3 key facts about canine intelligence

3 key facts about canine intelligence

Could a highly-developed brain be hiding behind your dog’s gentle, innocent appearance?

August 1, 2020

1. Dogs can read human expressions
Your dog has acted up and runs away to hide. Your dog basks in the warm glow of enthusiasm when you smile. It’s not a coincidence. On top of understanding numerous words and expressions, dogs are gifted at deciphering non-verbal human communication. According to an Italian study published in 2018 dogs can follow a person’s gaze, evaluate their level of attention, and tune into their emotional states. They also differentiate between happy, neutral and angry facial expressions.


2. Dogs understand the permanent nature of objects
According to the book Comportement et éducation du chien (“Canine behaviour and education”, available in French only), dogs are quicker than toddlers to understand that an object exists even when you can’t see it. For instance, like chimpanzees and orangutans, our 4-legged friends know that when a ball rolls under the carpet, it’s still there (despite no longer being visible). And, when you hide an object behind your back, your dog gets that it hasn’t disappeared into thin air! In humans, this type of cognition is acquired at about 12 months of age.


3. Dogs can ignore false leads
According to a study published in Development Journal, dogs can avoid traps with greater speed than children or monkeys. In an experiment, young chimpanzees, children (aged between 3 and 4 years) and dogs were tasked with opening a box to access a reward within. The first two groups persisted with futile, dead-end efforts before eventually solving the puzzle. Whereas the dogs were quicker to ignore useless approaches. This faculty may help explain why dogs perform well in certain work environments.


What about your dog? Could they be more intelligent than they seem?

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