By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Research has confirmed what dog lovers have known for quite some time now…our best friends are extremely intelligent!

The accumulated research at the American Psychological Association has shown that the average dog has the same developmental abilities as a human toddler. They can recognize anywhere from approximately 165 to 250 words, as well as understand signs, symbols and gestures.

Dogs have recognized dropping a distinct number of treats, with the dog identifying the correct amount.

It’s becoming more apparent to researchers and scientists alike with more recent studies that all dogs (no matter the breed) can think and solve problems in ways previously thought to belong only to humans and the higher primates.

They adhere, much like humans, to a system of structure, order and following rules. If a dog is clearly shown the concise way to follow a simple rule or boundary, he/she can comply. They are the only species that focuses directly on a human for direction and guidance. They consistently follow human behavior and try to participate; they pick up signals, cues and movement quickly for various actions and are always ready to contribute.

They form attachment relationships very quickly. They display true empathy with us and with each other in many situations. They nurture and display ways of wanting to assist to aid and comfort.

It’s been proven: our best friends are thinking, caring beings but, as I said, those of us who live with them already know that!