In the News: Is Your Dog Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?

Take advantage of your dog’s native intelligence by teaching him or her a new trick. It will be a bonding experience for both of you.

For one professor who has studied dog intelligence, it all adds up: Man’s best friend must know math.

Professor Stanley Coren, who teaches psychology at the University of British Columbia, makes that argument in a blog post, “Do Dogs Know Mathematics?” in Psychology Today.

According to Mr. Coren, dogs exhibit many basic math skills. No, they probably aren’t going to do your kids’ algebra homework, but they can be taught to pick out objects by size and judge which of several groups of items has more members.

Have you ever broken your dog’s treat into several pieces and given your dog only one or two? My family has a dog who isn’t fooled by that human trick. She knows when she hasn’t gotten the whole treat, and she howls until she gets what she wants. As soon as that last bit of biscuit is relinquished, she’s on her way.

Mr. Coren argues that sort of behavior demonstrates thinking abilities that are on par with an infant’s. In fact, it shows dogs might understand basic addition and subtraction, as well as the concepts of more and less.

If you’re interested in testing your dog’s limits, you might enjoy trying to teach him or her a new trick. Check out the ASPCA’s article, “Enriching Your Dog’s Life,” to help get you started. Your dog’s skills might even surprise you! And if she can do algebra, let us know. 

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As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

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Julia H.

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Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

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