Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013

One Duke Professor is Ready to Call your Dog a Bona Fide Genius

smart dog

“Who would ever call a book ‘The Genius of Dogs’?” author Brian Hare asked a gathered crowd at a bookstore in Chapel Hill, N.C. “They drink out of a toilet bowl. They chase their tail. But I’m here to tell you they are.”

According to Chapel Hill News, Hare’s new book – which he co-wrote with his wife – is not a training manual. Instead of helping you teach your dog to sit, heel or fetch, it delves into how amazing it is that your dog can quickly catch on to these commands.

So why dogs? The authors, who previously studied the intelligence of apes and wrote a book about it, say that dogs are just as smart as, say, apes or dolphins – and in some ways, even smarter. When speaking to the crowd at the bookstore event, Hare pointed out that dogs aren’t only exceptionally good at paying attention to precise direction – they’ve also got a talent for inferring meaning. As Hare explains, dogs can figure out new and puzzling situations. If a dog knows both its favorite red ball and a familiar red handkerchief, if you tell it to retrieve a third object – no matter what it is or what it’s called, but as long as it’s neither the ball or handkerchief – most dogs would be able to figure out what to fetch.

Naturally, this takes some training, and not every dog will learn immediately or at all, but as Hare says, besides humans, dogs are the only other species that has this sort of problem solving acumen.

Hare is an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology and the founder of Duke’s Canine Cognition Center, so he certainly knows a thing or two about the very unique intelligence that dogs have. He’s also observed that among dogs’ many traits is an innate adaptability to assisting humans. While once they might’ve been hunting partners, now assistance dogs help disabled people by offering their eyes and ears.

If Hare’s insight into the mind of a dog hasn’t convinced you yet, then perhaps the weather might. While it’s surely sunny in Chapel Hill, the rest of the country is experiencing a springtime renaissance as well. And what better time to head to the pet shelter, adopt a dog and give that genius a home?

This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.