Labrador Retrievers are known for their hunting skills and friendly dispositions, but Beau, a black Lab who lives in Montana, US, is winning acclaim for his math abilities.
Owner David Madsen says if he tells Beau there are six dogs at the park and three dogs leave, and then asks him how many are left, the dog replies: “Woof, woof, woof.”
“He counts, he adds and subtracts, he can do some division and has memorised square roots,” Madsen said.
Although a dog with math skills better than plenty of humans seems incredible, the local fire chief says he vouches for the dog’s talents.
Madsen, a retired AT&T executive, adopted the puppy a dozen years ago and began teaching him math basics when he showed signs of being intelligent. As a puppy, Beau invented games and crafted intricate strategies to avoid capture, he said.
“I’ve had dogs all my life, but this dog is different. He’s super smart,” Madsen said.
He taught Beau to count using dog biscuits, laying out a handful and rewarding the dog when the number of his barks corresponded to the number of treats.
“He caught on that rewards were associated with the correct number of barks,” Madsen said.