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‘Dogs Have The Intelligence of a Human Toddler’

Most (or the average) dog understands 165 words and gestures+ and 20 to 40 commands, but many can understand a lot more!  The same article states that even though most dogs have the cognitive ability of 2 to 2.5-year-olds, their social consciousness—an awareness of people, their ranking within the family and such—is as high as an adolescent or teenager.  It also seems that dogs and apes have some of the same basic emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and pleasure and are able to deceive.

dog-reading

Our canine friends are smart! Research has shown that most dogs understand 165 words or gestures, can add up to five, and that some dogs learn how to deceive their owners. It is a known fact that children don’t develop such a habit until much later.  Some “super dogs” can even learn up to 250 words, a capability found only among humans and language learning apes.

Math, for those young or old, has been a sore point for many but scientists have found out through experimentation that dogs can understand simple math. TheStar.com (2009) found this out by evaluating dogs’ confusion “after they watched a specific number of treats get dropped behind a screen, then discovered that the actual number of treats was more or less than expected.”  Canines can count up to 5 and spot errors in simple arithmetic computations.

Quoting four studies on spatial problem solving abilities of dogs, Coren said the canines can understand the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment like fastest way to find a favorite chair and how to operate simple machines.

It is also interesting to note that dogs have a sense of fairness but not equity. In TheStar.com (2009) Stanley Coren, an expert on dog behavior and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia states: “when researchers had two dogs perform simple tasks but only rewarded one, the unrewarded dog lost interest in participating.” However, he goes on to say that when one of the dogs is fed a “superior” treat, both stayed engaged, equally.

Again, The Star.com (2009) Professor Stanley Coren also states that dogs understand at least 20-40 commands or more.

The same article states that even though most dogs have the cognitive ability of 2 year olds, their social consciousness—an awareness of people, their ranking within the family and such—is as high as an adolescent or teenager. In other words, they are very interested in who is moving on, who is sleeping with whom and how others around them are being treated—and where they fit in.

Weber (2009) suggest that dogs and apes have some of the same basic emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and pleasure. But he also noted both animal groups are missing some of the more complex, learned emotions such as guilt. These kinds of emotions are “learned” and require more in-depth thinking.

What is interesting to any dog owner is that because dogs have been domesticated for so long, they can understand words and gestures. I can remember the many times when we owned a collie named Lady, how she would react to certain phrases and gestures such as, and “Are you hungry?” “Time to go potty,” and “Lady, what have you done?” and my favorite, “Lady, time for a bath.”

Most dogs also know and understand when we’re feeling down, when we’re ill or when we’re happy and respond appropriately. Because they have been domesticated for so long, they instinctively can spot our emotions and then respond to help us out.

Researchers have also found that intelligence seems to vary according to breeds, generally, but there is always an exception.

Hounds and terriers are less intelligent, while retrievers, border collies and herding dogs are more intelligent. And, it seems that smart dogs need more attention; much like children who are smarter and always seeking the attention and approval of their parents, siblings and friends.

The intelligence of canines is dependent on various factors including their breed, environment around them, training imparted by their handlers, and like with humans an occassional unexplainable intelligence factor, he said.

“Border Collies are number one; poodles are second followed by German Shepherds. Fourth on the list is Golden Retrievers; fifth Doberman; sixth Shetland Sheepdogs and finally Labrador retrievers,” the canine scientist said.

“There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of ‘school learning’),” he said.  But as all parent know there is a lot more that goes into their children’s (2-legged or 4-legged) intelligence and sometimes the standard means of measurement do not tell the whole story.

Professor Stanley Coren also suggests that most dogs are capable of deceiving.  And anyone who owns or has owned a dog, knows that there are times when they do something wrong, they will go to great lengths to hide the guilty deed such as hiding a broken object, running away from the scene of a crime, etc.

Dogs can do many things that their wild relatives, such as the wolf, cannot do and this is because of their close association with humans; that bonding and domestication from being around us so long.

“Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought,” the researcher from the University of British Columbia in Canada said at the 117th annual convention of American Psychological Association in Toronto on Saturday.

The American Psychological Association has more than 1.5 lakh members of psychologists, researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.

Professor Coren, canine researcher, who authored the book ‘How Dogs Think‘ said, “Canines use this intelligence to intentionally deceive their fellow dogs and people to earn their treats.  During a play the canines are as successful in deceiving humans as we are in deceiving them.”

And finally there are abilities like sensing a long list of illnesses and even death, by both dogs and cats, that we are just learning about; things humans cannot do.  So judgeing their level of intelligence by ours may not be totally fair either.

References:
The Star.com (2009).Rover’s as smart as the average tot. Retrieved August 11, 2009
from: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/678720
Weber, B. (2009) Pooches, people have more in common than previously thought: scientist.

By: Ask Marion/Just One More Pet


How Dogs Think How To Speak Dog

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August 16, 2009 - Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, Success Stories, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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