How Do Dogs Perceive Time & How Do They Know Humans Are Home?

How Do Dogs Perceive Time & How Do They Know Humans Are Home?

Dogs can't read clocks, but they can greet us at the door on time when we return home from work every day. Why is that? In fact, various parts of the dog's body can sense when the owner is coming home.

Dogs' super punctual biological clock

Dogs are more of a settled animal, which means their bodies respond quickly as long as they live a regular life. For example, dogs often go out for walks at 7 am. At 7am on weekends, they will routinely wake you up for a walk. Dogs don’t need clocks to know when it’s time to eat, nor do they sit next to you grunting until you give them a meal. Many owners habitually give their dogs dinner or take them out for a walk as soon as they come home from work, so their dogs’ biological clocks can remember when their owners get off work, because they will eat or walk right afterwards.

Dogs smell when their owners are coming home by scent

Horowitz, founder of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, writes in her book Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell, that their powerful noses allow them to sense the passage of time. Dogs have hundreds of millions of receptor cells inside their noses, so if you think of a human's sense of smell as a normal-definition video, a dog's nose is a super high-definition video. For dogs, different times of the day, ranging from morning, noon, afternoon to evening, all have different smells. As the owners are away from home for a longer period of time, their smell will become fainter and fainter. Dogs recognize the concentration of the smell at the moment before the owners come home, and get to know that the owners are about to return. This is where dogs’ sense of hearing will also play a corresponding role, reassuring themselves that their owners are back.

There is an amusing video of a dog greeting its owner just after he returns home, which becomes insanely viral on the Internet. No matter how long the owner has been working outside, the dog will always greet him at the door, jumping, wagging his tail, whimpering, rolling on his back and twisting with ecstasy at the moment he returns home. It then rushes into the owner's arms, waiting for the owner's petting. In dogs’ mind, the owner’s scent is very unique and will never change just because of an alteration in shampoo or body wash. They are so sensitive to the smell that they can sense the change of the owner's scent in the air and thus greet the owner at the door in advance! 

Dogs' hearing

Dogs' bass hearing (67Hz) is about the same as ours (64Hz), but dogs are much better than us at high notes. The upper limit of humans’ hearing is about 30,000Hz at young age, dropping to 20,000Hz in the prime of life, and then to 12,000Hz at retirement age. According to the conclusion of data from several studies, the upper limit of dogs’ hearing is about 35,000 to 45,000 Hz, and can even be as high as 100,000 Hz. When dogs perk up their ears and begin to alert, they may be hearing high-frequency sounds from rodents or bats, which are completely inaudible to us. Dogs' ancestors evolved such sensitive hearing in order to hunt mice and other small animals, and also to avoid predators. Wolves in the wild, on the other hand, can even hear howls from at least 6.4 kilometers away.

A strong sense of hearing allows the dog to sense in advance that the owner is approaching, such as the owner's voice downstairs, the owner's footsteps on the stairs, or even the sound of the owner's car engine. The dog swiftly distinguishes the owner's voice, and then sits at the door waiting for him/her and its beloved petting.

Dogs spend a lot of time at home waiting for their owners!

While dogs can know exactly when their owners are coming home, the wait is unbearably long for them. Some dogs also worry every second at home if their owners have left them alone because of separation anxiety. If your dog has separation anxiety, it is best to address it through training. You can give your dog some leaky toys or chew toys so that they can at least play for a few hours to reduce the time of boredom and loneliness. You can also take your dog for a walk to burn energy before leaving home for work, so that they can get tired and fall asleep quickly at home.

Even if your dog is not bored at home, when the owner is not at home, they will still feel like they have not seen each other for a long time. Therefore, at the moment you come home, your dog can’t stop jumping with excitement. Although you come home regularly every day, your dog can still maintain this warm greeting and enthusiasm consistently. Every time when you return home after a tedious day of work, your dog is always at the door greeting you wholeheartedly, a satiating sense of happiness of owning a dog could definitely well up in your heart. Treasure every moment with your doggies!


Leave a comment