Smart dogs are more playful

A new study has just been published in animal cognition reveals that the few dogs that are gifted in learning verbal object tags – the names of their toys – are more playful than typical dogs.

Researchers from the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest recently found that only a few dogs in the world show the unique ability to learn multiple object names – the names of their toys. These gifted dogs can learn names very quickly and remember those they have learned for over two months. Researchers have called these dogs gifted word learners.

Family Dog Project researchers investigated whether Gifted Word Learner dogs differed in personality traits from typical dogs (i.e., dogs that do not show the rare ability to quickly learn multiple dog names). objects).

In humans, the ability to solve problems has been linked to certain personality traits, and it appears that more playful individuals may show better problem-solving ability.

Researchers asked owners of 21 gifted dogs from around the world to complete the Dog Personality Questionnaire.

“This is a validated questionnaire that reveals personality traits in dogs and has already been used successfully in several published studies,” explains Borbala Turkishco-author of the study.

The data obtained on the personality traits of the Gifted Word Learners were then compared with the data obtained with the same questionnaire on a matched sample of 144 typical dogs from two different countries, Austria and Hungary.

“We limited our survey to Border collies because most gifted learners belong to this breed,” explains Doctor. Claudia Fugazzaprincipal investigator of the study.

The only difference researchers found between gifted and typical border collies was that gifted dogs were rated by their owners as even more playful than those typical of the two countries. It should be noted that working dogs are more playful than dogs of non-working breeds. The Border Collie is a breed that was bred for working purposes. Thus, the typical border collies are already very playful and the study reveals that gifted dogs are even more playful.

“However, it is important to point out that the vast majority of Border Collies do not display this talent,” points out Doctor. Andrea Sommers, co-author of the study. “And also that there are gifted word learners who are not of this race,” adds Shany Dror.

Adam Miklosico-author and head of the ethology department concludes:

This study shows that there is a relationship between extremely high levels of playfulness and giftedness in learning verbal object labels in dogs.

However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily imply that the game is what brings out this talent. We don’t rule it out, but it could also be that the extreme playfulness of gifted individuals is motivated or perceived by owners as a result of frequent playful interactions with their dogs, with named toys.