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Tag: personality

Dognition: Louie’s deemed a “socialite”


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:

Roscoe’s ruse: Trading up to turkey

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.

Laid back dogs live longer, study says

lucasblog

 
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!)

Jesse James reunited with his dog CinnaBun

cinny-1After 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)

Author Joel Silverman at Camp Bow Wow

WhatColorCoverWebDog 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.

When dog and owner look alike

dogowner

 
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)

Simon Cowell shows his soft side

Who’da thunk it? American Idol’s Simon Cowell, prone to snarling at young and hopeful humans, is a PETA-certified animal lover.

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:

On mutts:

“…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.

On Bobama:

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.

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