Do Dogs have a Sense of Time?

Our dog, Riley, is not a “barker.” He will bark only under 2 conditions: (1) if he sees a person he does not know approach the house or (2) when he is left home alone, and we return to the house.

I actually like to hear him bark under both of those circumstances.  His barking at strangers makes me feel safe. And when we return home and he barks, I feel like he is “talking to me.”  I always ask him to tell me what he did while we were gone; and after he barks for a while, I ask if there is “anything else?”  He will take off on another round of barking at my second question.  It just makes me laugh.

But I notice that he acts the same, whether we are gone an hour or four hours.  It got me wondering if dogs have any sense of time.

I spent some time googling this question yesterday, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus among those-who-should-know.  Some say yes, they do. Some say no, they don’t.  Some say it depends upon each dog. But I did find one test to be really interesting. Dogs had been observed after being left alone for 30 minutes, for two hours, and for four hours.  The results showed that most dogs did react with more excitement when their owners returned after being gone for two hours, than after being gone for 30 minutes.  But there was little to no difference in their excitement level between the two-hour mark and the four-hour mark.

Because we live so far from “town,” when we have errands to run we try to complete them all in one day. We can easily be gone 6-7 hours.  I’ve always felt so bad about leaving Riley alone for that length of time. No more. If I can’t be home in 2 hours, then I might as well be gone all day.

Click to see how Riley greets me when I get home. Every time. He’s one of the dogs that acts the same no matter how long I’ve been gone!




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Comments (4)

  1. This is sooo sweet! Riley is a doll baby! I think dogs do have a sense of time. Taffy knows when it is time for me to go back to my computer. It’s in my bedroom. When 10:00 PM comes around, she starts starring at me. If I think she has to go potty, she by-passes the door and heads to my room. Why? She gets a chewey! Yep, she definitely knows when it is 10:00! LOL Dogs are much smarter than we give them credit for. They are amazing animals!

    August 6, 2016 at 7:43 am
    • Karen

      LOL! That sounds like Riley too. They are all alike, aren’t they? So cute! Thanks for sharing!

      August 7, 2016 at 4:42 pm
  2. Sonya

    I always love your personal stories but especially when you include Riley.
    My Grady is just like your Riley in looks and action. I know he can tell time. We live way out in the country and have a long driveway with an alarm that rings twice when a vehicle starts in. Grady knows just how much time it takes for a vehicle to get to the house. He sits and watches the front door. Than when the time is just right, the barking begins and not before.
    Karen, could you put a ‘Riley’ dog and perhaps a greyhound in a future kit?

    August 7, 2016 at 11:20 pm
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