“Make sure you give them two treats each,” I instructed my husband who was taking on the role of “the treat guy”… “Because they know, they always know…” I whispered.
I wasn’t making it up. There have been several studies peeking into our dog’s numerological abilities including the 2002 study suggesting that “dogs may have the rudimentary skill to count” and the 2009 research that compared dog’s intelligence to the one of a 2-year old human. And the latest findings published in December 2019 confirmed that dogs use the same number-responsive area of the brain as humans to “spontaneously process basic numerical quantities”.
The dogs used in the 2019 study were not trained, restrained or sedated to react to numbers or quantities yet they responded to the changing quantities of dots shown to them every time the numbers changed from constant.
According to the scientists “the results provide some of the strongest evidence yet that numerosity is a neural mechanism shared between dogs and humans that goes back as far as 80 million years”
And for us, dog parents, it means that our pups may, in fact, count their treats – and, as a result, achieve even better outcomes of reward-based training because they know there are still more yummy titbits to come.