, their long-term memory capabilities are quite impressive. Canines primarily rely on associative learning, enabling them to form lasting memories based on emotional experiences or repeated exposure to specific stimuli.

Consequently, dogs can remember people, places, and events that have made a significant impact on their lives, both positively and negatively. So your Dog will Remember if you had hit him!

III. The Impact of Physical Discipline on Dogs

A. Immediate effects of hitting a dog

Fear, Stress, and Anxiety

Hitting a dog, even if done out of frustration or as an attempt to correct behavior, can have profound immediate effects on the animal.

Punishing dog

The experience of being hit can instill fear, stress, and anxiety in a dog, potentially leading to a wide array of behavioral issues.

Dogs that are subjected to physical punishment may develop an aversion to the person inflicting the harm, which can undermine the bond between the dog and its owner.

B. Long-term consequences of physical punishment

Damage to the human-dog bond

Physical punishment can inflict lasting damage on the relationship between a dog and its owner.

Over time, trust can be eroded, and the dog may become increasingly wary of its owner’s actions.

The animal may also become more defensive or even aggressive, as it learns to associate the owner with pain and fear.

Development of behavioral issues

Physical discipline can contribute to the emergence of various behavioral issues in dogs, such as aggression, fearfulness, or anxiety.

These problems may manifest in different ways, including destructive behavior, excessive barking, or even biting.

Furthermore, physical punishment can exacerbate existing behavioral issues or make it more difficult to address the root cause of the problem.

IV. Alternative Methods of Discipline and Training

A. Positive reinforcement techniques

Reward-based training

Rather than resorting to physical punishment, opt for reward-based training methods that focus on reinforcing desired behaviors with praise, treats, or toys.

This approach not only fosters a positive learning environment for the dog, but also strengthens the bond between owner and pet.

Reward-based training emphasizes the importance of timely reinforcement, ensuring that the dog associates the reward with the desired action.

Clicker training

Clicker training is another positive reinforcement technique that can be highly effective in shaping a dog’s behavior.

Dog clicker training

This method involves using a small device that produces a distinct clicking sound to mark the precise moment a dog performs a desired behavior.

By consistently pairing the click with a reward, the dog learns to associate the sound with positive reinforcement, making it a powerful tool in training.

B. Understanding and addressing the root causes of misbehavior

Clear communication and consistency

Toeffectively address a dog’s misbehavior, it is essential to establish clear communication and maintain consistency. T

his involves being attentive to the dog’s body language and signals, as well as providing consistent responses to undesirable actions.

By doing so, the dog will better understand what is expected of it and will be more likely to respond positively to training efforts.

Proper exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization

Misbehavior can often be a symptom of underlying issues such as insufficient exercise, inadequate mental stimulation, or lack of socialization.

Ensure that your dog receives ample opportunities to engage in physical activities, mentally challenging tasks, and positive interactions with other dogs and people.

By addressing these needs, you may find that many behavioral issues resolve themselves naturally.

V. Rebuilding Trust and Strengthening the Human-Dog Relationship

A. Recognizing and addressing the signs of fear or anxiety in dogs

If your dog has been subjected to physical punishment or other negative experiences, it is crucial to recognize and address signs of fear or anxiety.

Symptoms may include cowering, tail-tucking, excessive panting, or even aggression. It’s essential to approach these situations with patience and understanding, as forcing the dog to confront its fears or anxieties can exacerbate the issue.

B. Steps to regain a dog’s trust after a negative experience

Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement

Rebuilding trust with a dog that has experienced physical punishment or other negative events requires patience, consistency, and an unwavering commitment to positive reinforcement.

rebuilding your dogs trust
Cheerful young lady happy dog owner is stroking beautiful shiba inu puppy on couch in flat sitting together smiling. Lifestyle, love and friendship concept.

This may involve gradually desensitizing the dog to stimuli that provoke fear or anxiety, rewarding calm behavior, and providing a safe, nurturing environment.

By consistently demonstrating kindness, understanding, and support, you can help your dog regain trust and confidence.

Engaging in bonding activities and spending quality time together

Spend quality time with your dog to strengthen the bond between you. Engage in activities that your dog enjoys, such as walks, play sessions, or training exercises.

Be present and attentive during these moments, as this will reinforce your connection and help your dog feel secure and loved.

Why Avoiding Hitting Your Dog Fosters a Healthy Relationship and Better Behavior

It is essential to avoid hitting your dog for numerous reasons, chief among them being the importance of fostering a relationship built on trust, respect, and compassion.

Hitting your dog can not only inflict immediate pain and distress but also lead to long-term behavioral issues and damage the bond between you and your canine companion.

Dogs subjected to physical punishment may develop fear, anxiety, and aggression, which can manifest in various undesirable behaviors. Instead of resorting to physical discipline, adopting positive reinforcement techniques can be more effective in shaping your dog’s behavior while reinforcing a strong, healthy relationship.

By treating your dog with kindness and understanding, you create a safe and nurturing environment that promotes their emotional well-being and encourages them to view you as a loving, dependable companion. In doing so, you will be able to enjoy the countless joys and rewards that come with sharing your life with a loyal and trusting furry friend.

VI. Conclusion

Understanding a dog’s cognitive abilities and the consequences of physical punishment is vital for conscientious pet guardianship. Your Canine Friend will Recollect Experiences of Being Hit by You!

By choosing empathetic and efficient training approaches, like positive reinforcement strategies, we can cultivate a robust, trusting bond with our furry friends.

Bear in mind that our dogs depend on us for direction and assistance, and it is our obligation to guarantee their welfare and contentment. In this way, we can relish the numerous delights and gratifications that arise from coexisting with these extraordinary creatures.

Perhaps you are also interested in:
Adding a Second Dog to Your Family: Dealing with Guilt and Practical Considerations
Letting Go: How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Returning Your Dog


  1. Fugazza, C., & Miklósi, Á. (2015). <a href=”https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159115000961“>Should old dog trainers learn new tricks? The efficiency of the Do as I do method and shaping/clicker training method to train dogs</a>. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 171, 146-151. [Supports the effectiveness of clicker training]
  2. Rooney, N. J., & Cowan, S. (2011). <a href=”https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159111000876“>Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability</a>. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132(3-4), 169-177. [Highlights the negative impact of physical punishment on dog behavior and the benefits of reward-based training]
  3. Todd, Z. (2018). <a href=”https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1558787817302397“>Barriers to the adoption of humane dog training methods</a>. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 25, 28-34. [Discusses the importance of humane training methods and potential barriers to their adoption]
  4. Range, F., & Virányi, Z. (2015). <a href=”https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01582/full“>Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the “Canine Cooperation Hypothesis”</a>. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1582. [Explores the origins of human-dog relationships and cooperation]
  5. Coren, S. (2004). <a href=”https://books.google.com/books?id=5dFzJ0pIbnsC“>How dogs think: Understanding the canine mind</a>. Simon and Schuster. [Provides information on canine memory and cognitive abilities]
Categories: BlogsDogs


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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