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Are dogs really all that smart? This study says ‘no’

| | December 10, 2018

If you are convinced your dog is a genius, you may be disappointed in the conclusions of a study just published in the journal Learning and Behavior.The study finds that dogs are cognitively quite ordinary when compared to other carnivores, domestic animals, and social hunters. “There is no current case for canine exceptionalism,” the authors conclude.

[One] reason we may think our dogs are gifted stems from the way we view ourselves. When people are asked to rate themselves on traits such as intelligence, they tend to give above-average ratings.

[R]esearchers had 137 pet owners rate both their own pet and the average pet on a range of traits, including intelligence. The results revealed that the people rated their pets as above average on desirable traits and below average on undesirable traits.

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Nevertheless, systematically reviewing the animal cognition literature, British psychologists Stephen Lea and Britta Osthaus found dogs to be unremarkable in their cognitive capabilities compared to wolves, cats, dolphins, chimpanzees, pigeons, and several other species. For example, dogs seem no better at learning associations—such as between a behavior and a reward—than other species. Similarly, dogs can spatially navigate within small spaces, but other species can, too. And while dogs have an excellent sense of smell, the “pig’s olfactory abilities are outstanding and might even be better than the dog’s.”

Read full, original post: Your Dog May Not Be a Genius, after All

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