People are like dogs, and dogs are like people. Although you wouldn’t want a dog to balance your checkbook, dogs can count. A leading dog researcher thinks that dogs’ mental abilities are close to those of a human child of around 2 years old.

They can also understand more than 150 words and intentionally deceive other dogs and people to get treats. Canine researcher Stanley Coren says, “We all want insight into how our furry companions think, and we want to understand the silly, quirky and apparently irrational behaviors [that] Lassie or Rover demonstrate. Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought.”

The intelligence of various types of dogs does differ and the dog’s breed determines some of these differences, Coren says. “There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of ‘school learning’).

“Border collies are number one in intelligence; poodles are second, followed by German shepherds. Fourth on the list is golden retrievers; fifth, dobermans; sixth, Shetland sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador retrievers.” The average dog can learn 165 words Dogs can also count up to four or five. And they have a basic understanding of arithmetic and will notice errors in simple computations, such as 1+1=1 or 1+1=3.

They can also be sneaky, as most pet owners know all too well: During play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people in order to get rewards, Coren says, “And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs.”

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