Dogs: Moody As Teenagers, Smart As Two-Year Olds

(DOGS) One human year equals approximately seven dog years. Therefore, dogs should seemingly develop at a faster rate than people. But believe it or not, man’s best friend typically has the emotional development of a teenager and the intelligence of a two-year old.

As a result, our doggie friends can never, unfortunately, fully understand us. But much like parent and child, these limitations do not inhibit the love between our dogs and ourselves.

Read on to learn more about the fascinating and emotional lives of dogs. — Global Animal

Photo Credit:

Dog(Spired), Leslie Brown

Dogs are so eager to bond with us and show such loyalty that we call them “man’s best friend.”

Humans have bred dogs for 14,000 years, selecting traits, like a tendency to bark, when strange or predatory creatures approach, and cultivating empathy for people.

Dogs are wonderful at interpreting body language. Remember, they are descended from wolves, and wolves can’t bark when they are in pursuit of prey. Instead, they signal to each other—and people give out all kinds of signals. Dogs pick up on where we are looking, as well as on any changes in our posture. That’s why people think they’re psychic.

Still, dogs only have adequate vision. Their world is all about their sense of smell. A dog’s sense of smell is different from ours. They have noses with 225 million receptors, which is about 50 times the number in a human nose. For example, you might walk into a kitchen and smell chili. A dog would walk into the room and smell each individual component: beans, peppers, tomatoes, onions, beef. Dogs have wet noses for a reason. The stuff they need to smell sticks better to wet noses.

The average dog understands about 165 words and is about as smart as a two-year-old human, but has the emotional development of a teenager. Dogs are keenly aware of relationships in a pack, such as who is sleeping with who and which dog is moving up in the pack.

You might think your dog looks guilty about tracking dirt on your new, white carpet or gobbling down food you’ve left unattended, but that’s not really guilt–it’s dread of your anger and shouting. Guilt is a human emotion that we learn around age four. Dogs just don’t know about guilt.

Which dogs are more inclined to show their “smarts?” The most intelligent breeds are the herding, working, and retrieving dogs. These are the breeds that humans have most recently developed. Hounds tend to be the least intelligent breeds. However, mixed breeds also seem to have a greater intelligence than single breed dogs.

Don’t let the relative intelligence of a breed steer your choice of dogs. Some types of dogs are a better fit with certain human personalities. For example, assertive people tend toward terriers, whereas sociable people enjoy the sporting breeds, such as labs and retrievers.

Dogs can learn their name, along with a bevy of other words, but a lot of dogs think their name is “no.” This indicates a lack of effective training. Rewards tend to work a lot better than discipline in dog training. This is because dogs learn through repeated experience and association. They come to fear everything associated with negative emotions, which typically result from training by using discipline to discourage unwanted behavior in a dog. In contrast, a dog will learn to associate positive emotions with behaviors encouraged by reward-based training.

Because dogs operate at the level of a two-year-old – a very endearing age for us — people talk to dogs as if they are young children. This may be one reason why we form such strong bonds with our dogs. We become dependent on them, just as they are dependent on us.

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