For years, dog lovers have been saying that dogs are smarter than many people give them credit for. Research proves that on average dogs have the intelligence as sophisticated as a 2.5 year-old child, and some breeds are smarter than others.
So I asked myself – Is my dog as smart as a two-year-old?
I’d like to think he is. I know he’s very resourceful, especially when it’s food-related – he’s a Labrador!
I often play a game where I hide his treat in my hand, then ask him, ‘Where’s the treat?’. Seven out of ten, Bowie puts his paw on the correct hand. The rest, either he randomly smacks his paw on my hands or licks me to death. I wonder if he’s really smart or is it just pure luck? Or perhaps the motivation is too high.
I’ve also been teaching Bowie objects and words association with his toys. When I can’t find a certain toy (eg. Paw Paw), I’ll ask him, ‘Where’s Paw Paw?’. He’ll trot off and find ‘Paw Paw’ for me. But on a couple of occasions when I ask Bowie to get ‘Paw Paw’ a metre away from him, he’ll grab anything but ‘Paw Paw’. I wonder if he truly understands what’s expected of him to do? Could it be that I wasn’t being clear in my communication? Or perhaps, I haven’t fool-proofed my training.
Do I think dogs are capable of reasoning?
I think they are. Bowie’s always very excited going with us in the car. He knows the car won’t start until he sits down properly, so he does. Before getting into the car, we often say, ‘Bowie, toilet first!’ – and he’ll do it immediately because he knows he can then get into the car and go to all the fun places. Though sometimes if he doesn’t need to, he’ll fake it anyway just to please us.
So, are our dogs as smart as we thought?
There are different kinds of intelligence – Instinctive and Adoptive intelligence. Instinctive intelligence comes with the breed and the type of dog. Certain dogs and dog breeds have inherent differences in natural ability, for example certain breeds use their sights to solve problems, whilst others use their noses.
There is also Adoptive intelligence, and this can include environmental learning, social learning, language comprehension and task learning. Similar to humans – some humans are better at math or logic questions, and others are better at creative solutions to problems or interpersonal relationships.
The same works for different dogs – so while your dog may do well at one kind of test or another, it may not be due to intelligence as much as the dog’s natural ability to achieve those results as well as their own way of looking and thinking through a problem.
Dogs are sensitive creatures. They pick up our energy, smell our pheromones and are tuned into our social cues. They use all those information to inform their reaction/action. Sometimes we can send mixed signals to our dogs which will confuse them. As a result, your dog may not do what’s expected of them, or they may do completely the opposite of what you ask them for. That doesn’t mean that your dog is not smart.
Our dogs understand us more than some hoomans do and they definitely can see through all the blah..blah..bullsh**s. Well, if that’s not smart, then what is it?
Test Your Dog For Fun
This testing can give you a general idea about your dog’s intelligence, but wise pet owners maintain their own criteria. Your dog may not be Einstein or win a Nobel Prize – but when it comes to making us happy and feel good, our dogs are just downright brilliant!
Source Warren Eckstein, USA Today