How Dognition and Children’s Learning are Alike

There are around 80 million dogs in our country, which means that there are more dogs than children. Humans and canines have evolved alongside each other for 15,000 years, yet we still know very little about our favorite domestic species. That’s changing. And, it turns out, a dog’s learning and intelligence has some similarities to children.


With the help of a homemade contraption and some training, we are now able to perform MRIs on a dog that isn’t sedated. Additionally, leading scientists, veterinarians, trainers, and behavioral specialists came up with an assessment called Dognition to help you understand how your dog’s mind works, and how it compares to other breeds. Is your dog empathetic compared to others? Communicative? Cunning? How’s your dog’s memory? Is your dog capable of inference and reasoning?

The assessment is comprised of 20 games that anyone can play at home with their dog. You record your dog’s responses at every step, and discover individualized insight into the cognitive strategies your dog employs, as well as in-depth breakdowns of each game’s results.

“With millions of potential outcomes, each report is one of a kind — just like your dog,” says Brian Hare, director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center and founder of Dognition, in a video on CBS News.

One of the games in the Dognition assessment is putting a treat underneath two cups, and showing the dog which cup the treat is NOT underneath. When told to “get it,” the dog may or may not be able to infer which cup DOES hold the treat based on elimination. This is a skill a human toddler begins to develop at ages 2-3.  All of your dog’s data is compared to all of the other dogs in the database, and a profile is produced.

Your Child’s Intelligence

Similar insight can be applied to children.  Are the traditional stand-and-deliver lectures more effective for your learner than a more stimulating, active learning method? There are several active learning techniques that can be used, such as group discussions, audio, video, journalism, role playing, and problem-based learning to discover which method works best for your family. In fact, ignoring those personal aspects of students—cognitive, physical, emotional, and intellectual development—can impact their success in school, so teaching to your child’s intelligence is pertinent.

Online curriculum provider, K12, uses active learning techniques to meet the individualized needs of students around the world. With the power of technology, online educators can more easily combine traditional instruction with fun, engaging, and interactive learning. Online games and activities can pique students’ interest in educational material, and appeal to all types of learning styles.

How does your student learn best? Tell us in the comments, and let us know if you do any of the Dognition assessments, and what you learned.

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Image Credit – Keith Kissel / CC by 2.0

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