Inside a Dog’s Mind

One of my favorite scientists Carl Zimmer has an extensive article in Time Magazine that looks at recent research on how your dog thinks.
Trying to plumb the canine mind is a favorite pastime of dog owners. "Everyone feels like an expert on their dog," says Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist at Barnard College and author of the new book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. But scientists had carried out few studies to test those beliefs--until now.

This fall, [Duke University anthropologist Brian] Hare is opening the Duke Canine Cognition Center, where he is going to test hundreds of dogs brought in by willing owners. Marc Hauser, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, recently opened his own such research lab and has 1,000 dogs lined up as subjects. Other facilities are operating in the U.S. and Europe.

What they’ve found out so far is that dogs can learn over 200 distinctive human words, but they may mean different things to a dog than to humans. And the intelligent, friendly, and obedient behavior we see in dogs evolved because those things are advantageous to the dog, even though we see them as advantageous to us. Link -via Metafilter

(image credit: D.L. Anderson)

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I noticed as a kid that dogs seem to follow (view as the boss) adult male, adult female, younger male, younger female, in that order. However, they seem to be protective of their humans in the reverse order. As in, if two children of different genders got the flu at the same time, the dog would 'hold vigilence' in the younger female's room. By the same token, if all the males in the family got sick, the dog would stick with the kid.

Perhaps it was just my dog, but I beleive I noticed this behavior in friend's and family's dogs.
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Great article, thanks for the link!

On a related note, I could swear I read a study once that claimed that dogs couldn't possibly see television, because the whole "persistence of vision" phosphor dot thing doesn't work for them. Yet most owners claim they can.

Did I make this up after an extended weekend of MadDog 20/20?
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