4 Ways to Test Your Dog’s Intelligence

You can test your dog’s intelligence by measuring how long it takes them to complete certain tasks. Recall is also an important indicator.

Jan 20, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
ways to test your dogs intelligence

Human intelligence is subjective. But, did you know that dog intelligence is subjective, too? If you’ve ever wondered just how clever your canine companion is, you’re in for a treat as we explore the nitty-gritty details behind your dog’s intelligence. We also offer four entertaining ways to put your dog’s smarts to the test.

So stick around, because you might just learn a thing or two as we look at whether your dog is the top brainiac pup in the intelligence game.

Intelligence: What’s the Big Fuss?

Brown and White Pembroke Welsh Corgi Near Water
Image credit: Pexels

Intelligence testing is not just about grading your dog on a scale from “as dumb as they come” to “genius of the dog world”. Instead, it’s a fun and interesting way to really understand your best friend’s problem-solving skills. It also allows you to choose a dog breed based on their skills and possibly gain some insight into how their mind really works.

Does it change how you feel about your dog? Definitely not. But, it can be helpful to know what you’re dealing with. Young or old, “smart” breed or not, you can train your dog if you understand how their brains actually work and what they’re capable of.

Four Ways to Test Your Dog’s Intelligence

Border Collie Dog Chasing Ball
Image credit: Pexels

We’re onto the juicy part of the article now as we reveal our top four simple tests you can do to test your dog’s intelligence:

#1: Cover your dog’s head with a large blanket or towel. How they react and how long it takes to free themselves will help you understand your dog’s problem-solving skills. If they can free themselves in five seconds or less, your dog is on the smarter end of the scale.

#2: Place three buckets or cups upside down in a row, placing a treat under one of the cups or buckets. Distract your dog for a second, and then move the cups around. This test can help you understand how your dog learns and retains new information. If they get it right on the first try, you can congratulate your pup on being a smarty pants.

Australian Shepherd Puppy Sitting on Grass
Image credit: Pexels

#3: This is a fun one and will give you a bit of a workout. Rearrange the furniture in a room that they’re most familiar with - bonus points for it being the room their bed or basket is in. Bring them into the room and see how long it takes them to find their favorite spot. This is great for testing their recognition and reasoning skills.

#4: The last test on our list is one that will once again test your dog's problem-solving abilities. Place their favorite treat under a low piece of furniture like a chair or couch - but within paws’ reach. If it takes them under a minute to find and retrieve the treat with only their paws, they’re on the more intelligent side of the scale.

Try these on your pooch and see just how intelligent your dog really is.

The Purpose of Intelligence Testing

Adult Black and White Border Collie Panting
Image credit: Pexels

Before you think this is just another silly article that’ll help you rate your dog’s intelligence with no real backbone to the information, we want you to approach this with an open mind and understand that this might just be the ticket to fully understanding your dog's temperament and trainability.

Knowing what to expect from your dog will only improve your relationship, whether they’re Einstein or one of the Three Stooges.

The Benefits of Intelligence Testing

Dog Running on Lawn with Ball in Mouth
Image credit: Pexels

Here are a few of the benefits of testing your dog’s intelligence:

Strengthening Your Bond

Testing your dog’s intelligence can be a great bonding experience as you have fun putting the tests together and seeing how your dog reacts. Just a warning, though - prepare yourself for a few laughs along the way.

Mental Stimulation

What better way to keep your dog engaged and active than by giving them a few tests that will challenge them mentally? Intelligence testing keeps your canine friends' minds sharp.

Tailored Training Approaches

Short coated White Dog Sitting on Green Grass
Image credit: Pexels

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to tailor your training to suit your dog’s intelligence and abilities? This is one of the many benefits that intelligence testing provides, as it helps you understand your dog’s strengths and weaknesses.

Problem-Solving Skills

Uncover your dog’s problem-solving abilities by showcasing their unique abilities. Intelligence tests are great for giving your dog a sense of accomplishment when they solve tricky problems.

Testing your dog’s intelligence is not just about revealing their brain power, but also a journey of laughter and deeper understanding into just how Rover’s mind words.

So embark on your canine intelligence testing journey, and you might just be surprised at the genius that has been hiding behind that sweet face and soulful eyes.

Intelligence and Breed: Is There a Link?

Adult German Shepherd Lying on Ground
Image credit: Pexels

So often we hear about one breed being more intelligent than the other. And while this might be true for some, it’s all down to the type of intelligence that your dog portrays. You see, there are two types of intelligence: instinctive and adoptive. Let’s look at both in a bit more detail:

Instinctive Intelligence

This intelligence type is based on natural ability and is more related to a specific breed or dog. It’s the intelligence that makes terriers good at hunting, Bloodhounds great at finding things, and German Shepherds ideal for being police dogs. But that is not to say that your dog is not good at any of those simply because they’re a different breed.

Adoptive Intelligence

This intelligence is based purely on your dog’s ability to perform tasks, socialize with humans and other dogs, and understand what you are saying to them. Your dog can be stronger in one category than the other and may have natural skills and talents that no intelligence test considers.

Test Your Dog’s Smarts Today!

Golden Retriever Dog Panting and Sitting
Image credit: Pexels

When it comes to doggy intelligence, there is no one-size-fits-all test. Whether your dog is a Sherlock Holmes hound or a charming goofball, there is real joy in discovering just what makes your dog unique. Grab some treats, set up one of the brain-teasing challenges, and let the games begin!

Remember, it’s not just about testing your dog’s intelligence, but about creating moments of shared laughter and strengthening your bond with your beloved pooch.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading