A revolution in our understanding of dog cognition has occurred in the past decade, but little of this new understanding has been applied to real world problems.
Clinical studies show that service and companion dogs can have a significant positive impact on those with physical and mental disabilities. Unfortunately, there is a finite supply of service dogs and the growth potential of this supply is limited.
The Duke Canine Cognition Center and Canine Companions for Independence are working together to identify cognitive traits that make some dogs more successful service dogs than others.
In studying the cognitive abilities of service dogs we will both develop a better understanding of what psychological mechanism(s) successful service dogs rely on or are constrained by when helping humans.
We can then use this information to better predict which puppies will be successful service dogs – improving the success of training while increasing the potential number of service dogs available.