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How smart is your dog? Here’s how to tell

How smart is your dog? Here’s how to tell
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Does your dog initiate a game of tug-of-war just when you’ve sat down in front of the TV for some ‘me’ time? Is your dog an escape artist? Can he find the treat bag, no matter where it’s hidden? Don’t be mad – be proud of his high intelligence!

He can remember a command from a year ago

He can remember a command from a year ago
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How smart are dogs? Well most pups can be taught to obey some commands, but a really smart dog will remember those commands over time, even if they haven’t been used in a while, says professional dog trainer and behaviour expert Robert Cabral. “For instance, if I taught a dog to walk backward on command and haven’t done it with him in a year, if he’s smart, he will still remember how to do it when asked,” he says.

She can solve a treat puzzle

She can solve a treat puzzle
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Smart dogs are innately great problem solvers, Cabral says. So to test your pup’s problem-solving abilities, get her a food puzzle (a toy that has to be manipulated in a certain way to get to a treat). If she can solve it without your help, she’s smart, Cabral says. Want a cheaper option? Make your own food puzzle using a treat in a box, or hide a treat somewhere around the house.

He can find the open door

He can find the open door
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Some dogs are master escape artists. While that can be frustrating for owners, it’s actually a sign of high intelligence, Cabral says. One way to test this skill is to let your dog out one door, close it, and then open a different outside door to your house. Smart doggos will be able to find their way back in even if their original or usual point of entry is closed, he explains.

If your dog is always escaping, does it really love you? Here are 28 ways your pet is trying to say I love you.

She starts a game with you

She starts a game with you
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Lots of dogs will play tug-of-war when you hold out the rope toy, but smart dogs will initiate games by communicating their desires to you, Cabral says. For instance, does your dog ‘speak’, pat you, bring you a toy, or spontaneously use another behaviour you’ve taught her to get you to pay attention to her? (This is different than barking wildly or jumping all over you, as those are not skills you’ve taught her.) “The dog’s desire to work as a team shows me that her intelligence is ripe,” Cabral says. “Remember, wisdom is only wisdom if it’s shared – and that’s true of dogs as well as humans.”

To help your teamwork with your doggo, here’s a handy guide to translating the yips, yaps, yowls and whimpers every dog makes so that you can understand your furry BFF better.

He snuggles with you when you’re sad

He snuggles with you when you’re sad
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Intelligent dogs are very good at sensing and interpreting your emotions, says dog behaviour expert Katie Nitti. Had an awful day at work? Fight with your spouse? A smart dog will read your sadness and take steps to comfort you, such as cuddling up with you or refusing to leave your side until your tears dry, she says. Make sure you’re taking care of him too!

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She understands what your suitcase means

She understands what your suitcase means
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Being highly observant is another characteristic smart pups share, Nitti says. For instance, when you pull out your suitcase, does your dog recognise it’s a sign that something is about to change (you going on a trip)? She may show her understanding by trying to jump in or hide your suitcase, or stick unusually close to you, Nitti says.

He bumps your hand for scratches

He bumps your hand for scratches
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“All dogs love attention, and smart dogs know the best way to get it,” Nitti says. Intelligent dogs will place their head under your hand and ‘bump’ it to prompt you to give them a scratch behind the ears, or they may even ‘pet’ you as an example of how they want you to pet them.

Think you’re a good dog owner? Check these everyday habits GREAT dog owners make and see how many you’re already doing.

She takes safety precautions

She takes safety precautions
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Dogs must be taught how to safely navigate situations, like pedestrian crossings, but a smart dog will take the initiative and look for safety risks on her own, like a speeding car heading towards that crossing, and react accordingly, says registered vet tech Yvonne Brandenburg. Has your pet ever stepped in front of you to prevent you from walking into a busy street? Or does your dog show caution before going into a new place? If so, that’s a sign that she’s smart.

He can learn a new trick in just a few tries

He can learn a new trick in just a few tries
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Most dogs can be taught to follow commands – it just takes some of them a lot longer than others. You might wonder, how smart are dogs? while you try and teach them new tricks. The faster your dog learns a new trick and the more commands he knows are sure signs of his intelligence, Brandenburg says. For example, if you only have to tell your dog “no” to jumping on strangers a handful of times, he’s pretty darn smart. If you only have to tell him once, sign him up for doggy IQ test.

Think your dog needs a bit of help in the ‘smarts’ department? Here’s what you need to know to make your dog smarter.

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