Know These Tips and Tricks to Make Your Dog Smarter
Can your dog become more intelligent? We measure the level of intelligence of dogs depending on the clever tricks they can perform, and their ability to perform specialized tasks such as herding, sniffing drugs, and hunting.
Needless to say, some breeds excel in specific tasks than others. Regardless, you can still make your dog smarter irrespective of age and breed. Read on to find out how. Meanwhile, find out what the top 10 most smartest dogs in the world are here.
Start training early
The journey to making your dog smart should start early. Ultimately, human beings measure smartness in dogs by their trainability. That explains why border collies and other very trainable breeds such as German shepherds are considered the smartest dogs in the world.
You can begin obedience training for your puppy as soon as it is five weeks old. The most basic training is saying the puppy’s name every time it walks towards you. Then, make sure your 8-weeks old puppy learns the four basic commands: come, sit, stay, down.
Obedience training forms the foundation for other, more complex training. For instance, it is easier to crate train a puppy that knows the “come” and “stay” commands.
The typical dog has an intelligence level equal to a two-year-old baby. As such, a dog can understand about the same vocabulary a toddler can recognize. There have been reports of a border collie that could distinguish more than 200 nouns.
But a dog will not understand words as quickly as a baby. You have to associate words with items, behavior, and activities. To help your dog identify things such as feeding bowl and leash, hold up the item, and clearly say its name. Eventually, your dog will associate the verbal cue with the item.
The same applies to commands such as sit and stay. Say the command out loud as you train your dog how to do it.
Dogs also respond to hand signals. In fact, hand signals are the only option if you have a deaf dog. Besides, dogs understand gestures quicker than they understand verbal cues. Using a hand signal will help your dog better interpret a verbal command.
An example of a command to accompany with a hand gesture is “come”. The “come” hand signal will prove particularly useful when your dog is at a distance your voice cannot reach.
Other commands that you can have hand signals for include sit, stay, eat, high-five, and rollover. Make sure your gestures are distinct to avoid confusing your dog.
To human beings a dog is more intelligent if it can perform tricks. So, besides obedience training teach your dog tricks such as:
- Roll over
- Bark (speak) on command
- Play dead
- Shake hands
A dog that can perform tricks will entertain your guests. Even better, trick training help enhance the bond and the relationship between you and your dog.
Persistent training is the key to a smarter dog. Researchers at the University of Milan tested this theory on trained and untrained dogs. The experiment required the dogs to open a lid to get a food treat. There were two ways the dogs could open the lid, which were demonstrated before the experiment began. Only 30% of the untrained dogs were able to open the lid, compared to 61% in the trained dogs’ group.
Note that the task was new to all dogs, even the trained ones. But, since trained dogs spend a significant amount of time trying to solve problems, they were better equipped to solve a new puzzle.
Therefore, even after the basic obedience training of a puppy, you should continue training your dog. Just five minutes of training every day is enough to keep your dog sharp. If it is not practical to conduct daily training, consider dog school.
In a dog school, your dog will receive training from dog training professionals. Therefore, he (or she) will be trained the right way. Plus, they get to interact with other dogs. Such socialization improves the confidence of your dog, teaches your dog how to make new friends, and makes your dog adapt to new situations quickly.
Many dog owners play fetch and tug-of-war with their furry friends. Such activities keep your dog physically fit. However, to make your dog smarter, exercise their brain. You can do that using puzzle games.
These games include:
- Hide and seek – you hide, and your dog uses the sense of smell to find you.
- Treasure hunts – like those that require your dog to sniff out treats.
- The name game – where you teach your dog new names.
You will also find hundreds of dog trivia and puzzle games in pet stores and online stores such as Amazon.
Allow your dog to sniff and explore during walks
Going out for a walk is probably the most favorite part of your dog’s daily routine. A walk provides good physical exercise for your dog. However, you can also make it a brain growth exercise by allowing your dog to explore and sniff around.
To many pet owners, the idea of the dog leading the walk is unsettling, depending on the neighborhood. An alternative is to designate certain safe areas for sniffing. In such cases, you will have to teach the ‘go sniff’ command so that they know they are free to explore and sniff.
Sniffing and exploration provide more physical and mental enrichment than just walking in a straight line.
Improve your dog’s nose work
Dogs are naturally good at sniffing. By engaging in sniffing games, you are only sharpening their natural skill while having fun and stimulating their brain.
‘Go find it’ is a great and easy sniffing game. You can use a favorite treat such as peanuts for this game. While your dog is in the stay position, hide the treats in several places around your house. Then come back and allow your dog to go find the treats. Remember to praise them when they find the treats.
If you have not played this game with your dog before, hide the treats in places easy to find. Also, make it easy by using smelly treats. As your dog gets the hang of the game, you can gradually increase the difficulty.
Expose your dog to new experiences
Monotony is not good for mental growth. New experiences are not only exciting but provide opportunities for learning.
Exposing your dog to new experiences is easy. Simply take a different route during your walks. In a new path, your dog will see new things and even sniff new smells.
Change of scenery is not the only way to provide new experiences to your dog. Teach your dog a new trick or skill, buy him a new toy, or play a new puzzle. In simpler terms, avid monotony in your dog’s environment. New and exciting things provide opportunities for them to use and grow their brain.