Is my dog smart?
Dogs don’t speak, but they understand about 165 human words and gestures. Dogs can’t use a calculator either, but they solve arithmetic problems and count to five. They are the conclusions of an investigation collected in this article, together with the distinction between three types of canine intelligence and the ranking of the twelve most intelligent dog breeds.
The dog understands 165 human words and gestures
A dog is capable of understanding about 165 human words and gestures, according to researcher Stanley Coren, from the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver (Canada), and a member of the American Psychological Association.
The 165 words that distinguish an average dog are assimilated to the intelligence developed by a child of about two years, says the researcher. However, this is not the limit of dog learning. With the proper education and commitment, says the scientist, a dog could differentiate 250 words.
In addition, the animal knows how to cajole people into craving doggie treats or cookies, Coren said in a speech to the American Psychological Association.
Coren is the author of more than a dozen books on canine intelligence and behavior. Among them, stands out his manual ‘The intelligence of dogs’ (‘Intelligence of dogs’, Free Press, 2006) published for the first time in 1993, which has been translated into 18 languages.
The dog also knows math
The dog also does not know how to use a conventional calculator. This stumbling block, however, does not prevent you from counting to four, and even five, depending on the animal. Coren reaches this conclusion after examining the results of different scientific investigations with dogs.
He states that by adding and working with numbers, the dog’s intelligence increases. In this way, the canine numerical capacity reaches four years of age, on the human scale.
In order to measure the numerical intelligence of the dog, this researcher has designed some simple tests, which allow assessing the dog’s learning.
One of them consists of hiding edible treats behind different opaque screens, in view of the dog. If the investigator hides two appetizers, when the screens go up, the dog must expect to find those two appetizers. And will go looking for them.
The book ‘The intelligence of dogs’ collects dozens of similar tests that allow measuring the learning capacity of the dog, according to these criteria. The animal atraction website also collects some of these dog intelligence tests, supervised by Coren himself.
The dog solves spatial problems
Spatial problems are not an obstacle for dogs either. They are able to learn and remember where the prizes that their owner hides are, if they are attractive.
They are also very adept at finding the easiest or shortest route in the countryside, a skill that dog lovers and hikers know well enough.
Some dogs are capable of activating simple manual mechanisms in machines of little difficulty. A recent case of this ability was revealed by Toby, the dog of a British thirty-something named Nat Morris.
This computer scientist designed a device to feed his dog through Twitter. How? When Toby is hungry he must activate a lever. This mechanism allows Morris to receive a direct message from Toby on his Twitter account. In this way, a feed dispenser is automatically activated at home, where the animal is, which releases pellets of feed.
Three types of intelligence in dogs
Not everything is numbers and letters. Intelligence is difficult to measure in humans, and the scales intended to assess it are controversial. This problem is transferred to dogs. How to calculate intelligence only based on the numbers or words that a dog can learn?
It does not seem fair to limit the assessment of canine learning to the characteristic abilities of people. Therefore, Coren distinguishes between three types of canine intelligence, more in keeping with the nature of the animal.
First of all, the dog has an instinctive intelligence, highly developed. Then there is adaptive learning, that is, the knowledge that he acquires through the day to day for the need to survive, in his daily environment. Finally, the dog acquires intelligence through education, more similar to the so-called obedience in the dog. This is a learning function provided by its owner and professional canine educators.
However, above intelligence evaluations, a capacity in which dogs are unique stands out: that of offering their affection in abundance to the people with whom they live.