Over a year, humans have tried to “improve” dogs so they can better perform a specific task; whether to hunt, sniff, accompany, help or just win canine beauty pageants. The result of all kinds of hybridizations has created thousands of different breeds that, for better or for worse, have serious differences between them. They want to find out if “are dogs good at learning”.
Dogs are also able to copy and imitate us, something that very few animals get and that is fundamental to social learning. Although they do not spontaneously, like the great apes, they do possess an innate ability to do so. On one occasion, the scientists conditioned a group of dogs to open a door by pushing it. Half would receive a prize for emulating humans, while the rest were encouraged to do so by their own methods. Result? The group of imitators learned much faster. That is, dogs do not address these types of problems through trial and error: they can solve it immediately if they see someone do it first.
The conclusion is that the dog’s memory is more similar to ours than we thought. In fact, they too possess the mode called declarative or episodic, the ability to consciously recover memories associated with facts or knowledge. Plastic and flexible, the vocal cords of dogs allow them to emit sounds with meanings that both their congeners and humans understand since barking varies depending on the context in breadth, duration, and tone. Thus, they are made to recruit others of their species in case of danger and identify individuals by the sounds they perceive, classifying them as friends or enemies.
In one experiment, a dog had to choose between ordering food from a person with blindfolded eyes or another that he could see. Well, the animal always turned to the second: he knew that if he could distinguish his eyes and face, then he could communicate with him. It is something that most animals do not: identify who has the desired information.
There is no definitive and determinant way of grading the intelligence of dogs because they can be evaluated according to their adaptive intelligence, according to their intelligence of work, according to their instinctive intelligence, and others as spatial or interpersonal
To determine if more precisely, the psychologist József Topál of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences hid several objects in boxes, all of which were bolted. After hiding the keys in the presence of a dog named Philip, a human entered who did not know where they were. Philip’s responses were very similar to those we obtained with children in that same circumstance: he took the keys and led the person to where the object was kept.
They also seem to adjust their expressiveness to the audience. This means that they modify their vocalizations and gestures depending on what they see or do not see – and hear or do not hear – who accompanies them. Thus, guide dogs that help blind people lick more masters, so they can receive their information: tongue-lifts are their response to living with people who do not respond to visual cues. In the same way, they disobey orders if they endanger their owners.