Dognition helps profile a dog’s personality

(Jeff Reeves/CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Have you ever wondered how your dog thinks?

You can find out through a series of tests called Dognition.

Three years ago, CBS North Carolina first introduced you to Dognition and the local researcher, Brian Hare, who created it.

In the years since, researchers say they’ve learned a lot.

Dognition is made up of a series of tests that measure a dog’s cognitive ability. After completing the tests, a dog’s data is compared to tens of thousands of others.

“One of the things we’ve been able to show is dogs really have different cognitive abilities,” Hare explained.

Some dogs presented with a sealed container of food will try to open it on their own. Others will ask a human for help.

Hare says a dog’s breed doesn’t necessarily predict how it will think or act.

“When you work with Labrador retrievers who help people with disabilities and then we work with Labradors who find bombs, they’re all Labrador retrievers yet their psychological and cognitive profiles could not be more different,” said Hare.

Dognition data has taught researchers that dogs can imitate, and some dogs can even infer meanings of words. They’ve also learned that dogs can lose certain skills as they age.

According to Hare, “Even the oldest dog is still using gestures, but working memory – what they can remember, where they saw things – that starts to fall apart around 9, 10 years of age.”

That can predict how long certain dogs will be able to perform their jobs. Hare says learning how dogs think can ensure dogs are put in the best position to help people. “Dogs are doing everything from finding cancer, to finding endangered animals, to sniffing out bombs,” Hare said, adding, “How do you get the right dog for the right job? That’s really where our science can help. “

So far, about 80,000 people have used Dognition.

It costs $20 and you can do the tests at home.

For more information, click here.

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