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New Test Can Tell You How Smart Your Dog Is

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A dog taking a dognition test. (Credit: CBS)

A dog taking a dognition test. (Credit: CBS)

Mary Kay Kleist Mary Kay Kleist
Mary Kay Kleist is a meteorologist for CBS 2 Chicago. Kleist joined...
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(CBS) — Ever wonder how smart your dog is? Or what they’re thinking? There is a new way to find out. CBS 2′s Mary Kay Kleist shows us how you can put your dog to the test.

“Henry is very in tune with me, I think Henry and I communicate well together,” said dog owner Patti Kampsen. “She’s curious and energetic, and very social,” said dog owner Susan Plattner. But how do you really know what your dog is thinking, and what’s going on inside its head? Now, a new test may give you the answer.

Dognition is a series of games to measure how dogs think and learn. K-9 researcher, Brian Hare, director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, is the brains behind it.

“About ten years ago, science kind of woke up to the idea that dogs are truly remarkable and there has been a lot of interest and attention in understanding them better ever since,” said Dr. Hare.

“I’d like to know more about what he thinks, how he problem solves,” said Kampsen. We asked Plattner what she hopes to find out about her dog Dixie. “I want to know what she’s thinking.”

Ten games in all test dogs on five personality characteristics: empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. Fran Berry is a dog trainer who learned a lot by testing her dog, Freddie.

“He is a dog who uses his genius to get what he needs by working off your social cues,” said Berry.

One of the games checks how long dogs can hold eye contact. It gauges how bonded and affectionate they are with their owners. Henry’s longest gaze: 36 seconds. But, Dixie aced it with a 56 second stare.

The pointing activity checks their communication and problem-solving skills. It was a mixed bag for both dogs. Sometimes they followed their owner’s directions, other times they didn’t. So what does this all mean?

“There are no right or wrong answers, it’s not about your dog being smart or dumb, it’s just trying to understand them as an individual,” said Dr. Hare. The results showed that Dixie is developing her social skills. She has bonded well with her owner, Susan and has a good memory.

“She’s a very strong-willed, resilient dog,” said Plattner.

Henry is considered an Einstein with a good memory and ability to use logic. He’s definitely a problem-solver. Patti suspected that.

“I think he’s a very smart dog,” said Kampsen.

The dognition test costs $39. Dr. Hare plans to use the results as part of his ongoing research into dog behavior and cognition at Duke.

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