How smart is my dog
The answer is simple- he is very smart- at least appears to be!
He is an absolute sensitive observer. That’s what makes him appear to be very smart!
Sequence of events are super easy for him to connect.
Yet this capability can really make our life difficult if we are not aware of connections being made in his mind.
On the other hand, it could make our life easier if we are completely aware of how his mind works.
It is our choice to either connect sequences of events- or to make sure we don’t connect them!
All we have to do is be aware of which connections are desirable- or which ones are not.
A classic example is a dog making the connection of events that happen prior to being released from the crate.
In my opinion an undesirable connection of events-leading to a dog being crazy in the crate once the owner comes in sight.
The undesired behavior is created in a short period of time:
The owner crates his dog while he is gone. He comes home and feels bad for the dog having been locked up for a few hours. First thing he does right after he enters the house is letting the dog out of the crate.
First of all the dog learns that as soon as you open the door- he will be let out. Very soon he will connect the sequence of all other events happening before the owner is entering the house. It is called “backward chaining”.
Before the door opens the key will be turned in he lock.
Before that, he hears the car pulling in.
Very soon he will go crazy in the crate on the very first event being noticed. He has learned the sequence of events leading to freedom.
Another good example is the information we provide to the dog during training:
Being the observer, he connects that when he sees the treat pouch and or the clicker, reward is available. So he performs very well!
If he doesn’t see the pouch or/ and the clicker, we teach him unintentionally that reward is not available. So he is not performing.
We have to be smarter than he is!
Have the treat pouch and the clicker visible and don’t click or treat.
Make the click and treat appear unexpectedly. Clicker and treats on the counter- not on you, all of a sudden it clicks and the treat flies off the counter.
Have the remote collar transmitter visible and nothing happens. Have the transmitter in your jeans and hit the button from the outside of your pants.
Make treats appear unexpectedly.
Here is a story from a training book:
A female Canadian trainer (don’t recall her name) talks about the “smartness” of a dog predicting. 0
She describes exactly what i am talking about above.
She realized that her dog seems to know when reward is available – and when its not. The prediction on the dogs’ part went so far that he could just smell that she had food on her or not.
He didn’t look for a pouch or training vest…he learned to smell it on her!
That was how he was able to predict whether or not reward was available, and geared his behaviors and responses by that prediction.
She decided to go out in the fields by herself, and placed a hamburger in a tree.
Then she went and took her dog for a walk. As she was close to the tree, she called him. He showed the right response, but much weaker compared to when he knew reward was available.
When he got to her, she gave him the hamburger that had been placed in the tree.
He must have thought of her as if she was a magician!
It shows that some times it takes a little more effort from your dog without making promises to him that reward is available.
Talking some more about how smart he is?!
Some owners even think that their dog understands what they are saying.
“When I say: Do you want a cookie? He runs to the cookie jar! Or I say: You wanna go for a walk? He runs to the door!”
I hate to disappoint you. The dog has learned by association over time and repetition, that one thing follows the other. You started out by giving him a cookie from the jar as soon as you used those very same words.
You have been using the very same words before you went on a walk with him.
He simply made the association!