Anyone who has a dog knows that these big bundles of fur are more than just big bundles of fur. For the most part, dogs are pretty smart. Their wisdom may not seem so apparent when they’re drinking out of the toilet or humping a spaniel at the dog park, but when they figure out how to open their crate door or cuddle up to you after a hard day at work, you can see their intelligence in action.
But I had never before considered dogs to be academic.
That is, until my dad had told me about meeting a woman who had taught her dog to read three words. He wasn’t so impressed and set out to teach his 2-year-old bichon frise to read way more words. “I hope crazy doesn’t run in the family,” I thought to myself. But during my last visit, I was shocked to see that Sachi was reading five to six different words. I watched in awe as the dog examined a flashcard with the word “Ball” printed on it and ran over to a pile of toys, pulling out a small blue ball and bringing back to her proud owner.
So apparently, dogs have a tremendous capacity to learn, and by using flashcards and even a drawing or two, you can teach them how to identify and respond to written commands. It’s a remarkable party trick and it’ll totally impress your friends. The process of teaching your dog to read can also be a bonding experience for you and your dog, and it can be an effective way to rid a dog of bad habits.
Curious about teaching your dog to read? Check out the book Teach Your Dog to Read by Bonnie Bergin. It has received great reviews. And who knows? You may just be able to teach an old dog new tricks.—AC