University Canine Cognition Labs are where it’s at. Not only do their research studies seek to help us understand how our dogs think and feel, which helps us strengthen the bond we share with our pups, but there are other benefits too.


Researchers believe they can help dogs improve by identifying limitations in a dog’s understanding and problem-solving skills. And this knowledge translates into helping dogs become more effective in the vast number of jobs they perform; for instance, as companions for the disabled or assisting in search and rescue, law enforcement and the military.


Woof Report wrote about the Harvard University Canine Cognition Lab in the past, and there are other such labs at the University of Florida and Barnard College, and now the lab at Duke University is in the news. Duke’s Canine Cognition Lab was featured on CNN last week when Brian Hare, professor and director of the lab, was interviewed and provided interesting insight about how a dog thinks.


View the CNN video and article at the link below, and in the meantime, here are highlights from Brian Hare and researchers at Canine Cognition Lab at the Duke University:


Show Me the Way. According to Hare, dogs start to recognize and rely on people at about one year of age, just the same as children rely on human gestures. “The way they think about their world is that people are superimportant and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people,” says Hare.


Trust in Me. Dogs understand they have different relationships with different people, Hare explains. This is apparent in an exercise when Hare’s dog is cued to accept a cup with a treat from Hare or someone he’s just met; he immediately responds to Hare’s cue because he knows and trusts him.


Use Your Connections. Hare explains that dogs understand the principle of connectivity – they know the balance of power changes depending on whether or not they are on a leash, and use it to their advantage!


Dogs will be Dogs. Dogs are not necessarily disobedient; they are just smart enough to know when they can get away with something, “Your dog takes the food you just told it not to take, and you’re really upset because your dog disobeyed you, and you think that your dog is not obedient. Well, no, no, no, your dog was obedient but it realized that it could get away with it,” says Hare.


There you have it, a glimpse into the mind of your constant companion – use the information wisely, and stay tuned for more intriguing studies from Canine Cognition Labs.


The Scoop:

View the CNN article and video, “Inside the science of how dogs think.”


Thank you to David Quick on flickr for the photo of Kim.