Advice: How do I tell if my dog is intelligent?


Dear Beerhaze,

How do I tell if my dog is intelligent? Everyone (even mom and dad) say my dog is stupid. I don’t think he is! He doesn’t know any tricks or anything, and he’s not great on the leash, but he was never trained to do anything!

I don’t know how to train a dog and my mom and dad don’t care. He waits for me when I get home from school and he comes to me when I’m sad.

Dear Celestial Wind Chime,

So, what’s the problem?

A dog being able to perform party tricks is not necessarily a sign of intelligence. How quickly they learned the trick probably is (disregarding the skill of the trainer). You can teach anyone and anything to do as you wish with rewards. A good trainer would be able to figure out how well-adjusted, and intelligent, your dog is, when training him but what does it matter right now?

You say your dog has never been trained to do anything… Well, why don’t you start then? It’s never too late! There are books that teach you how to train a dog. Train him because it’s good for everyone and your dog ends up being better behaved, and he gets to exercise his brain.

Your dog waiting for you could be a sign of boredom or that he’s starving… as well as intelligence. A dog sensing, hearing, seeing and smelling your mood is not unique. Many mammals can sense the emotions/reactions of other mammals.

There is not one dog on the planet that has passed pre-kindergarten math… Hmmm, so perhaps our human perception of “intelligence” doesn’t really fit dogs and other mammals.

How to tell if your dog is intelligent according to me:

  1. If a kid falls down an abandoned well – your dog will pretend it didn’t push it down there.
  2. When your uncle takes off his shoes - your dog will not attempt to clean his feet.
  3. A machete-wielding burglar comes in to your house – your dog will hide until the coast is clear.
  4. Your new girlfriend comes for a visit – your dog tries not to make slurping sounds when cleaning his balls.
  5. Another dog brings yours a cookie – your dog will eat the cookie and not the other dog’s butt.
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