• Dognition: What It Is and How We Can Use It

    Posted on May 21, 2013 by in Dognition, Evaluations

    CharmerWhile playing the
    Dognition games you are not only having fun with your dog, but you are also gaining insight on how your dog thinks, how he sees the world and what makes him a genius.

    So, what does Dognition actually mean? Dognition is a clever combination of the words dog and cognition (see what they did there?).  Cognition is how the brain processes the world around it and cognitive science is the study of how the mind works and gains this knowledge.  This science draws on many scientific disciplines, from psychology to neuroscience. 

    Finding a dog’s cognitive strategy is done through a series of games, or some may call them, experiments.  The games will discover where your dog lies within the five core dimensions of canine cognition.

    maverickThe 5 Core Dimensions

    • Empathy: Reading and responding to the emotions of others
    • Communication: Using information from others to learn about the environment
    • Cunning: Using information from others to avoid detection
    • Memory: Storing past experience to make future choice
    • Reasoning: Inferring the solution to new problems

    Some of these insights may surprise you and some, well, they may not. The games are simple and only require a few items: treats, plastic cups, paper, post-it notes, your dog and if you can, a partner.  During these games we can observe what problem solving skills our dogs are using and how they interact or how they use us.  I was surprised at a few of Jax’s responses to the test and had to remember there was not a right or wrong answer – just a strategy.

    After completing a questionnaire and your dog’s assessment you receive a full cognitive assessment on your dog.  This assessment places your dog into one of nine cognitive profiles.

    The 9 Cognitive Profiles

    • Maverick: A cheeky wolfishness and a strong independent streak are what make a Maverick so successful.
    • Einstein: A keen understanding of physics makes this dog practically a rocket scientist.
    • Protodog: The Protodog is reminiscent of the first dogs as they began their extraordinary relationship with humans thousands of years ago.
    • Renaissance Dog: The Renaissance Dog is good at a little bit of everything.
    • Expert: The Expert can solve many problems alone, but is still part of the team.
    • Socialite: Social graces are the keys to the Socialite’s success.
    • Charmer: A smooth operator, the Charmer relies on a secret weapon – you.
    • Ace: An accomplished problem solver with great communication skills, an Ace is everything that makes dogs special, and a little more.
    • Stargazer: There’s more going on in the Stargazer’s mind than meets the eye.

    Along with the profile you will also see where your dog fits within each of the core cognitive dimensions.  Is your dog Individualistic or Bonded? Trustworthy or Wily? Impulsive or Logical?  Sure we all have an idea, but after the assessment is complete you’ll know what science says.  Again, Jax surprised me in a few of these!

    Using the insight within your dog’s profile we can come up with even more customized training program. These training programs will play to your dog’s strengths while working on his weaknesses. If your dog is a bit wily, this just means we have to work a little harder on training him to leave the plate of food when you leave the room.  We know all about classical condition, learning theory and behaviorism; now we can begin to use cognition to train our dogs. 

    Not only do you get a profile on your own dog, but you will be a part of “Citizen Science”!  The questionnaire and assessment are helping those behind Dognition gather more data than they ever could within the four walls of their Duke Canine Cognition Center.  The information gathered by each person who signs up with Dognition is providing data to analyze and report on.  In the first few months they are already seeing trends within breeds, sizes and gender.

    If you sign up for an annual membership you’ll receive a new game each month, as well as insights on training and data findings.  As a Certified Dognition Evaluator I can offer my clients a discount on the annual Dognition program and help you through the assessment process. I am excited to be a part of this cutting-edge science and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

    Jax is a…







    …Protodog!  What profile do you think your dog is?

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