american eskimo on a leash sitting oudoors

Dogs are interesting animals overall. They have a mind of their own, yet they look to us humans for direction and reassurance. They can learn how to do things like fetch a ball, use the bathroom outside, and even put away their own toys. The big question, though, is this: Can dogs understand time? Most experts agree that yes, dogs can tell time — but not in the same way that we humans can. What does this mean exactly? Let’s explore this topic here!

A Dog’s Understanding of Time Is Not the Same as a Human’s

Humans have a different understanding of time than any other living creature on the planet because we have created our own unique way to tell time. We can tell time down to the minute just by looking at a watch. We also have our memories and future goals to rely on when it comes to perceiving time. A dog does not know how to use a watch, and they aren’t known for anticipating the future.

However, dogs do seem to have a concept of what time is. After all, they seem to know when it’s mealtime, walk time, or time for a human companion to come home each day. There are conflicting opinions among veterinarians and other experts as to how dogs perceive time, but everyone seems to agree that dogs have at least some understanding of time.

Veterinarian Chyrle Bonk told Inverse that it’s hard to say how dogs experience time. Some veterinarians believe that a dog’s sense of time is almost non-existent, and a dog might feel like a minute’s worth of pain is forever. Other veterinarians think that dogs can experience time and understand when a companion is gone for 30 minutes or 6 hours.

golden retriever dog watching over his owner's house
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The Key May Be a Dog’s Internal Clock

An “internal clock” might be the best way to describe a dog’s understanding of time. Dogs utilize their hormone fluctuations and body temperatures, among other internal measurements, to determine the time of day. The internal clock of a dog can determine when it’s time to eat based on their regular eating schedule — but only if they’re consistently fed at the same time.

Dogs tend to know when something is supposed to happen if they are accustomed to that thing happening at the same time each day. If you walk your dog at 6 a.m. every morning, chances are that they will be at your bedside or waiting by the front door as that time approaches. This is thought to be due to their blood sugar levels and other internal measures that affect a dog’s mood and intentions. Whenever they feel the blood sugar levels, serotonin, and other hormones surging at just the right peak, they know that it’s about time to eat or do another regimented activity during the day.

Final Comments

Dogs have many differences compared to humans. They may be able to understand time somewhat but not in the same way that we can. By understanding more about how dogs understand time, we can better communicate with our furry family members.


Featured Photo Courtesy: Pixabay