Most dog owners believe they have a supremely intelligent animal, but only one dog holds the title of the World’s Smartest Dog and now the owner is sharing his secrets to success. Dr John W. Pilley, an emeritus psychology professor, has taught his Border collie an incredible 1000 words proving just how clever dog’s are. The professor from South Carolina has had his dog, Chaser, since 2004 and only six years later was hitting the headlines with news of her astonishing understanding of language.
Dr Pilley’s recent book – ‘Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words’ – documents his training, detailing how use of repetition, respect and lots of play allowed him to achieve the incredible results. Pilley also makes note of the fact that he believes any dog has the ability to understand and learn language, with enough help. He goes on to emphasize that the only thing owners really need to know when training their dog is that play is the key to success, saying ‘I believe that it is my daily play with Chaser that sustains her inner puppy as the source of her creative energy and ability to learn.’
Chaser has the ability to differentiate between verbs and nouns, understanding that a combination of different objects with different verbs require her to take different actions. She has also learnt the names of many objects, to the point where Pilley can ask her to fetch a specific item from a group of various objects and if he asks her to get an item she has never heard of, she can deduct through rational logic that it must be the new item in the collection of toys. This displays that dogs have the ability to reason creatively, which had been previously thought impossible.
Discussing this great discovery, Pilley writes ‘the ability to acquire language, I am confident, will sooner or later be recognized as one more capacity that is no longer uniquely human,’.