Is Your Dog Smarter than the Average Dog?
by Elizabeth Xu
Your pup is obviously the cutest, most well-behaved, smartest dog on the planet, right? That’s what dog owners like to think, anyway! But how can you tell if your pup really is extra intelligent, as opposed to just normal-dog smart?
Be careful what you wish for. Having an intelligent dog can actually have some downsides, says Debby McMullen, a dog trainer and behaviorist in Pennsylvania.
“You need to be observant and notice when they’re bored and set the environment up for success. Honestly, having an intelligent dog is a little bit tiring at first because you have to put a whole lot of effort in the beginning,” she says, noting that helping intelligent dogs to make good choices is essential.
Keep in mind that measuring dog’s intelligence is pretty difficult; some experts prefer to look at it as a way of measuring a dog’s cognition instead. (Merriam Webster defines cognition, in part, as “the activities of thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.”)
“When you try to assess a dog to see whether this dog is smart or that dog is smart, the question is: What is it that you want your dog to do? Not if the dog is smart enough to do it. The question needs to be turned around,” says Jody Haas, an Illinois-based dog trainer. In other words, most dogs specialize in a certain type of “smarts.” One might be a social genius while another has a memory like a steel trap. Depending on the situation you put them in, one of these dogs may appear brilliant, the other… less so, but that difference has more to do with the situation than the dogs.
That said, here are seven things truly intelligent dogs do.
This article was verified and edited for accuracy by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM