Alex O'Brien

Family & Pets

Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for

Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for

Dog lovers have been saying it forever but now research is backing up their claims. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures. Over the past decade, research into canine intelligence has revealed that dogs are capable of quite a range of emotions and varying levels of social intelligence, with experts estimating that the average dog has the intelligence level of a two-and-half-year old.

They can read our cues, emotionally connect with their owners and even display jealousy and studies are now finding that the brightest dogs may actually be capable of learning hundreds of words. While the research is still in its infancy, the results are promising.

Using technologies such as MRI along with behavioural experiments have found out the following about the humble pooch.

  1. Dogs are adept at reading people, often better than chimps – In experiments, dogs appear capable of interpreting human stares and nods, reading people to obtain information.
  2. Dogs can learn hundreds of words – Dogs vary in their ability to remember things but some breeds of dog with particularly good memories can be trained to remember and respond to more than 1000 words.
  3. Dogs pay attention to our words, not just our tone – Many people assume can only process the tone of their speech but in reality, research suggests that their brains are processing actual words as well.
  4. Dogs are emotionally connected to their owners – In an amazing experiment, dogs were given a rag soaked in their owner’s scent to sniff. This was shown to actively spike their caudate nucleus otherwise known as the reward centre involved in emotional attachment.
  5. Dogs can feel acute jealousy
There are of course limits to a dog’s intelligence with many of their abilities stemming from the evolutionary history of dogs. Dogs love humans, are great at reading us and eager to please but that doesn’t mean they can always tell right from wrong and respond to scenarios in an intelligent way.

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