Tales of bonds between dogs and humans are in abundance. We often quote the examples of mankind’s canine friend when it comes to attributes like faithfulness and loyalty. Dogs have been known to often even understand their owners well and serve as their companions in times of loneliness and despair, often even springing into action if it senses danger for their owners. All this raises the question of how intelligent dogs are and how their Intelligence Quotient can be mapped. A few related revelations have been made recently.
In a recent study, researchers from the Family Dog Project at Budapest’s Eotvos Lorand University discovered that dogs had a “multi-modal mental representation” of their familiar items. In other words, when thinking about an object, dogs visualise its various sensory attributes. For example, how it seems or how it smells. The journal Animal Cognition reported the study’s findings.
Scientists made the supposition that dogs’ senses, which they employ to recognise things like their toys, correspond to how those things are mentally represented. According to Shany Dror, one of the study’s key researchers, if one can identify which senses dogs utilise while searching for a toy, this may show how they think about it. Dogs, who hunt for a toy using their senses of smell or sight, do so because they are aware of the toy’s characteristics.
According to the researchers, there are also two classifications of dogs, trained dogs which are also called word learners and family dogs which have always been in a home environment. Dogs of both types were trained together and it was found that word learners are able to learn the name of the item, but family dogs are not able to do so.
The word learner canines had success choosing the toys that their owners had named in both the light and the dark. This shows that when infants hear the name of a toy, they remember its various sensory characteristics and can recognise it using a ‘multisensory mental image,’ even in the dark.
In summary, the dogs’ success in locating the toys and the various senses they employed while looking in both the light and the dark show that when dogs play with a toy, even for a brief period of time, they pay attention to its various features and register the information using a variety of senses.