Dogs ‘as smart as 2-year-olds’

August 9th, 2009 - 1:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 9 (ANI): Dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years, according to a new research.

Psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia has reviewed numerous studies to conclude that dogs have the ability to solve complex problems and are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought.

Coren said that the intelligence of various types of dogs does differ and the dog’s breed determines some of these differences.

“There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of ’school learning’),” he said.

Data from 208 dog obedience judges from the United States and Canada showed the differences in working and obedience intelligence of dog breeds, according to Coren.

“Border collies are number one; poodles are second, followed by German shepherds. Fourth on the list is golden retrievers; fifth, dobermans; sixth, Shetland sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador retrievers,” said Coren.

As for language, the average dog can learn 165 words, including signals, and the “super dogs” (those in the top 20 percent of dog intelligence) can learn 250 words, Coren says.

“The upper limit of dogs’ ability to learn language is partly based on a study of a border collie named Rico who showed knowledge of 200 spoken words and demonstrated ‘fast-track learning,’ which scientists believed to be found only in humans and language learning apes,” Coren said.

Coren found that dogs could also count up to four or five. And they have a basic understanding of arithmetic and will notice errors in simple computations.

Other studies he examined looked at how dogs solve spatial problems by modelling human or other dogs’ behaviour using a barrier type problem.

Coren said that through observation, dogs can learn the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment (the fastest way to a favourite chair), how to operate mechanisms (such as latches and simple machines) and the meaning of words and symbolic concepts (sometimes by simply listening to people speak and watching their actions).

Coren said that during play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people in order to get rewards.

“And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs,” he said.

The study has been presented at the American Psychological Association’s 117th Annual Convention. (ANI)

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