What Are Dogs Thinking?

Do you have a dog? They live with us, play with us and even sleep at the ends of our beds. But do you wonder what's going on inside a canine's head?

Now a team of researchers hopes to answer that question.

Roseanne Tellez reports.


  --REPORTER PKG-AS FOLLOWS--

YOU LOOK AT THEIR FACES ... AND HAVE TO WONDER...WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?  

(Andrew Tobin/PAWS Volunteer)  "I think they understand how we're feeling and I think they understand what we are saying a lot of the time."

PAWS VOLUNTEER MEGHAN MERKLE AGREES.

(Roseanne Tellez, Chicago) "Do you think she's smart?"

(Meghan Merkle/PAWS Volunteer) "She's extremely smart."

LAURIE SANTOS IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE YALE CANINE COGNITION CENTER--WHERE ALL THEY DO IS STUDY DOGS TO LEARN EVERYTHING THEY CAN ABOUT THE DOG'S MIND.  

(Laurie Santos--Yale Univ. Professor )l "Dogs are just fascinating, we love them, they live in our homes, anyone who hangs out with a dog is kind of wondering, what are they thinking, do they love me?"

TO FIGURE ALL THIS OUT--RESEARCHERS PUT HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEER DOGS--TO A SERIES OF TESTS.

THIS ONE INVOLVES A BOOK.

(quick, little nat break)

THE DOG WATCHES AS HIS OR HER COMPANION SITS AND READS.

THEN SHE PUTS THE BOOK ON THE FLOOR--BEHIND HER.  

A MOMENT LATER--SOMEONE COMES INTO THE ROOM AND TAKES THE BOOK.

(Laurie Santos--Yale Univ. Professor )"What we really want to see is whether or not dogs know when we've missed some information do they realize that, first of all, and when they do realize it are they motivated to help."

THE RESULTS? AGAIN AND AGAIN--NOT ONLY DO THE DOGS SEEM TO REALIZE SOMETHING IS WRONG--

BUT THEY ALSO SEEM TO BE TRYING TO ALERT THEIR COMPANIONS.

(April Ruiz--Ben's companion--) "At home he's really observant, he's always paying attention."

(Sarah Locke--Rocket's Companion) "He's a very concerned dog and there's a lot of humanizing things about him."

(Angie Johnston--Vadar's Companion) "He was just kind of going, what do you think about this."

IN ANOTHER TEST--THE DOG AND COMPANION ARE RELAXING IN A ROOM--WHEN THE RESEARCHER SUDDENLY INTRODUCES A NEW OBJECT.

"She's telling him wow, look at how interesting that is..."

THE GOAL OF THE TEST IS TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT A DOG WILL BECOME INTERESTED IN THE SAME ITEM.

"When she did her pointing, he was all of a sudden directing his gaze at the object being really interested in it."

(Roseanne Tellez, Chicago) "So what--if anything--can researchers surmise from the testing they've done so far?"

(Rebecca Spaulding, Yale Student) "The most surprising thing so far is how many of our intuitions about dogs are right. So we have all these intuitions that dogs have feelings and dogs want to communicate with us."

(Maddie Marino--Yale Student) "One thing we have found consistently is how in tune dogs are with our emotions."


In that story, you heard the word cognition. Cognition refers to the mental activities of thinking, understanding, learning and remembering.


Website: Nova, What Do Dogs Think?: Expert Q&A

Website: Learning RX, Cognitive Skills

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