Lucy & Emily live the good life on a golf course

Lucy, the 7 year old Black Lab, and Emily, a 1 year old mixed breed, are the two adorable dogs that showcase their looks and talents on @pupsonpar. They spend their days on a golf course in Pennsylvania, and have the good fortune of working with their humans, which gives them plenty of opportunities for running, swimming, and chasing things.

When the dogs are not frolicking on the golf course, they can be seen modeling their latest bandanas for fun or a good cause such as Stand Up to Cancer and for fundraisers for local rescues such as Bella Reed Pitbull Rescue.

Their mom Sarah heard about Dognition a few years ago from her own mother, who saw us on TV. Sarah decided she had to see for herself how Lucy and Emily would perform on the Dognition canine cognition games.

Lucy, the Protodog, is shy, calm and very laid back, and relies on reading her human’s gestures when solving problems.

Emily, her younger fur sister, is an Ace. Besides being sassy, loving and affectionate, Emily prefers to solve problems on her own, and has excellent memory and inferential reasoning skills.

We asked Sarah some questions about her experience playing Dognition.

Q: What did you learn about your dogs from playing Dognition games?

A: I learned a lot actually.  They both kind of surprised me. I knew they were both smart in their own way, but I actually honestly thought Lucy had a better memory than the test suggested because she remembers where things are at home and the golf course all the time. For example, she remembers where a squirrel went up a tree yesterday or where I set her treat earlier in the day. I did find it very interesting how she did develop a one side bias in some of the games. I thought that was pretty clever.

As far as Emily goes… I knew she was smart because she seems to learn pretty quickly, but I was super impressed how well she did. She is still young so I wasn’t sure how everything would go, but we followed everything on point and she figured it out.

Q: How will you use this new information and new insights?

A: I will definitely use it when I’m training them. I kind of now know how each of them thinks so I think that will help me convey things to them better. I do use clicker training a lot so it works for both of them, but I think this will help me build on it more.

Q: Why do you recommend Dognition to other people?

A: I think it’s absolutely fascinating.  I really enjoyed learning more about how they think. I really think it brings you a little closer with your pet. You get a little peek inside their brains. I know not everyone is into stuff like this but I think a lot of people would change their mind once they completed the assessment.

We really enjoyed the assessment and I personally love learning more about how dogs think so I’m sure I will continue to enjoy playing more of these fun games with them!

For more adventures, follow Lucy and Emily on Instagram at  @pupsonpar 

Posted in Dog Life, Dog Love, The Dognition Experience. Tagged with , .

Rusty the Stargazer deliver surprises and smiles

We just received this pawsome letter about Rusty, an 10 year old yellow lab and Dognition ‘Stargazer,’ from his adoring furparent, Minerva. She first heard about Dognition after taking the Coursera course “Dog Emotion & Cognition” taught by Dognition founder Dr. Brian Hare.

Here’s what Rusty’s human said she learned about him by playing the Dognition games.

“We found the description of Rusty’s report to be quite accurate, and it was assuring to see his traits written out in a comprehensive manner. We were pleasantly surprised during the “Communication” games to see that he understood our intent and is closely attuned to what we’re trying to tell him.

On a daily basis, we sometimes wonder if he’s got his head in the clouds but the games showed that he actually pays close attention to us. This then played into his “Cunning” description that highlighted how he wouldn’t necessarily use our communications against us.

We did laugh a little about his results for the “Memory” games and the description; maybe his present-mindedness is why we thought he had his head in the clouds when we used to play treat-hiding games!

After playing the Dognition games with Rusty, we strengthened our belief that he is very food-motivated; all he needed were treats to get focused. He is also much more attuned to me (I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old) than to my husband whom he’s only been around for a few years now.

Rusty is also more clever than we anticipated, and sneaky too; he cues in on a lot of my commands but will try to have his way when he thinks he can get away with it. It’s endearing more so because he’s almost 11 years old now and still acts like a mischievous child!

We also enjoyed learning and were surprised to see that he could deduce where treats could be hidden based on how their physical presence was adjusted in the environment around the treats. We hadn’t even considered that he could come to those types of conclusions.

Overall, the Dognition games were quite fun, and I’d say, successful in bringing us closer in relationship to Rusty and understanding his behaviors. He does still have some quirks which we may never understand 🙂 but he is most certainly a “good boy” and undoubtedly a momma’s boy. Thanks for providing the activities and evaluations you do!”


Minerva Thai & Duc Duong

Follow Rusty on Instagram: @rustythelabradorable and his Humans: @minervathai & @duc_duong

Posted in Case Studies, The Dognition Experience. Tagged with , , , .

Winnie the therapy dog

When Casaundra played Dognition with her dog Winnie and found out she was a ‘Socialite’ with unusually high empathy scores, Casaundra realized Winnie might have something special to share.

‘Knowing that her empathy scores were off the charts motivated me to pursue our volunteer work as a therapy dog team.’

Winnie was found at a puppy mill that was so horrific that it was shut down by local law enforcement and the North Carolina Humane Society. Winnie was only 10 weeks old, and in such poor health that she almost did not survive.

With extensive medical attention and love from Casaundra, Winnie slowly recovered. Although Winnie still weighs only three pounds, what she lacks in size, she makes up in spirit, which makes her a perfect companion to the children she visits.

‘She knows when it’s time to be engaging or time to be still, and she is always gentle and comforting,’ says Casaundra.

Casaundra also played Dognition with her parent’s dog, and when she compared the results, she found that Winnie relied more on her gestures than her parent’s dog did.

‘Knowing that Winnie looks to me to solve problems helped me realize she wanted guidance from me, especially in the unpredictable environments we encounter in the hospital.’

Over 400 visits and a gold medal from the AKC later, Winnie is dedicated to raising awareness for therapy dogs everywhere. You can follow her adventures using the links below.

Instagram: @winnie_therapydog

Twitter: @TherapyDogWinni

Facebook: Winnie, Therapy Dog

Posted in The Dognition Experience.

Why you make such a great scientist

When Dognition first launched, many people wondered if people at home could collect data of the same quality as researchers in a laboratory. Three years later, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’

Dognition is the biggest citizen science project on dog cognition in the world. Over 47,000 people have taken part in Dognition, and on five of the seven tests, citizen science data replicated the results of researchers at Duke University and elsewhere.

“They’re just games,” says Dr. Brian Hare, founder of Dognition. “The owners love playing them and the dogs love playing them.”

For example, in one of the game-like tests, dogs were found to rely more on their memory than their sense of smell to find a hidden treat. The dogs watched as their owner hid food under one of two cups. Then when the dog was not looking, the owner switched the food to the other cup. (Watch the YouTube video of the experiment at

If dogs could smell the food, they should have been able to choose the correct cup, but owners found that most dogs went to where they last saw the food.

“The data these dog owners are producing is quality data,” says Dr. Evan MacLean, an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Arizona who is also on the scientific advisory board of Dognition. “It matches the results we see coming out of the top research groups all over the world.”

According to MacLean, the memory-over-smell result has been replicated in seven different research groups and more than a dozen different studies. “Most people think dogs use their sense of smell for everything,” MacLean said. “But actually dogs use a whole range of senses when solving problems.”

Analysis of the unusually large dataset created by Dognition has also found that all dogs have a unique set of cognitive skills that they use to navigate the world around them. Some dogs were found to be good communicators, some had better memories and others were better at taking their owner’s perspective.

“Most people think of intelligence as glass that is more or less full,” Hare said. “But intelligence is more like ice cream. Everybody has different flavors. Being good at one thing doesn’t mean you will be good at everything else.”

Hare said these kinds of findings are only possible with the big data sets that citizen scientists are able to generate.

“‘So much is possible when you have this much data,” Hare said. “I’m looking forward to dog owners answering all the big questions that have puzzled scientists for decades.”

Posted in Citizen Science, The Dognition Experience.

New podcast ‘DogSmarts’ with Dr. Brian Hare

Dr. Brian Hare has a new podcast that launches today! ‘DogSmarts’ is sponsored by Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND, the podcast has six episodes that explore the rich mental lives and cognitive abilities of our canine companions. Like, how do lost dogs find their way home? Why do we love our dogs so much? How do dogs learn words?

Brian interviews the world’s leading canine cognition experts, answers penetrating questions, and has a lot of fun in the process.

‘DogSmarts’ is available on iTunes and Google Play and features two short and four full-length episodes examining various dimensions of canine cognition.

Listen today and tell us what you think!

Google Play:

Posted in The Dognition Experience.