Finding Teddy’s Genius: The Gift of Understanding

As part of my initiation to the Dognition team, I got to play the Toolkit assessment with Teddy, the mixed-breed dog I’d been sharing my life with for just over a year. Teddy and I had a pretty good relationship already. I knew what kinds of games he liked to play (fetch), what kind of food he liked to eat (wet), and what kind of people he liked to kiss (all of them). But I still had more questions. What motivates him? Why doesn’t he tell me when his water bowl is empty? Does he love me, or the liver snacks I give him?

Assessing Teddy was as fun and fascinating as I hoped. It used some of the very same science-based games I had seen on TV specials. I had tried in the past to emulate videos I’d seen of researchers pointing at cups, but had never been sure of what the “real” method was, or what I was actually discovering.

Dognition took care of that. Not only did I feel like I was participating in real scientific research — I knew that if I followed the instructions and recorded everything accurately, I could get a glimpse into Teddy’s mind.

According to Teddy’s Dognition Profile, he’s a Renaissance Dog. While that means that Teddy shines in many areas, the report dove deeper into each cognitive dimension to tell me where Teddy really excelled, and where he wasn’t as strong. In some games, especially the ones that measure empathy, Teddy performed as I expected. At home, he seems to prefer hugs to treats, and the report confirmed that. His empathy scores were sky high. But when it came to communication games — let’s just say that isn’t Teddy’s strongest suit. If I want to know if Teddy needs water, I need to get up and check his bowl myself.

Now that I know more about how Teddy thinks, I can optimize the time we spend together. Since I know he’s not an awesome communicator, I don’t get as frustrated when he doesn’t understand me. I just find new ways to work with him based on what I know about his mind. Because I know he has tremendous empathy, I reward him more with hugs than high-calorie treats.

When we adopted Teddy a few years ago, the volunteers at the shelter told us he was a special dog. And today, thanks to Dognition, I know precisely how special he is.