Tag Archives: senior-dog

Dinsford says old dogs can learn new tricks



Dinsford is an 11-year-old, male black lab living in Washington, DC, and was adopted by his fur-mom, Sarah, right around Halloween of 2015.

Sarah learned about Dognition after reading the June 30, 2016 Reddit AskScience AMA that Dr. Brian Hare hosted. Intrigued, she played the cognition games with Dinsford, and found out that he’s a “Socialite.”

We asked Sarah some questions about her experience playing Dognition games with Dinsford and what she learned.


Socialite results for Dinsford the Black Lab


What surprised you most?

I was really surprised by the Cunning tests.  Dins is usually a bit of a food thief (he prefers to be called an opportunist) so I was expecting him to go for the treat the moment I turned my back.  But he actually waited a little!  And in the Communication tests, I love watching him decide between following my point and following his gut.  The only set of tests that didn’t surprise me at all was the Empathy tests – he’s a big love bug, and we’re very close even though I haven’t had him for very long.


What was the best part about playing the games?

The best part about playing the games was getting to do something totally new with Dins.  It was fun starting a test, wondering how he would act, and then getting to see what he did.


How are you applying the Dognition profile report to your life with Dinsford?

The Dognition tests and Dinsford’s result have been super helpful.  I feel like I understand him better now.  I think dog lovers have a tendency to unintentionally anthropomorphize our pets, and the Dognition games reminded me that his brain works differently than mine.

The Dognition assessment has helped us with training too – it’s helped me prioritize his strong suits – like communication skills and looking to me for feedback – and use them to work through new tricks and commands.

Mostly, it has made me even more fascinated by dog behavior.  I’ve always been really interested in the different personalities that dogs have, but now when someone tells me they have a dog, I have to ask them what they think the dog would do if they put a treat under a paper cup. 😉




Fun Facts about Dinsford

Dinsford’s name has a very cool origin story. My favorite childhood movie was “101 Dalmatians.”  Towards the end of the movie, there is a black lab who helps the Dalmatians get back to London.  We don’t learn his name in the movie, but he lives in a town called Dinsford, and that inspired me to name him Dinsford.


What are his favorite activities?

Dins is one of those dogs who is happy doing just about anything, as long as he’s with his human.  I’ve been taking him to swimming lessons in Middleburg, VA – since he’s an older boy, swimming is the perfect low-impact exercise for him.  We also like to hike, explore our city (DC), and visit our local pet supply shop.


What are his favorite toys?

As for toys, he loves all of his food-dispensing puzzle toys.  Favorites include the Odin and his trusty Kong.  He’ll eat just about anything, but I’m going to say his favorite food is pizza (he likes it best when it’s stolen from unsuspecting pet sitters).


Does Dinsford have any weird or silly habits?

His silliest habit is hiding slimy antlers and bones and Kongs at the foot of the bed for me to find when I stick my feet in at bedtime. 🙂  And we sleep with our head on the same pillow, sometimes nose-to-nose (not really goofy, but one of my favorite things he does).


Why did you adopt a senior dog?

I would say that old dogs make the best dogs. 🙂  There’s a certain appeal in puppies, for sure, but I would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to consider a senior dog.  He has changed my life and I feel so lucky to be spending his golden years with him.


Parting Thoughts

I would recommend Dognition for any relatively new dog owner. It’s a great bonding experience, and knowing how your dog’s mind works is so helpful.  The Dognition assessment has gotten me totally hooked on learning about how dogs thinks, so I’m excited to check the “Dog Emotion & Cognition” Coursera course and DogSmarts podcast too!


Follow Dinsford’s adventures on Instagram: @dinsford_the_labrador


Stay in Touch!

dgn_instagram-icon  dgn_facebook_gray  dgn_twitter_gray and email us your Dognition stories: social@caninesinc.com

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

Rusty the Stargazer deliver surprises and smiles

rusty-06We 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 , , , .