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Authors

  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
  • Karen London, Ph.D.
    London is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in the domestic dog.

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March 10, 2008

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Randall Johnson

What useful purpose--scientific or otherwise-- is served by trying to compare the vocabulary of a 9-year-old child with that of a 9-year-old dog as if they were on equal linguistic footing? A 9-year-old human would be reasonably expected to have a vocabulary of thousands of words in his or her native language, but until Rico came along, no one really expected a dog to be capable of learning the meanings of 200 words, which, by the way, is close to the accomplishments of the late Washoe, whose vocabulary was around 250 words in American Sign Language. Canine cognition studies have shown that dogs understand the concept of object permanence, are capable of selective imitation, know what pointing and glancing mean in terms of information cues, among other things. It seems to me that Rico’s achievements have unveiled another exciting potential worth exploring and I, for one, would like to see this experiment replicated in other households with different breeds.

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