The average dog can easily learn 165 words, while the smartest dogs know around 250 words, which puts our canine friends at the same vocabulary level of a 2 – 3 year old child. Even dogs at the low end of the most intelligent dog list are far from being dumb. All dogs have the potential to learn, if the person working with them has the time, patience, and commitment to teach. Dog intelligence is measured by instinctive, adaptive, and obedience intelligence, according to Dr. Stanley Coren. But canines have a social intelligence, as well. Compared to other animals, dogs are among the smartest.
Intelligence, human or animal, is determined by the ability to learn, think, and problem solve. The top ten smartest dog breeds can learn new things in the fewest number of repetitions, and the breed in the number one spot, the Border Collie, takes only 2 or 3 repetitions to learn. Instinctive intelligence is the innate smarts needed to do the job a dog was bred to do. Border Collies are world class herders, and free thinkers who can problem solve to get the job done. The Afghan Hound, known as “the dog of Noah’s Ark,” is perhaps the oldest dog breed. His reputation as a scent hound and hunter is well documented, but the Afghan sits at the bottom on the smartest breeds list because it takes many repetitions for this independent thinking dog to catch on. Regardless of where a dog is at on the most intelligent breed list, no dog is dumb. You have to find out what motivates a dog to learn, but they all can learn, as long as you use positive training methods. You can’t teach a dog or a child if you can’t get his/her attention.
This is what dogs are able to learn by themselves. A lot of breeds are free thinkers, which means they look for ways to make their job easier. They learn from their environment, by observing other animals, and watching us. All dogs have the ability to adapt to their environment and problem solve to get things they want. Dogs are good at finding ways to escape their enclosure, use short cuts that gets them to where they want to go faster, or figure out how to manipulate their owner. Average dogs are able to alert their family to a fire in the home and lead everyone to safety. Dogs that were never trained in search and rescue have found missing people lost in the woods. Some dogs learn on their own how to open doors, or climb a ladder.
All dogs should know basic commands that allow their owner to keep them under control and safe. The obedience and working intelligence is what we can teach a dog to do. Border Collies work using their prey drive. An untrained dog has the instinctive intelligence to manage a flock of sheep, but he doesn’t know how to do it unless his owner teaches him to do his job without harming the sheep. Active dogs who participate in dog sports need to learn the skills associated with a sport, and learn to follow directions from their owner. If you find out what motivates your dog to learn, stay patient, committed, positive, and make training fun – he will learn what you want to teach him.
Socialization is essential to having a well balanced and happy pet that isn’t a danger to other people or pets. Social intelligence is how dogs communicate and cooperate with others. It’s our responsibility to make sure our dogs experience different environments, people of all ages, other dogs, cats, and sounds to develop their social intelligence. The knowledge dogs have of body language is far better than ours, and they can read other dogs, and us, with an expert eye. Researchers have found dogs try to fool other dogs and us on purpose to get something they want. When playing with a dog, we are successful 47 percent of the time at fooling them, and canines succeed at fooling us 41 percent of the time.
How can you make your dog smarter
Provide lots of mental stimulation. Talk to your dog on a daily basis and teach him the meaning of new words. When you’re ready to take him outside, tell him outside so he learns what it means. If you are going to the kitchen or upstairs, say kitchen or upstairs. Play games, give your dog interactive toys, go for a walk around the neighborhood or on a trail to give your dog a chance to find some intriguing smells, or hide treats around the backyard or inside the house for some tasty mental stimulation. Teach him agility, or another dog sports. Even learning basic commands helps to make your dog smarter. Dogs pay close attention to what we say and do. They know what’s going on in their environment and learn by observing. Boost your dog’s intelligence by giving him quality time interacting with people he loves and wants to be with. Besides, exercise that stimulates the mind and body is healthy for dogs and humans.
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