Over the past week or so, Pyrrha and I got to try Dognition! As soon as I heard about Dognition (thanks to a post from Linda), I knew it was something I wanted to try. I love learning about how dogs learn, and what better avenue to do so than by discovering how your own dog learns?
For a one-time fee of $29, Dognition provides users with an easy-to-use web platform that guides you through a series of science-based games, popularized by Dr. Brian Hare of Duke University. (You may recognize Hare from the excellent NOVA documentary, “Dogs Decoded,” or from his recent book, The Genius of Dogs. If you watched the documentary, you’ll be familiar with one of the main iterations of the games: hiding treats under plastic cups.)
I was impressed with the design of the website; the clean, modern videos are very helpful in explaining how the games are played. The site also makes it very easy for you to record your dog’s results for every step of every game.
The games reveal how your dog learns, communicates, remembers, and problem-solves. Once you’ve completed the full round of games, you get an in-depth report of your dog’s results, as well as a badge for your dog’s learning style. Pyrrha, for instance, was named a “Renaissance Dog” — which I think essentially means that they’re not really sure what she’s good at. 😉
The one category in which she was not middle of the road was empathy. Pyrrha is apparently very empathetic to and very bonded to me. I knew this already, but my husband and I laughed about what her results would have been if he had been the one playing the games with her (e.g., zero bond).
That is one of the drawbacks of this product: For consistency in reporting, the same handler needs to be the person working with the dog in every trial of the game. In our family, Pyrrha would have scored very differently in empathy if Guion had been her handler instead of me.
It can also be hard to make/find time to complete all of the games, especially because almost all of the games require another person’s help (or a dog with a rock-solid stay, which Pyrrha does not have).
You also have to have Solo cups lying around to complete almost half of the games, something we don’t normally have in our house. They have to be opaque and light enough for a dog to knock over, so those frat-boy red plastic cups are about your only option.
All that said, we really enjoyed playing these games together and reading her results. I also particularly liked the data comparison section of the site, in which you can compare your dog’s results with other dogs, based on size, age, breed grouping, etc. Pretty interesting stuff!
Have you tried Dognition? What kind of learning style do you think your dog has?
Disclaimer: We were provided with a free trial of Dognition in exchange for our honest review.