Can Dogs Understand Math & Count?

Can Dogs Understand Math & Count?

Author WDF Staff


Dogs can do a lot of fun and unusual thing, but have you ever wondered whether dogs can count? Recent studies concluded that dogs are a lot smarter than you would think. No, dogs cannot count on their toes, but they can recognize patterns and quantities. So in some way, dogs can understand mathematics. Scientists have run several tests to determine how much dogs can understand math.

Quantitative thinking

Scientists took two dog bowls; in one, there were 20 pieces of kibble, and in the other, only 5 pieces. They put two bowls at the same distance from the dog. In every test, all tested dogs chose the bowl with more kibbles. The conclusion is that the dogs based their decision on the number of kibbles in the bowl.

For further testing, scientists put the bowl with 5 kibbles closer to the dog and the one with 20 kibbles further, and the dog always chose the closer bowl, and they didn't even get to the decision-making.

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Simple counting

Testing simple counting is a far more realistic test, mainly involving working and sporting dogs. In field trials, dogs must retrieve, and to do so, they must be able to count. For example – if people drop three ducks, and the dog retrieves only two, he must be able to count and recognize that there is one duck left behind and that he needs to retrieve the third duck.

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dog thinking

How to teach your dog to count

Teaching your dog to count can be a pleasurable experience for both you and your canine companion. To begin, you'll need three objects to teach your dog to count. Dog toys are the best option.

You'll also need to create three targets for the numbers 1, 2, and 3 to be placed on. Your dog will hit the target to demonstrate the number. Of course, you'll require a large number of little snacks.

First, ensure that your dog understands how to touch or point on command. You may need to practice this command first. Begin with one. Place one toy on the ground, say "One," and point to the target. Give your dog a treat and praise when the dog points to the target for the first time. Repeat until the dog consistently taps the one target when you say "one."

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math numbers

Now move to number two. Add a toy number two to the mix. Say "two," pointing to the target. Praise the dog for pointing to the goal the second time, and repeat until the dog can do it consistently. Switching back and forth between one and two is a good exercise.

Using the same approach, you can now add a third toy. You can continue to train with your dog to add combinations of targets and instructions once the dog learns to count, just like we can. Remember to make your exercise intervals short and enjoyable!


In some way, dogs can count. They are far more intelligent than we think. They can use patterns and quantitative thinking when they try to make a decision. If you want to establish a better connection with your dog, you can teach your dog how to count. Through fun games, you can stimulate dogs' minds.

World Dog Finder team

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