Does your dog have their nose pressed against the window when you arrive home from work? Does your dog sit by the door for your morning walk before you’ve grabbed the leash?
To many dog owners, canines appear to have a fairly accurate concept of time. So, do they really know what time it is, or is there something else happening in their minds? Here are three different theories that give insight to your dog’s concept of time:
One: Research suggests that dogs are capable of anticipating future events based on past experiences. Humans, who base time off of episodic events, can pinpoint when something happened in the past by relating it to other events.
Dogs, on the other hand, can only distinguish how much time has passed since an event has occurred – “my food bowl has been empty for several hours and my stomach is growling!” So, while they may not know that it’s 6:00 pm, they may understand that it’s been roughly 6 hours since their last meal which means it’s time to anticipate dinner!
Two: Research evidence based on changes in a dog’s behavior when left alone by their human companions for different lengths of time, may also prove their understanding time. Studies show that dogs display greater affection toward their owners if they’ve been separated for longer periods of time.
As the amount of time away increases, so does the dogs’ excitement. This research shows that dogs are capable of recognizing and responding to different spans of time.
Three: Other research shows that it’s possible that dogs judge time in such detail by the decay of smells in their environment. A dog’s sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times better than humans. Dogs may associate time with specific smells, so if you usually leave at 7:00 am and come home at 5:00 pm, your dog knows when your personal scent is 10 hours old and knows it’s time to sit by the door, waiting for some love. Want to see this theory tested out? Check out BBC’s video experiment here.
While seconds, minutes, and hours are abstract concepts created by humans, it is clear that dogs are aware of the passage of time. Does your dog always know when it’s time to eat or go for a walk? Let us know in the comments!