Episode 486 – Companion Animal Cognition and Intelligence

Math Dog-Dreams

Talk to many dog people long enough and the subject of companion animal cognition and intelligence eventually will come. And most of us are aware of our own animal’s cognitive and intellectual ability. But what, exactly, does that mean?

This podcast owes its inspiration to the work of mathematician Tim Pennings and his corgi, Elvis . I read about their work years ago, lost the material in some computer crash, and then serendipitously found it on-line recently when looking for something else.




  1. I love it!

  2. great article. do you know of any other animal cognition and intelligences?

  3. A Google Scholar search for “animal cognition” will bring up lots of articles on this subject as will a search for “animal intelligence”. What makes articles like Pennings description of Elvis’ math ability that enabled him to chart the most energy-efficient path to retrieve his ball is that Pennings had the mathematical knowledge to recognize what he was seeing when he saw it. Often formal animal intelligence studies are limited to observing how well an animal performs a task the way the researchers trained the animal to do this. Animals who accomplish the same result some other way are eliminated from the data. Perhaps this is what distinguishes behavioral scientists from naturalists. Naturalists observe how the animals solve problems on their own instead of grading them based on their ability to solve problems the way researchers would.

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