Can You Teach Dogs to Count?


Album cover for the band Pigeons Playing Pingpong (no dogs here, sorry)

Album cover for the band Pigeons Playing Pingpong
Courtesy of YouTube

Years ago I became fascinated with positive reinforcement when I first learned about BF Skinner’s experiments teaching pigeons to play pingpong.

Later I discovered Karen Pryor, a totally amazing animal psychologist/trainer who has worked with dogs, cats, wolves, dolphins and all sorts of other animals, including human teenagers. Her success as a trainer is legendary. I subscribe to her blog/newsletter just to be sure I don’t miss out on the latest amazing thing she or her team are doing.

The latest is an article is by Ken Ramirez, one of her scientific associates. He explores animal cognition and has been experimenting with teaching dogs to count. There are far-reaching implications in his results.  Just how much is our arrogance as the “top species” costing us?

Since many of you who read this blog are interested in animals, especially dogs, I thought you might enjoy a short side trip from my usual posts about dog rescue here in the Azuero. If teaching a dog to count sounds like something you’d like to know more about, here is the link.  Happy reading.