Florida. So what in the world is my dog thinking as I take this picture? Gibbs, my 15 month old Havanese, has a mind of his own, often not agreeing with me. In fact I keep reminding him, he is the dog and I am the person. It doesn’t always work.
But what do we know about how dogs think? It turns out a lot more than we used to know. Research into dog cognition is relatively new, but great strides have been made in the last 10 years. And some of the research is being done by you and me.
Emory University is using MRI’s to scan dog’s brains (sounds scary for the dogs, but they are awake and trained to go into the machine) and Duke has a Canine Cognitive Center studying our relationships to our dog friends. So we now know dogs yawn more in response to their owners than to strangers, steal food more often when they think you aren’t looking (what a brilliant strategy!) and interact with friendly robots as opposed to unfriendly robots.Interesting.
A new venture called dognition (with some very high powered backers from Duke, Harvard, and others) allows you to complete a questionnaire, play some games and get a profile of your dog. (Could your dog be a Renaissance dog, a Socialite or maybe a Stargazer?). The games are designed to learn more about how your dog thinks. At the same time, dognition is collecting research data from you and your dog for a small annual fee. Brilliant concept and apparently they have plenty of folks signing up. As a proud dog owner, I think Gibbs will come out in the Einstein profile category, but then not sure how that matches up with his Gemini horoscope. Ahh, so much to learn about my four footed friend!