Owners often feel guilty when they leave their dog alone at home or in a boarding house for the holidays. And they ask themselves many questions ... Will my dog find the time long? Or be unhappy? Will he forget about me?
Some studies and observations have shown that dogs do not manage time the same way we do with schedules. However, he would have some awareness of the passage of time.
So what is it really? Does the dog have the notion of time? Here are some answers to these questions.
How does the dog find his way through time?
The present :
The dog does not manage time the same way we do. Indeed, he does not know where he is in the future or in the past, because he lives at present. However, throughout his life, his memory is able to store information and respond to it according to the consequences associated with it (reward, fear, punishment, praise, etc.). Hence the importance of impregnation with other species, sensory stimulation and education from an early age.
The circadian cycle:
The term circadian was coined by Franz Halberg. It signifies cycle "which lasts about a day". This rhythm is intimately linked to the rotations of the Earth and to the alternation of day and night.
Indeed, this cycle is a succession of periods of peak activity, trough in activity and average activity level of the dog's metabolism and behavior over a period 24 hours.
To adjust its clock internal and respond to his instinctive and biological needs, the dog thus relies on several parameters which return to each circadian cycle.
- His need to sleep;
- The variation of his vigilance;
- Body temperature;
- Its blood circulation;
- The production of hormones.
- Its level of cortisol (which stimulates hunger) and potassium.
- His urge to urinate and defecate.
Based on these cyclical manifestations, he assesses the time of day and feels the need to eat, drink, sleep, play, or mate.
The daily routine
The dog observes our actions and our actions constantly which allows him to know what time of the day he is.
- The alarm rings, I go outside to the garden.
- My master is having his lunch, I have my meal after.
- Ah! he puts on his nice shoes, I'm going to be alone. Now is the time to sleep.
- Great ! he returns ! It’s time for the ride!
And so on, the daily ritual help the dog to situate himself in time and wait for his master to return.
And it is the same if during the holidays, the dog is always taken in the same pension, because he knows the rhythm. Of course, to await the return of his master in good conditions, this boarding must be associated with a good experience for the dog.
Finally, it is important to add that with its extraordinary sense of smell, dogs breathe the pheromones that we give off. He then knows our emotional state and this is a new clue for him to find his way through time. When my master is nervous, he leaves me (work or other). When he is happy, it’s time for play or for a walk and so on ...
How does your dog manage time while you are away?
Dogs have been observed with cameras while their owners were away. And apart from dogs with separation anxiety, most of the time they spent their time sleeping. Most of the water bowls had remained full and the games had little use.
However, dogs that had been alone for more than four hours showed more joy when they saw their master again than dogs that had been left for half an hour.
We can think that in the space of four hours, the circadian cycle had evolved with, for example, a greater desire to defecate or exercise.
Finally, although different from ours, the dog would have a notion of time governing its biological and behavioral needs.
To help your dog manage time when you are away, train him from an early age to deal with loneliness.
To read: separation anxiety in dogs