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So, my oldest went back to college on Saturday. According to an article I recently read (Many Animals—Including Your Dog—May Have Horrible Short-Term Memories), dogs don't have episodic memory, and he shouldn't remember the last time he's seen her. However, for the past three days, my dog has been randomly barking at the rest of the family. It the bark he usually uses to let us know something (I have to go out, my water bowl is empty, etc.) not the bark he uses for strangers or the whimpery bark he does when he's biting his tail (why does he DO that?). He's barking even though he's been well exercised (3 mile walk this morning, for example), fed, watered, recently out to eliminate, played with, etc.

My dh and I were starting to wonder if he's trying to let us know someone is missing, but if he can't remember her (per the article), how would he know she's missing?

We're praising him when he's quiet, using the words "quiet" and "calm", and using a sharp "eh" to stop the barking, but it's happening several times a day.

Thoughts?
 

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Your dog's not able to process the number of days it's been since he last saw your daughter, but he can definitely miss her, especially if they spent a lot of time together and his routine has been altered. And, he'll remember her when she comes home on vacation.

I'm not sure what's causing the barking, but I'd try to keep his daily routine fairly consistent.
 

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Dogs don't have episodic memory like humans do, but that doesn't mean they forget people the instant they're out of sight. Dogs will remember people for years. Look up "dog soldier reunion" on YouTube for proof.

He may be trying to tell you your daughter is missing, or just expressing unhappiness that's she's gone and his routine has changed. Or he's just barking. It's hard to tell with dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If it's letting us know Kai is gone, he'll probably get used to the situation eventually. If it's just barking for the heck of it, we're gonna have problems! We're going to try a second long walk after dinner and see if that helps him calm down (we tend to do most of his exercise in the morning, with play and puzzle toys in the evening - it's been 98+ most evenings, and the morning is usually cooler).

Thanks for the feedback! We do try to have a fairly consistent routine, but it's going to be disrupted next week when I go back to work, anyway.
 
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