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Smart Dog - As Clever as a Two Year Old
In his recent report psychologist Dr Stanley Coren PhD from the University of British Columbia concluded that smart dogs do indeed have more intelligence than we give them credit for and that the learning levels of some breeds was similar to that of human two year olds.
He found that on average most dogs could understand around 150 words, symbols and actions, with the super clever breeds knowing as many as 250 words. They were able to count up to four, answer simple sums and were capable of deceiving other dogs and humans to get rewards as well as solve basic problems. How to open a cupboard, which is the quickest route home.
The Einstein of the canine world is more likely to be found in the Border Colley, followed by the Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retrievers and the Sheepdogs. Russian wolfhounds and Afghan hounds being amongst the most lovable but stupidest group.
So where does this put Barney? My boy is an adorabale, 11 year old Colley, Spaniel cross who has lived with me since he was abandoned in a park, when 3 weeks old. Throughout his life this smart dog has demonstrated a great understanding of language and he has also constructed associations with certain words.
Although many of them mean "Barney gets biscuit!"
He is also able to express his needs by indicating towards objects that he has taught me the meaning of. Looking at the cupboard means "now I get biscuit", watching the top of the fridge means "lets go for walk". When you go for a shower he invariably follows you in to the bathroom and sits washing himself as well and when it's his time for bed he wanders off to sleep.
The Rule Book
Barney has developed a list of things which warrant a treat and he will stubbornly sit by the cupboard until he gets his reward. These include:
Having a shower,
Returning from a walk
Having his ears cleaned
Groomed for ticks
Having his paws checked for grass seeds
Coming home with shopping
Any of the above means he's a good boy and deserves a snack for doing so. He also adds up, if you clean his ears then brush him, he wants two treats. So there are rules to his logic as well. He also tells lies and will pretend he hasn't been fed if you were not there when he was originally given food.
English - Dog Translation
Not all phrases have an understandable logic to them and although it is normal to admonish a pet by saying "Bad Boy", "No!" Barney also will cower away in a corner if you ask him "Do you want a bath".
He understands that when you sweep the floor, you have to sit on the bed away from the action and begging at the dinner table doesn't get you anything but just sitting by me and looking sweet will work a treat. He hates sprouts and will pick them out of his bowel before starting to eat, Banana and grapes are not on his menu and despite telling you he wants one will spit it out and ask for another.
There are quite a large number of words that will get a response from him, provided he is in the mood to perform. "Sit", "Paw" and "Lie Down" are the ABC of dog language. "Give me a kiss", obviously means spit all over my face and "what do good boys get" means if I sit still there's a buscuit in it for me."Where's Mommy" and "Where's the ball" get him looking around and "walk", "Stroll" or "out" will get him jumping mad. Even though we tried to use different words to mean "go out" he learnt them. Just hasn't mastered spelling yet.
He also hates military airplanes, thunder and certain people, even from a distance. Unlike my mother in laws dog who hates scooters Barney doesn't bat an eye lid. He also believes that if asked "Did you do that" simply looking the other way means you are talking to someone else and it's nothing for him to worry about.
So whether any of this means I have a Canine Mensa candidate or the next winner on X Factor I don't know, What I do know is for years now he has provided me with endless amusement, laughs and love. And all for a biscuit. Love him.
As an update, sadly my beautiful boy died on March 6th 2012. After 15 years with me, old age finally got the better of him. He was such an entertaining, comical and loving friend and I miss him dearly.He taught me to say goodbye like its the last time you'll see someone, greet them with the love of a long absense. Remeber you always deserve a treat for a job well done and welcome everyone you see as a new friend. Take regular exercise but also enjoy a sleep, cuddle lots and eat well and you'll go far. Seemingly, not a bad philosphy for a dog.