Can Dogs Understand the Passage of Time?

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Tick, tock, tick, tock. As humans, we have grown up in a world where we are taught how to tell time. We are taught how to read clocks and we have even learned how to tell time from just looking at the sky. 

What is interesting though is the fact that we humans may be the only species that tells time in the unique way that we do. Even more interesting to think about is the fact that other species, like dogs, probably have some sense of time, but it is likely much different than ours. So the question still stands - can dogs understand the passing of time?

Introduction of Can Dogs Understand the Passage of Time?

The signs that Pup Understands Time

While it may seem strange that your dog exhibits behavior that shows they understand the passing of time, it may be helpful to note that dogs are very expressive creatures. They always let us know when they are excited to see us and they make sure to let us know when they are upset when we leave. 

When looking for the signs that Fido may very well indeed understand the passing of time, watch them as you come and go from the house or the room. What this shows is that they understand you are leaving for an unspecified amount of time. They also learn to know that you will return at some point as well. 

When you come back into the house, watch your pup. They may start wagging their tail rapidly to show just how happy they are and that they definitely noticed how long you were gone. Along with this, watch out for hops and jumps from your canine companion. 

Another thing to look out for is if you are home and someone else is not, keep an eye on the pup around the time the other person should be arriving home. Many times, you may notice that your pup is pacing back and forth, which shows they are becoming anxious for the arrival of their other human. Another sign they may exhibit is their ears may go straight up as if listening harder for when their friend will arrive.

Body Language

These are some signs that your pooch has a sense of time:
  • Jumping up
  • Wag tail
  • Pacing
  • Raise ears

Other Signs

Some other signs that your dog understands time include:
  • Depression During Absence
  • Matching Up Bedtime with Yours
  • Waking Up at a Specific Time
  • Following a Basic Daily Routine

The History of Time and Pups

History of Can Dogs Understand the Passage of Time?
Throughout history, it has been researched time and time again just how we have come to tell time. Humans are the only species to have created an artificial way of telling time. It helps us get to work, to sleep and helps with our overall daily lives. 

Dogs, on the other hand, are a little bit different from us humans. Dogs did not get taught how to read clocks or tell time from staring at the sky. However, dogs are smart enough to tell you when they are tired, or when they need to go outside. They are able to tell you these things because they have learned to listen to their inner clock which lets them know when it is time to do something. 

Although we are unsure as to when dogs were able to understand the passing of time, it must be assumed that they have always had some kind of a grasp on the matter. They can tell when it is time for breakfast by when they wake up in the morning hungry and similarly, they can tell when it is time for dinner by when they find themselves hungry again and maybe a little sleepy. 

There is not much excessive research to show just how far back it was when dogs could begin understanding the passage of time, but again, they may very well have always understood.

The Science Behind Dogs Telling Time

Science of Can Dogs Understand the Passage of Time?
Over the decades, we have become accustomed to being raised to understand the ticking hands of the clock, to understand what the difference between morning and night is, and to generally be able to know what time it is. Dogs have not had such a luxury. They have had to learn to tell time in their own way. 

As it turns out, dogs have a pretty good way of telling time that may be a little more relaxed than our version. Research was actually done at The University of Western Ontario, where a psychologist found that animals, including dogs, are able to tell time by certain events that they look forward to each day. They will learn where to be at specific points in the day in order to receive food or something similar to that.

Training Your Dog to Tell Time

Training of Can Dogs Understand the Passage of Time?
As hard as it may sound, telling time is not that difficult to figure out if you have been taught how to do it from a young age. Humans have long since figured out how to tell time starting thousands of years ago by looking at the position of the sun in the sky. Dogs have a slightly different growing up experience than we do. That is okay, though, because there are numerous ways to teach your pup how to tell time. 

One way to show your dog how to tell time is to get them onto the same schedule as you. Dogs are usually at least able to tell the difference between morning and evening. If you get them on the same schedule as you in between all of that, you are pretty much golden. 

In order to do so, try getting them started on your routine. When you wake up, make sure they wake up to. Let them outside and give them a treat once they have finished their business. After that, give them time to eat breakfast while you do the same. If you do this throughout your day and continue it for days at a time, chances are your pup will pick up on the schedule and will soon be telling the time in their own way. 

The only difference is that maybe on the weekend they get a little skewed since your schedule changes a bit. Regardless of this, your dog will learn to tell time as long as they are trained properly. They already have the essential skills required to learn how, so as long as you are willing to help them out, they will be good to go!

How to React to Fido Successfully Understanding Time

  • Be sure to give your pup many treats when they show they are learning to tell time by eating at certain times or going outside.
  • Praise your puppy with many pets and hugs when they have shown you that they are responding correctly to different times of the day.
  • Take your pup for a walk at the same time each day. This will show them that you are happy with what they are doing and that they can expect it at the same time every day.