Are Dogs Actually Smart, Or Just Eager to Please?
Where does canine instinct end and intelligence begin? The New York Times reports that psychology professor Stanley Coren has given dogs intelligence tests designed for young children, and concludes that the average pooch is about as intellectually advanced as a 2-year-old human child. Coren says that the smartest dogs (border collies, poodles, retrievers, Labradors, and shepherds) can learn about 250 words, signs, and signals.
So how does Jet know how to do what he does? According to the New York Times, some researchers believe dogs can detect seizures by picking up on behavioral changes in their masters, and studies have shown that dogs are able to actually smell diseases like cancer. So trainers can use a dog's natural abilities and teach it to do things like bark and lick its owner when something is wrong. Some experts suggest that dogs are simply very attuned to their people and are generally eager to please, and their resulting trainability is what makes them seem so smart.
Whether dogs are really smart or just trying to make their owners happy, one thing is certain: they're the perfect companion.