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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dogs Versus Two-Year-Old: Can Or Should We Compare?

Well, I guess we can compare, or at least Alexandra Horowitz, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College and acclaimed author of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know" can compare the relative intelligence of your average dog and average two year old human. There's been a decent amount of discussion on the intelligence of canines recently, and the comparison of their intelligence relative to humans has been discussed in various articles by "experts" and lay people alike.

Drawing courtesy of Nishant Choksi/The New York Times

In the opinion section of today's New York Times, Ms. Horowitz, a researcher of canine cognition, takes a crack at understanding the similarities and differences in intelligence between the two species, courtesy of both amusing anecdotal evidence gathered from her own observations (she just happens to have a two year old son and a four year old dog), and scientific research on the subject. "My son kisses my scar. My dog licks my tears. Research says both grasp feelings. "But she appears to conclude that it does both the child and the dog a disservice to spend too much time studying a direct comparison: "You are no more doing your dog a kindness by treating him as a child than you would be in treating your child as a dog. Unless your kid really loves liver treats."

We'd love to hear your opinion on the matter-should we compare inter species intelligence...and if so, why?


Pamela said...

I think the original comparison of a 2 year old child was to help people with dogs understand what to expect from them. But it in no way means they're alike.

One of the downsides of the comparison is having people treat their dogs like children instead of like adult dogs.

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