Your Pet Dogs and Their Sense of Time

Your Pet Dogs and Their Sense of Time-feature

It’s 6 PM and your dog is at your door, anticipating for your return. He is hungry and he seems to know that in a couple of minutes, you’ll be serving his dinner in his bowl. But does this just happen because his tummy is rumbling or he just knows how to read the clock?

Incidentally, many dog owners claim that their canine pals seem to anticipate the time they are about to eat or the day they go out for a walk. There are even some who said that their pooches take note of minutes, waking them up whenever they are late for work.

Obviously, there so much we need to know about dogs. However, as for now, let’s just settle on this question. Can dogs really understand time the same way us humans do?

It’s All About Periods of Time, Not Hours and Minutes.

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Instead of thinking of time in seconds, minutes, or hours, dogs are able to differentiate between short or long periods of time. In a study conducted by Swedish researchers in 2010, the reaction of dogs were observed whenever their owners left them for different spans of time. The team wanted to know if the canines behaved fine when they were alone or would they miss their owners if they have been long gone already.

The study involved 12 dog owners, who left their dogs at home for varying periods of time – 30 minutes, 2 hours, and 4 hours.

Based on the data gathered, it was realized that the dogs became more excited when their owners came back after 2 hours than 30 minutes. The researchers even noticed behaviours like wagging tails, being so attentive, and high energy after longer periods of not seeing their owners.

This goes to show that dogs knew how much time had passed and that they really care about it. But what this research was not able to prove was whether there was a significant difference in the reaction of dogs between a 2-hour and a 4-hour separation.

Routine Recognition

It’s so amazing to know that dogs can tell that time passes by. And it continues to amaze me how well they seem to understand daily routines and schedules.

Ever since they were domesticated and welcomed in human families, dogs have developed special skills in absorbing clues and reading human behaviour. Therefore, the tendency is that you might not realize what your body actually says about your actions, but your dogs do.

You might be used to getting up after watching your favourite afternoon television show and head to the door for a short dog walk or perhaps you just go straight toward the fridge and to the dog kennel when it’s feeding time. Well, if your dog is paying attention to these simple actions, he could possibly be anticipating your every move.

Also, dogs are so good when it comes to finding out things that are associated with events. They know that when you grab the leash, it’s time for a walk in the park. They know that when they hear the car keys, you’ll be heading to work. Pretty surprising, right?

Well, there’s still more. Researchers suggest that dogs can also use scent to figure out how long you have been out of the house and when you will be back. As soon as you leave the house in the morning, your scent is left. Eventually, it’ll fade out within the day. When the scent fades to a certain amount, your dog might be able to tell that you should already be home at that time. Still, scientists need to do further studies to support this claim.

Circadian Rhythms or Dog-cadian Rhythms?

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We all know that most living beings on this planet derive their sense of time from their circadian rhythms or biological clocks. It’s basically like this. Our planet rotates around its axis 24 hours, which allows us to experience night and day. Given that span of time, most life on Earth has flourished and evolved to do things on a 24-hour basis – wake up, work, eat, and sleep.

But then again, it is worth noting that every living species has a different circadian rhythm. For instance, humans are more active during the day. Dogs, on the other hand, tend to take short sleeps at night.

Science tells us that the circadian rhythm of dogs is affected by many factors – genes, day, temperature, and other social factors. Nonetheless, that internal clock helps them have a sense of time.


Although there isn’t any sufficient proof that could support as to whether or not our pet dogs can tell exactly what time is it, I am thinking there should be one in the next couple of years. That is because these adorable creatures are getting more and more attention from curious scientists, so it won’t probably take long before that’ll happen. So as of the moment, enjoy life with your dogs and keep them happy and alert with the help of the obedience tips in the eBook below.

Image Sources: [1] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

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