❝Dog lovers have been saying it for years: dogs are smarter than many people give them credit for.
Now, scientists are joining in. Over the past decade, research into canine behavior and intelligence has been blossoming, and a range of experiments have suggested that dogs are capable of surprisingly complex feats of social intelligence and emotional sensitivity. On the whole, psychologist and dog researcher Stanley Coren estimates, the average dog’s intelligence is roughly as sophisticated as a 2.5-year-old baby’s.
❝So far, research has suggested that dogs can read our cues, show emotional connection to their owners, and even display jealousy. Studies have found that the brightest dogs appear to be capable of learning hundreds of words. It’s likely that these abilities have been shaped by evolution — over thousands of years, we’ve selected those dogs best adapted to live with humans.
The field is still new, however, and researchers keep finding out a surprising amount. “Most labs have historically been invested in rodent and monkey models,” says Gregory Berns, an Emory neuroscientist who conducts MRI research with dogs. “But dogs are unique animals, and I think in many ways they’re one of the best animals for understanding social behaviors.”
Using newer technologies such as MRI as well as carefully designed behavioral experiments, a handful of labs around the world have dug into the dog psyche — and found that they’re much smarter than many people assume.
❝Dogs can learn hundreds of words…Dogs pay attention to the words of our speech — not just our tone…
Dogs love humans, are good at reading us, and are eager to please us. But that doesn’t mean they know right from wrong. Instead, they simply feel sad when they let us down.
And just like person-to-person interaction, sometimes that’s our fault for presuming what should be an appropriate response – and we’re the ones who are wrong.
Thanks, Helen [and Sheila the dog]