CogniFit's Science blog: You Always Knew Your Dog Was Smart

You Always Knew Your Dog Was Smart

Just like their owners, dogs can form abstract concepts. Scientists at the University of Vienna have shown that dogs can classify complex color photographs in their brain and place them into categories in the same way that humans do. Furthermore, the dogs successfully learned through the use of computer automated touchscreens!

The scientists showed dogs pictures of landscapes and of dogs on a touchscreen and were rewarded with a food tread if they selected the dog picture.


Then came the tests: in the first test, the dogs were shown pictures of dogs and landscapes separately and they continued to select the dog photographs. They transferred their knowledge to a new set of visual stimuli, even though they had never seen the new pictures before.

In the second test, the dogs were shown new dog pictures pasted onto the landscape pictures used in the training phase. This combined new positive stimuli (the new dog pictures) with negative stimuli (the landscapes).

When the dogs were faced with choosing between the new dog on the familiar landscape and a completely new landscape with no dog, they consistently selected the option with the dog. They were able to form the concept of “dog” and were able to transfer this concept to a new setting.

Now those are smart dogs!