Dogs: Are They as Smart as We Wish to Think?

I'm sure plenty of people can relate when I say that I'm convinced my dog is a genius.  We all have that one time when our dog did some crazy human-like thing that made us positive that they are the Einstein of dogs.  I'm curious though, as to whether they're actually smart creatures, or if we're just wishful thinkers.  Due to this curiosity I stumbled across an article which has research showing dogs to be as smart as 2-year-old's.  A language development test was done on various dogs with results showing that dogs can learn as many words, signals, and hand gestures as 2-year-old's.  This number of words being anywhere between 165 and 250.

For those of you curious of which dogs are the smartest, I'll just start off with letting you know that border collies take first place.  Of course, my dog is a border collie, and she's perfect.  I know you're all extremely jealous.  Next come poodles, then German Shepherd's.  All of this lovely information has been brought to us by a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, Stanley Coren.

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(meet my beautiful 11 month old puppy, Maya)

It was further discovered that dogs are at a math and social level of 3 to 4-year-old's.  Let me guess, you're asking yourself how on earth a dog can have math skills?  Well they tested their mathematic knowledge by lowering treats behind a screen and observing whether or not the dogs knew all of them were removed or if some were still left.

So to answer the question, I think that dogs are as smart as we think.  They are fully capable of understanding a lot about humans and how the world works.  I'm not sure that they have Einstein potential, but who knows.  For now, I'd just like to think dogs are smarter than cats, but I'll have to look into that question too...

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I also have a border collie named Ali and sometimes I really think that she's smarter than I am. For example, I have another dog who was not blessed with the mental capacity of Ali, and Ali used her to trick me. Ali knows that Macy will bark at anything at all, especially if Ali starts barking at something outside. I had just made a huge plate of spaghetti and was about to dig in when I heard Ali barking. Macy freaked out and wouldn't stop barking until I let her outside. At this point, I realized that Ali was suspiciously absent. I walked back into the dining room to find her standing on top of the table, devouring the last bite of spaghetti. She used Macy's tendency to bark to make me leave the table. She can also use a ladder to get out of our pool, and regularly swims on her own even though the gate to the pool stays locked. We can't find out how she gets in! Some dogs really are smarter than some humans, and Ali is one.

I do wonder whether dogs are smarter than cats. It always seemed to me that they had totally different personalities. Dogs seem like they are easier to please, and have more loyalty. My dog, for example, would always get excited with the promise of a walk or a treat, and would always happily play a game of catch. Cats, however, seem to be a bit more selfishly inclined. If they don't want to be bothered, they'll be standoffish, and I swear, my friend and I were laughing at her cat, who immediately seemed to become offended and stalked off with her tail in the air. Maybe it's just me, but I think that would be an interesting topic to explore!

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