How Stupid Are Dogs, Really?

1982: Flashback to Dr. Henrich Bauer’s Animal Psychology class at Concordia (Loyola Campus). We are lectured that anthropomorphizing dogs is wrong under any circumstance and that true empathy is not possible in animals other than humans. Blah, blah, blah. He was, in my opinion, an idiot.

A dog’s intelligence is another thing altogether. – cPaul

How Stupid Are Dogs, Really?

George Dvorsky | Gizmodo

We tend to marvel at the abilities of our canine companions, but let’s face it: Dogs are basic beasts who depend on humans for pretty much everything. So instead of uncritically celebrating these good boys and girls during Gizmodo’s Dog Week, let’s explore all the things they suck at.

I’m actually a huge dog person, so it brings me no joy to do this—to expose dogs for the dimwitted creatures that they really are. Anyone who’s been around dogs knows they can be brilliant at one moment and completely boneheaded the next.

Of course, as I disparage the intelligence of dogs, what I’m really doing is comparing dogs to humans in terms of their cognitive abilities, which is obviously a very apples-to-oranges thing to do. Scientists tend to avoid this mistake and instead compare domesticated dogs to similar creatures, such as wolves or dingos. If comparisons to humans must be made, scientists will limit this to infants and toddlers, which serves as a kind of measuring stick for assessing human development, as Stephen Lea, a professor of psychology at the University of Exeter and an expert on dogs, explained to Gizmodo.

“The process of domestication has radically altered the intelligence of dogs, what we call the ‘domestication hypothesis,’” Lea told Gizmodo. Comparisons of different types of dogs—such as working, companion, street, and shelter dogs—to wolves and similar creatures tends to be more helpful for scientists, he said.

Indeed, considerable variation exists among dogs, as their behavior can be influenced by breed, socialization, life experiences, and so on. Importantly, however, dogs are really good at being dogs, including stuff like playing fetch, barking at the neighbors, herding sheep, mooching for snacks, and, very importantly, providing companionship. There’s literally no reason for them to be more human-like when it comes to their intelligence, even if we sometimes mistakenly project more smarts onto them than they deserve.

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About cPaul

Father: "He never amounted to anything". Mother: "Who the hell does he think he is"? Former Teacher: "Smart as a bag of hammers". Former Boss: "Condescending". Brother: "Mom loves me more".
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