- Dogs are believed to have the ability to “smell the passing of time.”
- They recognize that their owners will reappear once their smell reaches a certain level
- Then devoted pets sit at the door and wait for their owners to come home
Dog owners have long marveled at their pets’ ability to greet them at the door when they get home from work.
And a family member who’s already inside might notice a pooch rushing to the door a good fifteen minutes before the person they’re waiting for arrives.
But as impressive as this trick is, dogs don’t have psychic abilities, an expert has revealed – they could simply “smell time” passing.
The theory, discussed in a recent lecture, is that dogs have learned how quickly their owners’ scent fades throughout the day after they leave the house for work.
When the smell decreases to a certain level – for example, after about nine hours – the loyal pet realizes that this is usually when he appears at the door.
The theory is that dogs have learned how quickly their owners’ scent fades throughout the day after they leave the house for work
Professor Alexandra Horowitz, a highly respected expert on canine cognition from Barnard College in the US, discussed the phenomenon during a lecture titled “For The Love Of Dogs” at the Toronto Public Library.
She told the audience: “It could be that the smell of us in our homes actually diminishes throughout the day when we are away.”
“The smells become less intense. So if you made coffee in the morning, you can smell the coffee, and after a while that smell of coffee goes away.” So it could be that dogs know when you’re coming home because your smell has reached the weakness that it normally has , When you come home.
When an owner’s scent decreases to a certain level, his loyal pet realizes that this is usually when he appears at the door
The theory was tested almost a decade ago in a BBC series called “Inside the Animal Mind.”
A dog named Jazz seemed to know when his owner Johnny was coming home and would jump on the sofa around 4.40pm every day as if he was waiting for him – even though he only came through the door after about 20 minutes.
The show, hosted by Chris Packham, revealed the dog stopped doing this after his owner’s sweaty T-shirt was waved across the living room by his partner in the middle of the day.
Johnny’s scent reappeared, apparently preventing his dog from determining the time of arrival.
Professor Horowitz said dogs’ ability to associate scent and time also helps them track the direction someone has moved away from the trail they left behind.
That’s because their most recent footprint smells stronger than the one left a few seconds before.