Can dogs learn to read or do math?

Dog with measuring stickDogs can learn to recognize printed words and associate them with a meaning. They don’t read full sentences like humans do, but they can learn to recognize letters.

Dogs have also been shown to understand the concepts of size – they know when one thing is bigger than another – and an ability to count. They are able to understand simple addition and subtraction.

When discussing dogs’ intelligence, researchers usually split the term into three parts:

  • Instinctive intelligence
  • Adaptive intelligence
  • Working/Obedience intelligence

Different types of dogs have been bred to excel at different things, and for instance a Beagle and a Border Collie will have different types of smarts.

Instinctive intelligence is how dogs “just know” how to do different things. Most Border Collies have a strong herding instinct. Others are good at fetching, guarding, or hunting.

Adaptive Intelligence is a dog’s ability to figure things out. At first sight this sounds like a desirable quality – everyone wants a smart dog – but breeds with a high adaptive intelligence require a lot from their owners. Consider if you really want a dog able to open doors and drawers.

Working and Obedience intelligence is just what it sounds like – a dog’s ability to learn from us humans.

A dog having high – or low – intelligence in one group doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good or bad at the others.

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