We all think our own children and pets are the cleverest, but obviously we’re biased.
Metro reports that new research shows that dogs can actually be even smarter than we think, and there’s a way to tell which dogs are ‘gifted’ or not.
Hungarian scientists spent two years studying the memory capabilities of dogs, using an online tool called The Genius Dog Challenge to livestream the experiments.
Six pooches were chosen for this round of tests, with the main stipulation being that they’re able to recognise a certain number of toys or objects by name. All dogs were eligible to take part, but the ones that showed the most promise all happened to be border collies.
In the study, the researchers wanted to push the limits of their talent, so they challenged the owners to teach their dogs the names of six and then 12 new toys, for one week.
According to the researchers, they were amazed by each performance, as most learned the 12 new toy names in one week and remembered them for two months after.
Shany Dror was the experiment’s leading researcher from the Family Dog Project at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. She said: ‘We know that dogs can easily learn words that are linked to actions, such as “sit” or “down”. But very few dogs can learn the names of objects. ‘For more than two years we searched around the world for dogs that had learned the names of their toys, and we managed to find six.’
The dogs: Max, from Hungary, Gaia from Brazil, Nalani, from the Netherlands, Squall from Florida, Whisky from Norway, and Rico from Spain, all qualified to participate in the experiments after proving to know the names of more than 28 toys, with some knowing more than 100.
Dr Claudia Fugazza, who was the head of the research team, said: ‘These gifted dogs can learn new names of toys at a remarkable speed. ‘In our previous study, we found that they could learn a new toy name after hearing it only four times. ‘But, with such short exposure, they did not form a long-term memory of it.’
The fact all six finalists in the challenge – broadcast to YouTube for dog lovers to watch – were border collies is likely to do with the breed’s background.
Shany explained: ‘Originally border collies were bred to work as herding dogs, so most of them are very sensitive and responsive to the behaviour of their owners. ‘However, although the ability to learn names of toys appears to be more common among Border Collies, in a recently published study, we found that even among this breed, it is very rare. ‘Moreover, this talent is not unique to this breed. We are constantly searching for more gifted dogs.’
Earlier studies have shown that other breeds showcase similar talent, like the yappy Yorkshire Terrier. Apart from being a hit among fans on YouTube, the scientists who completed the study believe it’ll also advance our knowledge of dog behaviour. They added: ‘By studying these dogs, we can not only better understand dogs but also better understand ourselves.’
The Genius Dog Challenge team is encouraging dog owners who believe their dogs can recognise and remember multiple toy names to contact them through their website.
(Story source: Metro)