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Mental Abilities of Dogs
Mental Abilities of Dogs

Mental Abilities of Dogs

In “Dogs as Smart as 2-year-old Kids” (Live Science; posted: 08 August 2009 02:00 pm ET), Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer for Live Science, says:
The canine IQ test results are in: Even the average dog has the mental abilities of a 2-year-old child. The finding is based on a language development test, revealing average dogs can learn 165 words (similar to a 2-year-old child), including signals and gestures, and dogs in the top 20 percent in intelligence can learn 250 words. … While dogs ranked with the 2-year-olds in language, they would trump a 3- or 4-year-old in basic arithmetic, Coren found. In terms of social smarts, our drooling furballs fare even better. … To get inside the noggin of man’s best friend, scientists are modifying tests for dogs that were originally developed to measure skills in children. Here’s one: In an arithmetic test, dogs watch as one treat and then another treat are lowered down behind a screen. When the screen gets lifted, the dogs, if they get arithmetic (1+1=2), will expect to see two treats. (For toddlers, other objects would be used.) But say the scientist swipes one of the treats, or adds another so the end result is one, or three treats, respectively. “Now we’re giving him the wrong equation which is 1+1=1, or 1+1=3,” Coren said. Sure enough, studies show the dogs get it. “The dog acts surprised and stares at it for a longer period of time, just like a human kid would,” he said. These studies suggest dogs have a basic understanding of arithmetic, and they can count to four or five. Other studies Coren notes have found that dogs show spatial problem-solving skills. For instance, they can locate valued items, such as treats, find better routes in the environment, such as the fastest way to a favorite chair, and figure out how to operate latches and simple machines. © Imaginova Corp. All rights reserved.
But we have to use “mental abilities” loosely. The child has a consciousness that is developing into a rational consciousness; dogs do not. The child is going through this state of development of his/her consciousness; the dog is stuck there, and will develop no further. While the dog and 2-year old show evidence of being able to do some of the same things, their mental content and methods might not be exactly identical. A child, for example, is just about ready to talk or is already talking; a dog is not and never will. Update (6:00 PM): Top this, top dog!!  In “Toddler milestone: Talking,” on a Website called The Baby Center, they say:
19 to 24 months Your child now understands as many as 200 words, though he’ll probably use only 50 to 75 of them regularly. Many of these words will be nouns that designate objects in his daily life, such as “spoon” and “car.” Between 18 and 20 months, his pace will pick up as he acquires ten or more new words each day. If he’s especially focused on learning to talk, he can add a new word to his vocabulary every 90 minutes — so watch your language! During this phase your child may begin stringing two words together, making basic sentences such as “Carry me.” Since his grammar skills are still undeveloped, you’ll often hear odd constructions such as “Me go.” He’s understood for some time that he needs language, and he’ll attempt to name new objects as he observes the world around him. He may overextend the words he already knows, though, so that all new animals are called “dogs,” for example. Starting around his second birthday, your child will begin using three-word sentences and singing simple tunes. As his sense of self matures, he’ll use “me” to refer to himself, and he’s likely to tell you what he likes and doesn’t, what he thinks, and what he feels. You may hear him say, “David want juice” or “Baby throw,” for instance. (Pronouns are tricky, so you may catch him avoiding them.)

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