Quote DOGGY TIMES II BLOG:
Doggy Intelligence? Are dogs smart? What do you think? Can dogs reason? Can they think about a situation, and then decide how to handle it? The answer… yes. Believe it or not, dogs are smart. Of course there are some things that effect a dogs intelligence. One of them is their want to learn. Some dogs, depending on breed and personality, just don’t care to learn. Mostly the personality part of it is due to the way that they were raised. For the most part though, dogs are eager to learn! When they are pups is the best time to teach them how to live in a human world. Dogs can learn to think out a situation and then use the correct means to handle it. It’s a natural ability they have. Wolfs have to learn to survive in the wild. So they have to reason to catch prey, find shelter, avoid other predators, etc. Do you think wolfs just hunt in packs for the heck of it? No, they have actually learned that hunting in packs works better than hunting alone. When you look at it this way, reasoning in dogs is not so uncommon.
Dogs that live with humans are no different. Police dogs do it, rescue dogs do it, and even strays do it. Police dogs are taught to obey the handler, but there are several situations in the field that the dog must adapt to. You can’t teach a dog every situation there is, they have to experience it as we would, and then learn how to handle it. Rescue dogs are the same way, they have to adapt to different dangerous situations and learn to handle them. Think about it, how many times have you come home to find trash all over the house versus how many times you’ve found your dog in the trash while you are home? The reason you don’t catch your dog in the trash while you are home is because the dog has learned that when you are home, he/she doesn’t stand a chance eating trash! But when you are away, your dog knows he/she won’t get caught in the act! Now, a stray running around the neighborhood can be a bother, but these dogs also have to reason. A stray is usually a dog that has been dumped by an owner, who for whatever reason just can’t take care of the dog anymore. This dog may have been used to usual feedings, and now, this dog has to figure out how to get fed. Survival kicks in. Although, dogs are like people, not all of them are successfull at reasoning.
So the next time you look at your dog, and he/she looks back, realize that that little brain is working to try and tell you something. Wether it be, "let me outside", or "let’s play", or "are you going to eat all of that?" Your dog is reasoning with you! Here is a way to test this theory for yourself, and see how well your dog uses reason to figure out a problem…. Put your dog in another room where he/she can’t see you. Then get five plastic cups and your dogs favorite treat. Make sure the treat is something that your dog really wants. Place the cups on the floor turned upside down and place your dog’s favorite treat under one of them. Also, you will need to rub the scent of the treat under the other four cups on the floor. This will make it more difficult for your dog to use his/her sense of smell to pick the correct cup. Then let your dog out and introduce him/her to the problem. Your dog will be inticed by the smell of the treat. See how long it takes your dog to knock over the correct cup! This is a difficult test, so it may take a few tries for your dog to get it right.