There’s a Dog Cognition Lab where all kinds of interesting dog studies take place. One of the recent studies published from the Lab’s experiments has surprising news about how your dog uses their nose. It’s not what you’d expect, but it may be something you already (unconsciously) know about your dog.
If you turned your clocks ahead the other night, you may be feeling a little off today. Slightly groggy and disoriented at times…. checking the time often because things don’t match up in your daily schedule quite like they should. But the time change probably hasn’t affected your dog that much. Have you wondered why?
Since your dog doesn’t rely on the clock or a smartphone to tell them what time it is, they get time clues from other sources- like their noses.
The Dog Cognition Lab experiments show that dogs use smells to tell time throughout the day.
“Smells in a room change as the day goes on. Hot air rises, and it usually rises in currents along the walls, and will rise to the ceiling and go to the center of the room and drop. And so, if we were able to visualize the movement of air through the day, what we’re really visualizing is the movement of odor through the day,” says Alexandra Horowitz.
“As each day wears a new smell, its hours mark changes in odors that your dog can notice,”she writes. “Dogs smell time.”
Humans rely primarily on visual cues to make sense of the world, but dogs rely on olfactory sensations as their primary mode of sensory processing. That’s why your dog has to sniff you from head to toe every time you come home. That’s their way of asking you how your day was.
We can tell when a new smell has been introduced into our environments, but our noses aren’t sophisticated enough to measure the intensity of smells as accurately as dogs can. We can’t sniff a neighbor’s BBQ smells wafting over the fence and tell exactly how far away the grill is, which neighbor is cooking out, what they’re grilling, and if they marinated the steaks. Your dog can. Smells help dogs determine time and distance.
The ability to smell time is just one more amazing thing about dogs that makes us love them even more. So next time you want to reward your dog, remember, their love currency often is paid out in smells. Be sure to give them treats with dog-approved smells to convey the depth of your love.
My dogs have given me an entirely new spiritual perspective on life. I now have a genuine understanding of unconditional love and provision.