Some standard tests
Below are some tests that you can do with your dog, as well as a scoring system to keep track of intelligence. Don’t necessarily try to do these tests all in one day – your dog may become overwhelmed and not understand why you’re sending them through all these strange and bizarre actions. And the most important thing – don’t be negative! Make these tests fun for your dog – treat them like games! And always – no matter how high or low they score – give them lots of love and positive attention afterwards.
Take a large towel or blanket and gently place it over your dog’s head.
If he frees himself from the towel in less than 15 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes 15-30 seconds, 2 points. Longer than 30 seconds earns 1 point.
Place a dog treat or a favorite toy under one of three buckets placed next to each other. Let the dog know which bucket the treat is under, than turn the dog away for a few seconds. Then, let her find the treat. If she immediately goes to the correct bucket give her 3 points. If she takes two attempts, score 2 points. If your dog looks under the other two buckets first, score 1 point.
With your dog out of the room, rearrange the furniture. When he re-enters the room, if he goes directly to his favorite spot give him 3 points. If it takes him 30 seconds to investigate before he finds his spot, give him 2 points. If he decides on a new area completely, score 1 point.
Place a treat under a table or chair low enough so your dog can only fit her paw and cannot fit her head. If your dog figures how to reach the treat within one minute, score 3 points. If she uses her paws and nose, score 2 points. If your dog gives up, score 1 point.
Go for a walk!
On a day or time you normally don’t walk your dog, quietly pick up your keys, and his leash while he’s watching you. If he gets excited immediately, score 3 points. If you have to walk to the door before he knows it’s time to go out, score 2 points. If he sits and just looks confused give him 1 point.
Construct a barrier from cardboard that is 5 feet wide and taller than your dog when she’s on two legs, so she can’t see over it. Attach two boxes to either side as support structures. In the center of the cardboard, cut a 3 inch-wide rectangular aperture – it should run from about 4 inches from the top to about 4 inches from the bottom. (This way, the dog can see through the barrier but cannot physically get through.) Toss a toy or treat to the other side of the barrier, or have someone stand on the other side. If your dog walks around the barrier within 30 seconds, give her 3 points. If she goes around the barrier between 30 seconds and one minute, give 2 points. If she gets her head stuck in the aperture trying to get through, give her 1 point for effort!
Scoring and results
16 points or higher – Brilliant!
13 to 16 points – Well above average
9 to twelve points – Average
5 to 8 points – Below average
1 to 4 points – Not the brightest kibble in the bag, but we still love ‘em!
This testing can be fun, and can give you a general idea about your dog’s intelligence, but wise pet owners maintain their own criteria. Your dog may not win the Nobel Prize, or even first place at a dog trial – he may even lose his favorite ball once in awhile – but when it comes to making us happy and feel good, most of our pets are just downright brilliant!