Dogs Avoid People Who Aren’t Nice to Their Human

White Terrier Dognition logo

If you think your dog is a good judge of character, your canine might be using “social eavesdropping” as a tool to decide who to be nice to and who to ignore. Social eavesdropping in scientific terms is “social evaluation of third-party interactions”…so you know, what us laypeople call “people watching.” Continue reading

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The Best Way to Train Your Dog According to Science

Woman w dog

Clicker training is widely popular method by professional dog trainers, but is it the most successful and efficient way to train your canine best friend? Continue reading

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Dognition hits prime time with Nat Geo WILD’s “Is Your Dog A Genius?”

tv show title card

Make no barks about it! Dognition, the science-based assessment that enhances the relationship between dogs and their owners, will be returning to prime time television this spring. This time with Is Your Dog A Genius?, a three-part series on Nat Geo WILD. Continue reading

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On Why Dogs Want to Lick Us And Wolves Want to Eat Us

sleep dog

It’s clear that the dogs we know and love are very distinct from wolves. Aside from variations in their genetic code, the way dogs interact with and behave around us humans is very different from the behavior of typical wolves, even if the dogs and wolves are raised in similar conditions. In particular, the special relationship dogs have with us is because the success of dogs as a species relies heavily on humans. Continue reading

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How Making Inferences Makes Your Dog A Genius

Chaser the Border Collie

You probably have heard of Chaser the border collie. She was featured on 60 Minutes and referred to as the world’s smartest dog. If you aren’t familiar with Chaser, she’s famous for knowing over a thousand words. Yes, a thousand words! Smart, right?

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Rolling Over: What’s Your Dog Saying?

two dogs playing

Dognition polled 800 people through our social media channels, and 44% of dog parents say their dog rolls over during play with another dog. Are these dogs communicating that they are subordinate to their play partner?

A 2014 study out of University of Lethbridge and University of South Africa looked to see what a dog rolling over to a supine position during play with another dog really means. Does it communicate submission?

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10 Simple Ways to Help Homeless Dogs

Saoirse, a Dognition Protodog, is looking for her forever home in the Washington D.C. area.

Summer weather is here and that means college students are on break and families will be taking vacations. For many shelters, this means a dip in the number of people who volunteer. Step up and help your local shelter this summer! Dognition has compiled 10 ways that you can help: Continue reading

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Your Dog and You: How to Play the Games Without a Partner

Copper is ready to play the Dognition games!

Can I do this by myself? Do I have to have a partner to play the games?

A common question we get here at Dognition is about the need for a non-canine partner in playing the games. While having a partner makes gameplay easier logistically, most people have had great success–and a lot of fun–playing the games with just their canine. We’ve designed the games so that the instructions are easy to follow. The following are options for how to play the games with just your dog. When people play the games the following ways, the data is great and the profile report is still spot on. Continue reading

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Have a Question? Ask Our Experts!

Some of the individuals who will be taking your questions.

Dognition has a new monthly feature, Ask Our Experts, where you have a chance to have your questions about your dog and all dogs answered. The question with the most votes at the end of each month is the question we’ll ask our experts. Our experts are our Scientific Advisory Board and our Expert Panel. Here’s ways to participate: Continue reading

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Dogs’ Internal Compass and Why It Matters

A new study shows that dogs prefer to align in the north-south magnetic field axis when relieving themselves. Photo Credit: Mike Finkelstein

You’ve probably heard by now that your dog has a reason for all that spinning and circling around before picking the perfect spot to excrete. If not, here’s the rundown: German and Czech researchers have found that dogs prefer to align their bodies along the north-south axis of the earth’s magnetic field during excretion. They also found that dogs avoid aligning their bodies along the east-west axis. These findings are from 7,000 observations over a 2 year period of 70 dogs of 37 different breeds defecating and urinating.

You might be wondering, like many others, what’s the big deal? Why does this matter? Continue reading

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How mixed breed dogs think differently than purebreds


Sometimes I feel like my best friend just doesn’t understand me. I call him and he doesn’t respond. I point and he looks at my fingertip instead of whatever I’m pointing at. I’m talking about my dog Teddy, of course.

I wouldn’t call him overtly independent. In fact, he’s off-the-charts empathetic, and he does look to me for direction from time to time. But it seems like he’d prefer to make his own decisions than use my help. I wondered if his lack of interest in my pointing had anything to do with his previous homelife. We adopted him from a shelter, and we have no idea what sort of human communication he’d received before us. As it turns out, the fact that Teddy is more likely to use his own memory over my pointing may have something to do with his breeding, or rather, his lack thereof. Continue reading

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Dog burglars: Dogs steal more in the dark


Dr. Juliane Kaminski, one of our Scientific Advisory Board members, has made a cool finding: dogs are more likely to sneak food from people when the lights are out.

Kaminski, who is a lecturer and research in the Psychology department of the University of Portsmouth, found that dogs were four times more likely to steal food after being told not to if the room was dark.

Kaminski also showed that dogs’ behavior depended on what part of the room was dark. Continue reading

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Keeping your dog stimulated on a rainy day

Dog looking out of window

If your dog is anything like my dog Teddy, outdoor time is part of your daily routine. Few things in this world make Teddy happier than running outside and chasing down his favorite ball. Next to fetch, Teddy’s other love is going for a nice walk. Teddy’s walks aren’t just good for his body; the sights and smells of the neighborhood are also good for mental stimulation.

But what about the times when it’s so rainy that even a walk seems like a perilous undertaking? When Teddy doesn’t get all of the mental and physical activity he requires, we sometimes get some less-than-desirable behavior around the house. Teddy might start throwing his own ball around the living room if he hasn’t had play or walk time. Or, if the ball is out of reach, he’ll play with garbage. Continue reading

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Yellow Dogs and the Anti-Social Socialites

greyhound dog with yellow ribbon

We’ve heard from some owners who have completed Dognition Assessment Toolkit with their dogs that they were initially a little surprised that their dog is a Socialite. When these owners think of the way their dog acts around strangers and new dogs, their Socialites seems anything but social. But once they read the in-depth description of our findings, the name Socialite begins to make sense.

Anti-Social yet Pro-Social

There’s a big difference between being uncomfortable in social situations and being non-social. Continue reading

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Dog genius

Dogs are with us so often that it is easy to forget how remarkable they are. Introducing some dogs reminds us of the incredible potential of our best friends.

By the time Chaser was three years old, she knew the names of over a thousand objects. The only reason she stopped learning was because her owner, John, ran out of toys! Some dogs can learn a word after they have heard it only once. They can also learn a new word even if they have not heard it before– by matching a new word with a new object. This is called fast mapping and it is how children can learn words at an astonishing rate.

Philip is a Hungarian assistance dog whose owner is in a wheelchair. Philip can pick up keys, fetch a cell phone, turn lights on and off, and pull items from supermarket shelves and put them in a basket. However, his special ability is something that surprised scientists – Philip can imitate. If you do something on two legs, Philip will copy you on four legs. Philip can twirl around, jump in the air, and even take a bow. Before Philip, scientist thought that only people could imitate. Philip is even more impressive because not only can he copy you, he has to map your actions onto his own doggy body plan. Now that’s a clever dog.

One day Daisy kept lunging at her owner Claire’s chest. Another owner might have ignored it, but Claire was a scientist who had worked with assistance dogs for 20 years. When Claire investigated, she found a lump. The tumor was early stage, deep in her breast. If Daisy had not alerted Claire, the tumor would have been advanced by the time Claire had found it herself. Daisy has gone on to detect 550 cases of cancer and has been awarded the Blue Cross Medal for her work. Dogs have been trained to detect dozens of different types of cancer, including bladder, colon, prostate, kidney, melanomas. No one knows how dogs do it, but one idea is that they can smell the odor tumors produce. Dogs can sniff out cancer at stage zero, and they are usually more than 95% correct – better than some lab tests.

Kayley is gifted. She wrote her first novel when she was 12 and composes her own music. Kayley also has a severe form of Tourettes that causes uncontrolled ‘tics’, which used to get so bad that her legs would collapse while she was crossing the road. In middle school, Kayley was confined to a wheelchair. Help arrived in the form of a dog called Mack. When Kayley feels a tic coming, she simply leans against Mack, and the tic stops. Or Mack will lie across her lap, and tics that used to last for hours will pass in seconds. Kayley is no longer in a wheelchair and can ride a horse and drive a car. She is now in college, studying to be a neuroscientist. Dogs can help children with all sorts of disabilities. Children with autism talk and sleep better when a dog is with them, and having a dog cuts their stress hormone cortisol by half. Dogs can tell parents of children with epilepsy when their child is about to have a seizure. The power dogs have on children can be so great that even having a dog to pet in hospital can be more effective than pain relieving drugs.

Posted in The Dognition Experience.

Curro – Dog of the Month

Having only three legs might seem like a disadvantage, but Curro shows that three legs can be better than four if you have a quick mind and a kind heart. Curro works at the Fundacion Federica Cerda, an NGO in Barcelona who uses horses to help kids with disabilities. Curro is comfortable around the horses and adores children, which makes him indispensable to the team. He is also a great reminder to the children that there are many different kinds of perfect. Photo by Sara Coe.

Posted in The Dognition Experience.