I have really missed posting and, even more so, have missed all the wonderful thoughts, comments, and reactions from all of you! I’m very sorry for the long delay and, as much as I love it, I will be blaming…..GRAD SCHOOL!!! My focus has been completely usurped by the wonderfully engaging Anthrozoology program that I began at the end of August. Now that I’ve got into the swing of things with my academic requirements and have figured out a fairly predictable weekly routine I’ll be much more likely to find time to share my thoughts
Today I’d like to look at how canine intelligence is often measured and determine if such methods could be improved upon. With regards to research being done concerning nonhuman animal “intelligence” I find myself continuously frustrated by the way it’s approached. So many studies are attempting to understand intelligence in dogs by using models of how intelligence is displayed in humans, which I find inappropriate and rather short-sighted – not to mention highly egotistical. For example, in the past researchers have attempted to measure canine self-awareness by testing them in the same manner they would a child (or other human), usually with some type of ‘rogue’ test. The test involves placing a spot of red rouge (or similar marking) on the animal’s face and then placing them in front of a mirror – if they look in the mirror and then attempt to rub the spot off then this shows they are aware of seeing themselves. Dogs have always failed this test, thus allowing researchers to conclude that dogs are not self-aware. But dogs, as we well know, are a primarily scent-driven species unlike humans (and other primates) who are visually-driven creatures. So shouldn’t we test self-awareness in dogs by manipulating and testing scent rather than vision? What are your thoughts/ideas/suggestions for improving how we measure self-awareness and other types of intelligence in dogs?
As an aside, the research being done on Dog Cognition at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany is incredibly exciting: Max Planck Institute