Of course, each of us knows we have a very special dog. Without even meeting you, I’m guessing that your dog is cute, funny, smart, and probably very intuitive. He or she probably knows how you’re feeling most of the time and is able to cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It’s a funny thing about dogs, but they seem to have these wonderful traits in common. Plus, every owner seems to get just the right dog they need in their lives. But, have you ever wondered just how smart your dog really is?
There are lots of different ways to define intelligence in dogs, and many people have tried. One of the most talked about measures of dog intelligence is found in Dr. Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Dr. Coren is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Coren based his measures of intelligence on a dog’s ability to understand new commands and to obey the first command given. He took his approach after surveying approximately 200 dog trainers. It’s not surprising that dogs that excel at obedience ranked very highly in his rankings of intelligent dogs, while dogs that are more independent ranked lower. According to Dr. Coren’s book, the top 10 most intelligence breeds were:
4. Golden Retriever
6. Shetland Sheepdog
However, you can conduct your own IQ tests for your dog, which don’t rely quite so much on dog obedience. These tests are based more on your dog’s problem-solving abilities.
You can do these tests with your dog and there is a scoring index included. Don’t try to do all of the tests in one day or you may confuse your dog. Try to keep things fun for your dog and treat the tests like games. And, no matter how your dog does with the tests, reward your dog and keep things positive.
The Towel Test
With this test you should take a large towel or a blanket and place it gently over your dog’s head. The object is to see how long it takes your dog to free himself from the covering. If your dog emerges in less than 15 seconds, award him 3 points. If it takes him 15-30 seconds, give him 2 points. If it takes him longer than 30 seconds, give him 1 point. (It’s best not to try this test when your dog is sleepy or he may choose to stay under the blanket.)
The Bucket Test
Set up three small buckets placed next to each other. Place one of your dog’s favorite treats under one of the buckets, allowing your dog to see which one you place it under. Then turn your dog away from the buckets for a few seconds. Let go, and allow your dog to find the treat. If your dog goes straight for the bucket with the treat, give your dog 3 points. If it takes your dog 2 tries, give him 2 points. If your dog goes to the other 2 buckets first, give your dog 1 point.
Put one of your dog’s favorite treats under a chair or table that is just low enough so your dog can just put a paw underneath and can’t reach the treat with their head. If your dog figures out how to reach the treat in under a minute, give your dog 3 points. If your dog uses his paw and nose, give him 2 points. If your dog gives up, give him 1 point.
Go For A Walk
This one is easy for most dogs. Choose a time when you don’t usually go for a walk or take your dog anywhere. Calmly pick up your keys and your dog’s leash when your dog isn’t watching you. If your dog gets excited right away, give your dog 3 points. If you have to walk to the door before your dog realizes you’re going to take him out, give him 2 points. If your dog just sits and looks at you in confusion, give him 1 point.
Make a cardboard barrier that is 5 feet wide and taller than your dog when he’s standing up on two legs, so he can’t see over it. Packing boxes or appliance boxes are good for this test. Then attach two boxes on each side of the barrier for support. In the center of the cardboard you should cut a 3 inch-wide rectangular opening. The dog should be able to see through the opening but not go through it. Toss a treat or toy through to the other side of the barrier or have a friend stand on the other side of the barrier. If your dog walks around the barrier in under 30 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes him between 30 seconds and a minute to go around the barrier, give him 2 points. If he gets his head stuck in the opening trying to go through, give him 1 point for trying.
Scoring and your dog’s results:
13 points or higher: Excellent!
10 to 12 points: Far above average
7 to 9 points: Average
5 to 8 points: Below average
1 to 4 points: You love your dog no matter what!