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If you’re familiar with the concept of tests that help people determine their personality type then you already understand the core idea behind Dognition. In the same way that human personality assessments collect data to ascertain various facets of a person’s personality, the Dognition Assessment Toolkit includes a variety of questions and games that that have been scientifically developed to give dog owners a better idea of the way their dogs see and interact with the world. With this knowledge, you will be better able to understand and appreciate your dog’s strengths and weaknesses.
A Dognition Profile will help you identify your dog’s cognitive style and problem solving strategies by assessing five canine cognitive dimensions including empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning. Each dimension in a Dognition Profile is visualized as a continuum between two extremes. For example, the empathy continuum runs from "individualistic" to "bonded" and the memory continuum runs from "present-minded" to "retrospective.
It’s important to understand that there is no such thing as "right" and "wrong" when it comes to where along a particular cognitive dimension your dog lies. The goal of Dognition is not to learn how to change your dog, but to learn how to understand your dog. However, this does not mean Dognition can’t be used as an aid in training and improving your dog’s behavior. In fact, the insights offered by a Dognition Profile can help you to identify the types of training your dog will respond to and those that should probably be avoided.
One advantage to understanding your dog’s Dognition Profile is that it will help you relate to your dog throughout his or her entire life. As with human personality dimensions, the canine cognitive dimensions are fixed very early on in your dog’s life. Though many things may change between the puppy years and late adulthood, the skills that an individual dog uses to navigate the world do not change. In the same way that an extroverted child will not become an introvert during his or her lifetime, a self-reliant puppy will not likely ever become a collaborative adult dog.
The Dognition Toolkit is available as a stand-alone tool. You’ll receive a complete set of games that are designed to help determine your dog’s unique Dognition Profile. You’ll also receive a report that shows the details of your dog’s cognitive style. For an additional fee, you can also become a Dognition member and receive additional games and tips that are personalized to your dog and special member-only discounts.
Brian Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University is the creator of Dognition, and he says that it's about training humans to read their animals’ cues. For example, these tests can help people to understand that a dog may yawn as a sign of empathy, to show that he or she is tuning into what a person is doing and feeling.
“You are learning about yourself and the dog," says Professor Hare, who has recently published The Genius of Dogs, which he co-wrote with his wife, Vanessa Woods. Dr. Hare says the tests can help people and dogs coexist better.
“The goal of our discoveries through Dognition is not to make them into little people," he says, "it’s to understand them for being what they are: dogs."
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