The Dog Delusion, Part 1. The Intelligence Myth

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There are facts about dogs we assume to be true. Now with the help of the folks at the Duke Canine Cognition Centre we are discovering how many of our basic assumption about dogs are wrong.

In this series of articles I will try to debunk some of the myths.

Part 1. It’s The Intelligence, Stupid

As we all know, dogs evolved from wolves. Right now there is a pretty massive number of dogs running around all over the planet, but not all that many wolves. So we might assume that it’s the exceptional cunning and intelligence, which made the dog stand out as a helpmate for the early homo sapiens making the dog-human team such a smashing success.

You might be surprised to know that dogs are in fact much less intelligent then wolves.

Take a simple experiment: dog on one side of the fence, food on the other. All the dog needs to do is walk around the fence to get the food. Left to their own devices, wolves will find the food much faster then dogs – about five times faster. But now let a human walk the dog around the fence to the food – once shown what to do, the dog will learn the lesson instantly!

There is a simple message here: what made the dogs special is not the intelligence but their unique ability to work within the human team. After all, a genius-helper is no good if he doesn’t get with the program. Dogs do brilliantly at getting with the ‘human program’ and working together. And that, it appears is what got them where they are today,

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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