Dog math

1 minute read

Jeanna Bryner’s article about dog intelligence, “Dogs are smarter than toddlers, IQ tests show”, is an interesting summary of some research that parallels experiments in chimpanzees. There are math tests, word lists, spatial reasoning, problem solving – they do it all!

"The social life of dogs is much more complex, much more like human teenagers at that stage, interested in who is moving up in the pack and who is sleeping with who and that sort of thing," Coren told LiveScience.
[Stanley] Coren, who has written more than a half-dozen books on dogs and dog behavior, will present an overview of various studies on dog smarts at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Toronto.
"We all want insight into how our furry companions think, and we want to understand the silly, quirky and apparently irrational behaviors [that] Lassie or Rover demonstrate," Coren said. "Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought."

That could be quite a gig – writing books about how smart dogs are. They’re just like little people, those fur babies. Yep, ripe for grifting these dog owners be!

Anyway, dog intelligence is a nice model. Although I’m reminded of Gregory Bateson’s observations on dolphins – you can train them to do some surprising things a lot more easily than dogs, but other things just aren’t possible because of the limits of training in aquatic conditions. It helps dogs a lot that we’ve bred them for reading intentions – but then, without having some ability to read intentions, it’s unlikely we would have bred them in the first place.