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The smartest dog in the world | 60 Minutes Archive

The smartest dog in the world | 60 Minutes Archive
60 Minutes rewind human beings have lived with dogs for thousands of years you'd think that after all that time we'd have discovered all there is to know about them but it turns out that until recently scientists didn't pay much attention to dogs dolphins have been studied for decades apes and chimps as well but dogs with whom we share our lives were never thought to be worthy of serious study as a result we know very little about what actually goes on inside dogs brains do they really love us or are dogs just licking us so they can get fed how much of our language can they understand but before you answer we want you to meet Chaser who's been called the

smartest

dog in the

world

yeah we're going to Wilfred good girl good girl good girl 86 year old retired psychology professor John pilley and his border collie Chaser are inseparable we're almost there we're almost there you speak speak do you viewed Chaser as a family pet as a friend how do you see Chase she's our child she's a child she's our child a member of the family yo yes she comes first many people think of their dogs as children but John pilley has been teaching her like a child as well by signing names to toys okay chase Billy has been helping Chaser learn words and simple sentences take kg he's been teaching her up to five hours a day five days a week for the past nine years my best metaphor is this is a two-year-old toddler that's how you think about your dog a two-year-old toddler yeah she has the capabilities of a two-year-old chicken chicken chicken where's chicken he's not kidding yes good girl those two-year-old toddlers and tough know about 300 words figure eight figure eight good girl that's figure eight chaser's vocabulary is three times that to tub she's learned the names more than a thousand toys and all of those toys add up wheel yes but you know to show us chaser's collection pilly brought us to his back porch so these are all the toys in here yes Chicken in here okay is there if I dump them out please do please do okay there are 800 cloth animals 116 different balls and more than 100 plastic toys 1022 toys in all each with a unique name so Chaser could recognize the names of every one of these toys that's true that's true to prove it pilly cataloged the toys and then over the course of three years gave Chaser hundreds of tests like this Jason find Circle find Circle in every test Chaser correctly identified 95 percent or more of the toys the results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and a star was born Chaser even landed a book deal you too but John pilley didn't stop with the names of toys nose kg knows kg knows it nosy good girl he's taught Chaser that nouns and verbs have different meanings it could be combined in a variety of ways take wheel do it go do it okay out out Chase take kg do it good good girl good girl so she's actually understanding the difference between take paw putting her paw on something and putting her nose on something right and that's what we're demonstrating all this learning has been possible pilly says because of a breakthrough Chaser had when she was just a puppy at certain point she realized that objects have names right it was an Insight it came to her how could you tell that she'd suddenly have that Insight well it was in the fifth month and she'd learned about 40 names and the time necessary to work with her kept getting shorter and shorter she was starting to learn words faster and faster yes it's the closest thing in animals we've seen to being like what young children do as they're learning words Brian Hare an evolutionary Anthropologist at Duke University believes Chaser is the most important dog in the history of modern scientific research this is very serious science we're not talking about stupid pet tricks where people have spent you know hours trying to just you know train a dog to do the same thing over and over what's neat about what chaser's doing is Chaser is learning tons literally thousands of new things by using the same ability that kids use when they learn lots of words he's talking about what researchers call social inference a capability humans like Harrison Luke acquire around age one okay to demonstrate the concept hair hides a ball under one of these two cups hey looky Guy where is it can you get it can you get the ball Luke doesn't know which cup the ball is under can you get it but when his father points he makes an inference you got it so what does that show you so when kids his age start understanding pointing it's right when um the foundations of what lead to language and culture start to develop hey it might look simple but when hair tried the same test with bonobos great apes he studied for more than a decade look what happened bonobos are closest genetic relatives can't do it you chose the wrong one but here discovered dogs can you ready all right I'm gonna hide in one of these two places this two-year-old Labrador named sisu has no trouble understanding the meaning of pointing now she doesn't know for sure which place that's right there's no way she could know and I'm just going to tell her where it is okay so that's really hard for a lot of animals and that's what's really special about dogs is they're really similar to even human toddlers that's a level of thinking that people didn't really think dogs could do right I mean there was no evidence until the last decade that dogs were capable of inferential reasoning absolutely not so that's what's new that's what's shocking is that of all the species it's dogs that are showing a couple of abilities that are really important that allow humans to develop culture and language it's not surprising the dogs share characteristics with humans after all we've evolved alongside each other for more than fifteen thousand years there are now some 80 million dogs in this country more dogs than children but for all the playing and petting the companionship we still know very little about their brains Dr Greg Burns a physician and neuroscientist at Emory University has studied the human brain for more than two decades but three years ago questions he had about his own dog inspired him to start looking at the canine brain it started out with the desire to know really what does my dog think of me I love my dog but do they reciprocate in any way when they hear you come home you know they start jumping around is it just because they expect you to feed them is this just a scam by the dogs our dog just big scammers yeah to try and answer that question Dr Burns is doing something scientists have had a difficult time with he's conducting brain scans on dogs while they're awake and unsedated inside the fmri machine they're trained to stay completely still how hard is it to get a dog to do this this represents probably about three to four months of training and so most of the dogs take that long what's around tigger's head here the scanner makes a lot of noise it's quite loud and because dog's hearing is more sensitive than ours we have to protect their hearing just like ours so we we put earplugs and ear muffs and just wrap it all to just keep it in place okay now we go up Tigger certainly knows the drill that's good once in the machine he lies down and doesn't move these scans are giving Dr Burns the first Glimpse at how a dog's brain actually works so these are slices of tigger's brand that you're seeing yeah exactly so we're slicing from top to bottom we analyze them later to see which parts increase in response to the different signals well in the scanner the dogs smell cotton swabs with different scents first the underarm sweat of a complete stranger next the sweat of their owner as Dr Burns expected when the dogs sniffed the swabs the part of their brain associated with smell an area right behind the nose activated it didn't matter what the scent was but it was when the dogs got a whiff of their owner's sweat that another area of the brain was stimulated the caudate nucleus or Reward Center Dr Burns believes that means the dog is experiencing more than the good feeling that comes with a meal it shows the dog is recognizing somebody extremely important to them it's the same area in a human brain that activates when we listen to a favorite song or anticipate being with someone we love so just by smelling the sweat of their owner it triggers something in a much stronger way than it does with a stranger right which means that it's a positive feeling a positive Association and and that's something you can prove through MRIs it's not just I mean previously people would say well yeah obviously my dog loves me I see it's tail wagging and it seems really happy when it sees me right now we're using the brain as as kind of the test to say okay when we see activity in in these reward centers that means the dog is experiencing something that it likes or it wants and it's a good feeling my takeaway from this is that I'm not being scammed by my dog did you have that yeah yeah I worry about that all the time the story will continue after this watch YouTube videos of dogs welcoming home returning service members and it's easy to see the bond between dogs and their owners Ryan Hare says there's even more proof of that Bond it's found in our bloodstreams we know that when dogs and humans make eye contact that that actually releases what's known as the love hormone oxytocin in both the dog and the human turns out oxytocin the same hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies is released in both dogs and humans when they play touch or look into one another's eyes thank you very much what we know now is that when dogs are actually looking at you they're essentially hugging you with their eyes really yes and so it's not just that when a dog is making a lot of eye contact with you that they're just trying to get something from you it actually probably is just really enjoyable for them because they get an oxytocin or they get an uptick in this love hormone too all these new discoveries about dogs have led Brian Hare to create a science-based website called dognition where owners can learn to play games to test their dog's brain power so you're allowing people to do an intelligence test for their dog that's exactly right and the idea though is that there's not one type of intelligence we help you measure things like how your dog communicates how empathic your dog is is your dog cunning is your dog actually capable of abstract thought like reasoning so there are different kinds of intelligence for dogs just like with humans absolutely and so just like some humans are good at English and others are good at math it's the same for dogs when hair tested his own dog a mixed breed named Tassie he was surprised Eyes by what he learned what I found out was that I had somebody sleeping in my bed that I didn't even know really and I didn't know my dog doesn't really rely on its working memory so if I'm saying sit and stay I no longer have to wonder why my dog wanders off he like literally forgot so your dog's not the sharpest of dogs he did great on uh communication he's very communicative so he could basically be a TV anchor see what you're saying yeah fetch shirt that's shirt there we go if you're wondering how Chaser did on Brian Harris intelligence test she was off the charts on reasoning and memory not surprising perhaps considering Chaser is a Border Collie dogs bred specifically for their ability to understand how Farmers want their sheep herded is Chaser just like an Einstein of dogs so that's really fun is Chasers somehow special and I think the idea actually is that no I mean when uh Dr pilley chose Chaser he just randomly took her out of a litter what's special is that he spent so much time playing these games to help him learn words but are there lots of Chasers out there absolutely on your mark get set go there's going to be a lot of people who see this and are jealous of your relationship with Chaser I mean I now think about my own dog and kind of think wow I've I've missed the boat I haven't sort of helped my dog live up to her potential well uh start working with your dog more yeah you're so sweet
the smartest dog in the world 60 minutes archive

Source : 60 Minutes