Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Is Your Dog Smarter Than You?

According to this article — Does Your Dog Know What You’re Thinking? — dogs excel in a specific type of intelligence.  They can read a person’s facial expressions and body language, and based on these readings they can anticipate what the person wants them to do.

I actually saw a newspaper article at least fifteen years ago saying this exact same thing, so this isn’t anything new.  In that earlier article, dogs outperformed pigs and monkeys — both considered generally smarter than dogs — when it came to anticipating what a person was going to do.

That previous article went a lot further.  The upshot was:  what a dog owner perceives as loyalty and blind devotion is actually just plain shrewdness.  Your obedient devoted dog is actually more like a shrewd, observant employee who knows exactly what the boss wants to hear.

Nothing like shattering the sacred beliefs of millions of people.  No wonder that article was never expanded on and the whole subject stayed hush-hush for years.

That article’s theory was that dogs are pack animals.  In the wild, they’re instinctively   attuned to the leader of the pack, a thousand percent.  Their survival depends on it..  For domesticated dogs, the leader of the pack is a human.

Cats on the other hand are solitary in the wild.  (Lions are the only exception that I know of.)   That’s why house cats — according to all the stereotypes anyway — are completely aloof and detached and couldn’t care less about their owner or anybody else.  Or as a San Francisco columnist once described the feline mindset:  “I hate you feed me.”

Cat owners — or more accurately, people who are owned by their cat(s) — know otherwise, of course.



Blogger jadedj said...

I showed this post to our cats (3). All three vehemently disagreed with the conclusions of the article. They very rightly pointed out that dogs are notorious for licking their balls...chasing sticks...and eating cat shit...master's whims be damned! They ask the question, are these the qualities one associates with real intelligence? Oh, and btw, feed me NOW mofo!

January 7, 2012 at 4:04 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I've always heard and read dogs just generally want to please their masters. I think that fits with what's said here. That's not to say they can't veer off course if sufficiently tempted or aroused in the moment — and my dog has many such moments.

I've lived with and had cats all my life. In their way they're very perceptive and attuned to their human friends. The thing about cats is, whatever it is they're going to do mostly has to be their idea, or they must think it is. If you can arrange that, they will do what you want. Failure to successfully arrange that results in them doing something else that is their idea.

January 7, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

As Redd Foxx said, "he can understand English-but you can't speak dog."

January 8, 2012 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Cats can be pretty attuned to people. From my experience, it depends greatly on the amount of attention given to the cat. In our household, we spoil the shit out of our cats... so they follow us around like dogs, constantly seeking our attention, and enjoying being around us. People who would suggest cats are aloof and uninterested pr devoid of personality have probably never been cat owners or likely have never spent much time around cats. 8-)

January 8, 2012 at 2:01 AM  
Blogger Mr. Charleston said...

Popular good old boy joke: Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can! I'm not at all convinced that people are smart enough to figure out, or judge, dogs.

January 8, 2012 at 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our family Dog was totally untrained yet all mom had to do was glare at him and he knew what to do, did a great job on her income taxes - got a big refund!

I thought African Gray Parrots and Dolphins were the smartest of them all?

These days I consider any animal who's smart enough not to trust us not to make them extinct the smartest of them all.


January 8, 2012 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

jadedj: Your cats have brought up some interesting questions.

SW: That reminds me of some coworkers I've had -- they'll do what I want them to do as long as they think it was their idea.

JR: LOL, I remember that.

Snave: Our cats are spoiled too. And some of them (not all) are as bonding and clingy as any dog. I agree, people who say all cats are aloof either have no experience with or they just don't like them.

Mr. C: As far as intelligence goes, people don't rank as high as we think we do.

Erik: Good one. The ones that we can't drive to extinction may be the smartest ones.

January 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

My cats just told me that our dogs have masters and they have servants catering to their every whim, so it seems cats are the smarter species :) There is only one breed of dog I have heard about, that are just as bad as cats and it's the Shiba Ken breed. They groom themselves like cats and will bat toys around just like them too. My youngest cat will follow me around like a dog and whine at me, if he feels I don't pay him enough attention.

January 8, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jess: The variation I've heard is, a dog thinks "This guy takes care of me and provides me with everything I need. He must be some sort of God."

A cat thinks "This guy takes care of me and provides me with everything I need. I must be some sort of God."

January 8, 2012 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

As long as the cats are quiet, and they are, they can be as aloof and slackerish as they want.

January 9, 2012 at 2:39 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: Then you have the aloof cat that meows and wails all night.

January 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM  

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