Are dogs smarter than we think?

Animal researchers found that pet dogs are capable of much more than just grasping commands like “fetch the ball,” “sit,” and “roll over.” They can remember what they just did, and reproduce that action on cue, says a new study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Most of us have shared a special bond with our canine companions at some point in our lives, and have come to appreciate their intelligence, loyalty and unconditional love. We’ve all heard stories about dogs performing amazing feats of strength, courage and loyalty, or even doing simple tasks that seem to require a level of intelligence far beyond a simple animal instinct. But are dogs really as smart as we think? Are they capable of more than we can comprehend, or is it just our own human biases that make us overestimate the abilities of our four-legged friends? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the intelligence of man’s best friend and explore the complex relationship between humans and dogs. We’ll look at some of the latest research on canine behavior and cognition, and examine whether dogs really are smarter than we think.

Studies show our four-legged friends can identify more words than previously thought and even help us learn

Are dogs smarter than we think?

This article is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly email digest of unusual and obscure health and medical news that is sent to subscribers every Saturday morning. You can subscribe if you haven’t already by clicking here.

Your dog may seem to understand you, and in a sense, you’re right.

According to recent studies, dogs may actually be smarter than we think and have a significant positive impact on our health.

Researchers from the University of Sussex in Brighton, U. K. studied the responses of 42 dogs of various breeds to certain words that weren’t typically used as commands.

The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, found the dogs could differentiate between slight changes in words spoken by humans and also recognize distinct voices of speakers. (Phonetically similar words like “hid, “heard,” or “had,” for example.)

The dogs only responded when they heard a new word, which made them perk up and refocus their attention as they became more accustomed to the language.

No matter who was speaking, they could recognize words, according to lead author and expert on animal behavior Holly Root-Gutteridge.

And they could use the same cues to identify the speaker and detect when you changed the subject on them. “.

The study finds that although dogs may not understand a word’s actual meaning, they can still recognize it, debunking the belief that this ability is only found in humans.

It alters how we think about the potential beginning of the evolution of human language, according to Root-Gutteridge.

Some people still maintain that speech is special, that humans are the only species that can capture and produce these speech sounds, and that this puts us on a special plateau that no other species can touch. This argument is being challenged, however.

“Though dogs cannot produce all of these sounds, they can still distinguish between them,” “.

Its commonly thought that dogs are about as intelligent as the average toddler. But while thats true in some respects, experts say theyre actually smarter than infants in certain ways — but less so in others.

“Infants are born with skills that dogs will never possess.” Things like language are very human, in particular,” said Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta.

“While dogs can understand some things, they do so using mechanisms that are different from those used by humans.” “.

For the past eight years, Berns has been training dogs to undergo MRIs and then scanning their brains to understand more about how exactly they think. The research has been published in his 2017 book What Its Like to Be a Dog.

They are as different from one another as humans are, we discover when we examine their brains, he said. “Since their brains lack the neural space needed for language production and processing, they perceive human speech as a much simpler use of words. “.

Dogs can recognize words they have heard before and ones they have not, according to Berns, but there is no evidence to suggest that when they hear a word like “bone,” they can visualize it as a human can by using the visual cortex of the brain.

Are dogs smarter than we think?

Berns discovered that humans and dogs’ brains differ in how much importance they place on language.

“Human infants come out ready to absorb and name things. Mama and Dada, which are names of people, are the first things they say, he said.

“Dogs may be the other way around. They may actually find nouns and names to be of very little use, preferring instead to learn actions or verbs, which are likely to be more useful in their daily lives. “.

1) Dogs are adept at reading people — often better than chimps

Chimpanzees and human infants younger than a year or so usually fail a very simple test of implicit communication: a person sets two cups upside down on the ground and points at the one with a treat hidden underneath. It sounds absurdly simple, but both chimps and babies are unable to interpret this as a cue to find the food, and they investigate the correct cup first only about half the time.

Dogs are different. A series of experiments conducted by Brian Hare of Duke University found that dogs do interpret this cue, going for the correct cup at rates far higher than chance. (This was true even when both cups were scented to smell like the treat.) Dogs seemed capable of interpreting human stares and nods toward the right cup.

In other experiments, dogs that are trained not to take a piece of food do so much more often when an observing human has left the room, closed his or her eyes, or turned away. Again, it sounds very easy, but understanding the significance of a gaze in this way is something chimps do not seem to be capable of.

Still other studies show that dogs can pick up on our judgments of objects and act accordingly. In one, for instance, dogs observed their owners open two boxes but couldnt themselves see what was inside. The owner acted positively about the contents of one box (smiling, speaking in positive tones, and leaning toward it) and negatively for the other (recoiling in shock and speaking in angry tones). The dogs went to the former box 81 percent of the time — a finding thats similar to the results of the same experiment conducted with 18-month-old babies.

4) Dogs are emotionally connected to their owners

Some of the most fascinating canine MRI work has come from Bernss lab at Emory. In one of his most striking experiments, Berns found that when dogs sniffed a rag soaked in their owners scent, activity spiked in their caudate nucleus — a reward center involved in emotional attachment. But it didnt spike when a strangers scent was used instead. He also found that the same spike occurs when a dogs owner walks into the room, but not when strangers do.

In more recent experiments, Berns has put dogs in an fMRI and had various people show them a signal that means theyre about to get a treat. “Dogs that scored lower on tests of aggressiveness had a caudate response that was really tuned just to their owner,” he says.

On the other hand, more aggressive dogs displayed comparable increases in the reward system whenever any human gave the signal. In order to determine which dogs would make the best service dogs, his lab is currently collaborating with service dog organizations.

Traditionally, the emotion of jealousy was thought to occur only in primates. But a few different recent studies have provided evidence that dogs feel it, too.

In one experiment, researchers from the University of Vienna first trained dogs to present their paw (that is, “shake hands”) in exchange for a treat. They then conducted the experiment with pairs of dogs, arbitrarily rewarding only one, and found that the other dog stopped participating. This wasnt just frustration at not getting a treat: when the same dogs participated in the experiment alone, and didnt have the chance to see another dog getting rewarded, they participated for a much longer period of time without rewards.

The feeling of jealousy was once believed to exist only in primates.

In another study, meanwhile, psychology researcher Christine Harris confirmed what many dog owners have long suspected: the animals also get jealous over attention given to other dogs.

In the experiment, she had owners ignore their dogs, giving attention to either a pop-up book or a robotic stuffed dog toy that could bark and wag its tail. When researchers blindly analyzed video of the experiment later, they found the dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (such as growling, snapping, and rubbing up against the owner) when the object was the stuffed dog, rather than the book. This result was the same in similar experiments conducted to measure responses of six-month-old babies.


How intelligent are dogs compared to humans?

According to several behavioral tests, Coren claims that a human child between the ages of 2 and 2 and a dog have similar mental capacities. 5 years. The breed of the dog determines some of the differences in the intelligence of different types of dogs, according to Coren.

Are dogs as smart as we think they are?

According to psychologist and dog researcher Stanley Coren, the average dog is roughly as intelligent as a 2. 5-year-old baby’s. According to research so far, dogs may be able to read our body language, express their emotional connection to their owners, and even exhibit jealousy.

What is the highest IQ of a dog?

The border collie is the most intelligent dog breed known to man, according to The Intelligence of Dogs, which ranks 131 dog breeds based on their relative intelligence. Chaser, a border collie from South Carolina with exceptional language skills, could recognize more than 1,000 words.

Do dogs know we’re smarter than them?

These animals undoubtedly recognize the distinctive characteristics of humans. It’s unlikely that they hold to the idea that some people are “smarter” or “more capable” than others. They very appropriately learn what humans are capable of when they think systematically.