You would have noticed your dog napping at a particular hour of the day. She might have prompted you to take her out on a walk bang at 5.30 pm, day in and day out. Also, you have seen her expecting her meal at a specific time. There you go!
Do dogs have a sense of time? Do they perceive the concept of time like us – in seconds, minutes and hours?
In trying to understand dogs’ concept of time, humans cannot help but reference their own concept of time, an Animal Planet report avers. But, it continues, “that’s tricky since humans have the unique ability to construct artificial measures of time, such as the second, minute, and hour. This is mainly because humans use episodic memory in order to travel through time, recalling past events and looking forward to future ones. It’s what many scientists believe makes humans unique.”
In the contrary, a research study by Dr Thomas Zentall of the University of Kentucky concludes that dogs could be trained based on past events and taught to anticipate future events based on past experiences – quite similar to humans.
It all ultimately boils down to something known as ‘circadian rhythm’ – physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. The rhythm may also be influenced by other factors, including temperature, light and social cues. Humans, dogs, other animals and even plants have these rhythms.
Dogs’ perception of the concept of time based on changes in their behaviour when left alone by their human companions for different lengths of time has also been extensively studied by researchers. We have seen dogs showing more affection towards their owners if they’ve been separated for longer periods of time. As the amount of time away increases, so does the dogs’ excitement. Animal Planet observers that this shows that dogs are capable of recognizing and responding to different spans of time.