How Long Is A Day For A Dog

how long is a day for a dog

Time is something we run our lives by and often it dictates most of the things we do. You may think leaving your dog for the day feels the same to them as it does to you, but how long is a day for dog.

Speaking technically, a 24 hour day will be around 7x longer for a dog. This theory is entirely based on the age a dog will live and is often mistaken for the feeling of time passing. In contrast how long a day feels for a dog will be relative to what the dog is doing, for example an entertaining day will go much quicker than a day locked in the kitchen.


How Do Dogs Perceive Time

Time is an extremely complex subject and something that has been studied in humans for years. Research around time perception in animals is almost non-existent and even rarer when referencing dogs in particular. To understand how long a day is for a dog we must first understand how dogs perceive time.


There are limited studies surrounding animals there is some evidence to suggest that the metabolic rate of a species can determine how they see the world. A study included in the journal of animal behaviour theorised that time perception was linked to metabolic rate and body size. Researchers used the flashing of a light to determine an animals temporal response. They did this by increasing the frequency of the light and attempted to highlight the point in which the animal started seeing the flashing light as a constant light.

Despite this being one of very few studies to look at time perception in animals it does not fully answer the question of how dogs perceive time. This study was intended to highlight how animals have adapted to their environments and how temporal response, metabolic rate and body size determines the niche in which that animals lives. Essentially this is saying that an animal that feeds on fast moving prey will have the ability to process information faster, allowing them to understand the movements of their prey.

Can Dogs Sense Time

Because there is no evidence that dogs see the world in slow motion, we must assume that the feeling of time for your dog is the same to them as it is to you. There is one major difference that separates us from dogs when it comes to time.

Humans inherent need for structure means that we have given numerical recognition to time. For humans time is something we can perceive through numbers, whereas dogs cannot do this. For dogs time is just events happening during their life, this is what will dictate your dogs sense of time. Just like with humans it is reasonable to think that when your dog is having fun time passes quicker and when they are sitting on their own waiting for you to come home time is much slower. ‘

However a dogs sense of time might be different to ours as they have no reference to go by, so they make do with what they have. If you are gone your dog will probably sleep, if they are thirsty they will drink and if they want to play they will grab a toy. Because dogs have no aspirations or reference to time they are not sitting there thinking they, “I could be completing this task, what a waste of time this is”, just like we would.

Your Dogs Natural Clock

Although dogs have no numerical reference to time they can certainly use biological references. This means that your dog will naturally reference the sun coming up and going down, as well as their dinner time and the time you arrive home from work everyday. These are repetitive tasks and dogs seem to understand when these events happen.

As humans have studied time we have realised how much our biology has dictated the world we live in. A book written by Matthew Walker, called Why We Sleep, highlights our bodies internal clock as the reason we all live our lives in a certain way. Research suggested that 40% of people are morning larks and function optimally at this time, 30% were night owls and function better during the later hours of the day, the remaining 30% were a combination of them both and had no optimal period to function. The bias towards morning larks has meant our world is shaped around this lifestyle, waking early and stopping when it gets late. Circadian rhythm is what dictates our sleep pattern and has given us the structure of time. Every living thing has a circadian rhythm and this as well as events throughout the day are what gives dogs their sense of time.

How Long Is A Day For a Dog

So now that we understand how a dog might perceive time, the length of a day for a dog is much easier to define.

The length of a day is relative to each individual dog and depends on what they are doing and the environment they are in. A 24 hour day would be much too long to leave a dog alone in the house, not only would you have toilet issues but your dog would soon run out of tasks to do and become bored and possibly destructive.

Most owners worry about the length of time they leave their dog alone at home and its understandable to feel this way, due to our often hectic schedules. If you allow your dog enough space to roam, provide them with fresh water and access to the toilet if needed they will probably be fairly content in a 6 – 8 hour day.

Remember your dogs main functions are not the same as yours. In these moments that you are away they will most likely sleep and possibly explore but the length of their day will feel less of a drag if you provide them with some interactive toys or hide treats around the house.

How Long Should You Leave A Dog For

Whether its for work or a day out, leaving your dog alone for long periods of time is not something you should take lightly. Its true that dogs are resilient animals and as i outlined above your dog wont hold any grudges against you if you leave them for a 6-8 hours day. However there are some things you should consider.

Food and Water

Ensuring your dog has access to food and water is important for their wellbeing. If you intend to feed your dog during their normal feeding time, before going out then food is not such an important issue. Water however is very important, keeping your dog hydrated, especially on hot days is paramount to their welfare.


Giving your dog access to an area where they can go and do their business, is important. Being aware of how long it takes your dog to need the toilet after going can help distinguish how long you can leave them without access to the toilet. Small dogs will need to go much more often than larger dogs so learning your dogs toilet habits helps with this. Try walking them before you go out as this can help them to go to the toilet, check out “Does Walking My Dog Help Them Poop”.

Generally, allowing your dog an indoor area to go to the toilet doesn’t work. Firstly you will find that your dog wont want to go in an area where they sleep or consider home, this is a natural instinct. If your dog does start going to the toilet regularly indoors, you will find that they do not stick to the designated area and any toilet training you have done will be out the window. As a final thought it can also make your house stink as they do not let often pleasant smells.

You can get indoor litter trays consisting of artificial grass, although they are mainly used for training. It is more beneficial for the cleanliness of your home and the mental health of your dog to give them access to an outdoor area, either by a doggy flap, dog walker, or even a friend to drop by to let them out for 5 minutes.


Entertaining your dog when they are at home alone can be easier than you think. You can easily purchase some interactive toys for them to play with and have a multitude of choices for them to consider. You could also hide treats around the house giving them the opportunity to scavenge. Dogs love to scavenge, especially for smells that they cant resist and its something that comes naturally with such powerful noses. This sort of activity will keep their mental stimulation going throughout the day and giving them access to a larger area of the house allows you to hide them in more obscure places.

For security reasons it may be a good or bad choice to let them look out the window. If you have a larger dog, it may scare any intruders away whilst you are out. Although if you have a toy breed, thieves may consider taking you dog as these breeds tend to be more valuable. If it is possible give your dog a view of the back garden, they will love watching the birds foraging and the image of the outdoors can help keep them happy.


When comparing your lifespan with a dogs lifespan, a day can be seen as a long time for a dog. However the way a dog feels during that day can change how quickly they perceive time, just like with humans. Un-enjoyable parts of your day feel longer and more enjoyable parts fly past in the blink of an eye. This is the principle that time is relative and depends on who is experiencing the events in that day. Hopefully this has been an enjoyable post, if you want to check out more great articles then head over to our homepage, where you will find more information on your dog.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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