Monday, April 28, 2014

How smart is my dog?

How smart is my dog? Now there's a question. I've had dogs I swear understand my every word and thought, and others who couldn't find their way out of a room through an open door. They're all just as loveable, but the concept of what my dog is thinking, and how is it solving problems sure is intriguing!

Did you catch the NOVA series "How Smart Are Animals?" The two-part series explored dogs, dolphins, elephants, birds, and many other animals to try to answer the question. One of their observations was that animals who live in groups tend to be smarter than other animals. While ants and bees live in colonies, each animal exists solely for the purpose of supporting the group as a whole, and cannot exist alone. So that didn't really count. The groups with the most intelligent animals worked both with their own group, with other groups, and individually, with different purposes for each type of interaction.

Well, how does this relate to my dogs? Domestic dogs live in groups, or families, that include people. So, according to the show, even though chimps and bonobos might have bigger brains than dogs, and are genetically much closer to us, a dog's social intelligence may be more like our own. Dogs want to please people, and will learn and do things to make us happy, whereas a chimp isn't as motivated in that way.

Now take Kelly and Ike. I think they're both fairly intelligent dogs. Here are some proof of their intelligence:
They know many words and respond to requests.
They go find a specific toy if I ask for it ("Get your snowball toy Ike!")
They go to or jump up on objects I point to.
They remember things.
They understand schedules, to a degree.
They can solve problems--Kelly's a little better at this than Ike. But Ike doesn't care!

I've seen dogs a lot smarter than mine. And I've seen some a lot less bright. I've shared my home with some a lot less bright! (Brooks, the sweetest dog in the world, for one!) I think it's a combination of nature and nurture--what they're born with for brains, the experiences they get in the world. Training. Exposure to new sights and smells and objects. And their desire to learn.
Probably a lot like you and me.

What are some signs of your dog or cat's (or bird, bunny, turtle) intelligence?

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  1. My Hooman did an intelligence test for dogs she found in the hinterwebs, which I did really well at - tests with obstacles, etc.

    However, I do act like I am mentally challenged on occasion. Good to keep them on their toesies... :-)

  2. You sound like a very smart dog to me. After all, you read this blog! hehe. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi! And keep on keeping your people busy and happy!

  3. I'm smart. I do everything when I want
    Lily (& Edward)

  4. We love this one... I (Frankie Furter) admit that Ernie is actually sorta Bright... he is a FANGTASTIC Problem Solver.

  5. Foley Monster and PocketApril 28, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    River Song is very good at figuring things out and problem solving


Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!