Meet the clever dog that can count to ten, answer questions and even solve addition problems—in English and Japanese.
Monica Elkhalifa taught her six-year-old Shiba Inu new tricks when he became impossible to entertain with just long walks and toys.
Now when shown a number of different flashcards featuring colors, numbers and shapes Akira can choose the one that matches Monica’s question.
With a tap of his paw Akira—who knows more than 90 words—can also do simple addition problems by pointing to the card with the correct answer. (See the video below.)
Akira can even apparently add up the number of drawings on a card, such as three apples—and select the number card which matches—and answer yes/no questions too.
“I just thought it would be fun to teach him a few numbers—just an exercise to keep him busy. I was overjoyed when he learned the number four. After that, he quickly learned five to ten and as he mastered each stage or level, I had to develop new ideas to keep him mentally active and build on the earlier lessons.
“This included teaching him counting, addition and mixing colors and objects, and the yes and no cards.”
The pair live in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with Monica’s husband and their other dog Miko.
Monica started to train him when he was young with games like finding treats in toys.
“Shiba Inus are very independent and clever. I really felt that he needed something extra apart from his physical exercises,”
“He often looks behind the TV to see where the people or animals are. When he was little he would go under glass tables and look at things on them.”
Five years ago the corporate worker Monica decided to push her pooch’s mind further, but couldn’t find any methods to purchase.
She made her own flashcards to familiarize Akira with shapes and commands, but admits that at the start she did not know what her pet would be capable of.
Akira started by learning to tap the card on command, then Monica familiarized him with the shape of a number or image by tracing it with her finger and saying it our loud.
Next she said she taught him to count by holding a flashcard with a number on it next to a card with that number of tennis balls on it, and counting them out loud.
Even though dogs are thought to be largely color blind, Akira has also been trained to recognize different colors.
He now knows nearly 90 words, and when told a sum will point to the numbered card that is the solution, even after the cards are switched over or changed.
Akira trains five times a week in ten minute sessions, and his dog-mum said it is making him calmer and he looks forward to it. The next challenge is to master subtraction.
Monica has called her method The Professor Akira Method: Brain Training for Dogs, and pet owners can train their pets with a set of flashcards and a handful of treats. She sells them using Paypal for £20.00 on her website, ProfessorAkira.com. (We are unsure about where she ships to.)
“It is also such a great way to bond, especially during these challenging times when walks might be fewer.”