Friday, January 29, 2010

Practical Dog Intelligence--Does your dog have it?

First let me get this out of the way--Muffin is the smartest dog I've ever known and probably smarter than all the dogs I don't know.
OK, now you're mad because your dog is smart too.
A smart dog understands what is expected of her and acts accordingly with all of her spirit, playfulness, and dignity intact.
Many of the smart tests online are more than ludicrous. Some involve throwing a towel over your dog's face and measuring how many seconds it takes to fling it off. Or putting a treat under a low surface or in one upside down cup out of three and determining her ability to remove the treat or identify the correct cup.
Ohh Puhleeeze!
Muffin would ace these (she can sniff out balls 20 feet above, 5 feet in the ground, anywhere in the car, and hundreds of feet away on the beach) and I wouldn't even insult her intelligence by subjecting her.

Practical intelligence is far more important, useful and enhances every moment we spend together.

Below are 10 examples of practical canine intelligence.

  1. I often hear excuses for dogs that rip up couches or topple the trash when they are left alone. "Oh my dog is so smart that it needs to occupy himself this way"--Pure Bull. A smart dog understands this is wrong and and won't do it.  An uncanny thing about Muffin--she has never touched anything but her own toys and balls here in the house. Never picked up a slipper, never chewed a pillow, never went near the very accessible trash can, nada! 
  2. Muffin is tuned into me at all times, looking directly at me often. Exploring the beach or walking ahead on the sidewalk, she will always check back to see where I am, always staying within a reasonable distance. She's loyal, dedicated, and we're always on the same wavelength. 
  3. Leash free walks are stress free. Again there is a psychological connection. She knows to stay put at curbs and wait for my command "OK!" to proceed.
  4. She's wary of strangers and doesn't blindly cling to strange people or dogs. When strangers approach her she won't automatically let them touch or pet her and scurries away. My reply: "you have to earn her friendship and trust". That's how it should be. Sweet but savvy.
  5. She'll bark at external things when at home, but never at me. If she needs something she'll sit quietly or touch me with her paw. If I can't find her ball, she'll look towards where it is (i.e. under the couch) and then look back at me. Her bullysticks are always on top of the refridge--I'll say "what do you want?"--she'll look up there then back to me.
  6. When she wants to play ball, she'll sneak it next me and there it is when I turn around.  She aces the intellegence toys immedietely too, like the IQube Puzzle Plush Dog Toy and the Kyjen IntelliBone Puzzle.
  7. Muffin has a remarkable ability to know if I'm going to leave without her, picking up the most subtle cues and remembering them even after a long walk. For instance--if I closed the sliding doors slightly and put on something decent to wear--she won't want to come back inside after a walk. And won't chase her ball down the stairs making me retrieve it while she waits at the door! When I do finally say "you're going to stay here"--she goes to her spot on the couch and mopes.
  8. She never forgets routine things like knowing where to go when it's time to brush her (out to the porch) or hulking under the desk when I take the toothbrush out and making me follow her into a corner in the closet. OK, so this does cause some anxiety and she's not the ultimate angel here, but eventually she does get her teeth brushed, they look terrific and her breath is great!
  9. If I'm on the phone she waits until I say "bye" or "talk to ya later" before asking for anything.
  10. Her vocabulary is immense, she always understands what I'm telling her, and reacts to the the most subtle body language. Her understanding of words is more about the tone and emphasis rather than the word itself. She uses her ears, eyes, expression, and body language to talk to me.
Yes there are some things I wish she wouldn't do. There are a few dogs in the hood she just seems to hate--her anger becomes so intense (heavy breathing and pulling) that I need to leash her and hold her back. Usually they are terriers or the 2 Shar pei's that drive her nuts whenever she hears them walking by outside.
Sit, stay, paw, lie down, yeah she does all that, but smart goes way beyond the rudimentary stuff. Muffin communicates constantly and wants you to reciprocate. She just gets it.


designergirl said...

What about when she crosses the street WITHOUT you saying "ok", yeah you know what I'm talking about...she not as perfect as you make her out to be. Be honest with everyone :-D

dogulove said...

Happened once and she knew there were no cars around.

grumpypuppet said...

What about when she pooped on your head?

Dog Training Loveland said...

That's a great list. I will definitely use this as a checklist for my dogs. Thank you for sharing this one.

dogulove said...

Thanks for checking out the blog, Dog Training Loveland! Enjoyed yours too. Please come back often!



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