Year after year the days, weeks and months pass by us more quickly. Some days I can’t put a finger on where the time is going, and why it is buzzing past me so quickly.
Working on this puppy issue, it got me wondering if dogs have a sense of time, particularly in the absence of their owners. All living things have circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that runs in our subconscious. In dogs, aside from helping them distinguish waking and sleeping hours, this rhythm can also alert them to their regularly scheduled intervals such as meal times, daily walks, and their owners’ time to come home from work. However, this does not indicate if our animals can feel the difference between an hour and a week, so like many of you, I wonder if our Dobermans miss us more when we’ve been gone longer.
According to an article published for Purina Australia, written by Dr. Joanne Righetti, “The answer to that is a definite yes. When dogs in one study were left home alone for varying periods of time, they responded with differing levels of enthusiasm on their owner’s return. Generally, the longer the time left alone, the more enthusiastic the welcome the owner received on returning home.”
Wilfried Krecichwost, writing for Animal Planet, concurs with these findings. “There is also research evidence for dogs’ understanding of the concept of time based on changes in their behavior when left alone by their human companions for different lengths of time. Studies show that dogs display greater affection toward their owners if they’ve been separated for longer periods of time. As the amount of time away increases, so does the dogs’ excitement. This will come as no surprise to dog owners; most canines get excited about the return of the master to the castle, especially after long absences. But this research is also important because it shows that dogs are capable of recognizing and responding to different spans of time.”
While the tremendous display of excitement and affection by our devoted canine companions is flattering, some people may wish their dogs did not have such a good sense of time.
Consider the dog who suffers from separation anxiety, a dog who is accustomed to an owner arriving home at the same time every day, or the mother of a young brood in a situation where a brave puppy has escaped the box and needs to be rescued.
Just thinking of the “escape artist” puppy brings a smile to my face reminiscing about that one Pointer puppy I saw on Facebook. Every time her owners left the house, they returned to her romping freely. They finally mounted a home camera to see exactly how she was doing it, and were astounded to find out how quickly this puppy could scale an ex pen or climb on top of a crate and launch herself overboard. Nothing stopped this one, and of course she turned out to be the one (who could deny her determination and attitude?)!
So, to all of the breeders raising your next litter and to all of the owners sculpting your next superstar, I wish you well as you embrace your puppies. Just remember, time flies when you (ah-hem) puppies are left alone and having fun!
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