Ever wonder how smart your dog really is? Let’s just say I’m pretty sure my Yellow Dog is borderline genius, but most people think I’m nuts. So when I found out about this new dog intelligence test, I had to review it. You can test your dog’s intelligence with Dognition, which promises to “find the genius in your dog.” It’s a relatively simple, inexpensive way to gain new insight into how your dog navigates the world.
What is Dognition?
Dognition has been featured on national shows like 60 Minutes, Dateline, and The Today Show. The test was developed by some of the world’s leading experts on dog cognition, who are often used as source experts on dog behavior and intelligence.
The Dognition Assessment is a series of interactive games that test five dimensions of your dog’s cognition: your dog’s communication, memory, and reasoning skills, plus how cunning or empathetic he is. The results are analyzed in your Dognition Profile Report.
There are nine Dognition profiles in all:
- Ace (Top Dog)—10% of all dogs
- Charmer—16% of all dogs
- Socialite—22% of all dogs
- Expert (Problem Solver)—7% of all dogs
- Renaissance Dog (Dog of All Trades)—12% of all dogs
- Protodog (Pioneer)—15% of all dogs
- Einstein—3% of all dogs
- Maverick (Lone Wolf)—7% of all dogs
- Stargazer (Free Spirit)—8% of all dogs
The test will set you back $19 per dog and a couple hours of time conducting the tests. It’s simple to order online, and you’ll immediately be sent an email link on how to begin. But are the results accurate? We tried it out, and here’s what we thought.
Yellow Dog is an Ace! Other famous Aces include Chaser, the Border Collie who knows 1,000 words.
As an Ace, Yellow Dog is an “accomplished problem solver with great communication skills.” But according to the test, he may be too smart for his own good, occasionally trying to get away with things he shouldn’t. True story!
Let’s review the various tests.
The first set of games tests your dog’s empathy, or his reading and responding to the emotions of others. We played two games: the yawn game and the eye-contact game.
The eye-contact game is one of the tests we thought might be biased towards Yellow’s skill set, since he must only maintain eye contact while you are holding a treat. Yellow Dog is an expert on sit/stays, especially those involving food. We’ve worked on this since he was five months old with treats and his twice-daily feedings, gradually increasing the length of the release from his stay—he can currently hold a stay for several minutes and this test was an easy sit/stay for him.
There are two great loves in Yellow’s life: food and mom. So we weren’t at all surprised at the results of how bonded he is with mom—he’s obsessed—but we think this test might have had more to do with his treat obsession than his mom obsession.
Next up is communication. Yellow Dog scored middle of the road on this section—not self-reliant, but not collaborative either.
There are two types of tests: arm pointing and foot pointing. One arm-pointing test had us place treats at equal distance on both sides of me, point to one, and see which one Yellow Dog chose. When Yellow sees food, he goes for it; he doesn’t need me to tell him where it is. Therefore, his strategy was deemed as “mixed” because he didn’t always follow my cues.
We did the same thing with the foot-pointing test. Although Dognition said foot pointing is more difficult for a dog to follow because it’s rarely done, this is also something already familiar to Yellow Dog, but usually when he isn’t aware of where the food is. For instance, if I drop something on the floor in the kitchen, call him into the room, and point with my foot, he ALWAYS follows that cue. This was slightly different, as he could clearly see both treats on the floor. As my husband says, Yellow Dog was too fixated on the treats and did not need my help finding them.
With a food hound, you might find a similar result—that your dog is too fixated on both treats to pay much attention to your cues.
My husband and I kind of chuckled at the results on this one because we have seen Yellow Dog test the sneakiness waters early and often—and succeed. He’s too short to counter surf, but leave something on the coffee table and he will 100% make a go at it when you leave the room. Therefore, we think he’s a little more cunning than the test results show.
Our physical presence here—eyes covered or not—was his deterrent. Once again, his training came into play and we agree with the assessment—he is a VERY well-trained dog. We have done advanced “off” and “sit/stay” training with him—he’s definitely college level!—and he knows he’s not allowed to touch ANYTHING we give him until he’s released from his stay. But remove us physically from the room, and Yellow Dog will most certainly try to get away with whatever he can.
We agree Yellow’s memory is top-notch. This is the same dog that remembered a peanut butter container was left within reach the night before and made a bee line for it the next morning. So hiding a treat or two under a cup that he could clearly see was no obstacle! It’s no surprise his memory marks were off the charts.
These tests are definitely the most difficult in the series, even for a well-trained dog. This section gave us the most insight into how Yellow Dog navigates problems.
One game gives your dog some of the information they need to solve a problem, and they have to infer the rest. This test has you place a cookie under one of two cups, show your dog the empty cup, and see if he figures out the treat is under the other cup. Yellow Dog’s strategy was to stick with what works—he developed what Dognition calls a “left or right bias,” meaning he went to the same side every time, so he scored a treat 50% of the time. Dognition says this is a clever strategy.
We’ve since observed how this is his go-to problem-solving strategy—my husband twice left the lid off the kibble storage bin after feeding the dogs and Yellow feasted, so now checks that bin every single day to see if it’s open. In this regard, he’s fairly logical.
The Bottom Line
Although Yellow Dog’s skill set helped him in parts of the Dognition test, we thought this was an insightful read into how Yellow thinks—and how his training has molded how he thinks. It’s good to know what his strengths and weaknesses are, and that we can continue to gain insight into his thought process with additional tests available with Dognition membership. For $19, we think the test was worth it— a fun and informative way to find out more about our furry friends.