If you’ve ever left the house early on what promises to be a hot July day, you’ve noticed a certain scent. It’s warmth and lazy days and summertime fun all wrapped together. Or perhaps you’ve smelled the scent of cold on a friend walking into your home on a frigid winter day.
Seasonal and temperature differences are about as deep as our inferior human noses will allow us to delve into time. Dogs, on the other hand, measure their days in scent. And, because their lives revolve around our presence, the longer they are alone, the more of a responsibility we have to assure our dogs are comfortable and busy.
Horowitz’s work has discovered that this spectacular ability to smell is a primary factor in your dog’s ability to understand the passage of time. The strength of your scent on the air of your home, for example, can indicate how long ago you left the house. The weaker your smell, the longer you’ve been away.
Ever wondered how your dog seems to know when it’s getting close to the time that a family member regularly returns home? We now have an answer.
Time quite literally smells different throughout the day. Morning has a different scent from afternoon, which smells different from night-time. The canine nose is so sensitive that dogs can determine the difference between 5pm and 6pm, the time when your partner’s car rolls into the driveway every weekday.
While this research offers incredible insight into the interior life of our dogs, most dog guardians have already recognized that the longer we’ve been away, the more excited our dogs are to see us when we return.
Swedish researchers have done us the favor of confirming this is true. A study conducted in 2010 found dogs left alone for longer than two hours greeted their guardians more intensely and remained more attentive after their return.