Dogs and the concept of time

Does your dog seem to know when it’s time to go to the dog park? Is his face pressed against the window waiting for you to come home from work each day? Do our four legged friends actually know? Or is there a secret behind it?



When we, humans, try to understand dogs’ concept of time, we involuntary try to measure it in the human terms – referring to the episodic memory. The truth is, that dogs perceive time differently. But just because dogs don’t perceive time in this way doesn’t mean they are completely stuck in the moment. Dogs are capable of being trained based on past events and taught to anticipate future events based on past experiences.


A recent research proves that dogs have, though distinct from human, a strong concept of time.  Dogs can only distinguish how much time has passed since an event has occurred (e.g., “My food bowl has been empty for six hours.”).

There is also research evidence for dogs’ understanding of the concept of time based on changes in their behaviour when left alone by their human companions for different lengths of time. Studies show that dogs display greater affection toward their owners if they’ve been separated for longer periods of time. As the amount of time away increases, so does the dogs’ excitement. Does that sound familiar?

For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, the difference between one and five hours can mean the difference between mild agitation and a massive panic attack. Separation anxiety in dogs is often expressed as barking, howling, whining, chewing digging, pacing, scratching, and/or urinating and defecating in inappropriate places while an owner is away or upon his or her return.


There are several ways to help your pooch cope with the separation anxiety. You should  leave behind a piece of recently worn clothing. Your scent is likely to have a calming effect on your pet. Try leaving a few toys as well. They can provide a much-needed distraction for your dog while you’re away.


Don’t forget that soon you won’t need to leave your pooch alone at home – you will be able to leave your four legged friend in the experienced hands of Gudog’s caregivers.

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