Have you ever wondered what your dog was thinking? Biological anthropologist and author (The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter than You Think) Brian Hare of Duke Canine Cognition Centre has spent 15 year studying canine intelligence. He’s learned that dogs, in fact, are experts at reading our social cues and gestures – an ability that is unique in the animal kingdom. It’s what makes them such great social partners.
Now he’s turned the tables and developed a user-friendly online tool called ‘Dognition’ to help owners measure and analyse the cognitive strengths and weakness of their canine friends.
It costs $19 to get access to a series of simple experiments – although Hare calls them games – that assess empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. They’re the same tests that Hare uses to test dogs in the lab and require simple items like plastic cups, treats, paper and, of course, a dog.
After the testing is completed, the owner finds out which of the nine ‘Dognition’ profiles their dog fits the best and gets a report that gives insight into the dog's mind, as well as games and activities that are best suited for its cognitive style .
It’s not about how ‘smart’ dog or a ‘dumb’ dog is says Hare, “different animals are better at different things and each has a particular approach to navigating the world.”
Dognition's goal, beyond helping owners discover their own dogs, is to build a database that’ll shed light on longstanding questions about behaviour, breeding and genetics. Since it’s launch earlier this year, thousands of dogs from dozens of countries have participated – many more than Hare could ever hope to test in his lab. Dog owners have the opportunity to become citizen scientists, participate in the biggest study of canine cognition in history and contribute to the great good of all canines.
A small portion of the profits goes back into animal behaviour research.
Visit the Dognition website.