Can Dognition map out your dog's personality? -


Can Dognition map out your dog's personality?

Think your dog is a genius? Well, who doesn't! You may be surprised to know there is a website called which promises to give you a glimpse into the mind behind your best friend's furry little face.

America Now visited Dognition's headquarters in Durham, NC, to see how they are able to figure out the personalities of thousands of different dogs.

Jessica Law says her dog, Tyson, is one quirky canine.  

"I would describe him as the awkward kid on the playground," Law said.  

According to data from, Tyson isn't really timid at all. He's just a "charmer" and that's different, of course, from other canine types like "stargazers" and "renaissance" dogs. Dognition says there are nine unique types in total.  

The purpose of Dognition is to map out a dog's cognitive profile which includes how he sees the world, and what he's thinking.

It's all based on canine research conducted by Dr. Brian Hare, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University.

"There's been a revolution over the past 10 years over how much we understand about the dog's mind," Dr. Hare said.  

So in fact, there are complex problem-solving processes going on inside that toilet-bowl-drinking mammal's mind.

To discover them, gives pet owners a personality test for their pup.

The questions range from the basics like -- is your dog afraid of fireworks? -- to the more…insightful -- how often does Tyson sniff another dog's urine?

The answers to these and other questions about your dog's behavior is where different cognitive dimensions are revealed.

Did you know that contagious yawning is a sign of empathy?

In this game, we watched a dog named Jet repeatedly go to the cup her human pointed to even if she saw the treat as it was being placed under another cup.

Dognition says that's because Jet is a socialite, and he is reliant on cues.

"Dogs have incredible unique personalities and once you understand the way they use their personalities to navigate their world, you can have a deeper, richer relationship with them," said Kip Frey, the CEO of Dognition.

Jenn Merritt is a dog trainer with Blue Dog Creature Coaching. She uses dognition to help her clients tailor training to the unique way their canine needs to communicate.

"Maybe they're not so stubborn, maybe they just have trouble learning in the way you are trying to teach them," Merritt said. 

Law said she finally figured out the reason for Tyson's trance.

"You sort of feel this presence, he's just staring at you," she said. 

As a charmer, he's just bonding or giving you a big hug with those big, brown eyes.

She says that kind of insight, however, isn't enough for her to make the investment.

"I feel like after nine years, I know my dog really well," Law said.  

Still, she admitted, it was fun giving her dog the test.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. There's no pass or fail.

And by the way, these tests can not be used on your cat, or your significant other to better understand their unusual behaviors!

"This was designed to be used for dogs, not for people," said Dr. Hare while laughing.

It is worth pointing out, Dognition is not an IQ test. Dr. Hare says you simply can't plot a single number to measure intelligence.

Instead, he said, Dognition measures different types of intelligence.

Whether you're an Einstein or an expert dog, you'll have something both you and your dog can brag about the next time you're at the dog park.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information: 

The following information is from (Source:

  • Cognitive profiles are derived from a matrix of the two key canine cognitive dimensions: social problem solving and independent problem solving.
    • Ace: An accomplished problem solver with great communication skills.
    • Charmer: A smooth operator who relies on his owner.
    • Socialite: exhibits "social grace."
    • Maverick: A cheeky wolfishness and a strong independent streak.
    • Expert: problem-solves alone but also works in a team.
    • Einstein: a keen understanding of physics.
    • Stargazer:
    • Renaissance: good at a little bit of everything.
    • Protodog: reminiscent of the first dogs as they began their extraordinary relationship with humans thousands of years ago.
  • Profile tells you how your dog "sees" the world: strategies used, situational responses, personal strengths. This can help owners work with trainers to address behavioral issues.
  • "Cognition" is how the mind processes the world around it.
  • Dognition is not an "IQ test." It discovers the skills your dog relies on to navigate its world.
  • The cognitive dimensions include:
    • Empathy: reading and responding to others emotions.
    • Memory: storing past experiences to make future choices.
    • Cunning: using information from others to avoid detection.
    • Reasoning: inferring solutions to new problems.
    • Communication: using information from others to learn about the environment.
  • Dognition relies on "citizen science," where the company collects, collates and analyzes data from all participants and shares it with their partners to support new research.
  • Different animals rely on different cognitive strategies. No one animal is "smarter" than another.
  • The annual membership provides new games for you and your dog every month.

The following information is about Dr. Brian Hare:

  • He is the Chair of Dognition's Scientific Advisory Board
  • He is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke.
  • He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, a division of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

The following information is about Kip Frey:

  • He is the CEO/President of
  • He is an entrepreneur and professor of Law and Public Policy at Duke

Information on Jenn Merritt

  • Jenn is the owner of Blue Dog Creature Coaching (
  • Jenn says she and her husband could never figure out why Jet got so upset when they watched basketball. But learning that she was extremely reliant on hand gestures, they
    figured out that she was stressed by their movement. Now they give her another
    activity when they want to put the game on.

The following information is from (Source:

  • builds on Dr. Brian Hares work as the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center.
  • The site does not measure a pet's IQ. Dr. Hare says dog's intelligence can't be described with a single number.
  • Members take a personality questionnaire for their dog ("How excited does your dog get around other children? Do fire works scare your dog?"). Then, dog and owners go through several "tests" like playing hide-and-seek. Users upload the results and Dognition sends back a detailed profile of the dog's mental habits.
  • Eventually, the site hopes to map out substantive cognitive differences between breeds.
  • The Canine Assessment Toolkit is $59.95 and there is a $129.95 annual membership bundle that includes additional games.

THe following details are from the Dognition report evaluating Jessica Law's dog, Tyson.

  • Tyson is a "Charmer:" exceptional social skills, able to read human body language easily. He can solve problems independently but usually turns to his owner for guidance.
  • Tyson scored very high as "Bonded" and "Collaborative." He was in between on "Trustworthy" and "Wily." He scored as "Retrospective" and "Logical."
  • Tyson's empathy scores were off the charts. He feels what his owner feels. Empathy can not be taught.
  • The ability to "catch" the emotions of others is called emotional contagion. A common form is yawning. When you feel the urge to yawn after seeing someone else do it, that's
    a form of empathy.
  • In the same way babies bond with mom with strong eye contact, so do dogs. Tyson is known to stare uncomfortably long at his owners. That doesn't mean he needs anything,
    he's just "hugging" with his eyes.
  • Tyson is highly collaborative, using human gestures to solve
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