Saturday, March 11, 2017

Decoding your Dog with Dognition

A couple Christmases ago, my brother and sister-in-law got Barley and me a Dognition assessment. Through a series of different games, we discovered different elements to create a personality profile for Barley. The assessment is put together by scientists, trainers, and behaviorists, including Dr. Brian Hare, the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center. After you complete 20 different games, you'll get a profile report that discusses the way your dog bonds, communicates, and problem solves among other things. 

Doing the games with Barley was fun, but I don't know that I learned a lot of new information with her because I'd learned so much training with her for years before taking it, but I did learn that she prefers to work with me as a team rather than making choices independently. Rye and I are still learning about each other and it has not taken long to figure out that she is a very different dog from Barley. Winter has returned--with cold rain and wind--so I decided it was the perfect time to spend some of that forced indoor time learning about Rye and I purchased a Dognition assessment for her, too. 


The first set of games is empathy. When Barley and did the assessment, our empathy results said, "Barley's empathy scores were off the charts. . . . If most dogs are bonded to their owners, Barley absolutely adores you." This was no surprise. I'm not sure I believe in soulmates, but if they do exist, Barley is mine. 

#NortheastOhioRocks #MyMuttRocks

Completing the empathy games with Rye was a very different experience with very different results. 



I've often said that I'm not always sure that Rye likes me. She is far more independent than Barley is. She doesn't have to be close to me and doesn't seem to enjoy snuggling (except first thing in the morning). It was reassuring to read that her independence doesn't mean she doesn't love me. I've seen her solve problems herself--like when I first brought her home an we had to keep her quarantined for the kennel cough; I'd take her in the front yard on a long line attached to a tree. She'd get tangled up between all of the trees and the light post out front and just as quickly she'd untangle herself, unlike Barley who just stands and waits for me to help if she gets stuck. 

Another set of games relates to a dog's memory. These games involved showing Rye a treat, putting it under a cup, having another cup a few feet away, and seeing if she could remember where it was. Some games were done right away, others involved a delay of anywhere from 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes.


In one game, we also tested memory vs. communication. I'd hide a treat under a cup and point at the other one that didn't have a treat to see if Rye would rely on her memory or on my communication. Every. single. time. Rye chose the cup with the treat and ignored my communication. After the game, the score pointed out, "This shows an independent thinker: you should be aware that in other situations Rye might not listen to you if she thinks you are wrong."


After we finished the memory games, our scores pointed out that "For Rye, out of sight is definitely not out of mind." This rang very true--in fact, minutes after completing this assessment, she ran to the closet where I'd stashed Barley's agility bag because Rye kept stealing chapstick and bags of treats out of the bag; Rye slid the closet door open and took some chapstick out. She also does this when I hide toys that need to be stitched up before she can play with them again. She also remembers every. single. house. where she's seen a dog on a walk and loses her mind regardless of whether the dog is actually outside when we walk bye. 



Once all of the games were completed, we got our personality profile, which was a 16-page PDF file. Rye was a match with the Renaissance Dog profile. She's good at a little bit of everything--she has good social skills and good independent thinking skills. 


This was a big contrast from Barley's reports. Where Rye's good at a little bit of everything, Barley excels at working as a team.


I've gotten so used to working with a dog that excels at team work that Rye and I have struggled with some of our training. Games have been easy--she loves mat work and our self-control games--but some obedience training hasn't been as easy for us. She's struggled with things like loose-leash walking and extended stays. There's always something more exciting than what we're working on when it comes to those types of activities. She doesn't think twice about getting out of a stay and going to find a toy or seeking out Soth.

The Dognition results have given me more information to be a better trainer for Rye. With her crazy good memory, I've learned that if I don't want her to lose her mind when we have to walk by a yard where she's seen a dog before, I need to have a full treat pouch and start dishing out the treats long before we get to that yard so she can keep her focus on me instead of that yard. With our empathy results, the profile said that playing with Rye is a great way to make us feel more bonded--that's a big deal for us because Barley isn't a huge playful dog, so play hasn't been a regular part of our relationship; Barley and I bond by being together and gazing lovingly into each other's eyes--Rye and I are going to have to find a new way to build our relationship.


This is a really eye opening experience and I'm glad I decided to repeat the assessment with Rye. We had fun playing the games and I learned a lot about her. When we signed up, we were given an invitation link to give our friends 20% off their own Dognition.com purchase. Regularly, assessments are $19 per dog or $79 for an assessment + a year of extra games to play with more expert feedback in tailored training tips plus 50% off additional dog assessments, so the code takes 20% off of those different prices. If you want to do your own Dognition assessment, feel free to use our invitation to get a discount--I think if two people sign up, we get a free dog ID tag or something, but we're covered on those, so we really just wanted to share a discount with our friends!

19 comments:

  1. I think it would be a fun thing to try out on all three of us, but we don't want to invest the money as it would be kind of a curiosity thing more than anything else. We have to save our green papers for our sports.

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    1. I know what you mean :) With Barley, it was mostly just fun to see which of the 9 profiles she fit into (it wasn't the one I expected!), but with Rye it was definitely worth it. We just upgraded the membership to the one that includes monthly games in addition to the assessment, so we're excited to try those out--it's always fun to have new ways to play in the house.

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  2. I took Denise Fenzi's "Relationship Building Through Play" course this winter, because our Obi is a lot like Rye. It was terrific, and Obi and I really do have a deeper relationship because we're much more at ease playing together now, and the games are really helpful in our ever-expanding toolkit. You might check it out. We just audited the class (bronze level), but learned a ton.

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    1. I've heard a lot of great things about Fenzi classes--I'm terrible with classes that I don't have to go to at a set day and time, so I haven't tried one yet, but I may have to look into this one!

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  3. This is so interesting! Rye sounds so much like Cricket. I would love to do this with both dogs, because they are so different. I definitely want to do it, but we have a lot going on right now. Do you know how long that discount code is good for? Or once I purchase it, can I just do it when we have time? Thanks!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. I don't think the discount code expires--the invite page just says share this link anywhere, but doesn't say anything about expiration. You don't have to do the whole assessment at once, though. We did the first few games last weekend and then spaced it out over the rest of this weekend. I did Barley's over a year ago and I still had access to all of her info when I logged in to purchase Rye's. I think the only thing that expires is your access to the additional games and features if you purchase the bigger membership--I think you only get 12 months of access to those, but I just got a single month of extras that we purchased yesterday, so I don't know for sure about that yet :) I'd love to see what your pups' personalities end up being!

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  4. Rye could be a Chesapeake. Seriously. That is the exact correct profile for a Chessie. I will say that as you continue training, you may find that the bonding comes.

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    1. Rye would love to be an honorary Chessie! She thinks your dogs get to have all kinds of fun she'd like to have. Going to obedience classes the last 11 weeks has definitely helped us build our relationship more--I'm anxious to get her started in agility because I think having something that's even more fun that obedience will really help us bond.

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  5. I cannot believe this is the first I'm learning about this! I will use your code and do this later in the month - I'm fascinated with the results - you learned SO much by doing this. My dogs are not that "playful" so I'd like to know how to best communicate with both Walter and Sherm - thank YOU for reviewing this!

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    1. It's been a really fun thing to do with both dogs even though I knew Barley really well already. Let me know what profile(s) your pups end up fitting into!

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  6. This is REALLY cool! I think our furbabies are VASTLY underestimated in their capacity for feelings and rational thought. I love that this highlights their abilities!

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    1. It is really fun to see what their different strengths are and how different they are despite all of their similarities.

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  7. Very Interesting. I've heard of the test but never read anyone's results. Rye sounds a lot like my JRTs. It was more of a challenge for me to train them than my first 3 dogs who gladly went along with anything I wanted to do, but working with them really helped me become a better trainer. Can't wait to here more about your training adventures with Rye.

    Thanks for sharing with the Pet Blogger Showcase!

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    1. We are having lots of training adventures! Now, I just need to find the time to sit down to write about them ;) She's definitely challenging me as a trainer.

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  8. I kind of want to do this for Mad Dog haha....but I feel like I know his stubborn little personality pretty well :)

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    1. He is a stubborn little guy, but he is cute ;)

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  9. I think both tests could describe Sampson and Delilah! I'm glad you have something that helps you tailor your training for Rye.

    I have to say, that it took Delilah and I a while to bond, but I actually think we have now. It took a lot for us to get here, but I'm glad we did. I know your persistence will pay off and soon you and Rye will have a good solid bond!

    Thanks for joining the showcase!

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    1. I'm definitely looking forward to getting Rye into agility because I think she bonds much better through training! When we have a really successful walk, it's a really great feeling and she's just as happy as can be when I'm telling her how good she is.

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