Odour-Evoked Memory in Dogs: Do Odours Help to Retrieve Memories of Food Location?
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Section of Animal Physiology and Behaviour, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, 70121 Bari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2020
Revised: 17 July 2020
Accepted: 21 July 2020
Published: 23 July 2020
The ability of odors to evoke past memories has been widely reported in humans. Although olfaction is generally considered as the most important sense in dogs, little is known about its relationship with memory in this species. To investigate this issue, we trained dogs to memorize the location of five rewards while a specific odor (i.e., vanilla) was dispersed in the environment. After 24 h delay, dogs were divided in three groups, which performed two trials of the same spatial task in different conditions. The first group received a control odor (i.e., apple) in the first trial and the vanilla odor in the second trial; vice versa, the second group was exposed to the vanilla odor in the first test and to the apple odor in the second one. The third group, instead, performed the tests with no odors. We found that the exposure to vanilla odor significantly improved dogs’ performance in the spatial task, suggesting that the odor aided dogs to recall specific and detailed memories originally formed in its presence.