HomeFun stuffThey’re teaching dogs to what??????

One of my worst nightmares has finally come true:  Some idiots scientists in New Zealand are teaching dogs to drive.


They modified a car to bring the foot controls up to paw level, rescued three “bright looking” dogs from the local pound, took them back to the lab and taught them not only to steer but to shift the gears.

driving dogs, Lynn Franklin, jeweler's granddaughter, poodle, dachshund

The reason for this madness?  They say they want to prove that dogs are intelligent.

Well, duh.  If you’ve ever lived with a dog, you’ve seen plenty of evidence of his/her intelligence.

Consider these true examples:

— A hungry dachshund (hounds are always hungry) spies the roast his mistress left on the kitchen counter.  After studying the situation for a moment, he climbs onto a kitchen chair, jumps to the table, then leaps onto the counter.  An hour later, his mistress walks in and discovers her best friend asleep on the counter, belly rounded, snoring.

—  A golden retriever, ball in hand, attempts to entice someone to throw said ball.  The human refuses.  Retriever nudges the hand.  Human ignores him.  Retriever sighs, plops at the human’s feet and gazes up with liquid eyes.  Guilty human throws ball.

—  A standard poodle works a crowd, stopping to listen to – and agree with – a scientist as he expounds on a new theory, commiserate with a misunderstood teenager, coax a bored child into a game of tug.

Scientists will argue that the above are mere anecdotes.  Science doesn’t deal with anecdotes; science requires experimentation and analysis.

Well, guess what?  More than a century ago, one of the world’s greatest scientists not only proved the depth of dog intelligence, but darn near started a brawl defending dogs.pavlov, Lynn Franklin, jeweler's granddaughter

His name was Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, the father of behavioral psychology.  You probably know him as the chap who taught dogs to drool when a bell rang.  He did this by presenting food immediately after ringing the bell.

Well, duh, any school child learns to associate the ringing of a bell with lunch or, even better, recess.  Back in the late 1800s, however, this was big news.

What’s less known is that despite his gruff appearance, Pavlov had a gooey center.  His wife claimed he was the most romantic man she’d ever met.  So it’s no wonder he grew attached to the dogs he trained.  Let’s face it, dogs know how to manipulate charm humans.

Jump forward into the 20th century to meet a psychologist named Wolfgang Kohler.  Kohler spent years working in the Canary Islands creating puzzles for a bunch of chimpanzees.  He’d hang bananas out of the apes’ reach, then scatter boxes and poles around the cage.  Then he’d record how long it took the chimps to figure out that stacking the boxes and using the pole would allow them to reach the bananas.

These experiments became the kohler, Lynn Franklin, jeweler's granddaughter, cozy mysteryfoundation for Gestalt Psychology which basically says that the mind worries over a problem until it finds a solution or closure.  This explains why after trying to remember something trivial like who played Victor Laszlo in Casablanca, you wake in the middle of the night thinking Paul Henreid.

Back to the brawl.  At one point in history, Pavlov and Kohler found themselves presenting research papers at a major scientific meeting.  Pavlov apparently grew weary of listening to Kohler brag about the intelligence of his chimpanzes.  In front of thousands of his peers, Pavlov shook his fist at Kohler and proclaimed:  My dogs are smarter than your apes!

Now if Ivan Petrovich says dogs are smart, who am I to doubt him?

Which brings me back to the question:  Why do we need to teach our dogs to drive?

standard poodle, longhaired dachshund, Lynn Franklin, driving dogs

One of the benefits about having puppies instead of children is when puppies grow up, they don’t ask for the car keys.

Then there’s the question of where, exactly, the dogs would drive the car.  The dog park?  Downtown to meetdriving dogs, Lynn Franklin, jeweler's granddaughter, poodle, dachshund some hot studs?  The beach so they could run in the sand, splash in the water and return home demanding their human clean salt/sand/mud from their fur?

I can imagine Sam with his best buddy Tucker arguing over their destination.  Tucker would want to drive through every fast-food restaurant in town.  Sam would insist they head immediately to the nearest Toys ‘R Us.

Oh, well, maybe I don’t need to worry.  They’d probably never get beyond the county line.

So where would your dogs take the car?  Would you even allow your dogs to drive?  Please let me know; I love to hear from you.

If you’re one of those crazy indulgent dog parents and would like to teach your best friend how to drive, here’s the video that shows how.



They’re teaching dogs to what?????? — 13 Comments

  1. My cats couldn’t even figure out that the hole in the door went both ways when I first got a cat flap. I’ve had smart cats who could probably drive a car, but my current bunch would be lucky to find their way out of the driveway. 😉

    • Jordan, thanks for stopping by. Thank your lucky stars that your cats wouldn’t find their way out of the driveway. Can you imagine explaining to your insurance adjuster that the *dog* wrecked the car?

  2. Lynn, I love this post. My dog, Pandora would drive to her sister Gretchen’s house (my father-in-law is Gretchen’s human). There, she would roar through the garden gate, hit the doggie door at a fast clip, and into the kitchen to eat Gretchen’s food. Then to the den to see if Gretchen has any new toys.
    Pandor also has no qualms about me paying for the gas as she stops at the pet store for treats on the way home.

  3. For Pete sake all those scientists had to do was watch old reruns of Lassie! We did teach our dogs to drive in case of an emergency, but the insurance company wouldn’t listen to reason and wanted to triple our rates, so we dropped it. The dogs said they’ll settle for competing in a boxcar derby and some off roading every so often! What a super fun post Lynn! It’s the cat’s meow! Okay, am getting a tad wacky. I better stop here before my whole comment goes to the dogs. Awro

    • Lynn, thanks for stopping by. And I love your comment about the insurance company.

      Funny you should mention Lassie: A few years ago,I met the current collie who plays Lassie at a pet expo. We’d been invited to perform with the poodle and dachshund above, who just loved the enormous crowd. “Lassie”, however, was terrified. When the time came for Lassie to run onto stage, he ran all right — across the stage and out of sight. Guess he was looking for Timmy. Or maybe wanted to go home?

  4. Awesome post! I love to hear about these scientists who do studies or create something just because they can or to prove the obvious. I can see it now. A dog is driving and sees a squirrel… LOL. Love it!

  5. My favorite example from the “Captain Obvious” science file is the one that proved dogs will only steal food when people aren’t looking at them.

    No, really. They did a whole experiment. People wore bags over their heads and everything.

    • Hmmm… Whoever did that experiment didn’t use a dachshund. Tucker (the one behind the wheel) has no qualms about stealing food in front of you. He’s fast, too. Makes for great comic relief in my books.

  6. I do not even know what to say. Well, except they probably got a research grant (proposed after night of binge drinking maybe?) and once they got it, had to got through with it? Because sober people would not sit around talking about how to teach a dog to drive. LOLOL

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