UK guide dog charity seeks brainy puppies to help breed problem-solvers

Dogs

UK guide dog charity seeks brainy puppies to help breed problem-solvers

Cognition project for eight-week-olds consists of series of tasks, including one that’s unsolvable

Val the labrador takes part in the surprising events task. Photograph: Guide Dogs/PA

Val the labrador takes part in the surprising events task. Photograph: Guide Dogs/PA

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

Sun 1 May 2022 19.01 EDTLast modified on Mon 2 May 2022 00.14 EDT

Researchers are hoping to unleash a generation of smarter guide dogs by studying the cognitive behaviour of puppies and finding out who the clever boys and girls really are.

Guide Dogs, the sight loss charity, will analyse the responses of eight-week-old puppies to see which ones best handle surprises, how they interact with human voices and how they react to difficult and sometimes impossible problems.

The results will then be tracked as the dogs mature to work out what makes a good guide dog and the information will be used to improve breeding programmes. The charity is already swabbing animals for DNA samples to help improve the performance of future generations.

“What we’re looking at is how our dogs are able to problem solve,” said Dr Helen Whiteside, chief scientific officer at [...]

Read article at theguardian.com

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