Animal Smarts – How Smart
Music; Ambience: Dog Barks
How smart is a dog, and how would you go about measuring a dogs IQ? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Hare: “Maybe you have a dog or know a dog that plays fetch. Let’s say that dogs really good. You throw the ball and it always brings the balls back. So if you decided that that was intelligence, does that mean that a dog that doesn’t play fetch isn’t intelligent?”
Brian Hare is director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University.
Hare: What if the dog that doesn’t play fetch actually can help someone whose blind and can navigate them through the street? Well so it ends up what we’ve discovered by studying animal psychology is there are many different flavors of intelligence. You can have a dog that’s really good at one thing and not so good at another thing. Think about it this way. What happens if your friend is really good in art class but not so good in sports. You’re really good at sports but not so good in art class. Who is smarter? Who is to say who is smarter.”
One way to get a handle on a dog’s intelligence is to see how good it is at solving everyday problems.
Hare: “And there are some problems! Because the dog at your house may be hungry before you know it! So your dog needs to communicate these things to you and somehow tell you hey! I love you my owner but you forgot to feed me and I’m really hungry. These are the kinds of problems that dogs have to solve. Think about playing fetch. You throw a ball. They can’t find the ball so what do they do? Oh no they lost the ball. A lot of dogs what they’ll do is they come back and they’ll look at you and say where is it? Can you help me solve this problem? And what they’ll do is they’ll have humans help them solve problems of finding the ball. So you’ll go and point to them or you can walk over near where it is and try to show them where it is and they can work together with you to solve a problem.”
Is your dog a good problem solver? Tell us on Facebook. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.