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Is Your Dog Clever?
Topic Started: 25 Mar 2013, 11:27 (1,002 Views)
muttlover
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A simple question. And also how do you decide if they are or aren't. I'd say my dog is very clever. But that is largely due to his need to work with you and the way he picks up words. And that's without me being good at training or anything. My childhood dog was not clever and could spend considerable amounts of time trying to get a biscuit through the back of a chair when it was put on the seat. :rofl:

BUT my childhood dog could open doors and was more independent and could think for himself a bit. My current dog doesn't really try to do anything or use his brain in an out-of-the-box sort of way and can be a little stressed if you ask him to trainingwise although this is better these days. He would NEVER EVER choose to go off on his own and I can imagine would be terribly stressed if he was. So I don't think his sort of cleverness would be at all helpful in the wild or if he had to survive. Oh the other hand we've occasionally got lost and he has shown us the way. So that's impressive.

Is your dog clever? In what way and would their cleverness help them in a survival situation?
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Hazel
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Very clever! can look at something at work it out, and will also watch another dog and copy.
An example - was doing a HTM training day with Tilly, and had various props. One was a box for the dog to sit in, Tilly has never been asked to get in a box before. She had watched a couple of other get in it and when she had a a go first thing she did was put her foot on it, which got a click, the next thing she did was get in it! How did she know to do that?
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BrackenMc
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Mine are all very clever if it involves food.
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PointerfaceandCrazydog
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I think what you’ve described in B is quite typical border collie behaviour from what I’ve witnessed at countless training classes and at agility shows. I think BCs are very smart and it’s their innate need to work with their handlers and ‘focus’ that make them so successful, but also it does seem that a fair few are so focussed that they(some of, not all!) sometimes struggle with general independent thought/action because they obsess about things and can be neurotic about it (?).

I know that being an ABC handler I really struggle with some of the things that others don’t struggle with in their collies (focus… distractions…squirrels…food in the audience…. pigheadedness) which always sets us at a disadvantage. BUT Oscar being a breed that needs to use its brain independently as well as respond to a handler to do his job, does some things better than the collies. He learns fast, really fast, which is quite a mismatch with how goofy he looks! He also likes to anticipate things more than other dogs, and think ahead – which often means we get things wrong as he goes off on one(the wrong one) but the whole time he is looking at me like ‘is this right?’ and there’s no deliberate being naughty in it, he just wants to see what happens. There are times when he will come up with a solution to what he thinks we should be doing that has even our trainer scratching his head and saying ‘How on earth did he get to that?!’ so he is definitely a ‘challenge’ but a well-meaning one. He suffers from ‘overenthusiasm’ I think!

Oscar is awesome at stuff like freeshaping, he will offer one thing after another and build on it quickly. When he does have the right focus he is a delight to handle, but it’s just so inconsistent – some days he just wants to run in the flowers and look for squirrels instead of ‘work’. If I could add a bit of collie focus into him I think he’d do very well… but then I guess he wouldn’t be the loopy pointer I adore :rolleyes:

Simba falls into the border collie type thinking, she is responsive to my commands but she simply cannot think for herself at time (if she does, she makes the wrong decisions). She will repeat a behaviour she has learned endlessly for a treat, expecting the same results. She doesn’t always ‘get it’ if I want to escalate the behaviour into a chain of actions. She will sit and focus/stare at me intently when we are training, and do her absolute best to get it right but unless I am prescriptive in what I am asking she won’t figure things out on her own.

She also obsesses neurotically about things and will backchain her negative associations in quite an impressive fashion, which shows an impressive amount of brain, but used in the wrong way. I certainly think much of it is confidence in Simba though, due to her nerve problems. She is much better than she used to be at least.
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Beaky
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No :laugh:

I think intelligence is relative really. Sasha has got the most amazing agility. She can balance herself on or over anything - she has more get up and go than a lot of dogs a fraction of her age and is also a great copier - I often show her and she copies. She watches other dogs too. She is amazing with her nose - if her temperament had been better she would have made an incredible sniffer dog.

Independent thinker she is not. She cannot seem to grasp the concept of offering behaviours. She will sit outside the back door until the end of time, even if she is freezing before she works out if she barks we'll let her back in. She is fantastically food motivated, yet if you put a biscuit within sight and relatively easy reach she will just sit and stare for hours. She also has zero focus or drive. The reason it took us so long to get a clear round in agility is because she just couldn't focus for that long. Once we'd cracked that she has become the most amazing dog, winning up to grade 3, and qualifying and competing in the national finals and national rescue dog finals this year. No mean feat for a simple dog with her history. But the focus and drive of her fellow grade and class dogs she does not have.

So classically no, Sasha is about as dumb as they come but that famous quote by Einstein says “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” which I think says a lot about how we judge intelligence.
Edited by Beaky, 25 Mar 2013, 18:27.
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Yantan
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My Archie is clever. He can and does work things out. I got him one of those brain trainer games for Christmas - the ones where he has to solve puzzles in order to get a hidden treat. He had it off pat in seconds!

He can bring you specific toys on request.

At his KC Good Citizen classes the trainer was always borrowing him to show the other owners and dogs what was required. We started getting embarrassed at the amount of prizes he was winning for being the class star.

We have a regular dog-walker and a stand-in one. When they first started walking Archie they both commented on how well behaved he was. The stand-in DW actually said "he's the best behaved dog I've ever walked and he understands every word you say to him".

My old dog, George (now at the Bridge) was the complete opposite and was as thick as two short planks. He'd stand at the other side of a door from me waiting for me to open it rather than alerting me in some way to the fact that he was there! To be fair to him though when it came to getting food his brain certainly kicked in to gear.
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gsdsian
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Rhomi was one of the cleverest dogs I've met. She taught herself to turn keys in the lock (and shut Buster out in the rain).

As well as being able to think independently and work things out for herself she was willing to please and worked with me. Alerting me to changes in my health, fetching my phone/keys, finding people if I asked for them by name.

She was easily trained but was in many ways a steady dog. I described her as my 4 x 4 whereas Mabon would be closer to a ferrari.

I thought Rocket was clever but as time has gone on I just think he's willing to please. He's not daft by any stretch of the imagination and he can be quite systematic.


Mabon is on his own. :rofl: He's very very smart but problem solves at warp factor 8. But I wonder how much of that is down to the fact that for the first 6 months of his life he was allowed to entertain himself and do what he wanted with little input from people.
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muttlover
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This is fascinating. I thought it was a simple question but obviously isn't. And I wonder how much it's breed and how much background.

"She will sit and focus/stare at me intently when we are training, and do her absolute best to get it right but unless I am prescriptive in what I am asking she won’t figure things out on her own.

She also obsesses neurotically about things and will backchain her negative associations in quite an impressive fashion, which shows an impressive amount of brain, but used in the wrong way. I certainly think much of it is confidence in Simba though, due to her nerve problems"

I remember you saying this sort of thing about Simba and it does remind me of B - but also he backtracks and associates if it comes to his fears. He also thinks in certain ways. Like he waits at the window for OH to come home at the right sort of time but isn't upset if OH is late as he often is. But the other day - fireworks went off. And then OH was late and B was obviously quite concerned about this and went to the door all the time and was jumping up at the slightest noise and then went and lay by the door to wait and gave OH a massive greeting. So I just got the impression he decided outside was dangerous cos of the fireworks and he was concerned about OH being late in those conditions which I thought showed quite a lot of thinking going on.

I think, like SImba, he doesn't offer stuff out of underconfidence sometimes and also because he's too obsessed and focussed on a narrow range of things and also because he waits for instruction. He likes to know what to do. My OH said something interesting. B loves to play with a torch or shadow but he is not like dogs who have shadowchasing problems - he knows it is something you are doing and he looks to check that you are. In the evenings we sometimes take him out with a torch and run him in a field a bit like lunging a horse. My OH said it's like B just loves to go with it and be controlled whilst running like that. I suppose it's a bit like the idea of a shepherd controlling the movement - and he loves wide circling motions with you controlling it with the torch. I imagine it must feel like being in the zone like playing a computer game or one of those computer dance games or something. He obviously get an awful lot of pleasure out of this and maybe his brain has been developed to be like that as a working shepherding type dog.
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muttlover
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He is rubbish at freeshaping and has no stamina for offering things. when I got him a treat ball he lay down and gave up almost immediately. All this is so curious from an obviously intelligent dog. Is that underconfidence?
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katenjasper
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Lucy had you think she was the dumb bimbo playing on her looks to get her through life but she was really cleaver, strong willed, would do her own thing but she trained the foster pups to fend for her and bring her things. if she wanted it she found a way to get it, she ate through more treat bags by sitting next to vunrable dog trainers acting all perfect only for them to find that their treat bags had been raided and she always made it look like it was some one else!
she trained us better than we could train her and she could always open the door, and even though our garden was 100% dog proof she could always find her way into my dads highly prized veg patch!

jasper is cleaver in a sensitive way he is the perfect dog in lots of ways ( minus the reactivity to dogs) so trainable and quick to learn you only need to show him something a couple of times and he has mastered it but he is the type of dog who needs lots of reasurrance he trains to please but doesnt use his skills independently or for his own gain.
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jackied
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What you say about Simba is summarised in Twix's motto: "never forget, never forgive" !

Twix has so much collie brain, very very quick to learn, very focused, particularly focused on me. He will experiment with free shaping though, he loves that.

Lucy is far better at emotional intelligence, keeping everybody firmly under her little paw. She manipulates Twix like a puppet, ditto humans. She is quite independent like Oscar, a bit too independent sometimes, but is not good at free shaping as she gets impatient and loses her cool when she can't work out what to do.
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Hellsbells71
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I have a male Staffie he has to be bottom of the pile when brains were given out, he is my angel but he is so thick. He learns only be repetition so was very good at obedience but I had to show him and show him and then once he got it he doesn't forget but he can't think for himself.
I also have a female Staffie, she was slightly higher up the pecking order for brains but not by much, she is just more cunning and sly especially when it comes to food or annoying her brother.
The long and short is that they will never compete with Collies in the brains department but thankfully they are about as loving as you can get :)
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BrackenMc
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I find this such an interesting thread and wish I knew how to track it.

Having said my dogs are only clever if it involves food, this is not quite so. Our old boy has been diagnosed with quite bad heart problems and is on medication. On our third visit to the vet he upped the diuretic dose which goes hand-in-hand with the heart meds. I had got the original pills down pat, but could not remember the extra lunchtime dose. I set the alarm on my phone and after it having only been used twice he was in the kitchen before me waiting for his meds. This could be associated with the fact that he has his meds hidden in soft cheese. :laugh: He also learned after only a couple of days that he had extra things to do at supper time and got his cheese treat with meds hidden inside.
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PointerfaceandCrazydog
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It is fascinating and I don't think it's as simple as clever/dumb

Shabba Staffy was thick as two short planks but I think it was that which made her so lovely and 'easy'. She didn't get the point of doing things to get rewards, I remember attempting to teach her some agility and she just drooled at the treat and bashed through every jump grinning at me (Why go over when you can bulldoze through?)

Simba's backchaining of negative things can be quite frustrating at times. Probably the best example of it is her bike phobia which escalated to panic attacks very quickly and then caused a fear of the place the bike scared her, which got worse and worse to the point she wouldn't even get out of the car if we went to that park and would wet herself if I asked her to. All from one bike's brakes squeaking as it stopped near us. Quite impressive really.

Yet when we got her a treat ball I had to crawl around on the floor with her holding her paw and showing her how to move it, then encouraging her to use her nose. Which she then eventually did and got totally obsessed with said treat ball - until it got stuck in corners when she would just squeak and stare at it pathetically. I had to then instruct her (holding her paw) on how she could hook it out of the corner. No initiative/self-confidence whatsoever.

Oscar had the same treat ball and just chewed a hole in it and scoffed the treats :rolleyes:
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emm19
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Our first boy, Jake - a sprollie, was very clever. One of our games was for me to show him a treat next to the living room door, shut the door and then hide the treat before opening the door and saying 'Find, Jakey!' He would then hunt for the treat until he found it. Every other dog I've owned simply just looked at me for the treat when I tried it with them. My one regret with him was that we didn't do any agility or obedience with him because he was a bright dog. Roscoe who we have now is reasonably bright, Maisie our terrier is actually not too bad for a terrier, but is very food orientated. She started running off on walks, and within one walk we had it this licked when I said 'Maisie - here!' and gave her treat when she came. Those treat dispensing balls are a godsend as they keep our two quiet for ages, but the terrier we lost a while back simply wasn't bright enough to realise you had to nudge the ball to make the treat fall out and just stared at it :)
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woofgang
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yes I think that my dogs are clever. They are very good at communicating what they want to me and very good at understanding what I want them to do, also at communicating with other people who they see often.
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littlenutters
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Intelligence is a tough one with dogs and I often ponder what makes an intelligent dog.

Having sighthounds things are very different to what people see as your intelligent breeds e.g collies. Like Mel's Oscar, mine have all been very independent thinkers and will do things for themselves.

Tallulah (greyhound) was brighter than some greyhounds but almost used it for her own amusement. If Muppet was on the sofa she would run outside and bark knowing full well he would chase out after her. She would then let him pass her and run back to the sofa and claim it as her own. :taunt: I also remember at training classes she would do everything I asked but very slowly and calmly with what seemed no motivation.

Muppet was too clever for a greyhound. Very trainable and caught on quickly with oodles of enthusiasm. He even taught himself to open doors and stair gates. Sadly I think parts of his brain were cleverer than others and so he made strange connections and associations. :rolleyes: He was still one of the brightest greys I have ever known and with a real desire to please.

Kevin (another greyhound) is just hilarious and I often wonder what is going on up there. He took nearly two months to respond to his name or anything else really. He doesn't seem to understand the point in trying. If a Kong is too much work then be will leave it, if a door is ajar he will not push it or even try to get through it is it means he touches the door. He will cry and cry for someone to let him through and will never attempt it. :doh: There is a real sense with Kevin that he just cannot be bothered!

Florence is proving to be one of the brightest dogs I have ever had and is easily outwitting us on many occasions. She is neurotic too which makes for infesting combination but she learns fast and really does want to please despite being a brat.

Nelly who has some collie in her is also a bright girl but seems to learn a lot from watching. She sits for treats because Florence does and not because we asked her too. It is interesting watching her figure things out and then trying it for herself. :love:

I could talk all day about them all as I love watching them. This thread is so interesting though. :)
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