How do dogs measure time?

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Human beings have their own way of measuring time, days, months, years, hours, minutes, etc. All people measure time in a very similar way.  Animals do not measure time in the same way, each species of animal has its way of perceiving time and in most cases it is very instinctive, it is not cultural like that of people.

People who have lived with dogs know that they usually know the time of their owner’s arrival home every day, the time to walk or eat, they do it so naturally that one might think that they know how to read the time, but the Actually, no, dogs, like other animals, use circadian rhythms and sensory perception, it is worth clarifying that this is not definitive since it is a subject that still needs to be studied a lot.  Circadian rhythms are followed by almost all species including humans, it is a natural cycle of mental, physical and behavioral changes that a body experiences in 24 hours.  Circadian rhythms are primarily based on light and dark.  They affect sleep, temperature, hormones, among others (Galán 2022).

Sensory perception is the way in which the brain interprets the sensations it receives through the senses to form a conscious or unconscious impression of the exterior.  The smell of dogs is their most developed sense, which is why through it they make a map of everything that is approaching, and through habits and conditioning they can decipher when it is time to eat, for example (Galán 2022).

Another way for dogs to deduce daily routines is by watching and smelling their owner. Dogs normally know all their owner’s routines as they are very curious and watch them all the time and this allows them to know what is going to happen and anticipate the facts.

It can be deduced that dogs do not know how to differentiate between day and month since these are human notions of time, but if they manage to know after a day the passage of time and according to what they are taught and conditioned, they know what activities and the times of the day in which they are carried out.

 This is why it is so important to respect the times of the dogs when sleeping or walking, since for them routines are important, it makes them balanced, in addition to training in a way that is appropriate to the routine of their owner.

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  •  Vanessa Galan.  2022. Management of loneliness: the notion of the passage of time in dogs and cats. Sante vet.  Education and activities for your dog.

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