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A personality test, for your dog

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  February 8, 2013 12:26 PM

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Is your dog a Stargazer? A Maverick? An Einstein in furry disguise? For $59.95, a new company called Dognition will diagnose your dog's personality and explain how he thinks about the world.

The service, which launched earlier this week, is the brainchild of Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University and also the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center. In an interview with Science last month, Hare explained that he decided to turn his research into a business at the urging of some entrepreneurial colleagues. To use Dognition, you fill out a personality questionnaire about your dog on the company's website and then receive a Canine Assessment Toolkit in the mail. The kit includes equipment and instructions for playing 10 games with your dog that will reveal aspects of his personality.

One test (shown below) examines how closely your dog pays attention to gestures and can be used to place a pet on the continuum between "collaborative" and "self-reliant."

Hare is quick to point out that in dogs, as with humans, there's no one "best" personality. Rather, he explains, understanding who your dog is and how he thinks can be a first step to bringing the two of you closer together.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

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Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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