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Experts say dogs may experience time differently than we do

Published Mar 8th, 2022 9:06PM EST
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It’s clear that dogs have some sense of time. After all, they remember when it’s time to be fed and what time their owners usually return home each day. However, some experts say that this doesn’t necessarily mean they know what time is, or even how quickly or slowly it passes. Instead, experts say the way dogs experience time may be different from how humans experience it.

Dogs experience time differently than humans do, some experts say

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Do dogs have a sense of time? It’s apparently a question that has a lot of different answers. And the answer you get all depends on who you ask. We know without a doubt that dogs have implicit memory. The fact that they can associate food and other things with triggers has made that very apparent.

But does this unconscious memory translate to an explicit one? Dr. Mary Burch with the American Kennel Club (AKC) says that she believes dogs have a sense of time. However, she says that they don’t seem to have a concept of time.

Dr. Burch is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and the Family Dog Director at the AKC. As such, she’s had a lot of experience working directly with these animals.

Because they have no concept of how time works, dogs most likely experience it differently than we do.

How long does two weeks feel to a dog?

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Dr. Burch told Newsweek that she isn’t sure if dogs mark the passing of time. She also says that other behaviorists say the internal clock in dogs doesn’t work that way, either. Despite that, though, she seems convinced that dogs have an amazing sense of time.

A study in 2011 found that dogs responded differently to their owner’s return depending on how long they were left apart. With that in mind, it’s clear they definitely have some idea of how much time has passed. However, we’re a bit fuzzy on whether they count that time in minutes, seconds, or some other measurement. As such, experts aren’t 100 percent clear just how long segments of time feel to dogs.

We may never know how dogs experience time passing

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Because there are so many different theories and opinions about how dogs experience time, it’s possible we will never know exactly how dogs experience time passing. As Dr. Burch pointed out, there are a lot of differing opinions on the matter.

Even still, there are a lot of things dogs seem to understand. Like how long their owner has been gone or when it’s time to get their favorite treats.

That doesn’t mean that we’re completely helpless, though. Treatments for things like separation anxiety rely heavily on the passing of time. Dr. Burch says that dogs are left alone for increasingly longer times by their owners to help get them comfortable being left alone.

Science has already told us that having a dog can help you live longer. Unfortunately, it might take us a while to truly understand how dogs experience time.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.