Nature | Did You Know

It Turns Out Dogs Might Know More Than We Think

Dog Time

Have you ever noticed that your dog always seem to know what time it is? Whether it's them licking your face in the morning, waiting at the door for you to come home, or by the food bowl near dinner time. Dogs seem to have a weird sense of what time of day it is and there's actually research why.

Apparently this is a very debated topic in animal research. Because time, in the sense of seconds, minutes, or hours, is a human invention. So how would dogs ever be able to know?

Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist, came up with a theory called "classical conditioning," that can give us some answers. When a dog is conditioned, it means that they know things are going to happen due to past experiences.

For example, a dog can know it's time to eat when they hear the noise of the food hitting the bowl. Also, they could know someone is at the door because, of the one time the door bell rang and someone was at the door. Therefore every time they hear that noise it means someone is there. This theory is simple when you think about it, but it does make sense.

It has been talked about that a dog's sense of smell could help them know what time a day it is. For example, if you leave the house every morning at 8 a.m. and return at 5 p.m. your dog could be able to sense when you're about to get home everyday.

Your dog's nose would be able to smell your scent in the house all day. Your scent would wear off throughout the day, the longer you've been gone. Therefore, he can tell how long it's been since you were home.

He would eventually become accustomed to the exact amount of your smell that is left in the house at the time you get home at night. Therefore, he can tell when you're about to come home, if you're in a regular routine, by the amount of your scent in the air.    

This is a highly discussed theory but there is this still no scientific proof backing it up. While there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that dogs remember people, and events, it’s still an open question whether or not they can travel back in time in their minds.

That’s because dogs have been neglected when it comes to lab experiments. For a long time, scientists thought that because dogs are domesticated, they couldn’t prove anything about how natural species behaved. It is really only within the last 15 years that extensive examination of the dogs mind has begun.

So, can dogs really tell time? We can't say for sure. But, with scientists spending more and more time researching canine behaviours, we might have an answer very soon.

Until then, I have full faith that my dog is certainly smart enough to tell what time it is, and probably a lot more.