Skip to comments.The Brilliance of the Dog Mind
Posted on 02/07/2013 8:02:45 PM PST by Altariel
Just about every dog owner is convinced their dog is a genius. For a long time, scientists did not take their pronouncements particularly seriously, but new research suggests that canines are indeed quite bright, and in some ways unique. Brian Hare, an associate professor in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University, is one of the leading figures in the quest to understand what dogs know. The founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, Hare has now written a book, The Genius of Dogs, with his wife, the journalist Vanessa Woods. Hare answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.
(Excerpt) Read more at scientificamerican.com ...
“Smart should be exclusively reserved for acts show the ability to put two things together to arrive at a conclusion.”
In 1993, my woodstove backdrafted while I was asleep, filling the whole house with dense smoke.
I was out cold but my Ibizan Hound Minny ‘brought me back’ by jumping on my chest repeatedly.
I came to gagging and coughing and managed to get myself and the other dogs out into the subzero night where we huddled under a quilt until the house cleared out.
I got double pneumonia from smoke inhalation and severely bruised ribs but I’m alive.
[I pulled her out of the shelter -literally- 15 minutes before she was supposed to die]
That is proof of intention and intelligence.
It's a fact that the compulsion to look where others are looking is a sign of sentient intelligence.
There’s a flipside to that.
Odin will be laying here beside me and then *suddenly* look up at the light on the wall over the sofa.
Naturally, I assume a spider or something is about to drop on my head so I’ll whip around and look up there, too.
There’s nothing there and when I look back at him, he’s ‘smiling’ and his nub is wagging a million miles a second...and then he snorts and ‘chuckles’.
He ‘plays jokes’ on me all the time.
(( ping ))
Apparently dogs are the only animals that understand what pointing means. Not even chimps get it.
And they don't need to be taught it, know it instinctively.
We've obviously been together for a long long time.
I had a dog I taught the old “poison” gag. You show them a dog biscuit and say POISON!. The dog looks it but won’t touch it. Took about 10 miniatures to teach that.
Then the DOG add a neat twist to the joke. No matter what I said or did he wouldn’t eat the biscuit until I nibbled a piece of it. Then he’d gobble it up. Like he didn’t trust me.
One of my favorite places in the world.”
Okay. I’ve never been to that one. I remember checking out your member page once and seeing a bunch of pictures I thought might have been Rock Creek Cemetery. I’ve been there a couple times to take pictures.
Not mine. My dog is a dumb as a box of rocks.
When he is on his run he only knows how to go counter clockwise around the trees the run is strung between. Drives me nuts.
He rarely ever untangles himself. He just stands there and barks until I come and get him.
The perfect twist to that would have been to teach him to dramatically play dead immediately after eating it....;D
[the Dobe puppy sniffs everything hubby hands her but gobbles whatever snack I’m holding] LOL
I’m what is gently termed a “taphophile”.
Where is Rock Creek and does it have any good statuary or extremely old stones?
I’ve photographed just about every interesting thing locally, even going into IR and UV just to break the monotony.
OMG...I googled images of Rock Creek.
*Got* to get there this spring!
Our dog isn’t smart but sometimes she outsmarts us.
What a beautiful collie puppy! My favorite breed, along with GSDs. Wish I could have a dog again, but must make do with my cats!
That is a wild (sorry for the pun) story.
I wish we could hear more. Amazing.
Add me to the ping list :)
That said, I've had some extremely bright GSD's. All of the GSD's have communicated their wants to me by pointing with their snouts or doing some other gesture. I've often read things about dog memory and understanding by dog trainers that I knew were out and out wrong.
Everyone of my dogs has acted guilty many hours after they've done something forbidden. And they'd act guilty even if my wife had already reprimanded them just because I was seeing them for the first time since they'd done their deed. They were recognizing me as the alpha and knew they'd have to answer to me. Many of our dogs over the years have believed they were one of the kids.
Larsen was a beautiful dog. I’m sorry for your loss.
What kind of dogs have you had Raj? Mostly I've owned GSD's. I've only owned a couple of labs and mutts. All of my dogs were easily trainable, but that didn't make them smart. My GSD's? They're smart.
wow I am amazed at the photo of your dog, because now I think I know what the heck type of dog I have. She is a shelter dog, and still a mix, but she has a few very unusual features. Most prominent is her coloring, and a nose/muzzle like I’ve never seen. The only difference is her ears flop when not perked for listening. They had her billed as a “chow mix” but I don’t wonder if it is because her tongue is mostly black.
What about cats???
My cat is pretty smart, but I can still beat her at checkers 2 out of 3 times.
I’ve got a cat with that sort of humanlike smarts. Also tries to watch us using our hands and mimic with his paws...
The world would be in a fair bit of trouble if he were polydactyl!
“They are the crazy bikers of the dog world..”
1%’ers patched in!
I love my boxer. She is a ton of fun. She is also pretty smart. Listens to all the commands, visual and spoken. Couldn’t be more pleased with her.
“Black Aggie” is the same statue (I think) somewhere else. This is the original sculpture by St. Gaudens. It has a long name, but most people refer to it simply as “Grief.”
If you like cemeteries Rock Creek is a good place.
Not knowing exactly where you are in the area, Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church near Crownsville, MD, has a nice little cemetery with some old headstones. :
And if you ever get to London, Highgate Cemetery is *very* interesting and photogenic.:
I was there many years ago. Spooky even in the daytime.
That’s nothing. The other night, I was in a galvanized tub, fully clothed after drinking 6 glasses of rancid milk. I looked over and there was my dachshund-collie mix staring at the stars through a telescope and making notes on a clipboard. His dirty little secret is that he does a lot of research, but is too lazy to publish.
Actually, doxies are insanely smart, but like the article says, it’s relative to their breed.
Dachshunds (badger hounds) were used to hunt badgers and could actually smell them underground. I used to berate my doxie for digging, but once I realized she was digging to find something she smelled, I became curious to see how far she would go.
Oftentimes she unearths a pile of cat or rabbit poop, but she’s dug up some old trash and even an old toy in my mother’s backyard.
My border collie is “human smart” because she’s attentive and follows commands like a human. My doxie is “dog smart” because she can do things that humans just can’t do or understand.
Me too! Ialways have a Shepherd but my 2nd-fave is Collie! I never had 1 yet, though. Wish I could.
Cats are cool, though. I will have a cat again someday, but no other pets until this worst-allergic dog ever passes away.
Our current dog has a brain the size of a water molecule, and about as useful. He loves us though, and unconditional love is one of the reasons we love dogs.
In 2000, I had a bad case of laryngitis due to flying w/a cold I thought was over. I ended up with a raging sinus infection while in places far from medical care. I had over 3 weeks of being voiceless except for a whisper after coming home.
We had 2 dogs at the time. If I hadn’t taught them hand signals, I would have been out of luck. I resorted to a whistle to call them and had to train them to that while silent.
However, neither dog was that bright. I had read that the major test for a film actor dog was to take them into a dark room and use a flashlight. If the dog paws at the circle of light and otherwise follows it, they may have promise for further training. If the dog starts sniffing around the room or sits there looking at you, forget it.
My dogs failed. However, with the new pup, I noticed that if I held the light close to the ground, so that there is just a small intense circle, he would follow that light until it diffused beyond 5-6 inches. This is in normal daytime conditions, indoors, not in a dark room. I think I may try a laser pointer, just to see if he responds to that.
I agree with you about trainability vs. smart...BUT...believe me....I had a cocker spaniel who did something I found unbelievable....I was getting ready for work in our master bath....and he came in, checking on me...I casually said, “Gus, where’s my watch?”...I had lost my watch and couldn’t find it for a few days. He takes off, and I don’t think anything of it, UNTIL a minute later he shows up WITH MY WATCH in his mouth. We didn’t even know he KNEW what a watch was, let alone that he would retrieve anything.
Hmmm...that is interesting....our dog always wants to chase the laser that we use to exercise the cat.
Humans are the only animal that have pronounced sclera, white of the eyes.
This is why one human can see where another human is looking no matter which why their face is pointed. This facilitates hunting in silence.
Dogs are the only animals that can follow a human’s sclera.
Dogs are indeed special.
I’ll repeat a story I’ve told on FR before. I have two Australian Shepherds that I think are pretty smart. They understand human speech better than earlier I gave them credit for. One night they came to the chair where I was reading, parked their butts and stared at the me with an expectant look. I had an idea they wanted to go outside. I calmly said, “Go tell Junior”. They quickly got up and trotted across the house into my son’s room. Then I heard “Woof”! I then realized they understood my son’s name and the meaning of that command. I never deliberately taught them those things, but they picked up on it somehow.
Cut it out, Sal! You know he’s reading your mind. ;-)
Hmmmm, most human specific features have something to do with an advantage during tribal warfare or other violence, not hunting. Could the white be instead to signal clearly what you're *not* looking at? A man possibly looking at a brute's girl is more likely to get killed. When you are watching something, people near the line of sight will angrily examine if you are staring at them.
The great advantage of the domesticated dog is their superior ability to sense and alert of an impending ambush. Tribes that keep dogs have a warfare advantage over those that don't. Hunting is not the main purpose of dogs. Most people that own dogs no longer hunt, but they do still get ambushed, sometimes by section 8 neighbors, sometimes by the government.
The puzzle is how the big bad wolf was tolerated around humans long enough to evolve into the mutt that now sleeps on the sofa. It took my childhood dog Oreo, a Russian genius, Siberian foxes, New Guinea Singing dogs, Hungarian scientists, bonobos in Congo, and a decade of research to figure out the answer.
And the answer is
youll have to read the book to find out. But to give you a hint its not always survival of the fittest. Sometimes its the friendliest that have an evolutionary edge.
I came home one day to find my dog Mike unusually affectionate. He came over and buried his head besire my leg and the arm of the chair I was sitting in. He was acting sheepishly. I thought this over a bit and finally the light bulb came on.
I went into the back yard, and sure enough, newly dug holes.
Mike had done some definite thinking.
First, he'd done something he knew was wrong, and remembered it (digging). Second, he was trying to ameliorate the problem by embarassed, ingratiating behavior. Third, he was anticipating future behavior - punishment - because of his actions.
Don't tell me some dogs can't think.
Your response makes sense but I only partially agree.
Also a little know fact is that tribal nations also ate the dogs. The fact that the dogs followed them around and were always available to eat was very convenient too.
I know they had to move Black Aggie because she was constantly being molested/vandalized by those who wanted to find out if the legend was true.
[which is utterly stupid, if you think about it] LOL
There was a *huge* legal uproar over Aggie vs Grief as St Gaudens’ work was copied to make Aggie and much litigation ensued.
Still, that cemetery is a must-see for my list.
Another is the boneyard in Balto.
Sadly, the “neighborhood” beside of it makes visiting that one with lots of pricey camera equipment hanging off one’s self a bit perilous.
I’m way out in W.MD so Crownsville is a strecth but not impossible.
Oh, how I *wish*!
Alas, airlanes mortify me so my creepy ramblings are confined to the US.
You should see my Garmin GPS.
On it is every cemetery within a 200 mile radius.
If himself uses it to get somewhere, the voice starts shrieking “turn left! turn left!” [or whatever] every 10 minutes or so because we’re getting near one of the hundreds of cemeteries on the list.
How weird...not expecting anything, I once used the cat’s laser toy on the Dobe.
I didn’t think he’d even see it but he did..in the living room with normal lighting.
Then he got annoyed because I took it away and gave it to the cat.
The cat’s gone now but I think I still have the laser toy.
If I’m in the LR hunting for something with my little flashlight under the sofa or wherever, he’s a bit of a PITA.
He’ll get right in there with me, looking to see if I ‘find it’ even though he has no idea what “it” may be.
Maybe he’s just nosy.
That’s a secret!
[do you want people thinking I’m crazier than they already do?]
Ya know, you might test that puppy, too.
You said you guys were looking for a new gig. Maybe the dogs could support you? I know that’s one of my fantasies. Now, if I could get him to reliably come via hand signals.... fat chance, he’s an Akita. He needs to know “what’s in it for me”.
The flashlight I used was one of those high intensity LEDs, BTW.
She loves the cat laser.
When we were desperately concerned about her vision due to her head injury, we tried all sorts of things to see how much, if anything at all, she could see.
She does have some ‘glitches’ because of the mild strabismus left over from the injury but her ability to detect and track motion seems pretty good, considering.
The cat laser is one we got from PetCo and has a dot, a butterfly, a UFO and some other weird image I can’t recall but she does react to all of them, the dot being the easiest one.
Most of her toys are in the blue/green/yellow color spectrum to make it easier for her to see them.
She’s very trainable but doesn’t have the same instantaneous mental ‘snap to’ that Odin had at that age.
She learns easily but seems to have to focus herself intentionally when performing her commands...there’s a noticeable half-second ‘lag’ where you can almost see her ‘remembering’ what the word means before she does something.
[than again, Odin didn’t have his skull busted as a baby, either]
Bless her heart, she’s our ‘special’ little miracle girl and we adore her, quirks and all.
[but ~she’s~ not gonna make us rich, for sure]
DH came home from work and, unbeknownst to me, he had a laser toy on one of his pens!
Sumo went nutz! We already know he is death on voles and he reacted to the red dot just as he would to a vole or a mouse.
However, he also become hyper-focused, just like a Beagle on a rabbit trail. On the plus side, he looked for it when I clicked it off and kept looking around until we distracted him, so, even after a treat, he remembered.
Maybe he’s smarter than I thought!
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