You know that inner clock pushing your hunger and sleep buttons? Scientists attribute that to circadian rhythms, which are pretty much a 24-hour inner clock that runs in the background of our brain. It cycles between sleepiness and being alert at regular intervals. Circadian rhythms are also known as our sleep/wake cycle. But humans can't claim exclusivity. Plants, fungi and even certain strains of bacteria also display evidence of circadian rhythms. It stands to reason do dogs have circadian rhythm as well?
Dog Circadian Rhythm
Researchers Piccione, Caola and Refinetti wanted to know more about dogs and their circadian rhythms. They decided to track the bodily rhythms of dogs when the dogs were on feasting or fasting feeding schedules. Half of the dogs in the study were fed daily, while others had food withheld for an extended period of time. The researchers found the same daily patterns in temperature, blood pressure and heart rate in both groups, revealing internal rhythms were driving the dogs' daily cycles and not the food. Call this inner cycle a circadian rhythm or an inner clock, but scientific studies show dogs have them!
Dogs' circadian rhythms alter as they age. Researchers from Nestlé Basic Research Center and CanCog Technologies studied daily activity patterns of young, adult and senior dogs. All three groups of dogs showed high daytime and low nighttime activity levels. But senior dogs' daytime activity counts were lower than those of adult and young dogs. As far as nighttime activities, both senior and adult dogs had significantly lower counts than the young dogs.
Understanding Your Dog's Rhythm
Once you become aware that your pup's internal clock is aligned with, but independent from, daytime and nighttime, it's easier to understand and work with their energy patterns. You may not feel like heading out for a nighttime walk after a long day at the office, but if your dog's inner clock says it's time to play, you'll be better off accepting it and making it part of your routine. You can be assured that after a romp to burn off energy, your dog's body clock will tell her it's time to rest.
While the Link doesn't track dog circadian rhythms, it does provide insight into your dog's activity levels. Track your pup's energy cycles over the course of 24 hours and several days and you'll be able to predict when it's time for a walk or a nap.