Lately at Casa de Emma we have been doing a lot of contemplating on the subject of dog intelligence. What exactly makes up a smart dog? Is it a dog that can pick up toys, a dog that can sit and stay for like two days, a dog that can find a duck its human shot down? With my little sister Bailie possibly flunking out of Obedience 1, yet excelling in Nose Work we are delving into this subject.
- Human – Mom, very independent type, stubborn, hated school, said it was boring, skipped as much as she could but managed to get good grades, caused her mom lots of stress growing up because of her independent nature
- Kuvasz – Katie, large dog, bred to work independent of humans, guard dog, extremely stubborn, caused Mom lots of stress when she was a puppy refusing to do what Mom wanted her to do
- GBGV – Bailie and I, very stubborn, independent thinkers, excellent hunters, clown like behavior, not as frustrating as a Kuvasz, but still bring Mom to the edge now and then
What do we see here as common threads? Stubborn and independent seem to stick out which is why we all get along so well. We understand each other quite well. Mom says she really wouldn’t want a super obedient dog because it would bore her, although there are days where she does rethink that statement. None of us are super obedient but we know when Mom says a command and means it, we better do it.
Everyone says dogs that can do all those tricks and obedience moves are just so smart, but are they smarter than other dogs? Is following commands the only way to show intelligence? If you open the back door, I smell a wabbit, run out to the other side of the yard, catch it, kill it, and bring it back to Mom in less than a minute, is that smart? Katie can guard anything she chooses to without being told, is that intelligence? Learning commands is something dogs that have the strong instinct to please their human excel at, is that intelligence or instinct? The three of us love to see Mom happy, but we are all very independent and prefer to consider our options before just obeying a command. I can’t imagine a day where making Mom happy would come before catching a squirrel.
Last week at nose work, Bailie showed off some of her intelligence. We were kenneled as usual waiting our turns. It was my turn, so I went to the course with Mom and left Bailie locked in the kennel. This time, we did not hear Bailie crying. We did hear lot of commotion. Guess what? Within thirty seconds of Mom and I leaving the kennel, Bailie went to the end by the door, grabbed it with her mouth, opened it and walked out. One of the dog dads saw her do it and said it was like she had been doing it her whole life. Keep in mind this was her first time ever in this kennel and she had been in and out of it for less than an hour. Now, does that make her intelligent? Mom still can’t believe it because she had a heck of a time opening and closing the door with her two hands!
We hear so much these days about these “super intelligent” breeds that can do a million things on command, but don’t forget that almost every dog is smart in their own way. It would be like saying only humans with PhD’s are intelligent. There are plenty of super intelligent humans that have never even gotten a college degree. On that thought, we are just going to hope that Bailie can manage to pass her class on Feb. 3, but if not, she will excel at being a class clown, an escape artist and a nose work hound! We will still love her to death and that will be the end of Obedience class for her either way! Mom is sick of Obedience School as well and we want to concentrate on more fun classes. What do you think defines intelligence in dogs?