If your dog is anything like mine, he knows exactly when it’s his dinner time,when it’s time to go for a walk, and even what time his favorite playmate—AKAdog dad—comes home. Can he really “tell” time?

“I’ve never met a dog that can read a clock, but anyone who owns a dog canconfirm that their pet certainly seems to always know the exact time they arefed a meal,” says Dr. Kristin Wuellner, practicing veterinarian and Hill’s PetNutrition employee.

“Dogs definitely pick up on our daily routines and both our verbal and non-verbal cues very well, which leads us to the perception that they have aninternal clock,” she says.

So, can dogs tell time?

Researchers discovered that when dogs are in “waiting mode,” anticipating oneof their known activities like a walk or a meal, for instance, neurons intheir brains are activated. The neurons are housed in the brain’s temporallobe, where the researchers speculate their time memory may be stored.

We know dogs have a circadian rhythm, an internal sense that helps them knowwhen to sleep and when to be active. Perhaps it’s more advanced than we think.Scientists have also theorized that dogs could be sniffing time. The scent oftheir meal lingers for so long and when it’s gone, they know it’s time for themeal to come again, for example.

What’s more, a large part of your dog’s seeming ability to read the clock alsostems from his habits and repetition. Dogs are little robots, where if youfeed them promptly at 6 and head out for a walk promptly at 7 every day, theybegin to anticipate when it’s close to 6 or 7 by what’s happening in the home,by the light or shadows outside the home and with other cues, like theirhunger or need for exercise or a potty break.

Dr. Wuellner says, dogs are very adept at picking up on our routines andcommunication, both verbal and non-verbal. “Similar to people, they alsoexperience their own hunger and biological cues. I think the combination ofour routine and their own needs is what makes dogs incredible time-keepers.”

Should you mix it up and feed or walk your dog at different times?

While every dog is an individual and has their own unique preferences, Dr.Wuellner says she typically recommends that pet owners try to stick to aroutine as much as possible. “In my clinical experience, many dogs thatexhibit anxious behaviors may benefit tremendously simply from having a normaldaily schedule.”

That said, you can still spice up your dog’s daily routine by mixing it up inother ways. Try adding a wet food topper to mealtime, going to a new park, orvarying your regular walk route. Even things like rotating their availabletoys can help your pet stay engaged and, on his toes, since he never knowswhat fun trick or treat you might pull on him.

“I’ve always joked that my dog wears a wristwatch because his excitement formealtime is always right on schedule,” says Dr. Wuellner. Perhaps all ourcanine companions are sporting the same internal Timex.

Source: Jennifer Nelson Yahoo

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