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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

At least since Albert Einstein we know that time is relative. Relative means that time is perceived individually, differently by every living being. For us humans, time plays a decisive role, since we (unlike animals) are aware of it and follow it to a large extent. But does time also play a role for our beloved friends? Do dogs, cats and co. even have a feeling for time? For example, what should you pay attention to when clock change?

A feeling for time?

Time, or at least its definition, is a human construct. Animals perceive time differently. So days, hours or minutes play less of a role in their lives than the seasons. But does time actually have a meaning for our dogs and cats? At least noncomparable to humans.

It is more likely that our darlings have a certain feeling for time. So they can roughly estimate how long something takes. But how do they do that?

Time feeling by biorhythm and sensory perceptions

One look at the clock and we know what time it is. For our furry friends this is much more difficult. To determine the exact time plays for dogs, cats and co. in addition, a subordinate role. Rather, they perceive time through their senses. Also by the biorhythm they have an approximate feeling for time.

The biorhythm is controlled by natural instincts, for example hunger, thirst, digestion. This in turn is oriented to the rotation of the earth and is therefore dependent on daylight. The willingness to mate is also influenced by this biological inner clock. The phases of the cycle also depend on the length of daylight. Hormones play an important role in this, especially melatonin, which is important for the sleep rhythm.

In order to perceive the appropriate daylight, the sense of sight is particularly important. But also the sense of smell, can give the animal a certain feeling for time. Certain odour molecules evaporate over time. For example, your dog or cat may be able to estimate how long you have been away, depending on how intense your smell is still present in the apartment. Your pet therefore knows very well whether it has been left alone for a short or long time. 

If your pet always gets food at the same time, you can usually set the clock to them. Animals know exactly when it is time to eat. Also their 6th and 7th sense help you to perceive certain things.

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What do you have to consider when changing the time?

As with us humans, the biorhythm can get confused, for example by clock changing. Since dogs, cats and co. orientate themselves on daylight, it is possible that your darling would like to make his morning round an hour earlier on the day of the clock change or cannot be brought out of his punnet.

A slow clock change is recommended to avoid stress. It is best to extend or shorten the time span by a few minutes every day. In this way the biorhythm can adapt well to the changes. Depending on how sensitive your sweetheart is, it is usually enough to start a quarter of an hour earlier/later every two days with the everyday things (walking, feeding, etc.).

This should also be taken into account if you decide to work regularly in the future or something similar. Routine is the most important thing for our dear friends.

Funfact: Even dogs can get jetlag!


To determine the exact time is probably rather unimportant for pets. Nevertheless, also they have a certain measure of time feeling. This is however controlled by their sensory perceptions and their biorhythm. Certain activities are associated with certain times of day.