Intelligence tests for your dog

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dr. coren
Dr. Stanley Coren has devised a way to test your dog's intelligence
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Even if your dog is IQ challenged, he is still a wonderful asset to your world

Face it: Some dogs are really smart whereas others are dumber than a post. Who knows why? In-breeding? Lack of nutrition while in utero? His specific breed? We love our pooches, no matter how smart or dumb they are but, of course, just like with our kids, we are hoping for a brilliant, talented animal that can proudly strut his stuff in the neighborhood.

There are intelligence tests for dogs that you can give your pooch to find out what his IQ is. After putting your dog through the drill you can then decide if he should apply to Doggie Harvard or remain camped out on the living room floor, on his back, snoring, with his legs extended straight into the air.

These tests will tell you about the ability of your dog to understand language, solve problems and learn social cues, such as responding to a person who is smiling. This is called adaptive intelligence.

Your dog must be at least 12 months old before he can take this test. He should be your dog and have lived with your for a minimum of a quarter of a year. Present the intelligence tests for dogs as if they are a game. You, the tester, should not raise your voice; do not get over-excited or get mad. Stay calm.

There are six tests, which you can do at one time or separately. You can give the tests in any order. Most of these tests consist of a food reward so you might want to split up the testing sessions to avoid stuffing your dog, which will make him sleepy and uncooperative. If his belly is too full, it will have an affect on his performance and motivation and his ultimate IQ score.

There tests were created by Dr. Stanley Coren, who is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. He is an authority on dog intelligence as well as a prize-winning dog trainer, so he knows what he is talking about.

To test the ability of your dog to solve a problem, tell your dog to sit. If he will not cooperate, have someone hold him by the collar. Show your dog some food, such as cheese, that you are holding in your hand. Let him sniff the cheese. Slowly place the item on the ground a few feet away from your dog. He must be paying attention while you do this. Take an empty can and invert it, placing it over the cheese. Use a stop watch and time how long it takes your dog to overturn the can and get to the cheese. Encourage him verbally to find the cheese.

Let us call your dog Hercules. If Hercules knocks the can over and retrieves the food in five seconds or less he gets five points. If he is slower and it takes him between five and 15 seconds to get the cheese, give him four points. If it takes 15 to 30 seconds, award him three points. If he is really dragging and it takes him 30 to 60 seconds, give him two points. If Hercules is recalcitrant and merely sniffs at the overturned can but does not move it and retrieve the cheese he only gets one point.

To determine how clever your dog is when it comes to moving objects, tell Hercules to stay or have someone hold him in place. Show him some food. Cover the food with a towel and encourage him to get the food. Time him.  If he retrieves the food in less than 15 seconds, he gets five points. If it takes him 15 seconds to a half minute, he gets four points. If it requires 30 seconds to a minute for Hercules to uncover the food, award him three points. If he attempts to uncover the food but gives up, give him two points. If he does not move at all within two minutes, he gets one point.


Another way to test the ability of your dog to resolve problems is to let him sniff a towel and then throw the towel over his head. Start your stopwatch and see how long it takes him to free himself. He gets five points if it takes five seconds or less; four points if it takes five to 15 seconds; three points if it takes him 15 or 30 seconds to free himself; two points if he is lagging and it takes him a half minute to a minute and one point if he has not managed to free himself after a minute.

Now to test the social learning abilities of your pooch all you have to do is smile. Your dog should be sitting several feet from you. Do not instruct him to sit or stay. Look into his face and when he looks at you, silently count to three and then give him a big smile. If your dog makes a beeline to you with his tail waging, he gets five points; if he slowly moves toward you or comes part of the way, but his tail is not wagging, give him four points; if he rises to a sitting position or stands but does not come to you, give him three points; if he moves away from you, he gets two points. If he pays virtually no attention to you and your smile, give him one point.

To determine the ability of your dog to manipulate and problem solve, this will require a table that is low enough to prevent the head of your dog from getting under it but high enough off of the ground that he can get his paw underneath the table. Show your dog a piece of food or a dog biscuit. Let him sniff it and, when he is paying attention, put the piece of food under the table far enough away from the edge that he will have to use his paws to retrieve it.  Encourage your dog to retrieve the food. Time how long it takes to get a response out of your dog.

If your dog uses his paw to retrieve the food in a minute or less he gets five points. If it takes him one to three minutes to do so, give him four points. If your dog utilizes his muzzle, and not his paws, and cannot get the food or if he uses his paws but still cannot get the food after three minutes, give him three points. If he simply sniffs and makes a couple of feeble attempts with his muzzle to retrieve the food but does not use his paws at all give him two points. If he makes virtually no attempt after three minutes, he gets one point.

To test the language comprehension of your canine, you must say the words refrigerator and movies as if you were saying the name of your dog, using the same exact tone that you use when calling your pooch. Your dog should be several feet away from you when you say the word refrigerator. If he shows a response as if he is going to come to you, give him three points. If he does not move, say the word movies in the same tone and if he comes to you give him two points. If your dog does not respond at all, call out his name. If he comes to you or shows a tendency to move toward you, give him five points.  If he does not respond, call his name a second time. If he starts to move toward you, give him four points. If he refuses to budge, he gets one point.

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Add up the score. If your dog has more than 25 points, he is brilliant. If he has 15 to 25 points he will probably do well on his SATs but will not make it into Harvard. If pooch has between 5 and 15 points, he is not very smart. If he has a score of less than five points, well, just love him a lot. Who needs Einstein for a dog?

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