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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

GoD and DoG

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

New First Pooch Is Arriving Soon

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Warren Harding with Laddie Boy Library Of Congress / Getty ENLARGE + Print EmailShare ReprintsRelated

During the dog days of last summer, perhaps the most important looming decision facing Barack Obama was choosing a dog for his girls.  Way back, as he set out on this quest for the Presidency, he made the one campaign promise he absolutely could not break: that when it was all over, whatever the outcome, his daughters could get a dog.  And if they ended up at Pennsylvannia Avenue the pup would certainly not be the first dog or pet in the White House so would have a long legacy of presidential pets to follow and live up to.

Things have changed since the days when George Washington could name his hounds Drunkard, Tipler and Tipsy. Warren Harding’s Airedale Laddie Boy had a valet and occupied a hand-carved chair at Cabinet meetings. Ulysses S. Grant told his White House staff that if anything happened to his son’s beloved Newfoundland, they’d all be fired. Teddy Roosevelt had, along with a badger, a toad, some snakes and a pig, a bull terrier named Pete who once ripped the pants of a French ambassador. Cousin Franklin’s dog Fala had a press secretary, starred in a movie and was named an honorary private in the Army. George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel Millie wrote a book, which sold more copies than the President’s autobiography. And then, of course, there was Checkers. Harry Truman supposedly once said, You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. ( By Nancy Gibbs/TIME)

It’s hard enough to pick the right dog.  But adding the fact that you may be the First Family and need a hypoallergenic breed increases the difficulty of the process.  So the American Kennel Club (AKC), hoping to help ensure the 23rd purebred dog into the White House, conducted a survey. The public could even vote online for the type of dog they thought the Obamas should get for the AKC survey, and other groups sponsored similar surveys. Since first daughter Malia has allergies, the AKC limited the ballot choice to five hypoallergenic breeds. It suggested the bichon frise with its history as a companion to French noblemen implying qualification of the breed for the White House. But perhaps it was not the exact image the Obamas were looking for. It recommended the miniature schnauzer as an excellent watchdog, for a little added security (although probably not needed), and the soft-coated wheaten terrior with its sweet-temperament as a positive goodwill ambassador, though it “must be handled firmly and with consistency,” which also may not have been the ideal characteristic choice for the candidate of Change.

The AKC’s preference for purebreds, however, missed the obvious stellar opportunity for the Obamapup. Surely a self-proclaimed postpartisan reformer, who promised to ‘reach across the aisle’,  would lean toward some stunningly blended mutt, a rescued shelter dog or at least one of the American Canine Hybrid Club’s 500 plus registered hybrids. Afterall, the hybrid pooch or designer dog was bred to give you the best of both breeds: a Labradoodle, a Peke-a-Poo, a Bagle (half basset, half beagle) or a Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund). A bully pulpit seeking candidate might like the Bullypit (a bulldog-pit-bull mix), or he could go for a Sharmatian–part Chinese Shar-Pei, part Dalmatian–and get the whole East-and-West, black-and-white thing going in one single pooch.

There was even a suggestion during the campaign, that their decision for a type of dog, if not actually getting one before the election,  should be moved up, given the competition from the ‘McCainines’. An AP–Yahoo News poll last June (2008) found that pet owners favored John McCain over Obama, 42% to 37%, with an even bigger margin among dog owners. One participant explained that it “tells you that they’re responsible at least for something, for the care of something.” Or, in the McCains’ case, “many somethings”:  their menagerie includes a slew of fish, some parakeets, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the cat and four dogs, including terriers Lucy and Desi. Obama could take comfort in his 14-point lead among non–pet owners, except that they form a definate minority of U.S. households.

The Obamas were pre-warned, that although a good one, they were definitely looking at another major life change by getting a dog for the first time. “A dog was never an option in the apartment where I grew up”, said Obama, “and my daughters knew that training the dog they so desperately wanted was nothing compared with training me to accept one”.

portuguese_water_dogWell it is now two and a half months into the presidency and still no first dog, and it seems like the whole world, at least the pet loving world, is waiting for their choice and the arrival of the first pooch.  The word from First Lady Michelle is April, after their Spring Break family vacation, and possibly a Portuguese Water Dog…  and not a puppy (which could mean that in the end the AKC got their next purebred into the White House afterall).  Senator Ted Kennedy, whose neice Caroline got a pony while in the White House, highly recommended the breed.  He has two.  Their coat is a single layer and does not shed. In most cases, these dogs are hypo- allergenic, making them a good choice for those that have allergies.

So, there will be a new pooch frolicking on the South Lawn by the end of this month.

The next obvious question for speculation, of course, is the perfect name for the next first dog. Some suggest the Obamas should just get two, one for each of the girls, and call them Hope and Change.  Of course there are others that suggest getting two dogs but calling them Smoke and Mirror or Fear and “Quo”, for Status Quo, would be the best call, but that would be a subject for another type of blog or article.

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By Marion Algier/Ask Marion – Posted – Just One More Pet

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments