Whos Smarter: Kids or Dogs?

Recently a commenter asserted that raising a child is identical to raising a dog. “Both can be encouraged to good behavior through rewards and discouraged from bad behavior through punishment.”  “Both demand enthusiastic praise and consistant (sic) (non-angry) discipline.” “Just like a dog, you must put a plastic cone on a child’s head to keep them from chewing on their butt.” Okay, I made that last one up. Or did I?

Many took umbrage with the commenter’s remarks, but I (always the scientist) decided to put them to the test. Over a weekend I pitted my three-year-old against our 1 ½ year old border collie to once and for all resolve the question: who is smarter, a toddler or a dog? Here are the competitors.


Dalton. To be fair to the dog, I chose a less flattering pose of the boy.



Dax.  To be fair to the boy, I chose a less flattering pose of the dog.

Test 1: Finding Halloween Candy

My kids took in a very impressive haul this Halloween. Sure, I pressed them to keep knocking on doors. “Daddy,” they moaned, bodies slumping, “it’s well past midnight.” “Batman wouldn’t complain it’s too late,” I replied, shoving a fistful of looted-from-child Sweet Tarts into my mouth.

Of course, there was no way my kids would ever get to keep their metric ton of candy, and so the Robin Hood of Candy Corn came by the house and took all the sweet child nectar to an orphanage (i.e. the candy is in our closet). Now, if put to the test, who would find said candy, Dalton or Dax?

Result: Dalton’s “scream and punch holes in walls until candy appears” yields little return, while Dax’s nose leads him to the cache immediately.

Winner: Dax

Test 2: Turning on the TV

I remember as a child, waking up Saturday mornings by myself, my parents sleeping off profound hangovers (okay, my parents weren’t drinkers, but I am a writer so my “literary parents” are raging alcoholics). Left to my own devices, I flipped on the TV and entertained myself for hours.

Now when my own son wakes up Saturday mornings at 4:30 am, all I want is for him to figure out the TV and let daddy sleep at least until a farmer’s wake up call.

Result: TV’s aren’t like they used to be; our remote control has seven buttons just to turn stuff on. Dalton’s got no chance against it; he’d probably find more entertainment licking the TV screen, just like Dax is doing.

Winner: DRAW

Test 3: Long Division

This s#@t just got real. Pencils ready? I give Dax and Dalton the following equation: Divide 12,896 by 374. Show your work, obviously.

Result: Dalton drew a picture of a bat eating a waffle while Dax chewed on his a$$. Since Dalton didn’t chew on his a$$, he’s the default victor.

Winner: Dalton (on technicality)

Final Talley 1-1-D – A TIE!

Final Assessment: That commenter was right; kids and dogs are basically identical. That’s why my wife and I are going out tonight, sans sitter, and just going to lock Dalton up in the garage with some chow and a blanket. Parenthood ROCKS!


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