Measuring your dog’s IQ

by Sarah on November 10, 2010 · 2 comments

When Ernie was a puppy I was convinced he was a baby genius, namely because potty training was a snap. Now that he’s 5, I’ve accepted that he’s no canine Einstein, though he is very biddable, meaning that he listens and tries to do what I tell him (most of the time).

My interest was piqued when I stumbled across this Canine IQ Test online, and last night I gave Ernie 5 of the 12 tests.

Test 1 (environmental learning): “When your dog looks at you, silently pick up your coat and key and the dog’s leash and then stop where you are, without moving toward the door.”

No doubt about it – my dogs love their walks. If I even think about taking them for a walk, they are at the door. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are looking expectantly at the door RIGHT NOW, even though I am 10 miles away.

If the dog runs to the door, or comes directly to you indicating some excitement or interest, score 5.

Test 2 (problem solving): “First, show the dog a bit of food and let him sniff it. Now pretend that you are some sort of silent movie actor, and with a great show put the tidbit on the ground and invert an empty can over it. Start the stopwatch and encourage the dog to get the bait.”

First of all, I didn’t feel like digging through the (outside) recycling bin for an empty can, so I used something we have in abundance around here – a drink coozie. Ernie was a little hesitant to really go for the treat – he kept nosing the coozie, then looking at me, then sitting down. I kept waiting for him to knock the coozie around with his paw, but he never did. He pushed the coozie around with his nosed until he finally knocked it over. He ate the treat so fast that I had to double check that he had even found it.

If the dog knocks the can out of the way and gets the tidbit in 30 seconds or less, score 3.

Test 4 (problem solving): “Make sure that the dog is awake and reasonably active, then let him sniff the towel. Now, with a quick, smooth motion, throw the towel over the dog’s head so that the head and front shoulders are completely covered. Start the stop watch and remain silent as you watch.”

I put blankets, toys, and other things on Ernie all the time. In fact, you can see that he is wearing a pair of underwear around his neck in these pictures (my futile attempt to shame him into not using his teeth to convert them from “full coverage” to “less-than-full coverage”). So I wasn’t expecting much out of Ernie on this trial. He just kind of sat there for a few seconds before tossing his head a few times so that he could see. He then sat there, looking at me, until I gave him an “all done.”

If the dog frees itself in 30 seconds or less, score 4.

Test 7 (short term memory): “Sit your dog in the center of the room. While the dog watches you, show him a desirable tidbit and even let him sniff it. Now, overact a bit (like a silent movie actor again), and with a great show (but no sound) place the bait in a corner, making sure that the dogs sees you put it down. Next, lead the dog out of the room, and walk around in a small circle, then bring him back to the center of the room. Leaving the room and returning to it should take no more than about 15 seconds. Slip the leash off of the dog and start the stopwatch.”

Ernie was really buying my acting skills. He watched very intently as I exaggeratedly placed the treat in the corner (please note – we are moving and have no furniture in the front room, hence the bare look of the house). We went for a quick circle around the kitchen and then back into the living room, where he went immediately to the corner and snapped up the treat. I’m not quite sure why he looked so guilty.

If the dog goes directly to the bait score 5.

Test 8 (long term memory): “The set up of this test is identical to that of Test 7. Make sure, however, that when you place the tidbit that you are putting it in a different corner than the one you used for the short term memory test. Now take the dog out of the room, start the stopwatch, and keep the dog out of the room for 5 minutes. After this time, return the dog to the center of the room, slip the leash off, and reset and restart the stopwatch.”

I was pretty surprised when Ernie went right to the treat hidden in the corner, as we were in the middle of a pretty intense game of tug-o’-war when the 5 minute timer went off. It may have helped that I made him sit in the middle of the room before releasing him – perhaps that helped him refocus? Either way, he made a bee-line for the new corner and got the treat.

If the dog goes directly to the bait score 5.

I’m pretty impressed with Ernie’s performance on these tests, although I have to admit I chose the 5 tests which I suspected would be easiest for him. I won’t be changing his name to Einstein any time soon, but he’s no mental slouch, either!

How about your dog? You can find the full test here – I’d love to hear about you and your dog’s scores!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 laura November 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Can you come watch Gracie while I put George through the tests? I can imagine trying to test them together. LOL.
And go, Ernie! You can tell he is bright by the look in his eye. What a sweet boy, too!

2 Two Pitties in the City November 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Miss M is so treat motivated these were all super-easy for her. Though when we threw a blanket on Mr B he just kind of sat there and eventually lay down under it. He may not be smart, but at least this allows us to dress him up in different costumes.

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