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How Long is an Hour to a Dog?

While dogs can make your day filled with fun, they can't stay for as long as we want them because of a shorter lifespan.

Dogs know exactly where to pee at the same time every day for a meal. They also know when to expect their owner's home and will place themselves patiently at the door for that arrival.

This behavior shows that dogs understand time. However, how do animals perceive time, and how long is an hour to a dog? 

Some think a dog year equals 7 human years, but this calculation is flawed. We cannot use this idea to the concept of time perception because it relates to the life expectancy of dogs compared to humans.

If you're interested in learning how long an hour is for a dog, this article has all the information. We answer how dogs perceive time and how to use dog time.

How do animals perceive time?

How do animals perceive time?

Time perception varies across animals, with some more capable of perceiving time than others.

While dogs have a sense of time, they don't understand the concept of time. Unlike humans, your dog cannot measure time such as seconds, minutes, or hours.

When you tell a dog you'll be back in 15 minutes, they will not understand how long that means because they don't know how to read a clock. 

You can easily understand how dogs perceive time by looking at how humans perceive time. While the experience of time is relative for every individual, all humans think about time in similar ways.

Perception and sense of time are connected to memory, meaning our memories connect to how we understand the passing of time. Similarly, our ability to remember events plays a large part in our perception of time. 

Animal memory is much more simplistic than human memory, and dogs have episodic memories meaning they can remember certain events in their life.

While a dog can remember when you leave a house, it will not understand how long you are away. Dogs can also smell the passing of time and change is in the air. For example, hot air rises throughout the afternoon, and dogs can sense it.

Animals' perception of time is based on their physical needs. The dog's conception of time is more fluid than humans' understanding because they associate different rhythms.

A dog will be more relieved to see you after 3 hours than 15 minutes because you've been gone for a while. This means a dog understands the difference between half an hour and 3 hours and makes sure different excitement depending on how long you left. 

Human time vs. dog time 

Human time vs. dog time

Dogs have shorter life spans than humans, and their bodies age faster.

A dog also experiences rapid growth to maturity, with the first year of a medium-sized dog equal to 15 years of human life. After the 3rd year, every human year equals approximately 45 years for a dog.

Hence, a year of a dog is equivalent to five years for people. Dogs do not understand clock time or calendar time in the same way we do. However, they perceive the passing time that's unique to them.

The basic theory in changing human time to dog time is with a ratio of 1:7. One minute for a human is 7 minutes for a dog, 1 hour is 7 hours, and one day is 7 days.

However, this is an approximation since we can't exactly get a dog's point of view. A dog that is 5 years old is 35 human years. Hence, a dog is considered a senior at 7 years of age.

Dog time versus human time is the best way to go from a health perspective because it helps realize that dogs are not the same as children.

The idea of dog time comes from the life expectancy of dogs compared to humans. On average, the dog lives for about 15 or 20 years, depending on the breed and size, among other factors.

Compared to humans, dogs don't have the concept of time perception and only live in the present. Hence, they experience anxiety when their owners leave because they cannot rationalize when they return.

How long is an hour for a dog?

Photo of dog waiting on a river dock

Dogs don't perceive time the same way humans do. Assuming that one human year is 7 dog years, every hour to humans works out to seven hours for a dog.

Also, 7 dog minutes are equivalent to one human minute. This means a dog hour will pass every 8.5 minutes. Since a minute is 60 seconds for humans, that means a dog's minute will be 8.5 seconds. 

According to human calculations, a day for a dog would be 3 hours and 37 minutes, meaning a 24-hour day for us will be 7 full days for a dog. While a month for humans is between 28-31 days, a month is going to pass 4-5 human days for a dog.

A year for us will also feel like seven years for a dog as far as time passes. You can convert a human hour into the dog are using their dog age chart. 

Compared to human beings, dogs can't remember what happened before and can't plan for the future. They will perceive time-based on the behavior of humans and other animals.

For example, a dog will understand your schedule, such as when you go to work and when he eats. It factors into the circadian rhythm that will change a dog's concept of time.

Why do we use dog hours and dog years?

Photo of Senior Dog and Senior owner

People have been comparing human-to-dog years for a long time. Since dogs mature more quickly than humans in the early years, the first year of a dog's life is equivalent to the first 15 years of a human's life.

Fifteen human years equals the first year of a medium-sized dog's life, while year two for a dog equals about 9 years for a human. After that, each human year is approximately 5 years for a dog.

Based on this calculation, dogs' lifespan is 12 years and 80 years for humans. A combination of genes, lifestyle, and environment influences a dog's aging process. 

The classification of dogs as old is because they age faster than humans. Smaller dogs often live over 16 years, medium and large-sized dogs up to 13 years, and giant dog breeds for up to 8 years. Large breed dogs have shorter life spans than smaller breeds and are considered old when they are just 5 years of age.

They age at an accelerated pace, with their lives unwinding in fast motion. Every 4.4 lb of body mass reduces a dog's life expectancy by about a month.

A veterinarian will see age-related problems in dogs at just seven years. Therefore, at 7 years, you will consider a dog old even though it still has many years to leave.

For example, the average life expectancy of the Great Dane is about 10 years. This means a four-year-old Great Dane will be already 35 years in human life.

Is leaving your dog at home for a day an eternity to your dog?

Photo of Dog Waiting At Home

Yes, leaving your dog at home for a holiday it's like an eternity.

One day of human life is 7 days in dog time. Every hour to a human being is like 7 hours for a dog and every 52 days is like a year in a dog's life. 

If you leave your puppy unattended for a whole day, it will feel like an entire week of being away from the dog. Don't leave your dog alone for over four hours a day, depending on their age.

You can leave an adult dog alone for up to four to six hours a day, but you shouldn't leave your adult dog alone for over 8 to 10 hours.

Your dog can develop a sense of sadness or loneliness when left at home for more than seven hours each day. There is a higher risk of separation anxiety when the dog stays alone for extended periods.

When you leave a dog alone, sometimes they become stressed, showing that they are aware of passaging time. Some dogs suffer when left home alone and start displaying signs like barking, whining, or toileting.


Like any other animal species, dogs are social animals that benefit from companionship.

However, people are guilty of leaving their dogs to go to work or run errands for a long time. Research suggests that time perception relates to the size across a wide range of species. Small animals see the world in slow motion because of having a faster metabolic rate.

Large dog breeds are also more likely to succumb to age-related illnesses. The accelerated growth of large dog breeds can lead to abnormal cell growth and death from cancer.

Don't stay away too long if your dog is not used to being alone for too long. The best way to tell time for dogs is by watching how they perceive time through their behaviors.