January 03, 2024

Do pets have a concept of time?

Do pets have a concept of time?
Dr. Chris Brown

While they can't check our meeting schedule or wear a watch on those furry wrists, it sometimes feels like they have a sense for how long we've been away from home. But do the four legged family actually have a concept of time?
Well, we may finally have the answer…

You just feel like if they could, they’d be obsessive users of Find My Phone. Constantly tracking your every move to know when you’re going to walk back in that door and make their life complete again. But with no tech, how do they know how long you’ve been out for? And does a 10 minute trip out for coffee feel just like 10 hours in the office…

Well, the first answer is a little disconcerting. They do seem to be aware of the time you’ve been away.

In fact, a recent study found that the longer you’re out, the higher their heart rate and physical response when you return. The difference between 30 minutes, 2 hours and 4 hours was significant. So a 10 hour business day might really stretch the limits. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder and potentially more fragile. It means that issues like separation anxiety are very real and only grow during the day. Managing them with long lasting and effective supplements (like the long lasting L-theanine in Calm + Collected treats) then becomes even more important.

Calm + Collected
Calm + Collected

So while they don’t deal in precise seconds, minutes or hours like we do, they do have a sense for time passing. But how are they doing it?

Well, the strongest evidence available is that they’re using their remarkable senses as their own very effective smart technology.

After all, haven’t you ever wondered how they just seem to know, without a watch, when you’re getting home and be waiting? Now, Professor Alexander Horowitz believes she’s stumbled across how they do it.  Aside from observing and hearing regular events that let them know roughly the stage of the day (like the mail delivery, the school bus going down the street or the neighbour getting home), 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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