Turns out, dogs are not exceptionally intelligent as most people think they are.
Scientists reviewed evidence that compared the brain power of dogs with other domestic animals, social hunters and carnivorans (an order including animals such as dogs, wolves, bears, lions and hyenas). Read | Stylish yet easy ways to decorate ceiling this festive season The researchers, from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University, found the cognitive abilities of dogs were at least matched by several species in each of these groups.
The study examined more than 300 papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals and found several cases of "over-interpretation" in favour of dogs' abilities.
"During our work, it seemed to us that many studies in dog cognition research set out to 'prove' how clever dogs are," said Professor Stephen Lea, of the University of Exeter.
He added, "They are often compared to chimpanzees and whenever dogs 'win', this gets added to their reputation as something exceptional. Yet in each and every case we found other valid comparison species that do at least, as well as dogs, do in those tasks." Read | Brighten up your interiors with pastels The review focussed on sensory cognition, physical cognition, spatial cognition, social cognition and self-awareness.
"Taking all three groups (domestic animals, social hunters and carnivorans) into account, dog cognition does not look exceptional," said Dr Britta Osthaus, of Canterbury Christ Church University.
He added, "We are doing dogs no favour by expecting too much of them. Dogs are dogs, and we need to take their needs and true abilities into account when considering how we treat them." The full findings are present in the journal- Learning & Behavior.