What do dogs think about

The Nature of Thought

Dogs are cognitively different from us in a number of ways. They can’t be taught how to play chess, but can learn how to recognize and respond to human sounds and gestures. They also seem to have a basic understanding of what language is and how it works, even if they can’t fully understand the words that make up its grammar.

In fact, one of the most fascinating things about dogs is that they can communicate so effectively with other dogs that they seem to be communicating with each other, at least when they are interacting with us. It was first demonstrated in 1993 when researchers had a chatty Labrador named Buddah (known for his “bark/talk”) sit down next to another dog named Ant (who was known for his “bark/speak”). The researchers then presented Ant with some food and asked him what he could see on it; he pointed at the objects present and said “food!” But then he paused: He then said “but I don’t like it; I want it gone!” His body language changed from pointing at the object and saying “food!” to pointing at the object and saying “I don’t like it; I want it gone!” -and then he suddenly seemed very confused by what he had just done.

The researchers concluded that Ant recognized food by its smell alone, but apparently couldn’t understand that there were two objects: food itself vs. other objects that could be eaten. This suggests that dogs do possess some basic understanding of language: It seems dogs can distinguish between a word and its meaning – but not between the word itself & its meaning.

What’s Going on in the Dog’s Brain

We humans are like dogs. We have a great capacity for mimicking the way other species think and behave, but we don’t know what it means for them.

In this post, I will try and explain what we can learn from dogs about what’s going on in their brains. In the dog’s case, you have a handful of quick mental shortcuts which can save you time and effort.

The first thing to understand is that dogs don’t really understand things in a way that humans do. Humans have human-like processors that allow us to process information quickly; dogs have canine-like processors that allow them to process information quickly.

The second thing is that the number of neurons in each of those processing centers is far less than humans: compared to humans, dog brains are almost twice as dense.

Finally, they don’t use the same encoding system (which is why they can be so fast) so they use different ways of storing information than humans do. This is why they can remember things much better than we do (and recall them when needed) and also how easy it is for them to learn new things much faster than we do (and remember them when needed).

And here are some quick notes on some specific areas of brain function:

1) They’re very good at recognizing faces and using those as cues for emotions; this means that they can tell you if someone is sad or happy, angry or startled more quickly than we can (and remember when needed). These are the same kinds of cues that make us happy or sad ourselves — but with an extra layer of nuance which makes it harder for us to detect without being aware that there’s something unusual going on.

2) They’re good at recognizing objects based on their shape and color; this means they can show you where something is more readily than us; i.e., if you tell them your car has a blue trunk lid, they’ll know immediately whether it’s true or not (it doesn’t matter what color your car has — if your trunk lid is blue then it must be a blue car). This makes sense because our vision relies heavily on identifying shapes (both friendly & threatening), but our brains are still processing visual data differently than ours are. This means our visual memory would be faster if we had an enhanced version of our visual cortex which made use of those sources (which would leave room for other kinds of modalities).

3) They’re good at keeping track of

Why are Dogs So Cute?

Dogs are awesome. That’s not a weird statement, because most people seem to agree with it. In fact, that’s not an argument at all — they’re basically saying “Why are dogs so cute?” — but it is an interesting inquiry, and one that has been a very fruitful area of investigation for me (and my fellow dog-lovers).

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I think we can make some fairly good guesses about what dogs are thinking. But we also need to be careful in interpreting the thoughts we see in their eyes, because dogs don’t communicate well with us. There is an art to observing them from afar and deciphering the messages they send:

1) Their eyes move constantly in response to different things happening around them; you can usually see what they are seeing without their knowledge.

2) They don’t talk much; their communication is limited by their expressions and body language — if you want to know something, ask them, and if it makes sense to you, let them know (for example: “You look sad today; what is wrong?”).

3) They have little ability to express themselves through words; there is no formal command language aside from simple commands like “lupo!” or “come on over here!” or “that looks delicious!” But sometimes they give subtle hints as well: when they jump up and down or bark loudly in a particular way (like wagging tails or pulling at their fur), that indicates curiosity or excitement.

Since the only way I can get any feedback from my dog is by just asking her directly (or by making a picture of something she did), judging by what I can see she probably communicates mostly through body language. And I think that helps explain why dogs are so expressive as potential communicators:

1) They often look at us without saying anything; instead of forming words for our benefit, they let their bodies say it for us. This works especially well when something looks interesting — especially the way dogs run on three legs instead of two: when you move your hands away from your face and watch them run around on three legs instead of two…you get some great shots like this one where he looks like he’s actually trying to spell out his name with his paws:

2) Dogs tend to be pretty direct

Dogs and the Theory of Mind

The Theory of Mind, or the ability to understand and make inferences about the thoughts and intentions of others, is a crucial human capability. If we can’t read minds, we can’t get anything done.

We all know that dogs are smart; they are very good at what they do (they are very good at surviving). And that’s great! But we haven’t any idea what they think or why. It would be surprising if dogs didn’t have similar reasoning powers as humans, but unfortunately this isn’t the case.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, what is most important for a dog is to find safety; to remain close to you without being noticed, where you can find food and water. In doing so it relies on some pretty good reasoning skills:

• As long as a dog knows where you are (I want to know where I go) then it doesn’t need to run away from me. So if a dog sees me approaching it will probably become quiet (or perhaps even sit up and look directly at me).

• As long as I am in sight of a dog who might approach me it will probably do so too (although if there is no other nearby dog it might instead choose to stay right by your side).

• If I am hungry or cold then many dogs will run away from me — which is why we don’t usually encourage them to come closer than about 3 meters (10 feet) in front of us — but if there is plenty of food or water nearby then these dogs may stop running from us and join us for a snack!

The first two points have everything to do with safety: being near you without being noticed and being able to find food and water around you without having had any previous experience with this idea. The last point is also closely related: getting used to our presence. In fact, one interesting consequence of having been around humans for so long has been that many dogs have acquired a rudimentary theory of human behavior: they know that humans tend not necessarily like or dislike each other very much! This knowledge aids them in avoiding conflict with their owners — but which ones? As well as which individuals? What kinds? And how much? All this knowledge makes them invaluable companions especially when they are looking for food or water at night when people cannot be expected ever again! If one has only seen humans kill each other over dinner


This is a very quick post I wrote to help me get out of the doghouse. As part of our ongoing efforts to create an open source Slack clone, we have been hosting some events with our developer community. However, one of them had some unfortunate consequences that I discussed in the thread linked below.

I wrote:

“I don’t want to build the slack clone for my company, I want to build it for you guys. In fact, if we can make it easy for you guys to use it and easy for you guys to participate in it, then yes — we will launch it ourselves!”

It was meant as a joke. But once I thought about it more seriously and realized how much time and effort went into getting this project off the ground, I feel like apologizing…

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else we write here please let us know! We love hearing from you. You can reach me at [email protected]