Science: Dogs aren’t that smart. Dog owners: ‘Shut it’

In their most honest moments, even the most loyal dog owner has to admit their dog probably isn’t as smart as they think they are. In fact, they’re really not that smart, a new study says.

The study, first published in the journal  “Learning And Behavior,” says it’s the Lake Wobegon effect at work. People tend to think they’re above average when they’re not. They treat their dogs the same way, Scientific American reported.

Here’s the part that hurts: Dogs fared poorly compared to cats. Also wolves. And chimps. And pigeons.

But there’s something pigeons, wolves and chimps can’t do: keep you alive.

Even after the researchers statistically controlled for age, education, and socioeconomic status, dog owners were significantly less likely to have had a heart attack and significantly less likely to have died from cardiovascular disease than non-dog owners were.

What’s more, these benefits of dog ownership were largest for single people. While stressing that the results must be interpreted cautiously because they are correlational, the researchers suggest two possible explanations for the findings.

The first is that owning a dog alleviates psychosocial stress caused by isolation and depression, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. The second explanation is that dog owners, in taking their canine companions on walks, are more physically active.

So even if dogs can’t follow hand signals as well as a bottlenose dolphin and their sense of smell is no better than a pig’s, their effects on our lives may be remarkable all the same.

That aside, dog owners don’t want to hear any of this.

A reader suggested the article was written by a cat.

Even Steve Inskeep of NPR’s “Morning Edition” got a little rebuttal this morning when he relayed the SA article.

There are, of course, exceptions. Your dog, probably.