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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

Can Dogs Tell Time?



Dogs have an uncanny ability to know when it's time for certain daily events. Mealtime, walk time and the arrival of their favorite human all are events they seem to anticipate. But telling the exact time that’s another story.


Dogs have a circadian rhythm that lets them know when it's time to sleep, get up and what time of day it is. This is a dog’s internal clock and it starts marking off the minutes when he’s waiting for a meal or a walk. A waiting dog will pace, whine, swish his tail or show other signs of impatience through their dog behavior.


A dog and other animals also have timing cells in their brains. These special cells help your pup gauge time during routine days. They pick up on routines. They know you leave in the morning and are gone 8 or 9 hours. Their timing cells let them know when the approximate time has passed for you to come home with a welcomed greeting.


Researchers think that dog’s may also be able to “sniff” time. They can smell when their meal arrives. When that smell fades and dissipates they know it's time for another one. Dogs can also judge the passage of time by our verbal and non-verbal clues, the light and shadows on the wall, or their hunger and need for a potty break.


Dogs have their own internal wristwatches to tell time in their own way. The talent seems to be the same for all the various breeds. Their sense of time may not be as attuned as a human’s but they know when to get excited that you’re coming home.


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