KSC – Animal Smarts – Breed Smarts
Music; Ambiance ASPCA_Dog Shelter, Rainforest – Fazenda Pantanal Dawn Chorus
JM: Does a Labrador Retriever think like a Jack Russell terrier or maybe a Border Collie? Do all dogs think alike? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
BH: “Here’s the exciting thing: we don’t know!”
JM: Brian Hare is director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University.
BH: “That’s one of the things we’re trying to work on. Maybe it’s that one breed thinks different than the other. So we have found some examples where there’s some differences.”
JM: When it comes to learning things, some dogs are clearly at the head of the class.
BH: “For instance: border collies. Border collies can learn words in a way that is very similar to how you or I learn words when we begin to produce language. There’s no real evidence that other dogs do it. Why is it border collies can learn so many words, sometimes up to 1000 words and they can learn them quickly. You say this toy is called a Johnny fish and then that dog knows that’s the Johnny fish. You don’t have to tell him over and over a hundred times. That’s a border collie. Other dogs are really good at using different kinds of gestures. Say you see something and you point, that’s a gesture and ends up there are dogs that are really good at using those gestures but it’s not the dogs that you think. It is dogs that have a short nose. There are dogs that have long noses and there are dogs that have short noses. The short nose dogs actually see like we do. They have wide vision. Whereas long nosed dogs have narrow vision. It winds up that the wide vision of like a pug – it allows them to pay attention to when you point to them and they can see better what you’re trying to tell them.
JM: We’ll hear more about smart dogs in future programs. Brian Hare is one of the participants in the Kids’ Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for third to sixth graders. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.