The Brain of the Dog

We have a love affair with dogs and have for about 15,000 years and there is no sign of that slowing. About 44% of the families in the US have at least one dog. That suggests we have a population of up to 80 million dogs.

Most of our canine companions live a very good life. We believe they understand us and perhaps that is the case. They may not actually speak English but they offer a level of expressions that communicate volumes with their eyes, ears, tail and entire body. We pick up on each other’s cues and that leads to a great and evolving relationship.

While this is our common sense and experience, science is pushing harder to understand it empirically. Canine research facilities like the Dog cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth in England exist all around the world in places like Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy Australia and of course the US.

Most of our research studies are in universities and the Association for Psychological Science devoted an entire issue of its journal Current Direction in Psychological Science to the canine mind. They had some impressive findings. While our brains are larger and theirs smaller, the structure is similar and they can accomplish behaviors like dogs can count in a manner of speaking. They can tell if a picture has more shapes on it than another and it has been discovered that they know if an object that is not visible, still exists.