Whoever said that dogs don't understand time wasn't talking about a GSP.
This is Gehrig. He's a full breed German Shorthaired Pointer. (Don't come at me, rescue lovers.) He's 10 now, but in this picture he was about 3 years old. My husband and I went on a week long cruise (see my other travel blog about cruising!) and left him home with our 4 teenage kids.
This is where he parked himself, morning and night, after we got home. He refused to leave. We had to step over him and push him out of they way to get in and out of the door. This lasted for several days. He was so mad at us for not taking him with us!
So what's the deal? He obviously knew we were gone more than a normal day at work or night away. He loves the kids and they love him, He was loved on and cared for while we were gone. What studies have been done to prove this concept that dogs can't tell time? I can only come to the conclusion that it's a wives' tail with no backing of truth to it.
So I did some digging...
This article from iandloveandyou.com answers the question, "Can Dogs Tell Time?"
Dogs have a sense of time but don’t understand the ‘concept’ of time. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have the ability to create actual measures of time, like the second, hour, and minute, and they don’t know how to read clocks. So, telling them ”I’ll be back in 15 minutes” won’t really do much, but we understand that you feel like you have to do it anyway! Dogs are capable of being trained based on past events, and can be taught to anticipate future events based on past experiences. Pavlov’s dogs are the perfect example of this.
Fun fact: Dogs can smell the passing of time. Fur-real? Well, dogs can sense the changes in the air. For example, hot air rises over the course of an afternoon, and dogs can sense this.
Gallant.com ponders a similar question in their article, Can My Dog Tell How Long I've Been Gone?
You can pretty much sum up their answer by no one really knows. They quote a Swedish scientific study from 2011 that says dogs don't know the difference of their owners being gone 30 minutes or 4 hours. Then they also quote a different study from 2019 that shows that lab rats have episodic memory, which I assume means that they remember "episodes" or events. They conclude that if rats have it then dogs must also be able remember things that happen as well.
But don't we know the truth as dog owners? I don't need lab rats and research gurus to tell me what my dogs tell me every day. If I leave for work and come back 15 minutes later because I forgot my cell phone, they are waiting by the door but they don't really care that I'm back. They know I wasn't gone long enough and I'll be leaving again soon. They both hover nearby but don't greet me.
What about when I come home from work early? They aren't expecting me yet so they aren't waiting by the upstairs window ready to pounce like they normally are. It sometimes takes them a while to realize I'm even home - especially if they are lounging outside in the sun. One of them will eventually wander inside to check things out and find my unexpectedly in the house. Then the excitement begins, the other one is alerted, and it's the normal happy homecoming.
The most excitement happens when I pull up at the normal time. They are expecting me at the window and come racing downstairs to jump all over me at the door when I walk in. Heaven forbid I stop to bring the trash cans in, or water the flowers, or get arm fulls of groceries out of the car. They crying and the barking gets out of control until I finally walk through the door.
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