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Your dog is dumber than you think

Lassie, inspector Rex and a dog named Beethoven – if it should ever have to doubt the intelligence of dogs, among other things, these animal movie stars have dispelled them. The dogs not only overcome numerous adventures, but demonstrate also a considerable wisdom and prudence. And even if the movie screen and television make every hero a bit bigger than he is in reality – even then, though, that dogs are exceptionally intelligent. Or?

yeah, it's okay, answer it, mutatis mutandis, Stephen Lea and Britta Osthaus. In the journal Learning and Behavior compare the cognitive performance of dogs with those of many other animals and come to the conclusion: Certainly dogs jaws are not dull. But just as little is it justified, you as a spiritual Achiever is to be classified, all other animals, a major cognitive step ahead.

taking into account the way of life of a kind – about, whether you are alone or together with other hunts, plant-fed, or in the care of humans lives – many other species of a comparable cognitive level. Particularly in dogs, but the man is anything other than lens, warns Lea. "They are often compared to chimpanzees, and whenever the dogs "win', contributes to her reputation as something Extraordinary," says retired psychologist from the University of Exeter.

Even if his criticism is true, rather on the attitudes of many dog owners as to many scientific studies, so Lea and Osthaus, but a Problem with the science for decades, is struggling: the often highly distorted view of the intelligence of animals. Until today, it is difficult, and often controversial, to measure the cognitive abilities of mouse, pug, Maki, and compare them with each other. And quite apart from the mammals: How is it at all to the intelligence of a lizard, and Jay?

reptiles and birds for this question, much less attention, not to mention insects, amphibians and molluscs. How crucial, however, the scientific attention for the intellectual reputation of a animal group, commented sarcastically, the psychologist Thomas Bouchard of the University of Minnesota in a survey of animal intelligence: "dogs and mice appear to be much smarter become, since the researchers the necessary time and effort to invest, to explore their abilities."

Safe have also provided animal movie heroes, many people keep dogs for the intelligence of beasts: A cutout from the movie Lassie. Photo:

What relates to dogs, so you should compare their cognitive abilities, Lea and Osthaus, with those of representatives of three groups: other pack hunters, other predators, and other Pets . Finally, the nutritional condition and way of life of an animal's cognitive abilities. Dogs belong to all three groups.

among the compared species, spotted hyenas are like dogs to meat-eaters, and in social associations hunt, for example. Cats are the group of meat-eating Pets, horses, and goats represented were plant-eating Pets. "Dogs are shaped by their belonging to all three groups," says Osthaus of Canterbury Christ Church University.


Is your dog overly intelligent?

Yes, he may have different art pieces.
Yes, he always feels, how it goes
no, it does not follow, and does what he wants

Yes, he may have different art pieces.


Yes, he feels always, how it goes


no, it does not follow, and does what he wants


399 votes

Yes, he may have different art pieces.


Yes, it always feels like it to me


no, he follows and does what he wants


399 votes

The researchers included, among other tasks, for sense-perception, to social cognition (such as communication and recognition of conspecifics), object-related and spatial skills (for example, the Knowledge of the whereabouts of a hidden object) and to the skill, to take into account the perspective of others. As the analysis of more than 300 studies showed that, provided some representative of each group has at least the same cognitive abilities as dogs. "Goats, for example, human Gestures can follow just as well as dogs," says Osthaus. Horses associate easily the voice of a conspecific with its image, and sea otters to be sent with the tool.

Intelligent the animal Kingdom

Under this perspective, "appears in the cognition of dogs is not unusual," is the conclusion of the authors. However, the condition that the evaluated studies are qualitatively fairly similar – perhaps a bit of a bold assumption in the light of the difficulties inherent in the study of animal intelligence.

But, even mindful of this potential stigma, the study by Lea and Osthaus is the benefit that it contributes to a less distorted point of view on animal cognition. And all the dog friends, which are, nevertheless, convinced of the exceptional intelligence of their favorites, and to raise tirades, be reassured: There's already other animals were brought down from the throne of alleged wise guy. This can in some cases be embarrassing, but ultimately a great service to the science.

horses need to interpret the mental States of their conspecifics quickly.

the Best example of this was a horse, at the beginning of the 20th century. Century in Berlin, lived. Regularly the "Clever Hans" before the show was funny his Math skills, he knocked with a Hoof, the result of computing tasks. The stallion was even able to add fractions and decimals and subtracting, days of the week and is the Alphabet tap. At least the thought of his owner, Wilhelm von East and its visitors. Only when the psychologist Oskar Pfungst months, the stallion observed, and with his own series of experiments was carried out, came out: The "Clever Hans" was not a calculation, but an observation of the artist. He stayed on the smallest, unconscious changes in the body tension of those who provided him with the tasks. The man did not know the answer to a question knocked the horse undeterred.

As Pfungst his knowledge publicly made, raged Hans' owner in Trouble over the horse. As a punishment for the shame of it should, by the end of his life hearse, ruled from the East. Then, however, he sold Hans, now, hardly a thought is still a wise move. The stallion had quite considerable skills – but those that mean that from a horse's point of view, wisdom. As herd animals, horses need to interpret the mental States of their conspecifics quickly. Who is particularly adept and, for example, a softly twitching ear of cronies as a warning of the escapes understands, thanks to this sensitiveness, perhaps, a juicy Hoof.

Some of the turtles fared in tasks to problem-solving behavior surprisingly well.

to detect A Problem quickly and solve it as elegant as it is socially acceptable: Is not this the best signs of true wisdom? Nevertheless, the fate of the black stallion was a deep fall. But the science it was a lesson. Hans' story to keep researchers, the influence of the people in cognitive-Try to keep in mind with animals and, if possible, to turn off, writes behavioral scientist Frans de Waal in his book "Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?"

we humans Are smart enough to understand how smart animals are? Doubt, when it comes to animals, is normally the brightest minds in: reptiles, such as turtles and lizards. However, their cognitive abilities, it is far better than thought, studies by Anna Wilkinson of the University of Lincoln. Some of the turtles in the tasks sections to the problem-solving behavior surprisingly well, and even approaches of social Learning found Wilkinson in their subjects.

That the cognitive abilities of reptiles are still often underestimated, is likely to be partly due to the simpler brain structure of reptiles. In fact, their intellectual possibilities, with their relatively primitive ways of thinking are exhausted body faster than in mammals. But Wilkinson suspects another reason why the full potential of their subjects, often not recognized: The cold-blooded animals need for mental high performances in a very warm environment. And because the heating in the test room to turn, I still think of the man.

*This article first appeared on the 30. October 2018 to In the context of an annual review, we publish selected texts again. (editor-in-Tamedia)

Created: 01.01.2019, 16:13 PM

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