Friday, October 19, 2018
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Posted at: Oct 1, 2018, 3:16 PM; last updated: Oct 1, 2018, 3:16 PM (IST)

Dogs may not be as smart as thought

Dogs may not be as smart as thought
Photo for representative only.

London

Dogs may not be exceptionally intelligent as their cognitive abilities are matched by several other animals, according to a study.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK compared the brain power of dogs with other domestic animals, other social hunters and other carnivorans -- an order, including animals such as dogs, wolves, bears, lions and hyenas.

They found the cognitive abilities of dogs were at least matched by several species in each of these groups.

The study, published in the journal Learning & Behaviour, examined more than 300 research papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals, and found several cases of "over interpretation" in favour of dogs' abilities.

"During our work it seemed to us that many studies in dog cognition research set out to 'prove' how clever dogs are," said Stephen Lea, a professor at the University of Exeter.

"They are often compared to chimpanzees and whenever dogs 'win', this gets added to their reputation as something exceptional," Lea said.

"Yet in each and every case we found other valid comparison species that do at least as well as dogs do in those tasks," he said.

The review focused on sensory cognition, physical cognition, spatial cognition, social cognition and self-awareness.

"Taking all three groups (domestic animals, social hunters and carnivorans) into account, dog cognition does not look exceptional," said Britta Osthaus from the Canterbury Christ Church University.

"We are doing dogs no favour by expecting too much of them. Dogs are dogs, and we need to take their needs and true abilities into account when considering how we treat them," Osthaus said.  PTI

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