A previous study on people has demonstrated a correlation between fun and problem-solving ability, so animal behaviorists at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, wondered if the same was true for rambunctious puppies.
What exactly is a talented dog? Border collies were used in the current study since previous research had shown that they could learn up to 12 new words each week and keep them for months.
Claudia Fugazza, a researcher at the university’s department of ethology (the study of animal behavior), and her colleagues requested the owners of 165 Border collies to fill out dog personality questionnaires to investigate the probable link between giftedness and playfulness in dogs. Twenty-one of the canines were gifted, while the remaining 114 were chosen at random with no testing for word learning ability.
The surveys classified the animals’ personalities into five categories:
- Dread, including fear of people, nonsocial fear, fear of dogs, and fear of being handled.
- Aggressiveness toward individuals, encompassing both general and situational aggression.
- Excitability, playfulness, active engagement, and companionability are all examples of activity/excitement.
- Trainability and controllability are examples of responsiveness.
- Animal aggressiveness, includes dog aggression, prey drive, and dominance over other dogs.
Owners were asked to score their pets in three categories for playfulness evaluation:
- The dog rapidly becomes bored while playing.
- The dog likes to play with toys.
- Objects such as balls, toys, and sticks are retrieved by the dog.
The researchers concentrated primarily on Border collies since previous studies revealed that the breed is more likely than others to be proficient at learning new language.
Following the collection of survey responses, the researchers compared responses from owners of gifted dogs to those from owners of dogs who were not classified as gifted.
The only personality attribute that consistently differed across the two groups was playfulness.
According to Fugazza, the research’s lead author, “it’s not apparent from the study whether it’s the playfulness that helps the dogs learn more words or if the extra playful ones ended up with more possibilities to learn.” This is because gifted dogs learn words for items while playing with their owners.