Readers Tell Scientists Who Say Dogs Aren’t Geniuses: ‘My Dog Is Exceptional’

Dog lovers challenged a study that found canines to be smart but not “exceptional” by citing their own pets.

Comments: 137

  1. To rate the intelligence of dogs and cats is to pick apples or oranges; both species are intelligent and at times can by extraordinary. Tiffany, my 17 year old Chorky, (Chihuahua and the Yorkshire Terrier mix), was the smartest animal I ever met. She not only asked to have dresses put on her, but she drank wine with us and always asked for morning coffee. When my wife had heart surgery, Tiffany's ability to show compassion and know when my wife was in pain and bark from another room so I would know to assist her, far reaches what any "average" animal would do. Her capacity to express love was greater than some human adults I've know! When it comes to studies, some aspects of personality have yet to be deciphered through science, so spare me the talk that dogs aren't exceptional. I have yet to meet a cat that requested their own margaritas and would bark when they wanted you take them to bed, but I knew a dog that would.

  2. @Will Yep, dogs know when they want to go to bed, and they think you should do the same at that time. Don't we all love them?

  3. @Will Cats don't need to drink and self-medicate, they can reason through their problems and command humans to do the dirty work. Nor do they feel the need to draw attention to themselves by making an obnoxious spectacle by barking, they have enough self-esteem to remain silent and observe the rif-raf.

  4. Did Tiffany need her morning coffee after indulging in too much wine?

  5. Of course dogs are smart but cats are smarter. ;) People who have dogs and cats and treat them like they are intelligent creatures and talk to them will know this is the case. Dogs and cats have the capability of learning our language and even mimicking speech. I had cats that would ask to go out and you could actually hear them say "out" and they could also ask for milk and their meow would sound like "milk". It was distinct from their other vocalizations and they would only use them when they wanted out or some milk. As for dogs and cats not using tools, why should they? They have very attendant valets who make using tools quite unnecessary.

  6. Many years ago, one of my dogs who was a year old heard me and my husband talking. I said I was "going to bed" and our dog got up, went to the bedroom, and hopped on the bed. We never taught him that. Next evening, I made sure I wasn't facing him and I kept my voice neutral. Same thing. Some years later, I took his daughter to a handler because she needed one more point for her championship. I dropped her off several days before the show so the handler could groom her and work with her. I was a bit nervous, since she'd never been away overnight. When I met them at the show three days later, my dog acted like she'd never seen me before. She ignored me for a week until she decided I'd been punished enough for treating her like a dog. Oh, and she used to watch TV. Animal shows were her favorites, especially anything about cats.

  7. @LaylaS Indeed, it's an exceptionally smart dog that studies cats as a role-model.

  8. @LaylaS I left my beloved Elsa, who was nearly a Boston Terrier, with my parents for 12 days so that I could take a trip. Coming back from South America on a Sunday, it would be 11 pm before I could arrive at their house to get her, but I asked them to stay up late so that I could get her ASAP. I did, and she turned her back on me acting like I was a random itinerant of dubious origin, ignoring me completely. It was Thursday before I was allowed to pet her.

  9. I had a German Shepherd who could understand spelling when the words had not been spelled before. I once took him to the vet for surgery. When I went to pick him up, he walked to another woman and wanted her to take him home.

  10. My dog is reading War and Peace. Without his eyeglasses.

  11. @Susanne Taylor My dog would like to join your dog’s book club.

  12. @Susanne Taylor My cat wrote War and Peace on his iPhone.

  13. @Susanne Taylor My dog has been reading for years, but it's not that impressive - she still moves her lips.

  14. While dogs may be intelligent, apparently they are not as bright as my cat, who’s smart enough to know not to follow orders unless there’s something in it for him!

  15. @boognish . . . Absolutely too funny!!!

  16. Well, I'm having a nice giggle. This was exactly my thought on reading the headline of the original article - "What about exceptional animals?" There is simply no doubt that exceptional animals, of all species, exist. I have 3 farm dogs at the moment, all loose 24 hours a day to protect things. I've had something like 10 dogs altogether over the years, and minored in Ethology in grad school... Lily, my 1.6 year old 3/4 Blue Heeler 1/4 German Shepherd, is by far the "smartest" dog I've ever owned. Trying to put a number on "how smart" though, sounds totally futile. There are thousands of absolutely professional dog trainers in the world- and they KNOW, with all the legitimacy of any randomized mass study, many, many things that academics are now getting grants to study. What a waste.

  17. my dog is exceptional - spartacus!

  18. I feel that a large number of readers who responded to the article did not actually take the time to read it. Just because your dog can do something you think is cool doesn’t necessarily mean that dogs are any smarter than other species. It reminds me a lot of parents who think their child is exceptional for doing something that they consider to be a display of superior ability and intellect (for instance, making a decent macaroni doodle), when in reality millions of other children are capable of making an equivalent or even superior doodle. It is unfortunate that people are so willing to place their trust in single anecdotes over comprehensive research and expertise.

  19. @Jameson Maybe some "training" will help you comprehend the genius of man's best friend.

  20. My dog is like a scientist who discovers through experimentation. She once tried to prove to me that it is possible to eat a Barbie doll. She indeed proved that it was right. The problem was that it isn't possible to digest a Barbie doll. But she learned from the experience, as would anyone who spent 10 minutes essentially doing a stationary squat in the front yard. She hasn't eaten a Barbie doll in 8 years.

  21. Our dog, Sophie, makes up her own games with balls. We live near a park with hills of various heights. As a puppy, she realized that balls roll down hills and humans return them. She stationed herself atop a small hill, then sat down after tossing the ball down the hill. We threw it back and she repeated the same toss down the hill, waiting at the top. She then ran to the top of a very steep sledding hill nearby and started the same game from there, always sitting down and waiting at the top for us to return it (needed Chuckit flinger, because she was so far up there), then rolling it back down to us. She would often walk several feet right or left and change the course the ball would take, forcing the human at the bottom to move over to retrieve the ball, as if she was experimenting or teaching her humans different aspects of the game. Inside the house, she liked to play goalie on a landing at the bottom of our basement steps, blocking with her chest or legs, volleying the ball back into the air with her shoulder/back and often catching it. After a few minutes of that game, she walked up 3-4 steps and carefully placed the ball on a 1 1/2 inch wide ledge along the side of the steps and watched it roll down to us. When it stayed on the ledge the full length, she literally sat down and grinned ear to ear with delight. She would do this over and over, usually managing to keep the ball from dropping over the edge. We did not teach her these things. All observation.

  22. As a dog trainer I’ve witnessed enough from dogs to know that some of them are pretty exceptional. I was taught in training school that dogs are about as smart as a human toddler. So I often reference that to my human clients as it seems to make my training techniques more understandable. Yet I realize that comparing human to dog intelligence isn’t quite fair. We’re judging a dog’s intelligence in a human world. Can you imagine if a human’s intelligence was judged in a dog’s world?! However, when witnessing a service dog go fetch the mother of a child who was about to have a seizure, well, I haven’t seen evidence that any toddler or even grown adult human can do that. It was nothing short of magical to see. So perhaps the average pet dog is just really average within the parameters if this study, you will never convince me that the dog who can detect seizures before they happen and repeatedly save the life of his young owner is anything short of a rock star.

  23. What!? Only six comments so far on how “smart my dog is”.... I guess everybody on the West Coast is still asleep but what about the East Coast, it’s three hours ahead and not 8 o’clock in the morning… Maybe they’re taking their little smart pooches on walks — Slaves to a canines bodily functions. Although my “ Lazy boy” got his name because as a kitten, he was too impatient to bury his dookies, & Wanted to go outside and play.

  24. We would be better off if we let our pets vote for president.

  25. Dogs have a vocabulary. Some have a very large vocabulary and can follow instructions very well. You can’t compare how humans learn to animal learning abilities. I have a red heeler. Any heeler owner I have met says the breed is the most intelligent dog they have ever met or owned with a mind of their own. After my dog learns a word which takes once or twice, she knows exactly what I am saying and can follow instructions. Like find you frisbee or ball. She also knows on walks to follow me, be near me and if we come across a road to stay with me, without any effort to train. Dogs have evolved with humans to understand their language . They do use tools, their paws to move bowls find toys, etc. Since they do not have hands, they use tools in different ways. they know that humans can help them and will often get the human to help get toys from under the couch, open doors and give them food. A wolf on the other hand although intelligent, has not evolved with humans to know to get a human to help with tasks of those studied in captivity. In my opinion you need to use different metrics to determine intelligence. Dogs are very smart, they knew from caveman days that if they hooked up with humans, helped them, gave affection, they would be fed and well cared for. Think about the life of a well cared for dog. Who wouldn’t want that life?

  26. @Tj Dellaport Actually, wolves who have been in contact with humans WILL use them. At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, VA, there are wolves on display. In the summer, it's very hot, the amusement park has park workers walk around with portable mist-ers. One mist dispenser sprayed over the fence into the wolf enclosure. The female wolf immediately went to investigate. When she discovered the cool "rain," she stood basking in it as long as the young man bathed her. She certainly used humans as tool, having discovered a use for them! The wolf-handler said that wolves are more, in temperament, like what we think of cats: less empathetic, more hard-headed, somewhat given to "rub my tummy--oh NO, you don't-NIP!" Dogs are domesticated. Cats are one step removed from feral.

  27. My dog may not be a genius, but she is pretty smart. She leaves the room every time she hears Trump's voice on TV.

  28. Dogs may not be any more intelligent than other mammals, but like children, they can be exceptional when raised by loving and caring adults.

  29. My smart, very funny Old English Sheepdog, Lewie, greets me at the back door when I arrive home from work. He then goes into my bag and takes out my makeup case which he brings upstairs to my bedroom and puts it on the bed. He has done this from the first day we had him as a rescue. When my daughter comes to visit, he greets her in the same way and wants to carry her backpack upstairs, he continues to try to excel at this. And if all else fails, he pulls out her makeup case and trots that upstairs to her room. When I work remote, he barges in to remind me that it is 5:00pm, knock it off and let's go for a walk. Dogs rule!

  30. One of hundreds of examples I could offer about my three dogs and all of the others I have had over all the years: my springer spaniel Hope has a collection of dog toys she keeps stashed around the house. She will walk into the kitchen with one of her colored tennis balls in her mouth and I will say, "No, Hope, not that toy. Go find your long red chew toy." She will drop the tennis ball and come back a minute later with the long red chew toy. Then, I'll tell her to go get the red and blue squeeky ball that we call "Squeek." "Go find Squeek," I'll tell her. She'll drop the red chew toy and go find Squeek and bring it into the kitchen. We have witnesses. Friends will come over and watch this in amazement. Hope has learned our different names for her toys and she can understand which ones we are talking about and respond. Do I need millions in study funding to figure out that this is cognitive learning by this dog? No.

  31. We taught our last puppies to recognize themselves and the illusion of mirrors with a floor length mirror propped out at the bottom by 8" so they could walk behind and around it. Fast forward two years and Max, standing in the hallway hidden from my view as I worked in the kitchen. He spotted my reflection in the mirror in the hallway. We couldn't see each other. Max rarely barked but this time he did, enthusiastically, until I turned and saw he was playing a joke! barking to get my attention while knowing it was just a reflection of me. When he saw me look back he started wagging his tail playfully! A jolly old dog who lived until 16 1/2 and walked more than 20,000 miles with me.

  32. My dogs are pretty gosh darn smart. Pugs. One will pull throw rugs out of the way when we are vacuuming. One will use us as tools when a toy is stuck under the couch: Bark, bark, bark... and if we don't comply, he will commence to biting the couch, which he knows we will respond to. I have a DeLonghi Panel Heater that they know. They will go and stand in front of it + look at me plaintively until I plug it in + turn it on. After their morning meal, they bark until supplements are dispensed + tooth cleaning chews are bestowed. Pavlov? Maybe. But I think they are just super intelligent.

  33. @Susan Slattery Or course they're smart. Look at how well they have you trained.

  34. When I first met my rescued pitbull at the shelter, she picked up an empty bowl and dropped it next to the hose outside, then stared at me. I filled the bowl and she drank every drop. After I took her home, she tricked my other dog out of his treats by running to the window and barking excitedly. My other dog would abandon his treat to see what was so interesting and she'd run back and gobble it up. But most importantly, she knew when I was sad before I could even identify the emotion. And she'd lay her velvet head in my lap and and say without words "I'm here. I love you." There are different kinds of intelligence and I don't know that you'll find another animal with the emotional intelligence of dogs.

  35. I have had many dogs and cats over the years and whether I considered them smart or dumb, they all managed to train me to get them whatever they wanted! By far the smartest dog I ever had was CJ, a hundred pound black lab. She could follow a string of commands perfectly every time. One of the dumbest was John, a 75 lb black lab who, no matter what you said just looked at you with a confused expression on his face - until you gave up and did it yourself. He would then get this flash of smugness that told me that was what he intended all along.

  36. Can't dogs have their day without cat owners always meowing that their pets are smarter, cuter, nobler, etc.?

  37. My dog is awesome.....because she's my dog. She is always excited to see me, literally jumps into my arms when I return home from a business trip, she knows o-u-t and w-a-l-k and can "find" my daughter. She's no smarter than any other dog and according to my dog tolerating husband "pretty ok" since she doesn't chew anything. Dogs are like kids, everyone's own dog or kid is smarter and more brilliant than anyone else's.

  38. The late Comet Bernstein, a half lab, half border collie who belonged to my ex, loved to launch the large plastic flowerpot off of her snout, and then chase it. When Comet stayed with me, she'd sit quietly while I worked. But at 6pm she'd go, "woof!" Then, if I ignored her, she'd start chasing her tail, because she knew I'd crack up, and then take her running.

  39. All animals are exactly as smart as they need to be. This cannot necessarily be said about all humans.

  40. And clearly any POTUS who doesn’t live with a dog is a clear example of your point, Kathryn!

  41. Well, this does nothing to prove that dogs are geniuses. However, it certainly proves that plenty of people aren't too bright.

  42. My dog, Shawnee, was the smartest dog I ever had. She had a great sense of humor, too. One evening, when me and my friend and her husband went to the park together to walk our dogs (or actually, let them run free) we were sitting together talking. Of course we always kept a watch on them. But this evening, Shawnee disappeared. I went into a panic. We were calling and calling to no avail.we searched all over the park. I might mention where we had been sitting and talking, we were surrounded by very tall, dense and spiky plants in raised concrete beds. All of a sudden, there was Shawnee's face, with, I might add, a smirk on it, staring out between the tall spikes of the plant. She had been hiding in there all the time playing hide-n-seek. She was truly one of a kind.

  43. Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog in the world. And everyone is right.

  44. My dog IS exceptional. Exceptionally cute. If I had a dollar for every passerby who falls in love....

  45. Some dogs have hair. My dog has hair. Therefore, my dog is some dog.

  46. My late dog, Coco, a Jack Russell terrier, was unquestionably a genius. We could put all of her toys in a pile (and she had A LOT of toys), and then say, for example, “get your blue camel!” She would dig through the pile and get her blue camel. We would also put a (new, so it had no doggy smell) present under the Christmas tree for her. We’d tell her to “get your present!” she’d grab hers and unwrap it with her paws and teeth. She wouldn’t open any other presents. (Except one year when there was food under the tree—she was still a dog after all!)

  47. @Roger Hall When we adopted a new puppy, our black lab "hid" all of her toys in the fireplace so the new dog couldn't find them!

  48. How are we defining intelligence here? In their relationships with people, dogs and other animals engage a level of emotional intelligence that is beyond the capacity of humans in their relationships toward each other. Try getting along in the world, getting what you need, for a week without using any language and you’ll get a better idea of how smart animals can be.

  49. I taught my Cavalier Spaniel to read. She responds to the following commands written on cards: Sit, down, over, yawn, cover, spin, and 1 1 (two barks). No other visual or verbal cues. She has done it with other people holding the cards for her.

  50. I tend to think of my dog as a kindergartner and my cat as a teenager - the dog just eager to please, while my cat can choose to tune me out depending on her mood. Neither is necessarily smarter than the other.

  51. My son took the family dog to the pet store to buy a few things. He let the dog roam the store while he was collecting the needed items. You have to know that this dog was a stray for many years on the streets of Crete. For several years now the dog has always been on a leash while away from home (Karlsruhe, Germany). After my son paid for the items he looked for the dog, but the dog was gone. He finally went home a half mile away in total exasperation. He had lost the dog! When he got out of the car and went up the driveway to the house. There was the dog with a big doggy doughnut in his mouth. Yes, the dog had shoplifted like a real pro! Even the store laughed at that one. And still the dog hides food all over the house in case bad times come back again. Pretty smart.

  52. @William PerrigoThat is a wonderful story! I read it out loud to my husband this morning. thanks for sharing!

  53. My Yorkie, Sandy, would place one of his treats as bait in the hall and then hide under a table to wait for a victim. We would pretend to be about to pick up the treat, and he would leap out, snarling and snapping to scare us away. Our bulldog, Winnie, would bark furiously at a statue in the park, pretending she thought it was a real man, and then look back at us to see if we got the joke.

  54. My dog is an intelligent dog as far as dog intelligence goes. It hides at the geometric center of a table or bed at the sight of her towel - she hates baths. She gets anxious when I get a suitcase - she knows I won’t be around. The only thing truly exceptional she’s done her entire life - she’s a 15 year old poodle - was stop while chasing a rabbit to go around the house to surprise it from the opposite side. Other than that she’s been my lively companion for over 15 years, a member of my family, a “daughter” that never grew up, never answered back to me for cutting short her screen time, never attended school, and will never attend college. A “daughter” that licks my face every time I come home, waggles her tail at my sight, always happy, always playful. The only thing she always wanted in return - and she got plenty - was love and a bowl of food and water. I will miss her dearly when she’s gone.

  55. Dogs have a high degree of emotional intelligence. They are expert readers of facial expressions, and can understand many pertinent words and phrases. For this special ability, they offer great companionship.

  56. My dog, a yellow Labrador named Jazz, told me she had competed her dogtoral thesis on humans and had concluded that dogs like her are very smart but she refuses to say whether she thinks herself smarter than humans. However, she gets fed without working, she gets exercise without paying a gym subscription, and has her belly rubbed by just assuming the position. By being friendly, she creates friendliness, by welcoming she is welcomed, by being joyful she brings joy, and by being faithful she encourages fidelity. Intelligent? I think so.

  57. Like humans, there is a wide range of intelligence in dogs. If the scientists had studied my dog Juneau, an Alaskan Eskimo/mutt mix, they might have reached different conclusions. Juneau was more emotionally perceptive, and could read someone’s mood and respond accordingly better than most people I’ve met. She was also clever. I owned a retail store and took her to work. We’d often walk to-and-from work, she leashless and in the lead. As she approached each corner I’d tell her to go left, right or straight, and she’d comply. Smart doggie! I can imagine gow our dog Bissel, a Yorkshire Terrier, would have responded to the scientists’ conclusion. When we were kids, if you did something she felt an affront, she’d bide her time and leave you a little present — a small dump right in the center of the door jamb to your room.

  58. Anybody who has ever had dogs and cats together knows that cats are smarter than dogs. They always end up calling the shots.

  59. @Calbob My vet once told me that in multi pet households, the roost is ruled by the smallest cat.

  60. When my elderly parents went into a nursing home I had the weekly task of driving 3 hours from my home with my dachshund to clear out their house for sale. Every week I would pack a bag with enough clothes and some canned food for 2 days of work before returning home. On one of these trips I unpacked my bag at my parents house and found that my dachshund had slipped a lamb bone that I had given him the night before into the bag. I like to think that he was intelligent enough to pack for the trip too.

  61. My late English setter, Sarah, used to visit my neighbor after dinner and lounge in his living room. Tom told me that when he put down his book to go to bed and, suggested that Sarah go home, she would act as if she couldn't walk.

  62. @Miss D Sarah just wanted to hear one more chapter.

  63. These letters confirm what I’ve always thought : we see our pets as extensions of ourselves. In other words, we project our personality in our pets.

  64. Obviously, these scientists did not live with and loved their subjects. I've lived with and loved four golden retrieves over the past 50 years and they were all geniuses! As were several cats . . .

  65. Dogs do make great therapists. They are unsurpassed listeners who will never interrupt. But like many human therapists, they don’t understand a thing you say. Otherwise, the original article stated that dogs are highly lovable, and we humans blindly impute amazing powers to the ones we love.

  66. No dog is as smart as a squirrel when there is bird feeder full of seed somewhere in the garden. I have seen them outsmart dogs, cats...and my design engineer father, who designed aircraft that have carried millions and never failed, but struggled in vain for years to design a system that would ultimately defeat the squirrels. What makes dogs so special is their capacity for empathy. Some Buddhists say being incarnated as a dog is one level before attaining human birth, whereas cats...well, too bad about cats (domestic kind, not tigers and lions etc).

  67. The researchers need to study the dogs of owners who claim their dog is exceptional compared to the other dogs they have owned. I have owned four dogs, and one dog, Pookie, was clearly far more alert and intelligent than the other three. Pookie understood phrases like "rain, rain no leash walk," He knew exactly what rain was, and if I said "rain, rain no leash walk," he would go to the open door, take a peak at the rain outside and then march into another room. You could fool little Pookie once, but you never could fool him twice.

  68. I too found great exception to this "research" as the daughter of the late, Dr. John W. Pilley - who is the owner and trainer of Chaser, the dog who scientifically has the largest documented language learning of any animal in the world. I am also a co-trainer of Chaser and the solid science of my fathers research indicates that there are currently no boundaries to her learning, he simply got too old to continue testing her. Her learning was designed to be open-ended, not simply rote behaviors with the philosophy that teaching one concept is greater than 100 behaviors. She was able to log over 1022 objects into her long term memory and understand proper nouns, common nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives and prepositions. This was all before she was 3 years old. Now in Chaser's senior years, (she is currently 14) as her hearing has diminished, she has been able to quickly adapt to sign language - simply because learning builds on learning. The more we learn, the more we are able to learn. We also know that Chaser is not unique. We believe ALL dogs can do this and their talents are beyond measurable as indicated in the stories shared in this piece as well as thousands of others. We have grossly underestimated this incredible animal that has co-evolved with us socially for 40,000 years, dedicating their owns lives to ours. While there is no way to measure the "uniqueness" of any animal, human or non-human, all creatures are capable of their own genius.

  69. @Pilley Bianchi- Reading thee comments I wondered if you would respond to this story. We here in the "Burg" have enjoyed reading about Chaser. Shucks, he even got a visit from Anderson Cooper! I call that being very smart!

  70. I think we tend to see dogs as highly intelligent because of their unique ability to relate to and communicate with humans. Dogs and humans evolved together.

  71. Hmmm.... the reality is a significant lack of study/research concerning animals and their ways. Why is that? Unless there is some sort of financial incentive/reimbursement it simply isnt done. I think there is a place in Hungary that studies dogs in detail. Also examining brains has revealed differences in the # of synapse density among different species. DOgs have many more neuron connections per brain weight than cats.

  72. Dogs vary so much it’s impossible to generalize. My previous Aussie mix easily learned to unwind his leash when he got it around a tree or even a small bush. I would say “tree” and he would unwind — always in the right direction. My present Aussie mix has never figured that out (but is exceptional in other ways of course).

  73. My late much beloved Yorkie used to put the stuffed toy he had from birth on top of gopher mounds in the back yard. Every evening he went on patrol, found a fresh mound, came inside, got his stuffed lamb, and ran outside with it to put it on top of the fresh dirt. In the morning he sat next to the toy until I came over and praised him for alerting the household to the latest gopher.

  74. Dogs are very smart — at being dogs. And cats are smart at being cats. A dolphin cannot bend blades of grass with a paw nor herd sheep but ... you get the picture. It is futile to rate the intelligence of animals across species, and especially by human standards. The modern domestic dog seems especially intelligent to us because humans invented this species using genetic engineering (“breeding”) to create an animal that is programmed to respond to our own needs and desires.

  75. Dogs evolved with us, and through thousands of years of guarding us at night and hunting with us during the day, have developed a bond with our species that goes beyond symbiosis or anthropomorphism, and extends into the emotional realm. Every dog knows how to gauge its human's mood, and manipulate its human by eye contact and body language. I suppose you could call this “emotional intelligence.” Other group-oriented species, from orcas to elephants, possess it. But none are as capable as dogs of the range and depth of emotions between our two species — something that can only be called love.

  76. On a hike today in the Alps with Fred, my dog. Also along my wife and two friends. We took a wrong fork and ended uo on a very narrow, uneven, often slick path bordered on one side by a very steep fall. Fred instictively took the lead, turning and coming back to us from time to time to make sure we were following and importantly, alright. When we finally circled round to the much steeper but wider, safer path, Fred again would work his way back to whichever of us was lagging behind. Genius. Instict. I didn’t care at the time. Don’t care now but I know what Fred did could not have been done by a cat.

  77. My boston terrier recognized when animals were on tv - he would bark, paw at the screen and go around to the back of the tv trying to find them. He did the same with pictures of dogs - he would bark and paw at them. He also recognized himself in the mirror - he would paw at his reflection. He also knew both my name and my husband’s - i could tell him to go get something and bring it to my husband. My other boston is capable of deceit - like the dog faking the limp in the article. If our other dog has something she wants - a toy or a nice place to lie down, she’ll create a distraction or pretend whatever toy or space she has is fantastic so that the other dog now wants it and she can take whatever she wanted. I think that’s pretty amazing!

  78. My belgian malinois responded to about 200 words and 40 of them were commands. Still, beyond that was his loyalty and unconditional love. After 20 years, to think of him still tugs on my heart. There are a few great truths in life, and dogs know what they are.

  79. @William Alan Shirley My belgian, Simone, was a mass murderer - of ground squirrels. She knew I didn't like it, and one day left me a present. Simone always knew when it was time for bed, and always left early to claim her spot. One night, she hung back and watched as I pulled back the covers and, I swear, grinned at me as I discovered a half-dead ground squirrel on my sheets. She then calmly jumped on to the bed and went to her spot and went to sleep.

  80. If the limping dog was such a genius why didn't it just order a pizza?

  81. @Lodger...well,duh...if someone else orders, the dog gets to eat but doesn’t have to pay...sound spretty smart to me,eh? ;^D

  82. I have three dogs and can tell which ones are more perceptive and which ones follow orders the best. I can't say that any one of them is intelligent, but I definitely know that all of them by far are kinder, more loving, and more forgiving than almost every intelligent human being I have ever known.

  83. My brother's dog catches a ball that is thrown to her, cocks her head sideways and "throws" the ball back to you. She also returns thrown balls by hitting them back to you with the side of her snout (like a seal) and when laying down on the floor, will return a rolled ball by rolling it with her tongue. At her scheduled dinner time if no one has fed her, she gets in front of the person closest to her food and snaps her teeth (making a clicking sound),and like most dogs is familiar with often used words like dinner, park, etc. Bottom line, she is smarter than a lot of bosses I have worked for.

  84. My late, great dog Meaka was a genius too, but a genius who liked to eat cat feces and roll in the occasional dead fish. Go figure.

  85. My dog would get so excited when I came home rom work he would pee on my shoes. Just a little bit, but he knew me so well, he knew I wouldn't mind. How wise is that!

  86. My Carin Terrier is smart because when he wants the area above his tail scratched he looks at me and throws his head to his back area over and over until I scratch it. Dog using human as tool.

  87. I trained by English Fox Hound to ask for potato chips, then one day she asked for pretzels, which I supplied. We were watching the Super Bowl, and she asked for a Bud. with the pretzels. Now that's smart.

  88. Of course, we feline fanatics have always known that dogs are second rate when it comes to smarts. What self respecting cat would greet a human at the door, slobbering, ‘oh master, I’m so glad to see you. I missed you so much. What can I do for you!?’

  89. I am sure that these people's kids are exceptional too. After all, they won a participation award in the neigh or hood spelling bee.

  90. My dog, bless her heart, is dumber than a rock. However, I feed her twice a day, let her out when she asks, and lavish love and treats on her. She's smart enough to have secured a better gig than I'll ever see.

  91. I suspect our dog's remarkable intelligence and memory skills stem from ongoing conversations we have with her. Real conversation. Not stupid, conventional human-to-animal speak.

  92. Obviously, the study was flawed, unlike my dog!!

  93. Dogs may or may not be smarter than dolphins or chimpanzees, but (a) there's a lot lot more of them than dolphins or chimps (and I like dolphins and chimps, fyi), (b) humans spend billions of dollars taking care of their dogs, which are abundant and plentiful (thank dog for that) while the dolphins are chimps are getting wiped out (thank humans for that.) So in the evolutionary scale, dogs are clearly the smartest. And unlike cows and chickens, they managed to do all of this by joining us for dinner under the table and not on it. That said, we got a stubborn-as-heck pup from the shelter, learned he was an Australian Cattle Dog(Mix?) and wondered how to un-Dingo him. We tried appealing to his ego (of all things!) - he hated being punished, we did too, so we would count to 3 and force him to do what we wanted (basically walk home :)) so he picked up 1-2-3 as an ultimatum for everything. When that stopped working well, I would give him "1-minute" and a minute later lift him up and make him walk home. It worked, he would wait for anywhere from 40-ish to 80-ish seconds and get up himself. Then I taught him "2-minutes" (yes I am a lenient fool) and he liked that better. 7+ years later, when he is in the yard and I tell him to come inside in "2-minutes" he gets around to it in around 2min20secs or so. Of course, on cheekier days, he will peek in the door till we acknowledge him and then take off into the yard for another stint there. Genius, I don't know. But smart enough.

  94. @Suppan Australian Cattle Dogs are "like that."

  95. @Suppan I think a dog that is bred for a certain purpose, and then not actually used for that purpose, doesn't really know what to do with itself. Think of the people now with traditional jobs (coal miners) who for generations have spent their lives underground. Now at loose ends, they have no 'road' to follow, and are disinclined to innovate, or even try something new. Dogs are just following the ancestral trail.

  96. The authors of the study obviously didn't study Border Collies, the rocket scientists of the dog world.

  97. I'll match my 20 year old cockatiel against any dog or cat. Since she is having a hard time flying now, she has me chauffeuring her my condo whenever I am home. On my shoulder and wants to go sit up on a closet, no problem, pull on my glasses and look up to where she wants to go. She's a little short on the empathy, however.

  98. In which we learn yet again that people will talk to ANYTHING and believe that it’s answering back. By the way, the notion that a dog thinks and speaks and acts just like you is disrespectful to the dog.

  99. @Robert Ya know . . . you have a point . . .

  100. Ember, rest his soul, would have been honored to know he was in the New York Times. He is the one who faked a limp. We were eating pizza and wouldn't give him any. He sat, lay down, whimpered, barked, and sulked. Then he began exaggeratedly limping across the floor. We got worried and went to him. He limped pathetically over to the pizza, and turned a soulful look at us. Then one of our other dogs saw something out the window, and he got distracted, gracefully running over to look and see. Yes, we gave him some pizza. He earned it.

  101. @Jen I had a dalmation that did nearly the same thing. He stepped on a yellow jacket and it stung his paw. He yelped and limped as we extracted the stinger and put ice on it. His sister barked at the other end of the yard, off dashed Domino to see, then he came back limping with the other paw! He was sweet, but not bright. Tammy on the other hand had to be watched carefully. She would bolt down her meal then run to the other side of the yard barking, Domino would go see and she would double back to eat his dinner too. She would look at us in disgust when we wised up and fed them separately.

  102. @Jen While food in general is an extremely powerful motivator, there's something about pizza that makes all creatures (2 as well as 4 legged) go to any and all lengths in order to obtain a slice or three. Pizza is truly the secret ingredient to success in any scenario. Condolences on the passing of Ember. Congrats on his post mortem celebrity status.

  103. @Lori Wilson Don't think you extracted the stinger or else it wasn't a yellow jacket. Their stinger remains part and parcel of their bodies after a sting . . . in fact, it usually is followed by a second sting, and then another . . .

  104. I had an Australian Cattle Dog. She was the most beautiful, sweetest, lovingest little dog you could ever imagine. I never thought that she was all that smart, but after some years I came to the conclusion that she knew everything she needed to know to be a dog and that that was enough.

  105. People need to understand the breeds. The Belgian Malinois and Border Collie are smart but high energy even to the point of manic as are many terriers. If a chimpanzee has an IQ equivalent of a 5 year old a dog's IQ is about that of a 2 year old, 2 years higher than that of a cat.

  106. @ogn But if their IQ is that of a 2 year old, as you say, their common sense is far superior to that of a lot of adults I know.

  107. We take our Golden to a wonderful dog park. There are typically one or two other Goldens around, and they run and play together, sit down in the pond to cool off, and plop down to look for birds or squirrels. The Goldens keep far away from the more aggressive breeds because they are not fighters or wrestlers by nature. They seem to be as one with nature, and, I've noticed, they share sticks, with each holding an end in their mouths. They rarely bark, but when they do, it is so unusual, all the other dogs stop what they are doing. I consider this behavior by Goldens as a parable for the state of politics these days. It is my fervent hope that their human feeders and head strokers and ear scratchers will inherit the earth, or at least the White House.

  108. @PaulB67 I concur with your assessment of Goldens. We had one named Sandy. She was so sweet, gentle, funny and lovable. Our only fear is that if our home was ever burglarized while we were at work, we could picture Sandy either helping the thieves carry out the TV and silverware or at least hold open the door for them while they carried out our stuff. She was that sweet and thoughtful. Thankfully, we were not robbed so our theory was never put to the test.

  109. My dog is going to write my PhD dissertation titled,”Impact of technology on the urban fabric.”

  110. Our sweet border collie Misty would literally throw tennis balls back to me. She made up and taught us numerous tricks and games. Search YouTube for “Misty catch/throw trick” and “Misty pine cone”

  111. I'm still laughing at a comment from last time stating, "Dogs have owners, cat have staff." How true. Right now my cat is lying by my full view storm door, stretched out, basking in the sun, not concerned one whit whether i consider him smart or dumb. His tummy is full.

  112. Every dog that has ever graced our home was a master at simply using their eyes to get what they wanted. We always fell for that "I haven't eaten since last Tuesday" look or "it's a sin to be indoors on such a beautifully sunny afternoon" look. Regardless the reason or the ask, every dog in our life knew how to pour on the sincerity, sympathy, and woo is me look more effectively and convincingly than any human we have ever encountered. All of this was done with simply their eyes. They knew how to work them and how to work a room. How I loved and miss my dogs . . . even after 5, 10, and 20 years - I still grieve for their company.

  113. My first dog was truly named Moonshine. He was going to accompany Neil Armstrong to the Moon but at the last minute bow bowed out because he realized flying made him nauseous. But he did complete and pass his classroom studies. He relished letting people assume he was just a simple dog, living a simple dog's life.

  114. This wonderful column has brought out the best in its readers. Well done one and all.

  115. My dog is a POD: Plain Old Dog--1/2 Jack Russell, 1/4 Whippet, 1/4 something white. She is 8 years old. I have a slight hearing impairment which makes it difficult for me to hear the doorbell. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I also have serious food allergies. We live together. My dog has never had any formal training as a support animal. She is completely self-taught, based only on her own empathy and tummy rubs. * When I get upset or anxious, she comes and snuggles with me. She sees or hears that I need her and she comes. * When the doorbell rings and I am in my bedroom where I can't hear it, she alerts me by coming to the bed or jumping on the bed without being asked (she never comes up without permission). If I don't go to the door, she will bark (she never barks). * I develop new allergies from time to time. I had a serious allergic reaction to strawberries. My heart rate got seriously low, making me dizzy, nauseated, and weak. She jumped on the bed and roused me. Realizing that I was very sick, I called 911. I didn't know I was sick, but she did.

  116. IMHO .. As far as IQ goes dogs are indeed probably average in cognitive ability among the higher animals. But where they excel, and really stand out, is in their EQ. The Emotional Quotient. Their social skill and sensitivity is ever a wonder. Dogs are just so tuned in. Well-socialized dogs exhibit the character traits we elevate and admire in people. Loyalty, loving kindness, sympathy, playfulness, persistence, protectiveness etc. Well-socialized is the key aspect here. A dog can be spoiled as surely as any child if not gently provided with proper boundaries. Anybody with the common sense God gave a cocker spaniel can see that this is true.

  117. The irony of it all is that my dog, pictured in the original story, is truly exceptional despite the article's premise. Many may say their loved one is extraordinary but they aren't pictured, so let's just admit that not every dog is above average. Aside from his good looks, Rufus can smell pizza 2.3 miles away, knows to wake us 23 minutes before sunrise, can jump a 5' fence from a dead stop to reach a bagel, and knows how fast to run to protect food someone was silly enough to leave unprotected, which helps to manage his food bill. Of course, he's mastered all the requisite parlor tricks, which he knows are silly but hey - dried liver is dried liver. His ability to smell food is only exceeded by his preternatural ability to detect even the smallest of carcasses, the loveliest of all perfumes, which isn't for everyone but is apparently prized in his circles. But perhaps his talent is is ability to train humans to do the craziest, silliest things than no human could ever make another human do with a straight face.

  118. I’ve been around many dogs that I would consider smart. Others, not so much. My current companion dog, Sadie, an Oreo cookie fluffy wonder of a Portuguese Water Dog, is in the other category. I’ve been serious about training all my life, and I’ve seen dogs master a task easily, and then decide it’s not for them. Is it intelligence to decide an issue, whether a task is to be done. Could obstinance be a sign of deeper thought and reflective intelligence? A second notion of intelligence —emotional intelligence—seems to be overlooked in the study. This is the amazing ability to detect the emotional well-being of a person or the limitations in a person’s faculties and modify their behaviours accordingly. Sadie interacts with babies, children, adults, men, women, firm and infirm with an amazing ability to greet and interact appropriately given the vast differences people offer in their manner. Not to mention that if Sadie finds me in tears, she dotes on me, licking what-ever pain it was away, and pressing up against my side until she can feel that I’m better.

  119. @Mark Zieg People tend, for some unknown reason, to judge everything in groups. If I said "All dogs are _______. What would be the correct word to finish this sentence? If you said, "different", you'd be right.

  120. Our late Standard Poodle Joseph of Arimathea (Joey) sat in the pews and listened carefully to our priest’s sermon on Blessing of the Animals Sundays (St. Francis). He would tilt his handsome face at particularly deep and holy moments. He was kind and funny and loyal. Joey was a Poodle Rescue poodle; but we all believe that he rescued us. And he was the Poodle of Honor in our church wedding. We miss him everyday.

  121. We had two German Shepherds, A and Z. A was loving but hopelessly stupid, but Z was very smart. In the summer, A compulsively ate plums and would get diarrhoea every night. We kept both dogs in the house at night, but one night my wife left A outside because she was sick of cleaning up the apple-sauce textured mess that coated the floor every morning. The next morning, she came downstairs to find A in the house and the balcony door wide open -- Z had opened it during the night to let A into the house. (Do animals have empathy? Yes.) This was a very heavy floor-to-ceiling sliding door with a complex mechanism that most of our human guests couldn't understand -- it required three separate actions to open. Nobody had ever taught Z to open it, yet apparently she'd been watching us. Z opened that door for us a couple of other times when a family member accidentally locked themselves out. (Plus another time when she had been shut inside to stop her from barking at a hedgehog in the garden.)

  122. @Eddie Wrong; everybody who has opened that door in A's presence, has taught her. Dogs watch everything much as a three year old child 'learns' in this way. They have nothing else important on their minds.

  123. I still believe my mother's Seeing Eye dog was intelligent. A friend called her 'peoples'. That she woke me and led me to my mother's room where I would find her unconscious on the floor was a miracle. Her dog was an angel.

  124. Intelligence is measured by a 'man' made test. Such test must be statistically normed (each question / activity must be proven to be a determinant). Given the vagaries of human-canine interaction, the vast differences in genetically programmed behavior amongst different canine breeds (e.g. working dogs such as shepherds vs lap dogs such as King Charles spaniels, sight hounds such as retrievers vs. scent hounds such as blue tick hounds) this study is profoundly useless because it neglects these issues. Those interested in the basic issue are well advised to watch on Youtube Neil deGrasse Tyson's story about a boarder collie finding a toy named Einstein.

  125. As at Lake Wobegon, all the dogs are above average.

  126. I'd suggest revisiting an older book titled Mutt: The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. It's a story of an exceptional Canadian dog who could fairly be called a genius. I think it was written in the 1940s.

  127. @Garlic Toast What an entertaining book by Farley Mowat! I still read chapters in my dog eared copy from time to time! It is so much fun to read aloud to others. Thanks for mentioning!

  128. Thurber, a terrier mix, loved to lick yogurt containers after I finished eating. One time, when licking out the container that’s smaller on the top than the bottom, his nose got momentarily stuck and I started laughing - he looked so funny. Within a moment, he used his front paw to get the container off his nose. But after that one time, he would purposefully leave the container on his nose and sit calmly in front of me, looking up at me while I laughed. I have no doubt in my mind that he enjoyed that little joke between us.

  129. Ah smart dogs. Bungee would look at the empty water bowl, look at you, bark and look back at the empty water bowl. He'd do this a couple of times but if you failed to get up and fill it he'd look at you, bark, and flip the water bowl over before looking - accusingly - at you again. He would also look at where or what I pointed at, and not at my hand. One in a million. Extraordinary isn't enough to describe it.

  130. I think we can agree that all dogs are at least smarter than the people who published this study. Humans' profound arrogance about their place in nature never seems to lapse. I'm certain that most dogs, not to mention the rest of the animal kingdom, are laughing their heads off at us.

  131. Thanks to all for sharing these great examples of your dogs intelligence. Seen as you are praising their homophily and not smarts, They give complete credence to the original study.

  132. @Ab read my post; change your mind.

  133. My dog read the story and told me he agreed with it.

  134. One morning my granddaughter yelled for me to come into her bedroom because the dogs were acting funny. I walked into the room, saw nothing,shrugged my shoulders, and left. A few minutes later my granddaughter started telling me again that something was really wrong and the dogs were being very weird. I rolled my eyes, and walked back into the bedroom. One dog was scratching madly at a blanket and the other dog was standing over my grandchild . Strange Behavior, indeed. Sure enough, there was a scorpion on the bed. My granddaughter had not seen the unpleasant critter, but the dogs caught sight of it it between the folds of the blanket and perceived it as a threat to my grandchild. My female was trying to smash the Scorpion with her paw, while the male stood watch, literally, over my granddaughter. I scooped the scorpion into a glass and dumped it into my garbage disposal. My granddaughter went back to sleep, oddly unperturbed perturbed by the whole incident. She was about 8 years old.

  135. Our St.Bernard Muffin was gifted for sure. We lived on a river and if our youngest son started for the river she would herd him back. In the winter we would skate on the ice. If the ice was ok Muffin would "allow" us on it. If it wasn't safe she would do the herding thing with us. My husband cleared the snow off the ice so we could skate. One day Muffin tried to stop him from going out on the ice. He ignored her and bingo, went through the ice. Never argue with a St.Bernard.

  136. First, kudos and highest respect for those responders who question the benchmark of intelligence--humans. To me, that has always rather stacked the deck, wouldn't you think? It would seem more likely that all organisms have their own unique intelligence, neither higher nor lower, each with its own merits. Making intelligence comparisons fails to accurately tell us--the humans--anything about the intelligence of the various organisms. That said, several years ago I lived with two adopted dogs, a doberman and a JRT/beagle-x. They had established a distinctive form of riotous play together, wonderful to watch. The doberman at one time had some stitches removed from an earlier mishap, so needed to wear the Dreaded Cone for a few days, preventing her from trying to pull them out. I let both dogs out in the backyard after "hooding" the dobie up, and she immediately started swinging her head and hood as a battering ram, catapulting the little guy through the air. Evidently the little guy loved it. They both incorporated the new part of the dance seamlessly. (The sequence was something like this: "Scoop-Whack-Wheeee!" Repeat...) Unique? For me it was a remarkable, intuitive (dare I say inferred?) use of a tool meant for something else. Dogs certainly have their own smarts. So do we. Higher smarts? Lower smarts? Who cares? (Note: I was lucky enough to have my phone at the time, and made a video for proof.)

  137. Back when I was racing, I had a German Shepherd (WHO) ran with me. I was quite deaf, but lived on an unpaved country road with little traffic. I ran in the middle of the road because the tilt near the berms was hard on my ankles. After nearly being plowed down by a rear-approaching car, my dog, Blitz, took it upon himself to 'herd' his ignorant mistress; no matter how far ahead he was, when he heard an approaching car, he'd head back toward me hastily, push me off the road and sit on my feet until the car whizzed past. Now if that isn't smard, I don't know what is . . . He did this til the day he died.