How to Tell If Your Dog is a Genius

Anyone who lives with a dog will know its capacity to learn the meaning of words, even those you don’t want to know. How many times should you spell the word “street” or “dinner” in hopes of avoiding an explosion of excitement?

Previous studies have examined how non-human animals, including chimpanzee, sea ​​lions and rhesus monkey, learn words. But now a paper published in Nature shows some dogs learn the name of a new object after hearing it only four times, an ability previously thought to be handed down to humans.

Researchers found this ability is not common among all dogs studied, but can be limited to some people who are “talented” or highly trained. So how can you know whether your dog is a genius or not?

The teaching was simple, and easy to replicate at home. Follow the steps taken by the researcher to see if your dog can quickly learn the name of the object. But dont worry if your dog doesn’t have this ability, it can be down to breed or previous experience.

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Whiskey and Vicky Nina

The new researchers involved a collie called Whiskey, who knew 59 objects by name, and a Yorkshire terrier called Vicky Nina, who knew 42 toys.

The researchers tested each dog’s knowledge of the cocooanna by asking them to take each cocooan. Neither the owner nor the experimenters can see the toys, avoid influencing the dogs ’choices.

Once it established dogs knew the names of all their toys, researchers introduced two new objects, placing each in turn in a group of known toys. In this test whiskey chooses a new game each time. Vicky Nina picked up a right in 52.5% of the trials, which is slightly higher than the chance.

Learn new names

For the next part of the study the dog was shown a toy, told his name and then allowed to play with it. After four repetitions of naming two different new toys, the dog was asked to choose one of two new toys.

No familiar toys were included in this part of the trial, to prevent the dog from choosing the right toy by exclusion. If he knows the names of all the other toys, the dog can choose the correct toy because guessing the unfamiliar word should indicate an unfamiliar toy.

Both dogs chose a new toy more often than chance would have predicted, suggesting they did learn the name of a new object very quickly. However, their memory decayably decayably considerably after 10 minutes and almost entirely after an hour. This suggests that new teaching needs more reinforcement if it is to be retained.


Read more: Six tips for keeping your new puppy, according to science


Tests involving a new toy were also conducted by 20 volunteers and their dogs alone, but these dogs did not show the ability to learn the new name after several trials.

The authors suggested the difference between the performance of two dogs on their tests and volunteer dogs means that, in order to learn new names quickly, dogs may need to be unusually intelligent or have a lot of experience in learning names.

Smart dogs

It seems likely that a combination of factors worked in this experiment. It is important that the breed most often used in the study of this type is the border collie, which is created with the aim of attending to commands that are heard and highly motivated to carry out tasks and please the handler. Yorkshire terriers also enjoy mental and physical stimulation.

The same tests have been performed by other research groups, usually using border collies. In 2004, a dog named Rico found to know the names of 200 different objects, and in 2011 Chaser studied 1,022 unique objects.

Other breeds may simply be less interested in playing with or fetching toys. For example sight dogs, such as catfish and greyhounds dogs, especially bred for hunting or racing, become generally more difficult to train. They may show no interest in toys at all, as well as being considerably less motivated to please the handler.

Smart dogs can learn new names quickly.

The second experimental dogs in this study were trained intensively, through play and social interaction, to pay attention to the names and characteristics of the toy. This can make them more likely to notice the difference between a new and familiar toy, and to attend to verbal cues that are relevant to them.

Although their training is not formal, but it is a positive reinforcement training, a powerful method for teaching animals and humans. Dogs have undoubtedly learned their skills to a higher degree.

It is quite possible to teach all dogs to perform tasks, including learning the names of objects. But the degree to which they are willing and able to learn, and carry out their duties, is governed very much by the breed of dog and the level of motivation possessed by the individual dog.

If your pet is an Afghan hound or a St Bernard, you shouldn’t expect that it’s interested in time-consuming toy for you. If, on the other hand, you have a border collie or poodle, their abilities are only limited by your imagination and your dedication to playing with them.conversations

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