I’m a proud dog-owner, and I’ve quickly learned that there is no love that will guide you into stupidity faster than loving a dog. No dog’s bladder cares that it’s 5am in a blizzard, after all, and you signed up to walk them. That said, is the love you have for your dog leading you to think they’re a lot smarter than they actually are?
Some veterinarians studied the link between ownership and the cognitive development of dogs, and, among other things, turned up that a quarter of dog owners think dogs are smarter than most people, and that half believed their dogs were roughly as smart as three to five year old. To be fair, neither of those things are terribly high bars to clear, especially if your exposure to human beings involves any form of driving or public transit. Still, it does raise the question… is your dog really that smart?
Turns out the answer is that it depends. For example, it’s been found that the average dog is roughly as intelligent as a two-year-old when it comes to solving problems. But that’s muddied somewhat by the fact that dogs have shown incredible emotional intelligence; they’re capable of reading your mood from your voice and reacting accordingly, and can even connect your emotions to the objects you’re looking at. In other words, they can parallel and react to how we feel about things.
In fact, it’s theorized that the key difference between dogs and wolves is that dogs will make eye contact with humans. That’s not trivial; eye contact is so important to humans, we’ll actually buy products based on whether or not a cartoon mascot looks us in the eye. So your dog may not be cracking the secrets of the atom any time soon, but he probably knows what you’re feeling better than anyone else.