Dogs: Geniuses or Not Exceptional?
Recently, a scientific article published on the New York Times sparks a dispute between two parties of animal behavior scientists and dog-loving readers. Which point on earth do they disagree with each other? A familiar issue: Are dogs smarter than many other widely known intelligent animals, such as cats, chimpanzee, dolphins?
It all began with the study conducted by scholar Stephen Lea, an emeritus professor in the psychology department at the University of Exeter in Britain and editor of a journal Animal Cognition. To be fair, he himself is a cat person.
Dr. Lea cooperated with Britta Osthaus, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University in Britain to compare canine cognition with samples from three similar groups: carnivores, domestic animals and social hunters. Wolves, cats, chimpanzees, dolphins, horses and pigeons are the compared objects to dogs.
The result they found is that, as Lea said, “dog cognition does not look exceptional.” He then explained that dogs cannot use tools as dolphins and chimpanzees do. Also, pigeons can fly home without missing over hundreds of miles of changeable terrains, while dogs, probably cannot. Also, they found that domestic animals such as cats and horses share many common traits as their canine cohorts. They believed that dogs are smart, but not exceptional.
This makes the fur fly in the comment. Many dog loving readers challenge these experts’ finding with the instances of their own doggies.
Let’s see how they retort.
Maybe somebody else’s dog isn’t exceptional, but let me tell you about MY dog …
–Olenska, New England
I believe that dogs are the only non-human animal that understands what people mean when they point at something. My rescue border collie mix instinctively understands this, and just about everything else too.
— JustInsideBeltway, Capitalandia
Dogs use humans as tools. Does any other species do that? If a ball is stuck under the entertainment center, after trying, the dog will come and get me by barking or nudging me.
My dog once faked a limp in an attempt to get some pizza.
You will never convince me he’s not a genius.
— Jen, Seattle
I’m not surprised to hear that my dog’s IQ is no higher than many other animals. But like the average student with an average IQ who becomes an overwhelming success in the professional world due to exceptional social skills, they bring something else to the table.
–J Wilkinson. New York
I am a veterinarian and have worked with a broad spectrum of species, from cats to cattle. I find that people tend to classify animal intelligence based on human intelligence and how people learn and react to their environment. In my opinion, animals express intelligence in different ways.
The authors are also wrong about one important thing: My dog is exceptional.
— Joe Klopfenstein, Corvallis, Ore.
So what’s your opinion? Do you agree with the scientific finding? Or you believe your pup is exceptional? Share with us your stories in the comment!