The Care & Feeding of Smart Dogs
Dogs are considered a highly intelligent species in the same league with other Einsteins of the Animal Kingdom such as chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins.
And of course all of us who share our lives with one or more dogs know this to be true.
In fact, most dog parents are sure their furry family member is not only smart, but smarter than most. This is in part because what makes a dog smart is subject to interpretation.
For example, most people, whether they realize it or not, equate obedience with intelligence.
Very agreeable dogs are considered smart by most human standards. However, there are some people who believe a dog with a mind of its own is more intelligent.
Dog breeds that have evolved to be more independent and less eager to please are certainly not dumb, but they do often require more time and patience when it comes to learning and following commands.
Generally speaking, humans assign canine smarts to dogs that:
- Are fast learners and consistently obey commands
- Dependably perform well at a specific sport, task or job
- Are willing and able to learn human-type stuff
Many people assume breeds known for their intelligence are easier to care for than other dogs, but, it’s important to realize that smart dogs often present their own challenges.
Highly intelligent dogs typically do not do well without plenty of physical and mental stimulation. In most cases, this means an absolute minimum of 1 hour of intense activity every single day.
Having canine smarts does not mean your dog understands when it is left alone all day with nothing to do. Or when you are too tired to take him out for some exercise.
If your bright, healthy and active dog is under-exercised and bored stiff by 10:00a and you will not be home till evening, do not expect him to think things through and decide to wait quietly by the door for your return.
Chances are there will be things out of place by the time you get home, unless it is highly trained or caged during your absence.
Just as parents must keep active, inquisitive kids challenged and busy to avoid problems stemming from boredom and too much unsupervised time on their hands, guardians of smart dogs must do the same.
If you are usually away from home for 8 or 10 hours on workdays, it’s a very good idea to have someone stop by to take your dog for a walk around the block once or twice while you are gone.
Another option is to take him to doggy daycare a few times a week.
Paul Ebeling, Editor