Dogs Understand Math

Dogs Understand Math
    Dogs Understand Math

    Dogs Understand Math 
    One of the things that enchant us about dogs is our belief that they have a basic understanding of what’s going on around them. They seem to pick up on the patterns all around them and then make keen judgments about what is likely to happen next. And as anyone who has ever tried to cut back on dog biscuits has probably figured out, dogs do a pretty good job of counting as well.
    ELVIS CAN DO MATH—and not just any kind of math, but calculus. Discovering Elvis’s abilities stunned his owner, Tim Pennings, who is a mathematician himself.
    Tim was playing fetch with Elvis on a Lake Michigan beach. Tim would toss the ball into the water and then watch Elvis retrieve it.
    After repeated throws, Tim noticed a pattern in Elvis’s route. He didn’t run straight to the water’s edge and swim directly to the ball. Nor did he run to the point where the ball was closest to the shore and jump in. Instead, he ran partway to the water and then swam at an angle toward the ball. Elvis, Tim realized, was instantly calculating the quickest route to the ball.
    The quickest route between two points is a basic calculus equation and Tim set out to confirm what he suspected. After marking Elvis’s route to the ball, Tim brought out paper and pencils and a computer;

    three hours later, he’d confirmed that Elvis’s path was the fastest available way to the ball.
    While Elvis might not be able to plot the equation on paper, the irony of the situation was not lost on Tim. “Elvis was making a calculation in a second. It took me hours to come up with the exact same answer.”
    Tim wrote a paper on Elvis’s math abilities, and sometimes he takes Elvis to lectures he gives on the subject. While Tim speaks and writes equations on the board, Elvis snoozes, apparently content that he
    already knows the answer.

    Experiments using dog biscuits showed that dogs respond to their owners more quickly to the simple and correct addition
    (1 biscuit + 1 biscuit = 2 biscuits) than to incorrect addition. (West and Young 2002)

    @Posted by
    writer and blogger, founder of Our Dogs Are Loved .

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