August 03, 2009
Pups vs. Toddlers: A Training Stalemate
By David DiBenedetto
OK, so you’re probably not going to teach your dog to say “Daddy,” but recently there’s some been interesting news from the scientific community about a pooch’s capacity to learn.
According to a study in the journal Animal Cognition, (note: Please don’t read this periodical while driving heavy machinery), dogs can understand human pointing gestures at the same level of a 2-year-old child. Best of all, a dog’s learning curve is extremely short, if not non-existent.
The study involved all manner of pointing gestures, including finger, elbow, and leg. The dogs were required to find food while the children went looking for toys. It should be noted that primates fail the pointing test miserably, marking another fine reason to get a dog and not a chimp.
What’s this mean for a bunch of guys and gals working on hand casts, baseball sessions, and blind retrieves? Well, you’ve been right all along: Our dogs have a surprising amount of intelligence and when trained properly can be not only partners in the field but assets, too.
While kids quickly outpace dogs as they reach 3 years of age, the study indirectly proves one other thing that a frequent commenter on this blog, 2Poppa, likes to point out: Raising a good dog is pretty darn good practice for raising a kid…or vice versa.