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

Posted in Behind-the-Scenes, Citizen Science, The Dognition Experience. Tagged with , , .

Have you seen these dogs?

So far thousands of dogs from more than 40 countries have experienced Dognition first hand, giving their people a dog’s-eye view of their world. In addition to learning about their own dogs, each of these owners is also contributing to the world’s understanding of all dogs – from breed differences, to age differences, to gender differences.

From the outside alone, our dogs are such wonderful characters. But as anyone who lives with a dog can tell you, they’re real characters inside, too. We at Dognition are lucky to get to talk with other dog people around the world about what makes their dogs so interesting.

And the more dogs we learn about as individuals, the more we can learn about dogs in general. In fact, we’ve been pleasantly surprised that of the 175 AKC-recognized breeds, 120 have registered with Dognition in just a few months. (Not to mention all the lovable mixed breed dogs, like my Teddy.) 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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How has your dog surprised you?

When we adopted Teddy, the backstory we got about him was a little sketchy. Teddy had apparently belonged to a woman — one volunteer said she was elderly, one said she was younger — who mostly kept him outside. Or maybe she didn’t let him out enough. And was he brought in because the lady couldn’t care for him anymore, or because she was moving? No one could quite remember. All we knew about him for sure was what we could observe. He was black, fuzzy, and really excited to meet us.

Over the next few months, he began surprising us with little glimpses of his “true self,” things that we would only have otherwise known if we had been able to ask him. Continue reading

Posted in Dog Love.

Hero Dogs: The Science Behind The Stories

As long as there have been dogs, there have been hero dogs. Over the centuries, dogs have been sainted and memorialized in bronze for their heroic deeds. More recently, fictional dogs like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin have represented canine heroism on TV and in the movies. The American Humane Society has even created a Hero Dog Award.

So what is it about dogs that allows them to play the hero to humans in need? Our science team looked at five stories of daring dogs to try to make scientific sense of what makes man’s best friend a hero. Continue reading

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