Due to limited research studies on canine minds in only the last 15 years, experts still debate whether or not dogs understand time, especially it's human-created measurements of hours, minutes, and seconds.
Many owners tell stories of how accurately their dogs anticipate various events like people returning home or a walk. Research studies on canine minds has only really been done in the last 15 years, and experts still debate whether or not dogs understand time, especially its human-created measurements of hours, minutes, and seconds.
Many theories exist as to how dogs may tell time. Perhaps their bodies’ circadian rhythm regulates a daily routine. Or they might read environmental signals like shadow length. A superior sense of smell might identify degrees of scent, distance, and time. Still others suggest dogs can read clocks.
While it’s been shown dogs have implicit muscle memory, the jury’s still out regarding declarative memory about life experiences and facts, along with episodic memory describing past or future event context. According to University of Kentucky's Dr. Thomas Zentall, a canine form of episodic memory is likely based on dog training using past events to anticipate future ones. However, while people remember other events related to a past event, dogs only recognize how much time's elapsed since an event.
Other research indicates dogs understand and respond to varying time periods because the longer they were left alone, the more affection they showed when reunited with their owners.
With dog research increasing, scientific answers are anticipated in the near future.