Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is Your Dog Intelligent?

I found the following report on my travels through the internet. It's most probably old news, because hey, don't all we dog lovers know how intelligent our dogs are?!

Of course, our dogs know our routines like when we're due to leave the house, when they're likely to go for a walk, be fed, etc. But that's probably just habit. Many dogs, however, can tell the time.

When I was a child we had an adorable black toy poodle called Candy. My sisters and brother and I used to come home from school in two stages - the little ones at 3.15 p.m. and the older ones at around 4.00 p.m. And who do you think would trot outside at 3.10 p.m. and again at 3.55 p.m., and wait at the top of the driveway until we arrived and greeted her? Yes, that smart little dog who could obviously tell the time! I'm sure your dog can tell the time, too - it's only people who don't have dogs who don't believe this.

My dog Kara knows what a suitcase is, too. I don't think Jet has figured this one out yet (I usually only go away once a year), but Kara starts getting anxious the minute the suitcase comes down from the top of the wardrobe.

Anyway, now it's official - dogs are very intelligent!

Here's the news report:

Dogs May Be More Intelligent Than People May Think
Wed Jul 31, 3:48 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Dogs are probably much cleverer than most people think, according to a new study.

Slideshow: Dogs at Work and Play

Scientists are convinced that dogs can count and researchers at the University of California Davis say they try to convey different messages through the pitch and pace of their barks.
"Animal behaviorists used to think their bark was simply a way of getting attention. Now a new study suggests that individual dogs have specific barks with a range of meanings," New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.

Dogs usually use high-pitched single barks when they are separated from their owners and a lower, harsher superbark when strangers approach or the doorbell rings, according to Sophia Yin, an animal behaviorist at the university.

Playful woofs are high-pitched and unevenly spaced.

Dogs also know when they are being short-changed on treats because they have a basic mathematical ability which enables them to tell when one pile of objects is bigger than another.
"But to count, an animal has to recognize that each object in a set corresponds to a single number and that the last number in a sequence represents the total number of objects," New Scientist added.

Robert Young of Brazil's Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, tested the theory on 11 mongrels using dog treats.

The canines were shown treats and then a screen was lowered and the goodies were left as they were or some were added or taken away.

If a treat was added or taken away the dogs looked at the treats much longer than they did when the goodies were not disturbed, presumably because they had done their sums and the numbers did not meet their expectations.

"Dogs are descended from wolves, which not only have a large neocortex -- the brain's center of reasoning -- but live in large social groups," the magazine said.

Young believes the mathematical ability could have been used to work out how many allies and enemies they had in a pack.

For more on intelligent dogs, and improving your dog's health, click here:


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