Many dog owners will know this already but our four-legged friends are a good deal cleverer than most people think.
In new research into canine intelligence, a border collie called Rico managed to learn the names of more than 200 different objects, while another border collie named Chaser reportedly learned the names of more than 1,000 items.
Doctor Claudia Fugazza of Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary explained how she tested the intelligence of pooches and found they were far better at learning new words than previously thought.
Even quite old dogs, she discovered, could learn new tricks. Another two dogs named Whisky and Nina involved in the study demonstrated remarkable learning potential.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr Fugazza said that she leaned how dogs could learn dozens of new words while playing.
Her colleague Professor Adam Miklósi wrote “Such rapid learning seems to be similar to the way human children acquire their vocabulary around two to three years of age.”
Not all dogs were equally gifted, 20 other dogs that she tested appeared to have little or no word learning abilities.
Border collies appeared to be particularly good at learning new words, in some cases needing to hear a word only four times before it was imprinted on their memory.
Crucially, the dogs were able to work out the names of new toys by comparing the new words to names of toys they already knew.
It appeared that these new words didn't 'stick' after the test ended though.
The study suggests that gifted dogs can learn new words at the same speed as a two to three-year-old
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, said that the research shed new light on animal intelligence: “These findings cast doubt on the assumption that the ability to learn word sounds linked to particular objects is unique to humans,” she told the Guardian.
But, she added, it remained to be seen why some dogs were better at learning new words than others, and why some breeds seemed to have more aptitude than others.
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