Information

All About Dog Fashion Shows


Maria Cecilia has a passion for dogs. Peso is her dog whom she loves eternally, and she dedicates all doggie articles to him.

Fashion Shows for Dogs

Watching dogs wearing clothes or fancy gowns is like a glimpse of a stress-free moment—a breather from everyday issues in life. Dog fashion shows offer a different experience for both humans and their dogs. In these events, humans are excited to see their dogs wearing fancy clothes and walking on a runway, while the dogs just enjoy the attention and love that they are getting.

"Glamorous and Gorgeous Dogs" Pageant

I proceeded to Sta. Lucia Mall, Marikina, to support my friends whose dogs are contestants for the pageant, "Glamorous and Gorgeous Dogs."

Although I have no intention to enter my dog in the contest, I brought my dog "PM" with me because I find joy in bringing my dogs to any dog-related activities. I let my dog wear her blouse (since I know most dogs in the activity—whether participants or not—will be wearing their clothes too).

The Contestants

If it is your first time witnessing a dog fashion show, you may be overwhelmed by the splendid costumes. And although it was a contest for dogs, some humans or owners of the dogs were wearing attractive costumes too, which complemented their dogs' outfits.

The Contest

The contest is about searching for the most glamorous and gorgeous dogs, just like in human beauty pageants. The difference is that dogs will not walk the runway alone, and a handler or the owner will walk with them. It depends on the owners if they want to wear costumes similar to the candidates. My friends Julie and Kristine left the limelight to their dogs. Christine's dog is a Shih Tzu called Hanna, and Julie's two candidates were Gingerbelle and Gio, both Chihuahua dogs.

Prizes and a Raffle

The 1st place prize winner received $10,000 in cash and gift items; the 2nd place winner received $3,000 in cash and gift items, and the 3rd place winner received $2,000 in cash and gift items. All other candidates that did not place also received gift items for their doggies.

People who went to watch the contest with their dogs had a chance to receive gift items too. My name was called during the raffle, and I received 2 kg of dog food from Alpo.

My first experience watching a dog fashion show contest was good, and I admired how the owners took the time and effort to bring their dogs to this activity.

The 1st place winner was Truffles

Tips for Dressing Up Your Dog

  1. Always remember not to compromise the comfort of the dogs.
  2. Don't force them to wear clothes if they are showing signs of resistance.
  3. If in a contest, dress up the dog only when the contest is about to start, meaning, don't let them wear the gown from your residence to the venue.
  4. Undress them right away after the contest, especially if they are wearing gowns.
  5. Never stroll with dogs wearing extravagant costumes, although they are cute, not everyone will be pleased to see them (especially those who are animal welfare advocates).
  6. Choose the proper clothing materials; cloth or fabric must be light, soft and cool to wear.

Do These Shows Humanize Dogs?

There is a fine line between treating our dogs fairly and humanizing our dogs. Dressing them up could be exaggerated in this situation. Don't we humanize our dogs when we say we treat them as members of our family? Don't we humanize them when we rush them to the best veterinary clinic and are worried sick over them? Don't we humanize them when we bring them to the vet (not just for the rabies vaccination, but also for booster shots and deworming so they won’t get sick easily) just like parents do by bringing their babies to the doctor?

Do I humanize my dog Peso when I take him out to poop or help him potty? I did that with my mother when she was still alive and sickly, so is there really an answer to this? If humanizing our dogs means treating them well, then I really won’t mind humanizing them. I guess humanizing our dogs started not when we let them wear clothes, but when we started to provide for their basic needs (just like parents providing for their children).

Fashion Shows Are About Fun and Engagement

The lighter side of caring for dogs is to let them enjoy these fun activities. Our dogs can stay happy everywhere as long as they are with us; they can enjoy a certain activity simply because they know we are behind them. But all these things must be second only to their basic needs (vaccination, proper food, and good grooming) because I don’t think we can have these lighter moments if those needs are neglected.

The number of pet owners who dress up their dogs to join fashion shows is increasing every day, and I would like to look at it as another way of promoting responsible pet ownership because dog owners will not show off their dogs if they are guilty of not treating them well. Always remember that dog fashion shows are all about active dogs competing happily and supportive owners who are thankful that their dogs are healthy.

© 2010 Maria Cecilia

Maria Cecilia (author) from Philippines on August 26, 2012:

romari, I went to your hub already even before reading this LOL...

Rose Maria Rica D. Fuentes from Heaven on August 26, 2012:

Hello Miss Maria! Please take time to read my new hub about doggy fashion show. Because of your hub, I have found out an idea on how to win a doggy fashion show. THANKS to you! :)

Maria Cecilia (author) from Philippines on August 14, 2012:

Romari welcome to dog community, inform me of events where you decided to join, I will come to see you, my friend love s to join her dogs in fashion show contents and she designing and sewing their clothes too.

Rose Maria Rica D. Fuentes from Heaven on August 14, 2012:

Hi! Great hub! Thanks for this. I am planning to join my dog (Bingo) in a Doggy Fashion Show and now this hub gives me an idea how to win lol.. I am sewing my Dog's costume ( Jack Sparrow) . I don't really aim to win but to have an experience. :)


Pet Magazines

1. Animal Wellness Magazine

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada About Magazine Animal Wellness Magazine is North America's most trusted source for keeping your dog and cat naturally healthy and happy! Your #1 source for all things health and wellness for your cats, dogs, and other pets. Frequency 3 posts / monthAlso in Pet Blogs Magazine animalwellnessmagazine.com
Facebook fans 467.6K ⋅ Twitter followers 4.9K ⋅ Instagram Followers 7.6K ⋅ Social Engagement 5 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 49 ⓘ ⋅ Alexa Rank 335.1K ⓘ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

2. Pets Magazine | The lifestyle magazine for pet owners

About Magazine Pets Magazine is a digital magazine featuring new and luxury products, pampering for both people and pets, pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and activities as well as news, advice columns, health & well being and fashion advice. Pets Magazine fills a niche for a dog, cat and small pets magazine that is not just about pets but about people and their pets including dogs, cats,horses and small animals Frequency 2 posts / week Since Jul 2013 Also in UK Pet Blogs Magazine petsmag.co.uk
Facebook fans 4.2K ⋅ Twitter followers 3.3K ⋅ Instagram Followers 427 ⋅ Social Engagement 1 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 29 ⓘ ⋅ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

3. Petfood Industry Magazine

Chicago, IL About Magazine Petfood Industry magazine is the source for dog food and cat food manufacturers and pet food industry professionals. Our Petfood Industry Community is a place for these professionals to network with each other and get educated on the latest nutritional information and global market research available. Frequency 14 posts / week Magazine petfoodindustry.com
Facebook fans 18.6K ⋅ Twitter followers 10.1K ⋅ Social Engagement 7 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 56 ⓘ ⋅ Alexa Rank 121.9K ⓘ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

4. Best Friends Magazine

Kanab, Utah About Magazine Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 2,100 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has regional centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Frequency 6 posts / day Magazine bestfriends.org
Facebook fans 1.3M ⋅ Twitter followers 227.1K ⋅ Social Engagement 17 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 82 ⓘ ⋅ Alexa Rank 74.3K ⓘ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

5. Pet Age Magazine

Somerset, NJ About Magazine Pet Age is a business to business media brand that covers the pet industry in print, online and through social media. Our mission is to serve the pet specialty market by delivering timely and practical news and information about the products, trends and events that impact retailers, groomers, manufacturers and other related businesses. Frequency 4 posts / day Magazine petage.com
Facebook fans 5.7K ⋅ Twitter followers 6.9K ⋅ Social Engagement 25 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 46 ⓘ ⋅ Alexa Rank 308.5K ⓘ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

6. Pet Boarding and Daycare Magazine

Mechanicsburg, PA About Magazine Pet Boarding & Daycare is the boarding industry's only trade magazine. Pet Boarding & Daycare delivers quality content in every issue on topics like animal health, training, facility design, and business. Frequency 18 posts / quarter Magazine petboardinganddaycare.com
Facebook fans 9.4K ⋅ Twitter followers 1.3K ⋅ Social Engagement 5 ⓘ ⋅ Domain Authority 24 ⓘ ⋅ Alexa Rank 2.8M ⓘ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

7. The Pet Gazette Magazine

New York, NY About Magazine The Pet Gazette is a magazine offering pet related information on hot topics and local events. The magazine also features an In Memoriam section and a section to feature readers pet picture submissions. Our magazine is fun, informative and local, covering all type of pets. Frequency 1 post / week Magazine thepetgazette.com
Facebook fans 6.3K ⋅ Twitter followers 82 ⋅ Social Engagement 3 ⋅ Domain Authority 22 ⋅ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

8. Boomer Pets Magazine

About Magazine Boomer Pet Magazine caters to the Pet Lover! An Online Digital Resource for Pet Parents featuring the latest in pet products, services and care! Get up-to-date features, editorials, news stories and articles on 'everything pets!' Frequency 2 posts / year Magazine boomerpetmag.com
Facebook fans 1.8K ⋅ Twitter followers 678 ⋅ Domain Authority 12 ⋅ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

9. Pet Me! Magazine

Los Angeles About Magazine Your Guide to All Things Pets! A pet magazine with an emphasis on promoting education, adoption and rescue. Frequency 17 posts / year Magazine petmemag.com
Twitter followers 223 ⋅ Domain Authority 14 ⋅ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact

10. PetVet Magazine

Mechanicsburg, PA About Magazine A Practical Guide for Pet Health Professionals. An all-encompassing trade magazine that will cover all aspects of the ever-changing veterinary industry. From customer service to the latest technology PetVet Magazine will deliver Quality Content to Motivate & Educate Veterinarians and their staff. Frequency 10 posts / quarterAlso in Veterinary Magazines Magazine petvetmagazine.com
Facebook fans 645 ⋅ Twitter followers 27 ⋅ Social Engagement 2 ⋅ Domain Authority 16 ⋅ View Latest Posts ⋅ Get Email Contact


The Truth About Dogs Wearing Clothes

Bark is the new black, and some dogs truly have a better wardrobe than most of us, present company included. Dog fashion is all the rage and this is no passing fad. Canines are copying their human counterparts, and what was once considered a fad has emerged as a trend and has now entered mainstream. Dogs wearing clothes is a very hot topic.

There are both functional and fashionable reasons for canines to do couture, and perhaps a bit of both in many cases. Fidose of Reality is all about alternative living for today’s modern dogs. Here’s the scoop on dog apparel, why it’s all the rage, and what dog moms and dads should know before purchasing custom or off-the-rack clothing for dogs.

Not all dogs are into fashion. Not all dogs like wearing clothes. If this is the case and your dog is truly upset or stressed by it, don’t do it. However, many dogs just need a little coaxing and positive reinforcement. This means no yelling, getting frustrated, forcing a dog to wear clothes, or in any way getting upset. This means starting with a bandana and if the dog allows this and walks around with it for a minute or two, reward him and praise him like he just won a dog show.

Work up to longer periods of time but switch the item of apparel out. Try a doggie scarf. Again, if the dog accepts this, praise. If the dog is freaked out or otherwise uses the scarf as a chew toy, forego the effort.

When a dog first enters your life is probably one of the best times to get him used to wearing clothes. As a puppy, I put t-shirts on my dog, Dexter. He would walk around the house in them. Eventually when he was neutered, the Cover Me by Tui did the trick to keep him from licking at the surgical site. I felt pretty darned good about having a dog who associated clothes with a positive experience.

If you are reading this and your dog has never worn clothes, try the above. Work up to a t-shirt and praise. Starting with something lightweight like a loose-fitting t-shirt means Fido will be more likely to acclimate to a sweater and something with functional warmth.

Precautions

If your dog does not like clothes, wearing clothes, and tends to either freeze in place, act like they were lathered in glue, or otherwise is unhappy about apparel: Please for the love of Lassie, don’tmake them wear clothes. You can still have fun: There are so many fun leashes, collars, and bandanas on the market these days that you don’t have to feel excluded.

Think like Goldilocks: Is it too hot, too cold, or just right? Dogs can overheat easily, so ensure your dog’s clothing is not too bulky or heavy. Watch for elastic features around the paw area and be certain there is enough room in the girthy area of the chest. If a dog can easily trip over the legs, this is not ideal.

Going for It

The growing focus from a marketing and media perspective on the human-animal bond also continues to attract niche sectors usually targeted at people. From dog booties to Swarovski crystal-laden collars and even canine handbags, we dote on our dogs, and designers are cashing in.

We went straight to the experts on this one. Here are a few of our favorite canine fashionistas:

Sophia Loren was a rescue from the mountains of New Mexico, and since she entered Anne Maria Tafoya’s life, she is a changed pup. At first, her mom reports Sophia would shake and tremble until the vet recommended swaddling her in an anxiety-type wrap for dogs. From there, Sophia fell in puppy love with posh apparel.

One of the stars of dog fashion’s spotlight is Anthony Rubio. With his canine Chihuahua twins, Bogie and Kimba, are Rubio’s muses and models. From Liberace-inspired outfits to suits and costumes, these two fashion divos are trained to wear sunglasses, too.

“On the other hand I won’t force my dogs to wear shoes or boots because they feel unnatural to the dog,” Rubio says.

Rubio is the exclusive designer of the couture for Coco and Dexter this fall in the season’s hottest canine fundraiser, Wigglebutts Go Hollywoof. He takes custom orders on a commission basis.

Speaking of Coco, the one and only Coco Chanel Bella has quite the wardrobe. Her mom, Christine Aiello, reports Coco has her own closet and yours truly has seen it in person. She rivals the stars and is oh so en vogue with her wardrobe and accessories:

How To Measure Your Dog

Keep in mind that many stores will not allow coats to be returned, so measure your dog adequately before making any parka purchases. Here’s how: With the dog standing up, run a tape measure from the base of the dog’s neck (where the collar would sit) and to the base of the tail. The majority of dog clothes use this measurement. Knowing your dog’s chest measurement will ensure a good fit, too.

Winter Weather

There are many myths out there about dogs and winter coats. Here, Fidose does some winter coat myth busting.

Canine College

New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, heralded as one of the world’s leading higher educational facilities for fashion design, offers a certificate program in Pet Product Design and Marketing. The brainchild of Professor Janet Brav and Assistant Professor Deborah David, the noncredit program offers six courses, including Pet Accessory Design Studio and Quick Sketching for the Pet Product Business.

Overall spending in the pet industry is at an all-time high, according to the American Pet Products Association. Canine couture and high-end fashion for discriminating dogs took quite a bite out of the nearly $51 billion spent in 2011 on our pets. Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest trade show, held yearly in Orlando, showcases a special “boutique” section featuring fashions, frivolities, and lavish apparel for pets.

Trend Setters

Folks like Lauren Darr, founder of the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals, set the fashion bar high. From clothing to accessories, she’s been crazy about pet fashion since before it became cool. She has a corporate and consulting marketing background, which includes being a trade show marketing expert. In 2013, she co-authored “Pet Fashion Almanac 2014″ with Ellen Zucker, which became a #1 Best Seller. Lauren believes you can never have too much fun at a pet fashion show and that there is no replacement for just the right accessory.

So yes, there is a time and a place for fashion for dogs. For some, it’s year round and for others it’s a functional thing. For yet another group of folks, they are just so not into clothing for pets.

What are your thoughts about dogs wearing clothes? Should dogs don couture in the name of good looks alone or should clothing only serve a warming function? Do you dress your dog up? What do you tell people who think it’s ridiculous that dogs wear clothes?

A dog lover of the highest order is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant when she appeared with her Cocker Spaniel on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. Carol created and owns the trademark, My Heart Beats Dog®, and lives that mantra. A 30-year veteran of the dog world, she is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA), the 2020 and 2021 DWAA winner for Best Dog Blog, and the co-author of Pet Blogging for Love & Money.


Disabled Rescue Dog Hits the Runway

Pet Tails

Rescue dog, Effie has come a long way from the Apollo Support and Rescue in Justin, Texas. And now she is ready to be the star of the show! Effie has been proudly selected to represent all handicapped dogs during this year’s New York Pet Fashion Show .

Benefiting the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, this annual show is the kickoff to Westminster Weekend and New York Fashion Week. All the dogs attending the February 7th show, will be dressed to impress and Effie is no exception. Effie will be the first Pit Bull and first ever wheelchair dog to be featured in the New York Pet Fashion Show Runway. Effie is ready to show off her bravery and her Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair.

Effie’s Rescue

Living in a plastic bin inside of a Fort Worth garage, Effie was covered in urine burns and excruciating pain. Due to a spinal crush injury Effie was unable to move the lower half of her body. Monica Brown, the Special Needs Coordinator at ASR, had never met a paralyzed dog before Effie and after seeing Effie’s living conditions, she knew that she wasn’t leaving without her and she would do anything to get Effie mobile again. Falling in love, Monica decided then and there that she would foster Effie herself.

From Paralyzed to Walkin’ the Runway

After undergoing spinal surgery and recovery, Monica was concerned about getting Effie moving too quickly. Luckily, she had Jason Parker from the Gunnar’s Wheels Foundation cheering her on. Jason knew that the sooner Effie was in her Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair the more successful her recovery process would be. Jason encouraged Monica to get Effie on her feet as soon as possible and reassured her that Effie would never have to worry about outgrowing her wheelchair since Gunnar’s Wheels would gift her with a wheelchair for life. Her life was forever changed when she was gifted her Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, giving her the hard-earned second chance at life she so deserves. Monica is amazed by Effie’s progress, and how far she has come in such a short period of time.

“Effie can move more now and even wagged her tail for the first time a few weeks ago, and we certainly wouldn’t be walking a huge fashion show without her wheels”.

A Journey With a Purpose

Handicapped Pets is proud to help sponsor Effie and Monica’s trip from Texas to New York. Joining Effie and Monica on their trip to New York City will be six other rescue dogs on their way to their new forever homes! Including Dove, Effie’s foster sibling who is both blind and deaf. Representatives from Handicapped Pets will meet Effie in New York City and help her prepare for her runway debut.

Photo Courtesy of Megan Fanning Photography

Update: Watch the video below to watch Effie’s journey. From Effie’s amazing rescue, her first steps in her Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair and footage from her runway debut at the 2019 NY Pets Fashion Show:


Visit here to learn more about Jason Parker and the Gunnar’s Wheels Foundation.


You’ll Go Far, My Pet

Not to brag, but we may have a little genius on our hands. Our 6-month-old is up before dawn playing brain games. She knows her way around an iPad and practically devours puzzles, and I’m teaching her to read. Just recently, she mastered an advanced chess toy.

I am talking, of course, about our dog.

Let me rewind a moment. The last time I had a puppy, I was 9 years old. This might as well have been in the Mesozoic era, since life with a dog was so primitive then. If Buck was good, he got Gaines-Burgers and maybe a Milk-Bone. Bad, we’d deliver stern admonitions over the half-eaten sneaker. But within hours of adopting our fuzzy, adorable Pi, I sensed that being a pet parent today — nobody uses the word “owner” anymore, apparently — means cultivating intelligence, manners and communication skills the way the parent of, say, a small human might.

Our canine compadres no longer eat from mere bowls. Now there are interactive feeding products like Dog Twister (imported from Sweden, no less, for around $50), with rotating hidden compartments that make dogs reason their way to kibble. Another, called Slo-Bowl, pays homage to the artisanal food movement, with “nature-inspired” rubber curves and ridges that keep dogs “foraging for every bite,” the company’s website says ($20). A doggy tick-tack-toe puzzle from Petco encourages “problem solving” and increases “eye-paw-mouth coordination,” for $17. Smartphone apps like App for Dog, iSqueek and Answers: YesNo let puppies doodle, nuzzle virtual chewies and even recognize a few simple words. Others help them take selfies. Then there is the spreading quantified dog movement: A San Francisco company called Whistle Labs makes a wearable activity monitor — a Fido Fitbit, basically, for $129 — that tracks a dog’s every sit, stay and roll over.

Needless to say, I bought it all. My wife and I were already micromanaging our son’s schoolwork, food intake, extracurricular activities and playdates why not helicopter Pi to the far limits of her breed? Which, come to think of it, meant figuring out what breed she was in the first place: Mutt doesn’t quite cut it these days. For $70, the scientists behind Wisdom Panel 2.0 will “uncover DNA-based insights that may help you understand your dog’s unique appearance, behaviors and wellness needs,” according to the package. Two awkward cheek swabs later (“I’ll hold her head, you twirl the Q-tip thingee,” my wife said), we were a lab test away from knowing Pi’s pedigree down to eight great-grandparents.

A new dog is nothing if not a mystery shrouded in fur. What exactly was lurking behind Pi’s smoky eyes? Would she be a charmer, a rocket scientist or a bumbling, tail-chasing dolt? For answers, I turned to Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist who studies behavior at the Canine Cognition Center at Duke. Last year, he started Dognition, a web-based testing service that charges $29 and up for a series of rigorous at-home video experiments to evaluate your dog’s cognitive skills. The results are fed into a database with tens of thousands of dogs to determine one of nine personality types: “socialite,” “maverick,” “renaissance dog” and so on.

“People want to get inside the heads of their dogs, and after 40,000 years living alongside them, science is finally helping us do it,” Mr. Hare said over the phone. He was on his way to Congo to do fieldwork with bonobos, his other species of focus.

In the last decade, Mr. Hare informed me, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. As he explained, his own research shows that dogs read our gestures, like pointing, more flexibly than any other animal. Other investigators from Hungary, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, recently announced that the canine brain is sensitive to cues of emotion in human voices. When you pet a dog, another study concluded, both human and canine oxytocin levels increase.

Other findings are hairier. A research article in Frontiers in Zoology last December asserted that dogs align their bodies along a magnetic north-south axis when urinating or defecating, though nobody knows why. My favorite was the classic study conducted in France on why a stranger’s crotch is more interesting to a dog than its master’s.

More curious still was the crowd-funded effort this past winter by a group of Scandinavian designers and “optimistic dreamers” calling themselves the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery. The team claims to be developing a small gadget called No More Woof, a prototype that uses “the latest technology in microcomputing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spell them out in human language using a loudspeaker.” A dog barks, and the electronic translator will say things like, “Em, why are you guys leaving?” The initial unit will be pretty basic, but then so was the first computer, they say. It all reads like an Onion parody, but the project raised over $22,000.

The writer took his new puppy, Pi, a Great Pyrenees-Border collie mix, to Zoom Room in Culver City, Calif., for agility training. He also trained Pi at home and sent her to obedience school.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

The writer took his new puppy, Pi, a Great Pyrenees-Border collie mix, to Zoom Room in Culver City, Calif., for agility training. He also trained Pi at home and sent her to obedience school.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Zoom Room is a national franchise where “urban dogs” run obstacle courses, practice indoor herding and attain Canine Good Citizen status — an actual thing — from the American Kennel Club.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Pi hopped over hurdles, zipped through canvas tunnels and barked her head off at her classmates.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

At Zoom Room, Pi learned to give a high-five.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Feeling she might do even better with one-on-one attention, the writer consulted with Anna Jane Grossman, who runs School for the Dogs in Manhattan. Ms. Grossman believes traditional dog training is a chore. “I’m a big fan of drinking wine while training.”

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

“Active dogs are much less likely to eat the couch and pee on the coffee table,” Ms. Grossman said.

Credit. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Julie Hecht finds her bliss in canine urine. She is a researcher with the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College (Yale just opened a dog research center, too) and writes the amusing Dog Spies blog on Scientific American’s website. Ms. Hecht did her graduate work on the “guilty look” dogs display after redecorating the living room with toilet paper. (It turns out they make the same face when someone else strews garbage on the floor.)

When I revealed my inclination to dote on Pi to the point of overparenting, Ms. Hecht said the impulse made sense. A decade of influential research conducted in conjunction with the Family Dog Project at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, where Ms. Hecht put together her master’s thesis, suggests that “dogs show very similar responses to what you see with infants up until toddlers around the age of 2,” she said. As Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and the author of “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain,” wrote in a much-emailed Op-Ed in The New York Times last October, “Dogs are people, too.”

We spent weeks looking for such evidence in Pi. Night after night, my 10-year-old son, Sebastian, and I turned our living room into a makeshift doggy science lab as we took Pi through dozens of assessment drills on Dognition’s website that measured empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reason. I would cue up the video instructions as Sebastian readied the treats. The yawn game gauged whether a human yawn elicits one from the dog, a sign of interspecies empathy only certain canines are known to display. Pi wasn’t among them. She just tried to eat the sticky note that was her placekeeper. She fared better at the memory game that asked her to find a treat hidden under a cup after a minute looking away. But then she wouldn’t stop gnawing on the cup. Her Mensa move came in a physical reasoning game in which she inferred time and again that a piece of paper on an angle meant a treat was hidden behind it. Pi grabbed the square of organic white Cheddar and left the paper.

From there it was on to tests of endurance and dexterity. Zoom Room is a national franchise where “urban dogs” run obstacle courses, practice indoor herding and attain Canine Good Citizen status — an actual thing — from the American Kennel Club. We signed up Pi for Agility Training 1, which had her hopping over hurdles, zipping through canvas tunnels and barking her head off at her classmates.

Feeling she might do even better with one-on-one attention, I consulted with Anna Jane Grossman, who runs School for the Dogs in Manhattan. Ms. Grossman believes traditional dog training is a chore. “I’m a big fan of drinking wine while training,” she told me. Among other techniques, she employs something called a flirt pole, instructs dogs to put away their own toys and, lately, teaches them to use iPads. You read that correctly.

At a demonstration for high school students at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn in January, Ms. Grossman’s Yorkiepoo, Amos, nosed away on Doodle Draw, answered questions using the YesNo app and took a few (terrible) selfies with an app called Big Camera Button. Amos was obviously in it for the treats Ms. Grossman was dispensing like rounds of munitions, but the dog’s feats drew cheers and “awwws” from the crowd. The point is simply to keep puppy stimulated. “Active dogs are much less likely to eat the couch and pee on the coffee table,” Ms. Grossman said. I couldn’t get home fast enough to try the iPad tricks with Pi. A dab or two of peanut butter on the screen is all it took to get her sketching digital pictures and licking with abandon at Flappy Bird. The real showstopper was teaching her to recognize “sit,” “down” and other commands using an app called Big Words. I’d show Pi the word while saying it aloud. If she sat when prompted I’d bombard her with freeze-dried liver nibs. After a while, she’d sit without me even speaking the word. Let me say there are few parlor tricks more stunning to friends than the sight of one’s dog extending her paw at the sight of the words “fist bump.”

But then I heard about Chaser, a 9-year-old Border collie in South Carolina who supposedly knows 1,022 words. With Chaser, it’s not just “fetch.” It’s “fetch the tangerine orangutan” — and she gets it.

Honestly, I hated this dog until I called John Pilley, the soft-spoken retired psychology professor at Wofford College who spent five hours a day over three years raising Puppy Einstein. Chaser learned her vocabulary not through treats or corrections but rather because Mr. Pilley, 85, made each word an object fun for the dog to discover. To teach Chaser to find a new Miss Piggy toy, for instance, Mr. Pilley would show it to her and say “Miss Piggy” dozens of times. Then he would hide it and ask her to find it, rewarding her with “Good girl!” Chaser played her way to brilliance. Mr. Pilley told me, “The big lesson is to recognize that dogs are smarter than we think, and given time, patience and enough enjoyable reinforcement, we can teach them just about anything.”

It’s true that dogs everywhere are doing things that would have been unimaginable in the Alpo era. Last year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center trained a team of shepherds and retrievers to sniff out lab samples containing ovarian cancer. Scent hounds are also being used to forecast epileptic seizures and potentially life-threatening infections. A black Labrador from the St. Sugar Cancer-Sniffing Dog Training Center in Chiba, Japan, was accurate 98 percent of the time in picking up early-stage signs of colon cancer. As Mr. Hare, from Duke, said, “I will take a dog smelling my breath over a colonoscopy any day of the week, even if it’s just an experiment.”

As for our own puppy experiment, results were adding up. The DNA test reported that Pi is a Great Pyrenees-Border collie mix, which means her forebears may have mingled with French aristocracy, and, yes, there may be some Chaser in her, too. Dognition, meanwhile, classified her as a “protodog,” reminiscent of the communicative, connected wolves that first broke from the pack to bond with early humankind. That felt like a stretch, but Pi’s mottled gray fur and talent for counter-surfing for salami certainly had a wolfy quality to it. I continued serving her meals in Swedish puzzles, drilling her on the iPad and digitally quantifying her shaggy moves. But just to be safe, we shipped her off to obedience school.


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