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How do I make my dog smart?

How do I make my dog smart?

Smart breeds:
Owners and breeders of Border Collies have long proclaimed the superior intelligence of this energetic, loyal breed. They are natural «herders.» Without any training, they will instinctively herd cattle, sheep, and children. Poodles, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Labrador Retrievers, Papillon, Rottweiler, and Australian Cattle Dogs are also reputed to be quite smart.

  1. Take a large towel or blanket and gently throw it over your dog’s head. If he frees himself from the towel in less than 15 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes 15-30 seconds, 2 points. If it takes him longer than 30 seconds, give him 1 point. This test measures disposition and problem solving.
  2. Place a treat (or his favorite toy) under one of three buckets that are lined up in a row. Show your dog which bucket the treat is under. Turn the dog away for 10 seconds. Then let the dog go. If he goes straight to the right bucket (the one with the treat under it), give him 3 points. If it takes two tries to find the treat, 2 points. If he checks the wrong two first before finding the treat, give him 1 point. This test measures memory.
  3. Place a treat in a square of aluminum foil and fold it twice to close it. If the dog uses his paws to get the foil open, give him 3 points. If he uses his mouth and paws to open the foil, give him 2 points. If he can’t get the foil open and just starts playing with it, give him 1 point. This test measures problem solving.

Here are other tests that are done:

  1. On a day you normally don’t walk the dog, quietly pick up your keys, and his leash (and whatever else you usually take with you) while he’s watching. If he gets excited, score 3. If you have to walk to the door before he knows it is time to go out, score 2. If he sits there with a confused look on his face, give him 1 point. Bonus points: If your dog typically lets YOU know when he has to go to the bathroom by bringing you his leash, for instance, score 2 extra points for a total of 5 points. If he’s mastered the toilet, stop the test. Your dog is a canine version of a brain surgeon.
  2. With your dog out of the room, rearrange the furniture. If he goes directly to his favorite spot on the couch, the one with his impression in the cushion, give him 3 points. If he investigates the room and finds his favorite spot within 30 seconds, give him 2 points. If he settles for a less comfortable place because he’s just too lazy to make the effort, score 1 point.
  3. Another problem-solving test: Construct a barrier from cardboard. The barrier should be higher than your dog when he’s on two legs. Attach two boxes to either side as support structures. The entire barrier should be about 5 feet wide. Cut a 3-inch-wide rectangular aperture in the center of the barrier. The aperture should run from about 4-inches from the top to about 4-inches from the bottom. Give yourself 10 points — those were pretty complicated directions! As for the dog, show him a treat from the other side of the barrier. If he walks around the barrier within 30 seconds, give him 3 points. If he goes around the barrier between 30 seconds and a minute, give him 2 points. If he gets his head stuck in the aperture, give him 1 point for trying. Bonus points: If he goes to someone else in the house and gets a treat, give him 3 points — he knows how to get the goodies.

There are two kinds of dog intelligence: instinctive intelligence and adoptive intelligence. While the instinctive intelligence of a dog reveals which behaviors and skills are programmed in the animal’s genetic code, adaptive intelligence relates to the knowledge, skills and general competence a dog can acquire during its lifetime.

In a dog, adaptive intelligence has two main components: learning ability (which observes the rate at which a dog can learn new relationships) and observational learning (which is natural learning that allows certain associations between conditions and outcomes to form, but does not require direct involvement on the part of the observer).

There is also environmental learning, social learning, language comprehension and task learning. Within this, there’s short-term memory and long-term memory and problem-solving ability.

Sometimes, intelligence tests tell a lot about the smarts of the tester as well as the tested. Fortunately for all of us, intelligence is not a prerequisite for love. It shouldn’t be for a dog either — if he doesn’t do well, just remember that anyone can be too smart for their own good.

Do you really want a dog that can open the refrigerator, operate machinery or run up the credit cards?

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First published on October 2, 2002 / 2:47 PM

© 2002 CBS. All rights reserved.

6 Great Ways To Challenge Your Dog’s Mind

A dog poses for his owner

Just like people, dogs get bored with the same old everyday routine. Keeping them mentally challenged and constantly exposing them to new things is just as important as taking them for walks and exercising them. Bored dogs develop destructive behaviors and take their negative energy out on things like your furniture.

Here are some creative ways to stimulate your dog’s mind so they don’t get bored and misbehave.

Ways to Challenge Your Dog’s Mind

Work on a New Trick

Every time you engage your dog in a training session, you are providing him with a mental challenge. Search around for new tricks to work on. If you’re ready to move past the basic commands, check out books, scan the Internet, and ask a trainer for ideas for new tricks and training ideas.

“My dog, Vince just recently turned 4-years old and I finally enrolled him in obedience school. It has changed both our lives. Now on days where I work him on new tricks and such, I have noticed that his temperament has calmed down. Challenging him mentally makes him much less anxious in general and he has become more relaxed around other dogs. Vince is proof that old dogs can definitely learn new tricks.” – Sara Hicks

Play with Interactive Games or Toys with Your Dog

Purchase a doggie board game or a canine puzzle to challenge your pup. Engage your dog in a game of Dog Memory or Dog Dominos. Give your dog one of the many toys that allow you to hide treats and objects inside and engage your dog to figure out how to work them out.

“This sounds silly but I bought this board game that I saw at the store for my dog Snickers and I to play together. I put treats underneath a peg and she has to figure out which ones to lift up in order to find where the treats are. There is another version where I cover up the treats with this piece of plastic and Snickers has to spin the board around to uncover the treats. It really challenges her and I see her brain working so hard to figure everything out.” – Donna Marr

Run Errands with Your Dog

Even a quick run to the mailbox, a stopover at a friend’s house, or a spin through the car wash will place your dog face to face with a variety of stimulants.

“Even just taking Ryker for a car ride or to the car wash is stimulating for him. He gets to see lots of different sights and sounds and experience new situations. He loves going and gets so excited. And I can see his brain working as it takes it all in. And when we come home, he falls right asleep, even though it wasn’t physically taxing.” – Jennifer Brody

Give Your Dog a Job to Do

Dogs are bred to complete tasks such as hunting and herding. When they aren’t able to fulfill these types of duties, they can get restless. Engage your dog in a game of Frisbee. Get him involved in a sport like agility or Flyball. Take him for a long walk, hike, or swim. Find jobs that fulfill your dog’s breed. If you have a retriever, for example, nothing will leave it more satisfied than a hearty game of fetch.

“I can take my dog for a walk or a run, but the thing that really makes her the happiest is a hearty game of fetch. I take a tennis racket to the dog park and hit a ball as far as I can. She will bring it back to me over and over again like it’s her job.” – John Kurmai

Introduce Your Dog to New Faces

Every time your dog meets a new person or fellow canine, they are introduced to new sights, sounds, and butts to sniff. Taking you pup to places like the dog park will provide him with ample opportunity to engage his senses.

“I frequently take Bruiser to the dog park, which he absolutely loves! Bruiser constantly meets new friends there and finds people to sniff and get petted by. This has really made him listen better, less anxious and truly more satisfied.” – Kat Malkowych

Give Them New Toys and Rotate Out the Old Ones

You wouldn’t want to play with the same thing every day would you? Then you shouldn’t expect your dog to continue to love the same toy that he’s had for months. Give him a toy to play with for a few days and when he grows bored of it, replace it with another one.

“Moogly has so many toys but still gets bored. It’s ridiculous! I am constantly bringing new toys into the house but he has a short attention span so they only keep him entertained for a while. We started keeping all of his toys in a bin in the closet and rotating them out. He has so many now and we’ll change up a new toy with one that he’s had for years and that he may have forgotten about. He loves this and whenever we switch them up, he is just as excited as when he gets a brand new toy.” – Katie Adams

We’d love for you to share your ideas for stimulating your dog’s mind below!

Share the fun with your pack. Check out Cesar Millan’s line of dog toys.

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