Last updated on January 24, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
These are the five categories your dog is tested in:
- Empathy – Reading and responding to the emotions of others
- Communication – Using information from others to learn about the environment
- Cunning – Using information from others to avoid detection
- Memory – Storing past experiences to make future choices
- Reasoning – Inferring the solution to new problems
Here’s our Communication result:
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.
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?