Have you ever wondered how smart dogs really are? We talk to them and it seems like they understand us. Some dogs can learn how to open doors or get in the refrigerator. How do you know if your dog is really intelligent?
We usually judge our dog’s intelligence based on how easily he or she was house trained, or how many tricks we can teach them. At one time, people never even considered that a dog could be intelligent, or have feelings, or express emotions.
Now we know better and scientists and researchers have been doing studies to determine the level of intelligence of dogs in general and of specific breeds.
Scientists have found that canine intelligence can be different among different breeds. Since a scent hound may not seem too smart trying to learn tasks that are natural for a working dog, researchers tested dogs within their own group. They have also identified 3 types of intelligence.
The first type is instinctive intelligence. This is based on what the dog was bred to do, for example, a retriever is meant to retrieve, a herding dog is bred to herd other animals, and so on. The idea is that there is no point in testing how long it would take to teach a herding dog to retrieve a ball.
The second type of intelligence scientists have identified is adaptive intelligence. This is meant to determine what a dog can learn for himself. This includes the dog’s ability to learn from his environment and solve problems.
Dogs can learn the location of favorite or desired objects or treats, as well as the best or shortest route to get where they want to go. You may have a dog that has learned how to turn door knobs or open the refrigerator. These are all examples of adaptive intelligence.
The third type of intelligence that can be measured is working and obedience intelligence. This refers to the ability a dog has to follow commands from his owner. Some examples of where this type of intelligence is important include, guide dogs, service dogs or rescue dogs, and any other situation where people rely on dogs to accomplish a task. If dogs did not have the ability to learn and follow commands, they probably would not have been domesticated.
Researchers now know that certain dogs are able to learn approximately 150 words. There is a border collie that was known to recognize over 200 words. Dogs can even learn by imitating other dogs. In one study, dogs watched a border collie named Guinness use her paw to open a box to get to the food inside. Normally dogs would use their nose to do this.
When the other dogs observed Guinness using her paw, they figured it must be a better way to do it and they used their paw. Then researchers had the border collie open the container with her paw while she had a ball in her mouth. After observing this, the other dogs opened the container with their nose.
The scientists determined that the dogs figured out that she used her paw because she had the ball in her mouth and wasn’t able to use her nose. This indicates a dog’s ability to use selective imitation. They don’t just automatically do something a certain way because another dog did it that way.
It doesn’t matter if your furry best friend is a mixed breed or a pure breed, and it doesn’t matter if your pup is extremely smart, silly or a little slow to get it, he or she ( or they! ) can understand and communicate with you and will show you love, loyalty and devotion. That is ultimately what is important.