Is it Possible to Stimulate a Dog's Intelligence?

31 March, 2020
Did you know that it's possible to stimulate a dog's intelligence through the use of games and interactive activities? Discover more in today's article.

We know that dogs are animals capable of learning and memorizing a number of different things. This includes not only their names and simple commands, but also how to solve somewhat complicated mental puzzles. Now, the question is, is it possible to stimulate a dog’s intelligence?

The answer is yes, it’s possible. So now you’re asking yourself, how do you go about it? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you all you need to know in the following article.

How intelligent are dogs?

A variety of studies regarding this question have been conducted using specimens of different dog breeds. The findings indicate that, on average, a dog’s intelligence is similar to that of a child at the age of 2.

Canines can learn signs, gestures, and an average of about 165 words. What’s more, it’s worth mentioning that the smartest of dogs have managed to learn up to 250 words in all.

A baby and a dog watching the sunset.

Types of canine intelligence 

There are a number of ways to measure intelligence, including language, arithmetics, social intelligence… And all of these show very positive results when it comes to dogs.

Stanley Coren is a famous researcher known for his classification of dogs by their intelligence quotient. He conducted this classification using various tests that measure different types of canine intelligence. At the top of the list, we find the Border Collie.

According to Coren, dogs have a very basic understanding of arithmetic and can count up to four or five.

In one of the mathematical tests, researchers show dogs a piece of food, and then a second piece. If the dog understands the concept of 1 + 1, then when it has the opportunity to search for its prize, it will look for two pieces. In the same way, some dogs were able to count up to four or five.

Smart dogs wearing glasses.

Another type of canine intelligence has to do with spatial resolution. Dogs are able to study their environment and locate valuable items like food, toys, and their favorite spot for sleeping. And what’s even more interesting is that they do so by finding the quickest route, overcoming obstacles in their way. For example, by opening doors or finding an opening where they can go from one place to another.

However, the most impressive ability in dogs is that of recognizing and understanding human expressions. And, in consequence, being able to communicate.

All of these cognitive abilities make animals very intelligent and social animals.

How can I stimulate my dog’s intelligence?

In order to stimulate a dog’s intelligence, we must reduce stress levels, prevent boredom, and improve the owner-pet bond. Some of the activities you can use to stimulate canine intelligence are the following:

  • Intelligence games for dogs: The most typical games consist of a sort of dashboard with shapes and grooves for hiding food. The shapes are available as a sort of puzzle that the dog must resolve in order to obtain a prize. There are also others that the animal must open like a lock, move sequentially, lift up a lid, activate a lever, etc. These games all stimulate a dog’s intelligence and memory.
  • Toys for hiding food. There are many types of toys you can use for hiding food and treats. Whether they’re shaped like flying saucers, a bouncing ball, or you have a Kong toy, the purpose is for dogs to use their mouths and paws to take out the food. What’s more, it’s a good way to give food to dogs that get anxious around food. This is because it will take them more time to get to the food and they’ll eat at a slower pace.
  • Hide and seek games. Another way to stimulate your dog’s intelligence by playing hide and seek. Simply hide food around your house or yard without your dog seeing you. Then, command your dog to “seek” once everything’s ready. This game helps to maximize your dog’s sense of smell. At the same time, you encourage your dog to practice self-control, since it must remain still and calm until hearing the command “seek”.
  • Training. Through positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to understand basic commands and even more. For example, try to create circuits that include obstacles and activities that require spacial resolution.

In conclusion, the way to stimulate canine intelligence is by playing with your dog and including your pet in interactive activities. As owners, we need to be sure to keep this in mind and not allow too much time to go by between one game session and another.

Dogs that play with their owners regularly can be much more intelligent than dogs that hardly ever get the chance to do so.

  • PortalVeterinaria. En pruebas de CI los perros demostraron ser más listos que los niños pequeños.
  • Howell, T. J., Toukhsati, S., Conduit, R., & Bennett, P. (2013). The Perceptions of Dog Intelligence and Cognitive Skills (PoDIaCS) Survey. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(6), 418–424.