Otto is the best dog ever, and here's proof.

Otto is a special dog. We knew it from the moment we met him. I've had goldens my entire life, but I knew from the very first moment I picked up the fluff ball that turned into Otto that he was different. So when the folks at Dognition reached out and asked if I would be interested in doing a cognition assessment on Otto via #Discoveryourdog, I couldn't even wait to get started.

So what exactly is the Dognition assessment? Well, it's made up of science-based games that assess 5 core dimensions of your dogs cognition - empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning. Also, Dognition is a citizen science company - so when you complete the games, your dog's results help to advance the study of dog cognition. Wins all around! So if you are looking for a dog-focused Christmas gift that keeps on giving, by golly, I think we've found one! 

As I think most dog owners do, we spend countless hours trying to think about all the things that must pass through Otto's brain on a daily basis. We joke about what motivates him (cheese) or what he loves (cheese) or what makes him want to behave (cheese) - but now, thanks to this innovative approach to cognition testing via Dognition we have those answers and more. Turns out, Otto was designated an ACE in the assessment. Here's how they described his results:  "An accomplished problem solver with great communication skills, an ACE has everything that makes a dog special, and a little more besides." I particularly loved this finding: 

"Judging by the extraordinary length of time Otto spent gazing soulfully into your eyes, you probably often find him staring at you for no reason. You might wonder if Otto is trying to tell you something, like he is hungry, needs to go to the bathroom or has an opinion on what to do over the weekend. But Otto may not want or need anything - he may be just hugging you with his eyes."

Hugging me with his eyes? OK, that's kind of amazing, and I totally feel like he does that! Man, does this dog know how to work me over! 

The test takes about 90 minutes to 3 hours, but we broke it up a bit over a few days. The process requires lots of treats, so Otto basically thought it was the best thing ever. And it's funny, as close as I am with Otto, it really did give me a deeper look into how Otto's brain really works, bonding us even more. 

We've called Otto the Hooligan since about day two of having him. We always have to be two (or twenty) steps in front of him. It's like he is always thinking of something to get into or make us laugh. Kind of like our own personal Dennis the Menace. So it was particularly funny to see this prove to be true during the Cunning portion of the testing. 

It could be a tasty morsel left on a coffee table. Or a stuffed animal you've forbidden Otto to chew up. As soon as you aren't paying attention, whatever Otto has been lusting after mysteriously disappears. You might have wondered whether Otto is incapable of learning a tiny word like 'No!'

No truer words have been spoken. The minute you turn your back on the Otto is the minute you leave your snacks up to fate. Another great quote being: 

...this shows an independent thinker; you should be aware that in other situations Otto might not listen to you if he thinks you are wrong.

Can you tell we have our hands full? 

It was such a fun process, and one I definitely recommend for any dog lovers out there. Dogs are such members of the family; it's so nice to know how their brains really tick. It would be such an amazing and unexpected gift for the dog-obsessed in your life. For only $19 you can get this same Dognition assessment and analysis Otto and I went through - or for $19 + $9 a month you get it all plus even more tips and tricks, new cognition tests each month, and 50% of additional dogs (just to name a few things).  

Not to mention, this assessment is great for those not really sure how to approach their dog's behavior traits. By truly knowing how your dog's brain works, it helps connect you with your dog on a deeper level and helps reduce frustration with behavior, identify activities that are best suited for your dogs, and just allows you to spend some wonderful quality time with your best friend. Can't beat that. 

I would love to hear about your dog's Dognition results! Tag your photos with #Discoveryourdog so I can find you, and so we can compare all the fun findings! Just head on over to Dognition to sign up! 

Happy testing! 

PHOTOGRAPHY: Erin McGinn| Styling: Abby Capalbo

* I was asked to participate in the #Discoveryourdog campaign, sponsored by Dognition Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own and I never would never endorse something I didn't love. Thanks for the support!