Canine Corner

The human-animal bond

Magic Tricks, Consciousness, and Mental Imagery in Dogs

Data suggests that dogs have mental imagery and consciousness when tested for "object permanence". A video where dogs are exposed to sleight-of-hand magic seems to confirm the laboratory results. Read More

Cute! But proves the obvious as Dr. Coren notes...

A few decades ago, I proved dog mental imagery with a simple game and my Sheltie. I and a few friends stood in a circle with my Sheltie in the middle and tossed an imaginary ball between us. The Sheltie joined in the game, happily chasing the "ball" even though there was no ball to be seen.
So yes, dogs can visualize.
Shame I didn't apply for a research grant. ;-)
Keep well,
Val

Cats, too!

I had a calico cat some years ago that was quite the little huntress. Of course she brought all her prey home. I rescued many a small critter from her rather prickly attention. She always reacted the same way these dogs in the video did: obvious incredulous disbelief, dismay and confusion. This was invariably followed by disgust with me as the apparent source of her loss.

At first she was at that baby stage - once the paper towel or whatever went over the victim it was gone by 'magic' to her. As she got older and smarter she reached the 18 month to two year old stage of knowing the bird/snake was still there and I was the instrument of the disappearances. I was on the receiving end of many long and loud lectures in cat as to just why that was so unfair of me. She figured it out, no doubt.

Object Permanence

The first thing I thought of when I saw this video the other day, is why do the dogs just looked puzzled, rather than using their nose to find the object which is more than likely up the magician's sleeve. I just found it odd, as I would expect the dog to find the object rather quickly through their sense of smell

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Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

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