Nightly News   |  April 30, 2014

Dog Intelligence? It’s Real, Researchers Say

Dog smarts are being put to the test at a Canine Cognition Center at Yale University.

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>>> finally tonight, it has taken the good folks at yale university to figure out once and for all, what is going on in the heads of the dogs we leave, what they are feeling, trying to tell us with our eyes and it turns out as so many suspected, it has a lot to do with us. the story from nbc's stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: there is a look dog owners say, an all-knowing mind-reading look.

>> sometimes she has very inquisitive eyes, like she has something going on.

>> reporter: dog owners may want their pets to be more smarter and human like than they are.

>> i love you.

>> reporter: but some researchers believe dog intelligence is more than just wishful thinking.

>> one of the reasons we need to do the science is that we have such strong intuition about whether a dog is smart, social, what makes them special. the nice thing about this, we can really see and put it to the test.

>> reporter: to do that, lorrie opened yale university 's dog cognition center last december. all breeds are welcome, sausage treats included. one theory they hope to confirm, dogs anticipate our behavior but closely tracking what we do.

>> what we seem to be seeing so far, though we have to finish studies, dogs seem to be sophisticated intuitions.

>> reporter: dogs are more likely to use paws than. s snots to open the box. dogs learn from masters some of the ways human babies learn from parents by comparing the two, you may learn more -- oops -- about human development .

>> reporter: she hopes to publish her first book next year.

>> she's extraordinary conversational sometimes. she has a very talkative bark when she wants something. which is adorable.

>> reporter: actually, conversing with our dogs may still be a ways down the road, but understanding them better could be close at hand. stephanie gosk, nbc news.