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Those of us who choose to live with a canine friend/family member/life support – okay dog – sometimes have serious questions about the sometimes unexplainable actions of our dogs.  If you’re not a dog person, you will probably find our message a beginning step in figuring out what the big attraction is among people and their dogs.

Our friends at grunge.com, a source for interesting and somewhat bazar topics, has provided the information on our dogs along with expert comments and fact-based research.  We have chosen the topics that answered our most pressing questions.  To see the complete article, click here.

How many words do they understand?

The short answer is, "More than you think." The long answer is a bit complicated because researchers have found that it depends on a lot of things, from training and an individual's intelligence to breed, occupation, and how they're spoken to.

Right now, the record-holder for the most known words is Chaser, a border collie from South Carolina, who knows 1,022 words. Chaser has shown the ability to join verbs and nouns together to perform particular tasks, and she can even use the process of elimination to select toys that she hadn't been taught the name of.

Most dogs have a vocabulary roughly equaling that of a 2-year-old, with "average" dogs understanding about 165 different words and phrases. The super-bright class (mostly working and herding dogs) understood around 250 different words.

How efficient are they at learning new things?

An awesome experiment from Yale University's Canine Cognition Center found that most dogs are not only incredibly good at learning new tasks, but they're very good at figuring out how to cut out extra steps and make whatever they're doing more efficient. How good? Better than a human toddler.

Researchers gave some toddlers a puzzle box and showed them how to solve it. The process involved pulling a lever that did absolutely nothing, and the kids couldn't get their heads around how they didn't actually have to pull the lever to open the box and get their treat.

Dogs, on the other hand, were able to figure out which steps they could drop and still get to their end goal faster and more efficiently. That essentially means that they listened to the advice they were given, then took it upon themselves to filter out the stupid stuff.

Do dogs dream?

As much as we want to, we can't get Rover to tell us what's going on when he starts running in his sleep or making those adorable little “boof” sounds. However, educated guesses suggest that they're dreaming just like we do. Letting sleeping dogs lie and then monitoring their brain activity reveals patterns similar to sleeping humans.

Dogs enter REM sleep about 20 minutes into their sleep cycle, and even if they aren't running in their sleep, you should still be able to see signs that there's something going on in there. From eye twitches to ear twitches and those little barks, they're dreaming. One Harvard psychologist suggests that closely bonded dogs are likely dreaming about their favorite person.

What does the world look like through a dog’s eyes?

The idea that dogs can only see the world in black, white, and gray is a long-standing myth. Studies done at the University of California found that dogs can more accurately be described as seeing the world in shades of blues, grays, yellows, and browns. What they can't see is, weirdly, some of the most popular colors for dog toys on the market today - like bright orange and bright red.  Most dogs seemed to associate a light yellow color with a better reward.

Compared to us, dogs are also nearsighted. They tend to be around 20/75, which means things are fuzzy in the distance. They have a huge advantage over us in the dark, though, as their eyes contain a lens called the tapetum lucidim. It reflects what light is available (and makes their eyes glow in photos), and while they're not as good in the dark as cats, they're much better than we are. They have a much wider field of vision than we do, too. While we can see about 190 degrees around us, Fido can see about 250 degrees.

Dean and Draper

That’s it for our trip into the thoughts of our best doggie friends.  We hope you enjoyed the adventure.  When you need information on your insurance policies, want to get a quote on changing your policy, or simply need some good suggestions please call us.

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