SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
December 06, 1976
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December 06, 1976


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She devised a test with 10 problems, each to be solved in no longer than 15 seconds. A dog is graded either "pass" or "fail" on each. A perfect score of 10 indicates a "brilliant" animal; a score of one means "very dumb." So far the average score has been 5.75.

The problems seem simple to the human mind—for instance, a dog watches as a food treat is placed under one of three cups; it must then select the right cup, turn it over and obtain the food—but they evaluate an animal's alertness and perceptiveness. For example, when food was put into a shoebox with a square opening on one side, fewer than half the dogs were able to get the treat within the 15-second time limit.

One significant finding is what Coon calls "the owner correlation." She says, "People who think their dogs are smart usually have dogs which do not do as well as they expected. And the opposite happens with owners who think their dogs are stupid."

Her own Daiquiri, for instance, obviously an underachiever in obedience school, did a lot better on the IQ test than Coon anticipated. "She wasn't as dumb as I thought," she says. The change in her attitude toward Daiquiri since the testing—a newfound respect?—apparently has been reflected in her pet's behavior. "Now when she chases her tail," Coon says, "she catches it."

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