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Do all dogs think and reason alike?

Posted Friday, April 8, 2016, at 12:25 PM

How many times have you wondered what your dog really thought? But then again humans are the only beings that can understand communicative intentions, which allow us to convey meaning with gestures such as pointing. Dr. Brian Hare, director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, thought his dog could do this. He arranged a series of cups upside down with treats and would point to the cup to retrieve and the dog went to the correct cup. This started the formation of Dognition.com. It is an online company which offers users a series of tests to assess their dogs' thinking abilities in various areas, ranging from empathy to memorization.

I thought this was great! You could play games with your dog and evaluate their intelligence. Scientists now believe that individual dogs and other animals have been shaped by evolution to have a variety of different types of intelligence. There can be enormous variation between different dogs as individuals. This necessarily doesn't mean one dog is smarter than the other, but individual dogs have different types of skills and strategies to rely on. Research has shown that breed doesn't seem to be as much of a factor in a dog's problem solving ability.

We have always been under the impression that Dogs are only driven by their natural instinct to hunt food. They actually have an incredible cognitive flexibility. For example dogs can "fast map" or spontaneously learn labels for objects in a manner that previously had been observed only in human children.

A dog's genes will always interact with their environment to shape their behavior. Learning your dog's mind will let you know who they are and show your admiration for your dog. I recommend you go to www.dognition.com and take the assessment for your dog and start learning who they are!

I have included some of the activity games to get into your dog's head from the Dognition site.

Our first game is on communication.

Memory vs. Pointing

For this game you need your dog, a partner and a timer.

*Have your partner hold our dog 6 feet away from you.

*Call your dog's name and show it that you have 2 treats.

*Place the treats on the ground, at the same time on either side of your body at arm's length.

*Stand up and point to one of the treats.

*Have your partner let go of your dog as you give a release command and then hold still until the dog chooses a treat.

*No matter which treat your dog chooses, let it have both treats.

If your dog chose the treat you pointed at:

Your dog pays special attention to your communicative cues or gestures. By relying on your information to determine which treat to choose you dog is acing in a collaborative manner something very few other animals excel.

Second game is on being cunning:

Research shows that some dogs are aware they are being watched, while other dogs are not. Among the dogs who know they are being watched, some chose to use this information to their advantage while other do not.

Trustworthy vs. Wily.

For this game, your will need your dog, a partner and a timer.

Stand six feet away from your partner, who has your dog and a timer.

Place a treat 4 feet away from your dog.

Say your dog's name, then "no" twice, clearly and emphatically, while placing a treat in front of you at arm's length. If your dog knows a specific command, such as "leave it" use that instead.

Have your partner release your dog gently, while simultaneously starting the timer. Do not use a verbal command to release the dog.

Cover your eyes with your hands, using care to peek and see if your dog eats the treat. Remain Silent.

Have your partner stop the timer as soon as your dog eats the treat. If the dog has not eaten the treat in 90 seconds give it the treat.

More trustworthy dogs will not use your social information to take direction from you

A wily dog will wait until you cannot see it before it takes the treat.

Have fun with your dog and hopefully the Dognition site will increase your human animal bond with your wonderful furry friend.

If you have questions about Pet Care on any of your pets please contact Dr. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Vet Mobile at catdoc56@gmail.com or call 870-483-6275.

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