What's Your Dog's I.Q?

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 02 Mar, 2014

Original article by Laura Drucker,  Tails Magazine

We all like to think our puppy’s the smartest, but did you know that you can actually test your dog’s I.Q.?

Like any I.Q. test, the one for dogs is not entirely conclusive—some dogs excel in certain areas and stumble a bit in others. Nor does a high I.Q. mean your puppy is off to MENSA, or that you should feel any differently towards him if he tests low. I.Q. testing for dogs is simply one of many ways to learn more about your pup and his abilities.

The best time to test your dog’s I.Q. is around the 1-year-old mark. By this time, cognitive development should be complete. Remember that as far as analysis of the results goes, it’s more telling to compare within your dog’s own breed—different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses that should be accounted for.

Also keep in mind that factors other than intelligence—such as confidence, previous experience, stubbornness, and activity level—can play in to how your puppy does. Under-stimulated puppies will not perform as well.

So, ready to try it out?

In The Intelligence of Dogs, professor of psychology (albeit human) Stanley Coren lays out an multi-part test (the number in the parentheses is the amount of points awarded):

1. Problem Solving

Place a treat under an empty soup can.

(5) Dog gets treat in 0-5 seconds
(4) Dog gets treat in 6-15 seconds
(3) Dog gets treat in 16-30 seconds
(2) Dog gets treat in 31-60 seconds
(1) Dog tries to get treat and fails
(0) Dog shows no interest

2. Problem Solving

Quickly throw a large towel over your dog’s head and shoulders.

(5) Dog gets free in 0-15 seconds
(4) Dog gets free in 16-30 seconds
(3) Dog gets free in 31-60 seconds
(2) Dog gets free in 1-2 minutes
(1) Dog doesn’t get free within 2 minutes

3. Problem Solving

Place a treat under a small towel.

(5) Dog gets treat in 0-15 seconds
(4) Dog gets treat in 16-30 seconds
(3) Dog gets treat in 31-60 seconds
(2) Dog gets treat in 1-2 minutes
(1) Dog tries to get treat and fails
(0) Dog shows no interest

4. Short-Term Memory

Let your dog see you place a treat in the corner of the room, then turn him loose.

(5) Dog goes straight to the treat
(4) Dog searches systematically and finds the treat
(3) Dog searches randomly but finds treat in under 45 seconds
(2) Dog searches but fails to find treat
(1) Dog shows no interest

5. Long-Term Memory

Let your dog see you place a treat in the corner of the room (a different corner than the one you used in test 4), remove him from the room for 5 minutes, play with him, return, and then turn him loose.

(5) Dog goes straight to treat
(4) Dog goes to the corner from test 4, then the correct corner
(3) Dog searches systematically and finds treat
(2) Dog searches randomly but finds treat in under 45 second
(1) Dog searches but fails to find treat
(0) Dog shows no interest

6. Problem Solving and Manipulation

Place treat under a low platform, make sure your dog can still reach the treat with his mouth.

(5) Dog gets treat in under 1 minute
(4) Dog gets treat in 1-3 minutes
(3) Dog uses paws and muzzle but fails to get treat
(2) Dog uses muzzle only a few times and gives up
(1) Dog doesn’t try to get treat

7. Problem Solving

Show your dog a treat through a slit in a large cardboard barricade (he should not be able to get the treat through the slit). Encourage him to get the treat.

(5) Dog goes around barrier in 0-15 seconds
(4) Dog goes around barrier in 16-30 seconds
(3) Dog goes around barrier in 31-60 seconds
[Stop encouraging him after 1 minute]
(2) Dog goes around barrier in 1-2 minutes
(1) Dog tries to reach through slit and gives up
(0) Dog shows no interest

At the end, total how many points your dog got. Coren suggests interpreting the results as follows:

30-35: Genius
26-29: Highly Intelligent
22-25: Above Average Intelligence
16-21: Average Intelligence
12-15: Slightly Below Average Intelligence
8-11: Borderline
0-7: Deficient

No matter where your dog ends up scoring, don’t take the test too seriously! I.Q. tests—human or canine—are naturally flawed for their inability to encapsulate all the unique characteristics of the test-taker. If you decide to try it out, just have fun with it; I’m sure your dog will enjoy the extra treats!

Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

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Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

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By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine

When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.

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