One of the questions I am asked and something that I used to wonder about myself is “Do animals understand time?” And, if so, how?
In my years as a dog trainer and during my training, we were taught that animals live in the present and basically have NO concept of time!
As an animal communicator, I have learnt that many animals do have a sense and an understanding of time, but it’s often different from our human understanding and awareness.
While it can be true, that animals live in the present in a particular kind of way (animals are often masters at what we in our human world might call “mindfulness”), it is a generalisation that does not necessarily recognise the subtle or slight degree of different way that animals can perceive the passage of time.
What animals have taught me over many years of listening to them, communicating with them, and working with them, is that they do understand and track what we call “time” through the rhythms of nature, just as our human ancestors did.
Every species, and each individual within a species, will have their own understanding of the rhythms, seasons, and patterns. An insect whose lifespan is only a few hours or days in human time may have a very different perspective of “time” than an elephant, whale, or a tortoise, whose lives are long in human time, sometimes longer than our own.
Does your animal know that it took you twice as long to get its food as it did yesterday?
Your dog or cat may be able to tell if you are late home from work or if their dinner is delayed. From my own experience, even being given medication. One of my dogs is on regular prescribed medication, twice a day and if on occasion we are running late giving it to her, she will very clearly tell us!
All animals can certainly perceive time in some sense. As time is simply just the rate at which things happen, by sensing how the world changes around them via hearing, seeing, smelling etc. an animal is perceiving time.
Almost all animals will have a clear understanding of day and night, the changing of seasons and the shifting patterns of nature and the elements. Animals that live with their humans will often have a clear sense of timing and schedule based on the rhythms of daily life. In my house all my dogs know that dinner time is roughly around 4 pm and about 20 to 30 minutes prior, they will let me know! Watching my every move to see if I am heading in the direction of the food bowls.
Animals of households that keep a regular work schedule are often able to understand what a week of time is, as they know that their people are away from home during the week, but home on the weekends.
Animals who live in environments where there are clear changes of seasons can have a sense of what a year is, how long summer or winter is.
When communicating with animals, I have had the animal show me images of planets and flowers in specific sessions, the local weather. Sometimes when asked how long they have been where they are, I may hear “I have lived through two cold seasons”.
Many species will hibernate or go through a period of shut down at a certain time of the year. I have four tortoises and they are now slowly beginning to slow down their mechanism, for the big sleep! For those of you who have animals that go through the process of hibernation or shutdown, it is always quite a worrying time. For me the worry is very much from my human brain because I am anxious about them surviving their winter sleep.
If you would like to try to communicate with your companion animal about time, try these methods:
Animals are very visual, and you can use the pattern of day/night and send a mental image of how many day/night cycles you are going to be away from home. You can also send them mental images of where you are and who you are with.
You can also give them mental images of what you want them to know, whilst you are away. The images can be about their care while you are away, who is coming to take care of them, a trusted friend, family member or is a house-sitter coming to take care of them, a trip to the boarding kennel, or going to stay with a friend who cares for them, etc.
So, if you come home to an impatient animal, it’s because they can tell just how long you have been gone!
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