Is your dog smarter than average?


It’s obvious your dog is the most adorable, best looking, well-behaved and smartest dog on the planet – right?   But how can you be sure that your dog is extra intelligent compared to the average dog?

Be careful what you wish for because having an intelligent dog can actually have downsides.  You have to put a lot of effort in at the beginning to ensure your intelligent dog makes good choices or you may be in for a bit of a nightmare!  Be observant and notice when they’re bored and set their environment up for success.


Just defining the definition of “intelligence” in general, not only in reference to dogs, is difficult. Some tests measure problem-solving abilities and others test the ability to learn in comparison to others of the same age. Defining it for dogs is just as difficult. It is likely that dogs do not have the ability to premeditate an action to solve a problem. Some dogs may, however, have more drive to keep trying various things until they accidentally reach a solution and still others might have more ability to make the association between the “accident” and the result.

Certain breeds, like Border Collies, Poodles and Golden Retrievers, are generally easier to train than others.  However, is the ability to learn quickly a sign of intelligence or conversely is it a sign of blind subservience and a desire to please. In contrast, some dogs who do not learn very quickly may have other talents for example, breeds that are not particularly interested in pleasing their owners, such as Siberian Huskies. Huskies are often fascinated with the myriad of possibilities for escaping from yards, catching small animals, and often figuring out on their own numerous inventive ways of doing both. The ability to learn and obey commands is not the only possible measurement of intelligence.


Some breeds have been selectively bred for hundreds or thousands of years for the quality of learning quickly and will have, inherited behaviour. For example, a sheep herding breed, like a Border Collie, would be expected to learn how to herd sheep very quickly and might even perform the job with little training. It may be hard to train the same breed to point and retrieve game. Conversely, a Pointer often points to game instinctively and naturally retrieves game without damaging it, but it may be tough to teach them to herd sheep.

That said, here are seven things truly intelligent dogs do.

1. Figuring things out quickly

Does your dog always seem to get what you’re saying to them quickly?  Can they figure out tricky toys super-fast?   When dogs connect the dots pretty quickly from what you showed them, then that’s very similar to humans and they are considered by researchers to have a higher intelligence level than other dogs that can’t.


2. Trying to communicate

Dogs that make an effort to communicate with you, even simple things like that they need to go outside, may be more intelligent than other dogs.  The problem here is are you paying attention to your dog’s cues, your dog may be trying to communicate and you’re not understanding the communication.

3. Getting into trouble

If your dog is a happy but, constantly getting into trouble for doing naughty things for example, chewing things they shouldn’t, or barking or ripping out plants or taking clothes off the line, etc. – ask yourself are they bored?   This is where smart dogs are hard work they don’t just lie around complacently till you get home or have time to pay attention to them, and as such you need to provide them with things they can do instead of those naughty behaviours.  You could try dog puzzles (purchased or homemade) or hide and seek games, any think you can come up with that will keep their mind occupied.

If your dog is unhappy, naughty behaviours could be related more to stress, like separation anxiety, and not boredom.  Vet’s maybe able to assist you with what to do in this circumstance, as can dog trainers and dog psychologists.


4. Conquering treat-dispensing toys

Many of the treat-dispensing toys will show you what kind of intelligence your dog has.   The problem solvers won’t get frustrated within a few attempts; they’re going to figure out how it works and see how it can benefit them.

Don’t despair if you dog isn’t into figuring out how such toys work, it may just mean their intelligence lies elsewhere.

5. Acing cognition tests

There are many products to help you determine how smart your dog is. One is called Dognition, which focuses more on cognition and the idea that all dogs are smart—albeit in different ways. You simply play 20 games with your dog, input the data, and discover which of the nine Dognition profiles fit your pup best, from Einstein to Renaissance Dog.


6. Finding a hidden treat

There are some simple games you can try at home to test your dog’s cognition. For example: get three plastic cups, show your dog a treat and put it under a cup, ask your dog to stay, and then walk around the cups to serve as a distraction. After walking around, stand to the side and tell your dog to find the treat.

Some dogs will find the treat right away while others will have no idea what’s going on.  Note, thought that not finding the treat will probably just mean they didn’t understand what the task was, and their intelligence lies elsewhere.

7. Problem solving

Although you might not agree that it’s great for a dog to know how to turn a latch and open a door, it’s a sign that your dog has good problem-solving skills.  As with other potentially undesirable behaviours that intelligent dog’s exhibit, redirecting the dog to more acceptable behaviours is a frustrated owner’s best bet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s