June 05, 2020

Do pets know how long you’ve gone out for?

Do pets know how long you’ve gone out for?
Dr. Chris Brown

They don’t wear watches or have calendar alerts so do dogs and cats even know how long we’ve been out of the house for? Finally we have the answer…

All across the world, the emotions of the furry family are on a kind of life support. Near constant company and attention has been replaced with an empty home as many of us return to work and school. But without a watch on those hairy wrists, does 10 hours at work feel any different to the 10 minutes you take down the street grabbing a coffee?

Well, it turns out pets do have a concept of time. And they’re wearing the smart technology responsible. It’s their nose.

There’s no doubt our pets have a unique ability to anticipate our arrival home from work. Somehow, without a watch, they’ll be waiting. Now, Professor Alexander Horowitz believes she’s stumbled across how they do it.  Aside from observing regular events that let them know roughly the stage of the day, they can also ‘smell’ time.

With a sense of smell up to 100,000 times stronger than ours, a dog’s nose is their greatest ally. They can sniff out drugs, explosives and even cancer. But Horowitz has now shown that they can detect the subtle changes in scent in a room during the day. She says the way the warm air rises in a room during the day and then drops as it cools down in the evening acts like a kind of clock. But the biggest clue as to how long you’ve been away actually comes from your own scent. They’ve learned that as your aroma fades in the house with time, it eventually reaches a point (and strength) where they know you typically return.

And since that cold, wet timepiece goes with them wherever they go, waking you up with that nose on your face is just them ‘clocking on’ for the day…

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