Landscape Smart

December 17 | 2 Comments

Is your owner one of those that have family and vacation pictures lying all around the house, unsorted? What to do, what to do? How about letting us sort them out?Which Pile? Dog or Landscape

It seems dogs can place photographs into categories the same way humans do, an ability previously identified only in birds and primates.

Seriously, if a bird can do this, was there ever any doubt that a canine could?

Friederike Range at the University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues trained dogs to distinguish photographs that depicted dogs from those that did not. “We know they can categorise ‘food’ or ‘enemies’ from experience,” says Range, “but this is the first time we’ve taught them an abstract concept – ‘a dog’ – and shown they can transfer this knowledge to a new situation.”

Nothing abstract about a dog. Know thyself.

In the training phase, four dogs were simultaneously shown photographs of a landscape and of a dog, and were rewarded if they selected the latter using a paw-operated computer touch-screen. When the computer-savvy dogs were shown unfamiliar landscape and dog photos they continued to identify those containing dogs.

Did they just call the subjects of this experiment computer savvy? C’mon, they have to use touch screens for crying out loud. You want computer savvy, look at me. I touch type 70 words a minute, I have a frequent buyer account at , and I had my IP address put on my dog tags. Now that’s computer savvy.

And when shown an unfamiliar dog superimposed on a landscape used in the training phase, they were still able to pick it out in preference to an image of just a landscape, showing that they could distinguish a dog by its features.

Sure these dogs can distinguish the difference between landscapes and canines, but can they tell the difference between a Van Gogh and a painting from a five-year-old kindergartner with access to a box of crayola crayons?

Anyway, you think picture sorting dogs are amazing, you should see what the scrap booking dogs can do!


2 Responses to “Landscape Smart”

  1. angel on December 17th, 2007 9:30 pm

    I really had to laugh at that last line.  My mother loves scrapbooking!


  2. Blackie on December 17th, 2007 9:33 pm

    Hey bo.. My dog tags also have my IP address on it. But mine is where I live since that's where I pee ; )


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