June 18, 2010
Is Your Dog Dumber Because of You?
By David DiBenedetto
On Pritch’s crate there’s a sticker that reads “My Boykin Spaniel Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student.” I do think she’s too smart for her own good at times (in fact, she aced this dog IQ test), but some recent news in the Daily Mail suggests our domestication of dogs has turned them into pampered, slobbering galoots. Here’s a snippet of what the article had to say:
Researchers believe that years of domestication has led to dogs losing the problem solving skills they once had in the wild. Pet dogs failed basic intelligence tests that wolves and wild dogs pass with ease, according to the research. The findings suggest they are now so dependent on people they are simply stupid versions of their forefathers.
“Stupid versions of their forefathers” might be a little strong, but here’s how one test went down:
Researchers placed a bowl of food behind a fence. To get to the food the animals had to work their way along the fence away from the food to go through a swinging door and then double back on themselves.
All of the dingoes found the food reward in about 20 seconds, taking proper advantage of the doors.
Domesticated dogs, on the other hand, looked puzzled and confused. They pawed at the fence, dug at it, and even barked, out of frustration and to call for help.
In defense of domesticated dogs, the researchers did admit that man’s best friend had a few qualities that the wild gang did not, including performing well on social tasks such as communicating with humans and learning from humans via observation. Sounds like just the skills that allow us to train our dogs to be gun dogs.
Don’t know about you, but I’ll stick with my dog. The researchers can keep the dingoes.