So Just How Intelligent Is Your Dog?- 3 Fun Tests To Try With Your Dog

how smart is your dog

Could Fido rescue a child trapped down a well or is he too busy chasing his own tail? Dog owners up and down the country will no doubt have an opinion on their dog’s intelligence but is there actually a reliable way to test a dog’s intelligence? Apparently there is away to separate the dopey dogs from the canny canines.

Psychologist Kathy Coon developed the first IQ test for dogs in her book ‘The dog intelligence test’ first published in 1976. The tests were designed to examine different aspects of the dog’s mental abilities including short term memory and other problem solving skills. Coon later used the results to rank dogs by Breeds.

Breeds that are considered as the easiest to train include Border Collies, Poodles and Golden retrievers due to their ability to learn quickly and obey orders whereas Huskies are famed for their ability to escape from almost any home or yard and need to be kept under close watch.

As with tests for human intelligence, there is no uniform approach to the best way to testing dogs intelligence either. What constitutes dog intelligence varies greatly.  Is loyalty and the ability to follow orders a demonstration of intelligence or subservience?  Would knocking and breaking into a bin to eat scraps of food show the dog was poorly trained or creative in seeking out something to eat?

Whilst there will probably never be a uniform intelligence test for dogs, it’s probably not going to matter much after all, he’s not going to college or university. However, dog intelligence tests can be an entertaining way to assess your dog’s abilities and if there is a possibility of earning himself a treat at the end, you can guarantee your dog will be on board!

Image by Monsieur Gordon

There are several tests available online and in books to assess your dogs intelligence, here is an example.

Test 1.   Have a towel and stop watch ready.

Cover the dog’s heads with the towel and time how long it takes for him to get it off.

If the dog removes the towel in less than 15 seconds –  give him 3 points

If the dog removes the towel in between 15 and 30 seconds – give him 1 point.

Any longer the dog scores no points, you may want to help him out by removing the towel.

Test 2.   Have 3 buckets / boxes and a treat ready.

Show the dog the treat and hide it under a box. Shuffle round the boxes and let the dog retrieve the treat.

If he goes straight to the correct box – give him 3 points

If he goes to the correct box on his second attempt – give him 1 point.

If he doesn’t find it until lifting up the third box he gets no points but you may want to try it with money next time, you could make a fortune off him.

Test 3. Walkies – have a leash ready.

Wait until a time that you don’t normally walk your dog e.g if you walk him in the morning, do this test in the afternoon. Wait until he is watching you before grabing your house keys and his lead.

If he gets excited immediately – give him 3 points

If you have to walk to the door before he works out what his happening – 1 point.

If you are at the door but he still doesn’t have a clue whats going on – no points but give him a nice walk.


If your dog scores 5-9 he’s an intelligence pooch and you should be proud. If you dog scores 1 to 5 he may be the sharpest knife in the draw but you love him anyway. Regardless of how he scores be sure to reward him with a treat, some affection and if you are feeling generous other dog products.

How did your dog score?

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Robert Dickson is a pet lover and blogger who writes for Petmeds