Date: Thursday 5th May
Dr Britta Osthaus (Canterbury Christ Church University)
"Dogs are stupid: What science knows about dog cognition"
Abstract: Dogs are employed in a variety of roles to support humans and also as social companions. The internet is full of clips of seemingly intelligent performances of dogs, but also of behaviours that seem to be lacking common (human) sense. Over the last two decades there has been a renewed interest in psychology in the scientific study of the cognitive abilities of dogs and also on dog-human interaction and communication, with some surprising findings. This lecture will present studies on the visual identification of humans by dogs, and their attempts to solve detour problems. The speaker will attempt to demonstrate some of her findings with a real dog during this talk.
Biography: Dr Britta Osthaus did her PhD on Naïve Physics in Dogs from the University of Exeter. Since then she has added to the literature by showing the limits of canine understanding of the physical world. She has also upset a large number of cat owners by demonstrating that felines are no better. Her current focus is on cognition in donkeys, horses and mules (they rule!). She currently owns two gerbils, which have not taken part in any scientific study and prefer to doze under their heat lamp instead. She is a senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, and the favourite part of her job is to take students to Lundy Island, to teach ecological methods hands-on.