Can an Animal Actually Count?

In the section “Can Animals Count?” in chapter 13, the authors discuss if animals can actually count. Hans, a German horse, was able to do different math problems. Hen would answer them by tapping his hoof on the ground. It was “believed that Hans learned to do the following:
Question posed: Tap out the correct answer --> Earn tasty treat.
            S^D                             R                                 S^R     (Powell, Honey, & Symbaluk, 2017).”

It was believed that Hans really knew how to count before Oskar Pfungst proved that to be wrong. He found out that Hans was not able to do this trick without seeing the person who asks the question. Pfungst believes that Hans could read the expressions of the questioner when he reached the correct answer.

When I first started to read this section, I immediately remembered watching a video very similar to this. In the recent America’s Got Talent season, a dog displays signs of being able to count. The owner would say a number from 1-50 and the dog would then bark to that number. The dog was also able to look at a flash card and count to that number. Below I have attached the video from the audition.

It would be very interesting to investigate how this dog is able to do this. Would it be the same way that Hans was able to do this? Would the dog be able to do this if it was by itself in a quiet room? 


Powell, R. A., Honey, P. L., & Symbaluk, D. G. (2013). Introduction to Learning and Behavior.   
       Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

[Talent Recap]. 2017, June 5). Mia Moore: The DOG Who Can Count & Read! UNREAL! |    
         Auditions 2 | America’s Got Talent 2017 [Video File] Retrieved from       m/watch?v=g4T6UaCWk8Y


  1. This is a very interesting topic, and I enjoyed reading your post! The video of the dog and owner from America's Got Talent is fascinating and really makes you wonder the capabilities that animals have. Was the dog just like Hans? I wonder how long it took the owners to train them, and if every animal would be able to count like the dog did.


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