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Getting Inside Your Dog’s Mind with Dognition

Last updated on January 24, 2014

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Did you ever wish you could get inside your dog’s mind and figure out just what they are thinking? As a dog lover of the highest order, these are things that run through my mind. I am not alone in this. Combine one part dog and one part cognition and you’ve got Dognition.

An article on LiveScience.com recently revealed that a few European inventors received funding to develop an electronic device for dogs. They promise it will analyze a dog’s brain waves and translate those thoughts into rudimentary English. Knowing what our dogs think, feel, and how they see the world has migrated in society from trend to mainstream.

I think I need some Dognition help… apparently using my iphone video camera isn’t the easiest task for me BOL

Dognition is already part of our current culture. We found out about it at the Purina Better With Pets Summit in New York City, where experts came together to discuss how people’s lives are made better by pets. Dr. Brian Hare, Duke Professor and Dognition founder, spoke at the summit. There, I learned that in general mutts are more reliant on their memory for recall while purebred dogs are more reliant on gestures.

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With the crummy weather we’ve been experiencing of late, our PR (Puppy Relations) Manager, Dexter, would be put through the gamut of tests you do at home with your dog. It is really easy to sign up, get registered, let the folks at Dognition know some background about your dog, pay the fee, and off you go. The cost is very reasonable, and I will reveal that I won a subscription at the summit for being an avid Tweeter.

My blogging buddies at Slim Doggy are also putting their dog through the series of tests, so we thought it would be both fun and interesting to compare our results. You can follow their testing with Jack here.  Their dog is a 9- to 10-year-old Lab whom they rescued at seven years of age. Jack came with some behavioral issues. Our tester, Dexter, is a now 5-year-old American Cocker Spaniel who entered our lives at nine weeks of age as a typical fun and loving puppy. Here’s what happened next.

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Jack, the adorable pooch from SlimDoggy.com

Empathy

In the first of five parts to the testing process, Dexter had to be tested for eye contact. We did a few warm up exercises (which we won’t spoil here in case you do this with your dog). Let’s just say he really liked them because treat rewards were involved. Our dog is also very ball motivated. If you plan to take the Dognition test with your dog, try doing it when they haven’t just eaten or do this with treats that you don’t mind feeding semi-liberally for test taking purposes.

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Let’s just say I’d lose in a staring contest again this cutie pie.

The actual test taking portion is done in conjunction with access to the Internet and the assistance of someone to stop answer questions and watch the stop clock for you. Dexter held my gaze as he was supposed to for the test, but there is no specific right or wrong behavior. The results?

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Yippppeeeeeee my dog and I are bonded; he loves me; he reallllllly loves me. He got a few extra smooches and treats for that result. The test is worth it just for that result alone. Oh, and it costs $29 to test one dog and you can compare your results to other dogs.

Moving on, we dove into:

Communication

Dexter is a Canine Good Citizen and I am happy to report that I trained him myself by doing in-home reward-based things from the time he was a puppy. I wrote a whole article about CGC and how you can train your dog in home.

What we learned from this portion of the test is that:

A Dexter favors his right side

B Dex is a man of many layers. He will take direction from me but is self-reliant in other cases.

We won’t spoil the game here because it is a lot of fun, but it involves sticky notes, treats, 2 people, and a lot of laughter.

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Here’s a snapshot taken during the Communication test.

These are the five categories your dog is tested in:

  1. Empathy – Reading and responding to the emotions of others
  2. Communication – Using information from others to learn about the environment
  3. Cunning – Using information from others to avoid detection
  4. Memory – Storing past experiences to make future choices
  5. Reasoning – Inferring the solution to new problems

Here’s our Communication result:

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We got through empathy and communication, so we’ll be moving into cunning, memory, and reasoning. Do you recall who we said was more reliant on memory for recall: mutts or purebred dogs?

Mutts it was, so if you like brain games, want to do some fun activities on cold and/or rainy days and have a few bucks to do so, Dognition is a great way to engage with your dog and connect with the results from other dog parents.

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Oh and yes, we love doing these sort of things with our dog. Interested in more? Stay tuned, we’ll be taking parts 3 through 5 and giving the results within the next two weeks.

Would you be interested in taking these tests with your dog?

Speaking of fun, Fidose of Reality is joining the new Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop Co-hosted by our friends at 2Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog!

Heart Like a Dog

Comments

  1. Hey Dex, well done buddy. This was lots of fun wasn’t it. We’re almost done with the Memory games…things are getting harder 😉 I think I’m going to need a tutor! Wait, I forgot, there’s no right or wrong answer, so I guess I’m okay. Your pal, SlimDoggy.

    • Well, it was good for me to have the buddy system, Jack, as I felt like I wouldn’t be judged for always going to the right side of the sticky notes even when mom pointed left. LOL Can’t wait to see what’s next. Thx for the heads, er paws, up on the memory tests. Lub, Dex.

    • Why thanks, Oz. We had a lot of fun training on our own for the test, but we never intended to take it. I was at an expo with Dex and they were testing. I decided to pay the 10 bucks and have him tested. YAY we passed. Oz would do it, I know it 😉

  2. I’ve been very interested reading your – and the other – recent reviews of Dognition, and I’m curious to see what the next exercises will be like! I might just have to break down and try it myself! Definitely looks like a fun way to spend a cold/wet day inside, in any case though.

    Impressive that you did all of your CGC yourself at home! Don’t think I knew that before! In Canada, it’s Canine Good Neighbour, which Moses is, and we haven’t had Alma tested (usually only offered when there’s a big dog show in town). We didn’t do any specific training, but the obedience classes we were already taking adequately prepared us – Moses had no issue passing. Whether or not Alma would pass or fail could depend on the day with her – I’d give her a 25% chance at failing for showing too much interest during the step with the other dog.

    • We are having a lot of fun with it, Jen. I am looking forward to the remaining tests. You can’t pass or fail so we are having fun with it and with this bad weather, it makes for fun indoor play. Dex thinks it’s fab b/c treats are involved.

      I was very fortunate that Dex passed his CGC. Dex could care less about the passing dogs, so we did well there. If you take the Canadian version of test/and/or Dognition, let me know and many wags!

  3. Since Buster is blind it is hard to do these tests.
    I do say he has a wonderful memory. If we travel it takes him no time to catch on to his new surroundings.

    • Awww I wish Buster could do them. Yeah, visual is needed but I think he’d have fun sniffing out the treats. I know Dex did, and he can see. <3

  4. Wow, I really enjoyed reading this and learning how it all works. And I agree with Jen, so impressive that you did the CGC stuff yourself. Why don’t you come on over and give us a hand with our big girl? 😉

    • Heck, I’d love to come play. I just like to do indoor games during the crummy weather we have here, which in the northeastern part of PA seems to be a lot lately. In any case, I had no clue my fun sit and stay and wait games were actually helping him train for CGC. What a surprise when we passed.

  5. Good Job Dexter and mom. I think i would like to take this test with Chico….but would need someone to coordinate it with. I wonder if the results change from day to day, depending on their mood/response at the time of testing. Maybe a consensus testing would be more telling. Dognition is fascinating to me!
    PS i love that “staring ” pic of Dex..I just want to hug him!

    • I tell you, it was soooo hard not to giggle or want to snuggle Dex during the staring portion of the empathy test. You would love this test, Stella. I think it is a great bonding exercise for pet and pet parent, too.

  6. I’m really enjoying reading about these tests. I am curious as to how my boys would do and seriously considering purchasing the tests. After reading many of your stories about Dexter, I’m not surprised you and Dexter have such a strong bond, and the test just proves that even further.

    Looking forward to the results of the other tests. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Well thanks, Lynnette! Your post made our day. 😉 Good luck with your dogs and the test and if you do it, come back and let us know how it went. It’s been fun for us.

  7. We think it would be interesting, but Mom would want us all to do it and that would start to get a bit expensive. Right now we need to focus on our nose work training. So happy to see that Dexter is bonded 🙂

  8. Thanks so much for joining the Barks and Bytes hop! Very interesting. I wonder what effect our field training, where we have taught the dogs to rely on arm gestures, would have on that second test? I think the dogs would do well on that part and flunk the bonded part because they aren’t much for holding eye contact. lol

    • Yeah we would have purchased it if we didn’t win one, but since we won, it has turned to a lot of fun for us. With this crappy weather, it’s great for indoor fun, too.

  9. I did check out there site once a while back when I first read about it. Sounds like fun. Glad to hear there are no wrong answers. Was a little worried to take the tests and find out she’s not as smart as I think… But if there’s no wrong answers, well….

    • BOL – no wrong answers, Jackie. And good timing that you visited here – I am half way through your latest book and planning a review. Very well done!

  10. Hi Carol, thanks for supporting the new hop!

    This testing sounds like they put a lot of thought into to make it fun for all involved. I’m interested to know how my dogs rate on this scale and truthfully for some reason I thought it was $79 so $29 is a bargain!

    You know what I’d really like though? A way to tell my dog I’m thinking! LOL Like no, you can’t run or jump because we are trying to keep you from having surgery. Or eating poo is just vile, don’t do it. Do you think anyone is working on that? 😉

    • Um I had to buy a doggie buggie to prevent my dog from playing post op for his ACL surgery, Jodi. So if you find that device to tell the dog to knock it off, let me know. I want to patent that with you BOL

      I will support the hop weekly – yay!

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