Whisky the Border Collie from Norway understands a wide vocabulary. Many dog parents think that their dogs really do understand them, but in Whisky’s case, it’s actually been proved!
Without any specific training, Whisky is able to remember the names of each of her toys, and she has a lot of them! Nearly 100, to be exact! In addition, a recent study proved that not only could she name her own toys, but she also was able to categorize new toys based on her previous knowledge. Dogs just never cease to amaze us!
How Did Whisky Learn This?
According to Whisky’s dad, Helge Svela, Whisky hasn’t done any special training. Whisky took a basic training class as a puppy, but nothing beyond that. After all, Svela is not a dog trainer. Whisky learned just from playing with him.
Most dogs with this skill have gone through training sessions to learn words and names. Chaser the Border Collie was another extremely smart dog that knew the names of over 1,000 different objects. However, he went through intensive training to learn those skills while Whisky just picked up on it naturally!
Whisky’s toy collection used to consist of 59 toys, but it recently grew to 91! Every toy has a unique name so Whisky can distinguish each of her toys. Some toys are named after what they are, such as “colorful rope” and “small frisbee”. However, some of the plush toys even have human names since “elephant” and “duck” were already taken.
Svela likes to play a game with Whisky where he lays out a bunch of her toys. Then, he’ll tell her to fetch a certain one by name, and she’ll go grab that specific toy. She gets it right almost every time!
Whisky actually loves playing this game. In fact, she will just keep asking to play over and over again, so Svela takes her outside to give her a break after a while. He never expected that the smart pup would learn so much in such a short amount of time, but Whisky constantly impresses him.
Testing Whisky’s Skills
Whisky’s skills were tested by two researchers: Dr. Claudia Fugazza and Dr. Ádám Miklósi. In the first rounds of research, Whisky was able to successfully identify 54 of her 59 toys. So, that’s when they decided to add more toys into the mix.
Fugazza then decided to test if Whisky could identify new toys that were similar categories to her old toys such as balls and ropes. They laid out the new toys, and Svela would tell her a category of toy to grab. At first, Whisky was about 39% successful with the new toys.
Then, they let her play with the new toys before the next test. They wanted her to get to know these toys ahead of time to see if that made a difference. Sure enough, Whisky was right about 55% of the time after she played with the toys first. This proved that she could categorize certain types of toys including balls, ropes, rings, and frisbees.
Whisky loved playing this game, especially since it meant she got new toys! Fugazza believes that this study suggests that dogs have the ability to think in categories. Animals learn from humans even outside of training sessions. So, your dog is likely thinking in more ways than you’d expect.
Whisky will continue to learn new things, and of course, have fun in the process. Fetching toys is her favorite game, and it will never get old. She is lucky to have such a kind family that is always willing to play with her and help her learn.