Deb D’Andrea, Nederland. You make a squeaky noise, they tilt their head; you open a bag of treats, they come running from across the house; you pick up your keys and they block the door as if to say ‘please take me too;’ and when you feel sad, they comfort you. What do dogs think, are their perceptions of our actions based in logic or repetitive reinforcement?
I had the great opportunity to attend a seminar where Dr. Gregory Berns discussed his research into what dogs think; research that is ongoing, with his studies and methodology compiled in his book “What It’s Like to Be a Dog.” Through the use of M.R.I. technology, Dr. Berns, a neuroscientist, started training dogs to be still during their M.R.I.’s to see how a dog’s brain responded to various stimuli. M.R.I. technology has long been used to help understand how parts of a human’s brain respond to various inputs.
Special training was created to help acclimate the dogs to the loud M.R.I. sounds, to train them to be still, and to have specific responses, similar to a yes or no. No drugs were used, and no restraints; if a dog wanted to leave, they could. The results were fascinating! Humans and dogs use the same corresponding parts of their brain in solving similar tasks. When using food versus praise, there was about a 20% higher response to food; but overall, the conclusion was that dogs love praise too. In researching facial recognition, it was found that a dog’s brain has a dedicated area wired just for that; and, previously unknown, they are born to recognize faces.
While it’s difficult to truly appreciate what your beloved dog is trying to communicate to you, I find it incredibly fascinating that their brains reflect similar thought patterns to ours. So, when you look into your dog’s eyes and start having a conversation with them over what they’d like for supper or if they want to go for a hike, there is a high probability they understand every word you’re saying.
Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz & the Caribou Dog Ranch is recognized by the State of Colorado as a Certified Canine Massage Therapist and will visit your home or Vet’s office to work with your dog. Canine Agility may be offered at the Caribou Dog Ranch in 2017 if there is interest. Deb currently has limited availability for new Petz Nanny Clients; and she bakes up fresh dog treats & doggy birthday cakes per order. For information contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.