No creature lives so closely with us as the dog. Around 15,000 years ago, humans began wolves to domesticate. He thus initiated a unique coevolutionwhich made the dog the partner of man – and brought about abilities in him that not even the genetically more closely related apes have.
In this way, dogs can be guided to hiding places for food by pointers, some even by a look from their master. Chimpanzees do not respond to such gestures. Legendary Border Collie Rico managed to learn 150 terms – he would fetch toys he was taught the name of when his owner told him the term.
In other tests, on the other hand, dogs are inferior to great apes – for example in finding food that is under a plate. When cooperation with conspecifics is required to get food, dogs perform even worse than wolves. They have forgotten how to hunt in packs.
Dogs are therefore not more intelligent than wolves or apes, but – like these too – very well adapted to their respective environment. “They are particularly fond of other animals communication with humans consider,” says Zsófia Virányi. “These are abilities that dogs were chosen and bred for by humans — like herding a flock.”
One such breed is the Border Collie. As very active animals that want to be mentally and physically busy, they are welcome study participants in the Clever Dog Lab. Often to the delight of the owners, who receive no financial compensation. “I find it exciting to find out more about my dog,” says dog owner Böhm. Amy first came to the Clever Dog Lab when she was a puppy.
In the past nine years, she has taken part in numerous studies – and learned a lot. She can put balls of different sizes in holes of appropriate size, operate touchscreens with her snout and levers with her paw. “Amy isn’t stupid,” says owner Böhm, tenderly stroking Amy’s head.
What goes on in the brain of dogs