Didja hear the one about the blonde Fox News anchorwoman who took her golden retriever to get an IQ test?
While that has all the ingredients for a pretty good joke, it’s actually the basis of a pretty informative news report, in which Fox 8′s Katie Nordeen brought her dog Louie to Duke University scientist Brian Hare to find out just exactly what type of dog genius he — Louie, not Dr. Hare — is.
Hare, co-author of “The Genius of Dogs,” is the founder of Dognition, a research firm that puts dogs through a series of science-based games designed to assess their personality type — information that Hare says can help dog owners better understand their dogs.
Users of the service (it costs $39) don’t get to bring their dog to Hare, as Nordeen did, but get a “toolkit” and instructions on how to conduct the experiments in their own homes.
The experiments measure five dimensions: cunning, empathy, communication, reasoning and memory, and by virtue of the results, dogs are judged to be one of nine types – Ace, Maverick, Charmer, Socialite, Protodog, Renaissance Dog, Expert, Stargazer, or Einstein.
Customers, after submitting their test results, receive a full report explaining their dog’s type, and how the conclusion was reached.
Louie, for example, was found to be a socialite. (You can read Dognition’s full report on Louie here.)
“… Gracefully interacting and communicating with others requires talent. In Louie’s case, she takes this talent to a whole new level – it is definitely her genius. Although Louie is not as adept at independent problem-solving skills as other dogs, don’t jump to any conclusions about her intelligence. Louie relies on a very specific strategy – using you and other humans in her pack to get what she wants.”
(Yes, they got Louie’s sex wrong in the report, but they are personality experts, not gender experts.)
Cutsomers also have the option of becoming members of Dognition (for an additional $60 for a year, or $5 a month), entitling them to receive tailored training tips and activities and get a discount for testing additional dogs.
Hare says Dognition, established last year, is proving popular, with thousands of users from around the world.
“Everybody wants to understand what’s going on inside of a dog’s head. It has not been hard to get people excited about this.”
After visiting Dognition’s lab in Durham for the FOX8 report, Nordeen continued conducting the experiments at home over the next two weeks. Once submitting her findings, the results were delivered, by email, almost instantly.
Hare says the purpose of Dognition is to enrich people’s relationships with their dogs, but it, like his book, is also aimed at showing the public how truly brilliant dogs are.
“Dogs were thought to be totally unremarkable. There were really no interesting things they could do relative to say dolphins or bonobos, so people were focusing on these other animals,” he said. “But at our feet, literally, were geniuses that had been undiscovered … What makes dogs such geniuses is that, relative to other species, they’re really skilled, really flexible, in understanding what it is we want and what we’re trying to tell them.”
The Dognition tests, in their at-home version, may not be the hardest of science, and their results may not be irrefutable. But given the firm’s stated goals, given the not entirely exorbitant price tag, and given that they’re fun and result in people spending more time with their dogs, I think they have a place in the spectrum of doggie evaluation services.
If people are willing to pay more than $100 to determine what breeds are in their dogs, through DNA testing, $39 doesn’t seem like too much to pay to assess that dog’s personality — and may even provide more telling clues into what makes them tick.
I haven’t run my dog Ace through the online Dognition drill yet, in part because I think his genius is too vast to be measured and could forever skew Dognition’s data base, in part because I already know he’s a charmer, with shades of socialite and Einstein. But Nordeen’s report answered a lot of questions I had about the service, and one of these days, I’ll give it a try.
We’ll close with some bloopers, courtesy of Fox 8, that occured while Nordeen and Louie were taping a promo for the piece — none of which, I’m sure, had anything to do with them being blond:
Posted by John Woestendiek November 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, blondes, bloopers, brian hare, Charmer, cognition, communication, cunning, dog personality, dognition, dogs, duke, duke university, Einstein, empathy, experiments, expert, fox 8, fox news, games, genius, iq, katie nordeen, louie, Maverick, media, memory, news, personality, pets, Protodog, reasoning, Renaissance Dog, Socialite, Stargazer, tests, the genius of dogs
I finally got my Thanksgiving dinner, and while I didn’t bite the hand that fed me, Ace did bite the head of the dog belonging to the man who fed us.
My brother and his partner, James, knowing my travels had precluded me from enjoying a turkey dinner, invited us to come over Sunday for one, with all the fixings.
James, a master chef, put out quite a spread — numerous appetizers, turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, all followed by pumpkin cake.
During the preparation, Ace — having learned from previous experiences — was at his side every moment, followed every dish to the table, and as we ate, sat down and waited hopefully that a bite or two might be passed his way. Roscoe, too, approached the table from time to time, but didn’t seem obsessive about it, like Ace.
Though about the same age, they are two very different dogs, I’ve noticed in the time we’ve shared over the past months. Roscoe is the more goofy and dog-like of the two, more prone to barking, more likely to slather your face with kisses. Where Ace seems to have a desire to be a human, Roscoe seems perfectly content with his dog-ness. Where Ace seems to think “if I behave well, I will be rewarded,” Roscoe’s attitude is more “to heck with that stuff.”
I’d always considered Ace the smarter of the two. But now I’m not so sure. At dinner, Ace would sit and stare at whoever was chewing. He does that, almost as if watching a tennis match. He will sit and stare as long as a person is chewing, and even after that, probably until whatever is being masticated has cleared the esophagus. Then he’ll stare until every last plate is cleared, and loaded in the dishwasher, and the kitchen light goes off. Hope springs eternal.
Roscoe uses a different strategy.
He’s prone — not just during meals, but anytime — to grabbing household items with his mouth and not letting go. During my last visit, it was my underwear (not while I was wearing them). Sometimes it’s a pillow from the bed, or a pillow from the couch, or a camera bag, or a pair of socks.
He doesn’t destroy the item. Rather he just walks around with it dangling from his mouth, wagging his tail and absolutely refusing to let go until he gets a better offer — i.e. a treat.
At our belated Thanksgiving dinner, Roscoe grabbed a cloth napkin off the table, then paraded around, as if he wanted everybody to see. Not until some turkey was offered did he relinquish it.
This, while maybe not a perfect example of how humans should train their dogs, is a perfect example of how dogs train their humans. I think if we ever caught on, and tallied up how much our dogs manage to manipulate us, we’d be shocked. Fortunately, most of us are too busy to do that, and go on thinking we’re smarter than our dogs.
After dinner, we watched some TV — perhaps the only thing that manipulates us more than our dogs. If you need more proof that our dogs are smarter than us, ask yourself this question. When was the last time your dog tuned in to “Glee?”
After that, I was full, sleepy and gleeful enough to accept an offer to stay the night. Ace slept at my side until James woke up, at which point, I can only assume, he resumed his I-must-follow-this-man-everywhere-he-goes routine.
I was awakened by the sound of fighting dogs, then the sound of screaming humans, after a second or two of which all was quiet. Ace came back and took his place by my couch, and I went back to sleep.
It wasn’t until I really woke up, a couple of hours later, that I noticed Roscoe had a red mark on his head, and the side of his face. Ace, meanwhile, showed no signs of injuries.
Apparently, while James was in the bathroom, both dogs decided to join him there, and in those close quarters decided the room wasn’t big enough for the both of them. Their rare spat, seemingly, wasn’t over turkey, but attention.
Once it was over they were back to their normally peacefully coexisting selves. Roscoe, despite a slightly punctured head, seemed sad to see Ace leave.
Evidence of yet one more thing at which dogs just might be better than us — forgiveness.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, arizona, begging, behavior, brother, dinner, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eating, family, fighting, food, forgive, forgiveness, glee, holidays, intelligence, labrador, manipulate, manipulation, meals, personality, pets, roscoe, smarft, table, television, thanksgiving, training, travels with ace, treats, turkey, yellow lab
We all know that small dogs generally live longer than big dogs, but a new study in Canada suggests that docile, obedient, shy dogs dogs are prone to longer lives than unruly, disobedient, bold ones.
Vincent Careau at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec compared data from previous studies of personality in a number of dog breeds, and mortality data on the same varieties, and used additional data from insurance companies to come up with the conclusion.
Careau’s team found the most obedient breeds, such as German shepherds, poodles and bichon frises, tended to be the longest lived, while hard-to-train, high energy dogs such as pomeranians and beagles were more likely to die younger.
Another trait, aggressiveness, was linked to metabolic rate, with docile dogs such as collies burning calories more slowly than more territorial breeds, for instance .
According to a study abstract, “we tested whether proactive personalities (high levels of activity, boldness, and aggression) are related to a fast “pace of life” (high rates of growth, mortality, and energy expenditure)…
Being a shy, slow burner of calories myself, I can only hope the phenomenon applies to humans as well — for it means if I watch enough TV, take enough naps and avoid chasing squirrels, I will live longer than all of you doing your daily aerobics.
(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressiveness, animals, big, bold, breeds, burning, calorie, disobedient, docile, dogs, high energy, life, life span, lives, longer, longevity, metabolic rate, mortality, news, obedient, ohmidog!, personality, pets, quebec, shy, small, study, traits, university of sherbrooke, vincent careau
After three weeks of searching for his lost pit bull CinnaBun, TV personality and motorcycle-maker Jesse James has been reunited with the dog.
James, who is CEO of West Coast Choppers and the husband of actress Sandra Bullock, posted the news on his Twitter page yesterday and his website, along with photos of CinnaBun putting her paws up to his chest.
Here’s his tweet: “So Happy! Thnx Everyone for all the help! She looks like she hz had quite the Adventure!”
James had hired a pet detective and offered a reward of $5,000 for the dog’s return after she went missing Jan. 25. According to TMZ, James got a call from someone who had seen CinnaBun’s picture on a flier.
The woman brought CinnaBun, who’d lost 15 pounds during her time away, to James’s Long Beach bike shop.
(Photo: West Coast Choppers)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cinnabun, dog, dogs, found, happy, jesse james, lost, motorcycles, news, personality, pets, pitbull, returned, reunion, reunited, sandra bullock, search, television, tv, tweet, twitter, west coast choppers
Dog trainer and author Joel Silverman, author of “What Color is Your Dog?”, will conduct a one-hour seminar next week at Camp Bow Wow in Columbia, Md.
Silverman’s appearance, Sept. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will include a question and answer session and book signing.
Silverman is a career animal trainer, having worked for more than 25 years training animals for movies, TV shows and commercials. He was host, for nearly 10 years of ”Good Dog U” on Animal Planet.
In “What Color Is Your Dog?” Silverman presents his color-coding technique to recognize and and enhance dog behavior based on the dog’s personality.
Silverman coaches readers on how to develop a strong relationship with new pets in their first 30 days of ownership to observe their dog’s temperament and behavior. The author then teaches readers to label their dogs temperament by color, starting at one of three behavioral levels from shy (blue) to yellow (mellow) to highly strung (red). The goal is to move the dog through training practices individualized for each type of dog to inevitably reach the middle (yellow) level.
Camp Bow Wow, at 7165 Oakland Mills Rd. in Columbia, asks that, because a large crowd is expected, you keep your dogs home for this event.
Camp Bow Wow is also offering a class on pet first aid and CPR training on Sept. 20. Visit our Doggie Doings page for more information.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal planet, animal trainer, author, behavior, behavioral, book, camp bow wow, coded, color, dog, dogs, good dog u, joel silverman, personality, seminar, signing, talk, temperament, trainer, what color is your dog?
Are dogs and their humans so entwined that they tend to take after one another in appearance?
The question — one drawing increasing scrutiny from scientists — was asked, but not really answered, in a piece in the the Health section of yesterday’s New York Times.
In 2004, researchers in San Diego found that people were able to correctly match pictures of dog owners with their pets more often than not, but only when the dogs were purebreds. Similarities in facial expressions played a big role in the choices.
The same year, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina challenged the findings in a separate study, but the San Diego researchers countered with a reanalysis that confirmed their initial findings.
Earlier this year, a scientist in England conducted a study in which 70 subjects were asked to match pictures of 41 dog owners to one of several breeds. They were able to match successfully more than half the time.
As with the San Diego study, the subjects later said they matched mostly by looking for personality traits that they believed the dogs and their owners shared.
What’s not known is whether that’s because dog and owner tend to take on a similar appearance (my personal theory), or because people look for certain traits or predispositions that might match their own when choosing a dog.
(Photo: courtesy of afunnystuff.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alike, appearance, dog, dogs, expressions, humans, look, lookalikes, owner, personality, relationships, resemblance, san diego, studies, traits, university of south carolina
Not being a close follower of his extra-curricular activities, I didn’t know Cowell has loaned his unexplainable celebrity to campaigns against wearing fur, for spaying and neutering, and cautioning against leaving dogs in hot cars.
Leave it to PETA to straighten me out.
Here are some excerpts of a recent interview PETA had with Cowell:
“…If I was buying a dog, I wouldn’t buy it from a pet shop, I’d go to a rescue shelter … It’s not where the dog came from, it’s the dog. … I get really annoyed when people start telling me about the make and the model of their dog like (it was a) car … A dog is a dog, no matter what background they’ve got … Often, the mutts, the strays have got more personality than a highly bred pedigree.
On dogs as accessories:
Well, I think the fashion accessory thing has become quite the thing here. You’ve got the rap and pop stars carrying around the highly bred dogs …. They think it’d be embarrassing to be seen carrying a mutt … when actually it would be endearing — people would think they cared more about the dog than their image.
I think we’ve got to be balanced on this…I think it’s nice that they have made an issue of buying a dog for the kids. What I think would be great would be if they also took in a shelter dog, just from anywhere, to balance it. I’ll even pay for the dog food!
On dog shows:
Well, again, I have two thoughts about them, because I think the vast majority of people who go and watch something like Crufts or who are involved are animal lovers, not animal haters. The problem (in the U.K. at least) is that we have elitism in the dog world, which does bother me, for who’s to say what makes the perfect dog?
Yeah, dawg. The nerve. What gives those dog show judges the right to put contestants through the hoops and then sit back in judgment?
For Cowell’s full remarks, visit The PETA Files blog.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american idol, anti-fur, blog, bo obama, bobama, campaigns, cars, celebrity, crufts, dog food, dog shows, dogs, fur, interview, judges, judging, mutts, neutering, pedigree, personality, peta, purebreds, rescue, shelter, simon cowell, spaying, strays, the peta files, westminster
Slate has a popular feature called “The Explainer,” which addresses those nagging questions the news leaves unanswered — be they too weighty, too trivial or just too weird.
Every year, the online magazine lets readers pick from submitted questions that never made the column, and choose what they call the “Explainer Question of the Year.”
Then the column answers it.
For 2008, after deeming the three top vote getting questions already sufficiently answered– including why cockroaches flip over on their backsides when they die – Slate named the No. 4 vote-getter as question of the year: What’s the most disloyal dog breed?
Slate’s answer: ”Nobody knows.”
The column’s author, Daniel Engber, writes that while conventional wisdom holds that each of the 161 breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club has a distinctive temperament, the reality is the there is less difference, behaviorally, between breeds than ever.
The reason? Most dogs have lost their jobs.
Dogs once bred for a specific task — to herd, to guard, to hunt — are now bred primarily to make good companions or win dog shows. The traits a breed might once have clearly exhibited were tied in large part to how we used them. So a working dog, trained to guard property, might at one point might have been deemed most “loyal.” Today, though, the personality of dogs can vary tremendously within a particular breed.
Breeds might still have certain predilections, but any sweeping statements about dogs of a certain breed should be taken with a grain of salt — whether they’re about pit bulls or poodles.
Of course, plenty of people are still making them, and are still a little to quick to do what — were it applied to humans — would amount to “profiling.”
Hats off to Slate for not falling into that trap.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: behavior, breeds, characteristics, disloyal, disloyalty, dog breeds, dogs, explainer, loyal, loyalty, most disloyal dog breed, personality, profiles, questions, slate, temperament, traits, unanswered
The breed of dog you own speaks volumes about what kind of human you are, according to Forbes magazine, which in its November issue says people tend to choose a breed whose personalities most resemble their own.
If you’ve got a beagle, you are highly inquisitive and fiercely loyal to friends. On the downside, you’re stubborn.
Cocker spaniel owners are nurturing souls, gentle, affectionate, sweet and playful.
Got a golden retriever? You’re a social butterfly who likes to be in group settings.
Chihuahua owner? You’ve got high energy, and often devote it to mischief-making.
And you’re a detail person — one who enjoys the finer things in life – if you’ve got a poodle.
People who read Forbes Magazine, meanwhile, are all about the buck, overly into appearances, and too self-involved to even notice their poodle has a personality. OK, I’m kidding on that last one, but you get my point, maybe.
I have trouble with breed generalizations. For one things, us mutt owners can’t play. For another, they are kind of like astrology — some people, seeing a little bit of truth in it, go on to accept it wholesale. Scarier yet is when politicians pick up on them and write laws. But most bothersome of all is they tend to negate the dog as an individual.
I’d argue that, though some breeds are prone to certain behaviors, every dog has its own personality. While humans may tend to pick a dog whose personality is a reflection of their own, I also think that — sharing a life — both dog and owner tend to take on a bit of each others aura.
Which may explain why I’ve started shedding.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 9th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beagle, behavior, breeds, chihuahua, cocker spaniel, dog, dog breeds, forbes, golden retriever, magazine, owners, personality, poodle
Naming a new dog is no simple task. One could go with the name of someone they admire (Stay, Phelps!), a place they once lived (Good boy, Wichita!), or perhaps a predominant trait: Here, Tinkler! Sit, Humpty!
Daniel Wallace, in an article for Garden and Gun magazine, suggests spending some time observing your new pooch. Unlike naming a child — often done before he or she is born — dogs generally have the advantage of being observed before they get their moniker.
Wallace’s basset hound, for example, was clearly a “Barney” — a name he suggests be avoided for humans.
“(People) given this name out of the womb … will without a doubt become sad. The name dictates the sadness to follow. Dogs benefit from being dogs in that we have a good idea of what they’ll look like and the general characteristics they possess before we give them their names,” he writes.
For his boxer, he chose “Mugsy.”
“The name Mugsy works because a boxer looks like a boxer, and in that sense it’s easy to imagine what a dog like that might be named,” Wallace wrote. “One could even claim it’s clichÃ©d, but I think the only person who would claim that is the kind of person who would begin a sentence with the words one could. ”
For his mixed breed, Wallace came up with “Rudy.”
“… His big red eyes were so needy, so pitiful, and when he looked at you, it was not love you saw but the last hopeless look of a man falling off a cliff. Maybe you’ll throw me a rope or something? Maybe? No? That’s fine. I didn’t expect you to. He whimpered. He whined. He shivered for no good reason. Women seemed to like Rudy, but it was really just pity.”
The best name is one that fits the dog’s personality, Wallace seems to think — though he admits that personality will evolve as a dog matures.
“Dogs have been hanging out with people for over ten thousand years. They are empty vessels we fill with a reflection of ourselves; or, alternatively, they come ready-made with their own strong personalities, which, insane as they sometimes are, we accept, because they accept ours. Having a dog is possessing a life, and dogs are in fact like children, but better, because they don’t grow up to rob banks or hate you. They love you the same until they die.”
Speaking of names, I’m not sure who came up with Garden and Gun, which struck me as an unlikely combo. When it was first mentioned to me, I pictured folks planting a vegetable patch, then waiting around with shotguns for varmints to infiltrate it. Actually, it’s a far more civilized publication, headquartered in Charleston, S.C. (which is named after King Charles II of England).
(Photo couresty of cafepress.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 12th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: appearance, barney, daniel wallace, dog, dog names, dogs, garden and gun, mugsy, names, naming, personality, pets, ruby