I am taking a course in Dog Psychology and have given my dogs IQ tests…
I had high hopes for my german shepherd mix (Jethro) and for good reason; german shepherds rank 3rd in most intelligent dog breed.
On the other hand, with my shih-tzu mix (Cula), I only hoped that she didn’t fail miserably and even thought “maybe she’ll surprise me” (always the optimist).
So – Jethro may live up to his name… but which one? Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies or the iconic figure-head at NCIS? I have a theory. (remember, always the optimist)
So far, he is failing terribly – finding a treat under a cup, under a towel, reacting when I smile….First, he knows where the treats are and he seemed to ask; “if you want to keep that one under the cup, can you please retrieve me another from the jar on the counter when you are done playing this silly game?” Second, he laid down on the towel over the top of the treat with the intent to chew through it to the treat and 3rd, I guess I smile at him a lot while he’s sitting a couple meters away because he had no reaction at all.
BUT, I think the results may sway in the Leroy Gibbs direction if the object to find is a ball as opposed to a treat. He has the ability to find a ball under two feet of fresh snow – amazingly leaping to the spot and plunging his face into the snow and bringing up a ball in his teeth. He can walk past my desk, stop abruptly, point to a spot behind, underneath, sit down, look at me to say “ball – under there – please retrieve” and he has me trained, and I am obedient. Like a drug-sniffing dog but for his balls.
So, I tested my theory and did not achieve the results I anticipated.
First off, we have a game of catch we play almost daily, kicking the ball back and forth across the floor – I tell Michael that Jethro could teach his soccer team some things the way he uses his paws to trap, dribble and kick a ball. One of the problems we had with the IQ test was that Jethro felt that because I put the ball under the cup, I should be the one to retrieve it and also, that the cup appeared to be on my side of the imaginary line on the floor and therefore, I should again be the one responsible for retrieving. Not only that but, there were other balls around the house and if that one was to be under a cup (for some unknown reason) then, we should play with another one and ideally, outside.
I feel that Jethro is disappointed that he has spent so much time training me and sometimes, he has to go right back to lesson one and re-teach me the basics when I do something silly like hide his balls rather than throw them or anticipate a different response when I do a previously learned action.
On the other hand, Cula tried – she tried everything; knocking over the cup and nosing under the towel but, always took much longer than the 60 second time limit and therefore, received the lowest mark.
The only test they actually passed with flying colors was finding their way out from under a towel. I am relieved that I never have to worry about them getting lost or stuck under a towel.
The good thing is that intelligence can be learned by continual training and teaching of tricks and tasks. So, good for Jethro as he may still be able to teach me how to better play and stop doing silly experiments with his toys.