Take the test: Is your dog a genius?


If you have a dog, chances are you think it's the greatest. But is it the smartest? That's one of the things a new test can figure out.

A doctor and animal behavior specialist in North Carolina has created Dognition -- a website that includes a series of interactive games to play with your dog.

Depending on how your pet performs in them, the site assigns your dog a profile, and grades their empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning.

As someone who thinks very highly of her dogs, KHQ's resident canine correspondent Claire Graham put her two dogs Promo and Static to the test.

Going into things, the general prediction was that Promo would be the smarter of the two dogs, but we didn't think Static would do too badly.

In one game, we put two treats on the ground and told the dogs which one to eat, to test whether they take the instruction.

In another game, we put a treat behind a cup, and switched it when the dogs weren't looking. Then we see if they use their memory or sense of smell to find the treat.

We'll come back to their results.

To better understand this quest for canine cunning -- and why it matters -- we headed over to Diamonds in the Ruff in north Spokane to talk with the owner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and pet behavior expert Carol Byrnes.

Our first question: Does your dog's intelligence have a direct effect on how good of a pet it'll be?

"Dogs who are not as um, brilliant a problem solver," Byrnes replied, "can be less problematic."

Wait... What? Did we hear her correctly?

"The problem solvers are the ones who get out of the yard, into the cupboards and into things they shouldn't. So the dog who's kind of slower and along for the ride, can be the simpler dog to own."

So with that boost of confidence, we went back to our test results.

Promo was deemed a socialite. Dognition ranks his empathy score as off the charts, and says his genius comes in how he communicates.

Static was a stargazer. But not only does the profile say there's more to the stargazer than meets the eye, it says Static's unique genius lies in the mix of strategies that he uses to approach daily life.

So while Claire's boys might not be winning any intelligence awards, there's really no reason to complain.

"If you want a friend to go for a walk with, they don't need giant brains," Byrnes told us. "They need to be happy to be with you."

And in that regard, they're certainly the best.

While the Dognition test did cost $20 per dog, there are a few ways you can still measure your dog's intelligence without shelling out the cash. We're posted some tests below 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 afterward.

Towel test:

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.

Bucket test:

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.

Favorite spot:

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.

Chair puzzle:

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.

Barrier test:

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 12 points - Average

5 to 8 points - Below average

1 to 4 points - Not the brightest kibble in the bag, but we still love 'em!

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