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on dog intelligence...

technodoll
December 1st, 2006, 12:30 PM
what do you guys think about the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"? can you stimulate an older dog's intelligence by engaging their brains with smart playtimes, puzzles, obedience training, etc? I know it's important to keep young, growing minds active but if that was neglected, can it be "revived" later on? or are individual dogs programmed to have a certain IQ in life, no matter what?

just pondering stuff, LOL! :)

Hunter's_owner
December 1st, 2006, 12:37 PM
I'm not sure about them being programmed for a certain IQ, but I do know that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

In my last year of my B.Sc degree, I did an animal behaviour course. In this course, we had to do an independent research project. I decided to do something with dogs. So I thought about it and because I had a range of ages at the time, from friends of mine with 6 months - 1 year old puppies and Hunter who was 3 at the time, and even up to 14. The dog we had growing up was still a big part of our lives:cloud9:

So I picked a new trick that neither of them had done before and Hunter was the fastest to pick it up, next came Blackie (the oldest :rip: ) and then the others ranged in times, all slower than Blackie:)

It was quite an experiment. I know it isn't statistically significant, or far from without its limitations, but it was fun to do and fun to present.

Prin
December 1st, 2006, 12:39 PM
My old lab only knew vocal commands and only knew a bungalow in the country her whole life. At 12ish, she went deaf and we had to reteach all the commands with signs. At 13 she moved into an apartment complex and quickly figured out how to ride the elevator by herself... (My dad even stuck a $10 bill under her collar and sent her down while he took the stairs (sloooow elevator) and watched the security guard's reaction when the doors opened...)

So yeah, they can always learn new things.:cloud9:

Frenchy
December 1st, 2006, 12:50 PM
what do you guys think about the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"? can you stimulate an older dog's intelligence by engaging their brains with smart playtimes, puzzles, obedience training, etc? I know it's important to keep young, growing minds active but if that was neglected, can it be "revived" later on? or are individual dogs programmed to have a certain IQ in life, no matter what?

just pondering stuff, LOL! :)

I believe any dog (99%) in any GOOD situation will learn new tricks. I get fosters with "problems" (quoted by the dumper owners) and I always find out it is not true or easely trainable.:shrug:

we3beagles
December 1st, 2006, 01:05 PM
I believe any dog (99%) in any GOOD situation will learn new tricks. I get fosters with "problems" (quoted by the dumper owners) and I always find out it is not true or easely trainable.:shrug:

Amen sista! I usually find that love and patience are the keys to a great dog. Dumpers are in short supply of that. My new adopted girl Polly sure has learned that it is far better to sleep in a warm bed with her pack than a wire cage alone. Quick little learner that one..

Lissa
December 1st, 2006, 01:23 PM
I definately think any age of dog can learn. The age IMO doesn't matter nearly as much as the environment they've been raised in. A dog that is raised as part of the family (even if they aren't trained in the sense of advanced OB, tricks or sports) will be much more capable and/or quicker at learning than a dog that hasn't been socialized, has fear issues, been trained using aversive methods and/or neglected.

I also think that depending on what you expect of your dog, how knowledgeable you are about dog behaviour and what you expose them to will have a huge impact on their problem solving abilities.
I aslo think that many breeds are born with more "intelligence" than others BUT its quite variable and depends on whether they are allowed to use it (how they are raised).

but if that was neglected, can it be "revived" later on?

I think it definately could...What would be more challenging IMO is dog trained with aversive methods who "shuts down" and refuses to offer any new behaviours (out of fear of being wrong or punished)...If I'm not mistaken, Prin's Jemma was like that... But I've known plenty of people who's dogs are simply too afraid to try anything new because of previous bad experiences:(...so as awful as it is to say, for "teaching an old dog new tricks", its almost better for them to be untrained and/or left alone than to be trained with aversives or be abused to the point where everything is too scary.

TeriM
December 1st, 2006, 02:22 PM
We have been working with obedience classes with Riley (6 mos) and during the "homework" Lucy has been right there (always when there are cookies around :D ) and has learned a bunch of stuff as well.

Angies Man
December 1st, 2006, 02:23 PM
Dogs, like humans, have 'critical learning periods' (an actual psych. term) in which behaviors are easily learned. Young dogs (like kids) are pretty easy to teach--their brains are quite receptive.

When the critical learning periods end, it's still possible to teach but it requires more patience. Think about a child acquiring language--it seems effortless. Then consider an adult trying to learn a new language--it's possible, but not easy.

So my vote is Yes, it's possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Gentle training (and keeping it fun) is the key, I think.

muckypup
December 1st, 2006, 10:24 PM
I think you can teach a dog anything you’d want to teach a pet (within their physical requirements) at any age as long as you know how to train them.

OntarioGreys
December 2nd, 2006, 07:58 AM
The problem is how one defines and measures intelligence in dogs, and yes most people rate intelligence by the judging how quickly a dog can be taught a task or trick but there is a flaw with judging a dog's intelligence in this manner because it also requires a strong desire to please, certain breeds like shepherds rate high. but they do so because they want to please , this what they were bred for, they were bred to work with man to do tasks have a strong ability to follow and learn commands such a the herding and guarding breeds, other breeds see no real importance in following commands as they have been bred to do tasks independently without a lot of guidance or influence from man they for themselves for example greyhounds and many of the hunting breeds instead they are smart enough to realize that what you are teaching them has no real purpose other than to make them bend to your will, that does not that make them lacking in intelligence, most are experts at on getting you to leave them alone, when they do not want to do something example being drama queens acting like you are hurting then. and getting you please them instead ;) I have had dogs at either end of the spectrum, but the smartest ones in my opinion are the ones that think for them selves as they are able to apply logic to a situation and figure out how to solve, Jazz failed obedience classes, he knew the commands just refused to follow them repetitive tasks were boring to him did not provide the stimulation he needed or wanted praise and treats were not enough of a reward to make him comply but he almost drove me crazy with all his escape attempts(the grass is always greener on the otherside of the fence) he knew how to open cupboard, pull open drawers pulled open closet door, pushed out wndow screens, in order to get what he wanted. if I was ignoring him, he knew the sure way to become the center of attention was to do something was not suppose to. he was also very hyperactive, I had watched him enough times to realize he was highly intelligent and very calculating at figuring things out especially how to get out of the yard, and when I blocked one way out he was then looking for other avenues including pretending there was something outside the gate in hopes you would open it to check out what he is barking at, ao he would have the opportunity to sneak thru :rolleyes: in a lot of ways Jazz was just like my son, who has an IQ of 137 but was also ADHD, first tested at 1 year old, then in grade school and later as a young adult he was always in trouble, rarely followed instructions, failed tests and grades did poorly in school, got in trouble with the law, things that did not interest him, he simply chose not to do and no amount of coaxing was going to convince him to do him he stubbornly dug in his heels and refused. In the same way you can not rate my sons intelligence based on giving him a math test if he was not interested in doing you can't rate a dog's intelligence on learning a trick in they have no interest in performing it. IQ is only a measure how of one thinks, recognize patterns, and uses logic to solve and based on level of IQ the capacity to achieve. at 137 my son could become a math or physics professor but intead he is a high school dropout and autoworker, the reason is because he lacks the desire and motivation to do more with his life. Desire is not part of the intelligence equation, so a dog that desires to please you but is lacking in intelligence will still learn the trick but may take a while to learn to do but a highly intelligent one may lack the desire to please and will refuse to learn the trick

Another factor will be the incentive, is it worth the effort? This is where logicas a measure of intelligence plays a factor, does the reward of learning the trick have enough value to make them want to do it, a highly intelligent animal has the ability to reason whether the value is worth the effort
If I set up a maze and put a cookie at the very end only one of my current 4 might see that as enough of a incentive to try and figure out the maze, for Winnie that might be enough of a motivation, more motivation would be me feeding the other dogs at the other end, with Sunny if I wanted him to figure it out, a cookie is not a good enough reason to put in the effort he would take one look at me and turn around and go back to the couch to sleep, if I really wanted to motivate him, I would have to put a live rabbit/squirrel at the end for him to chase though a remote control toy car night work since he enjoys chasing, for Maya she would make the effort if she knew Sunny was at the other end already chasing the rabbit(but she also has to have a very safe secure environment to do so) , with Nikki, there would have to be a door that I am leaving thru and if she makes it thru she gets to come with me.

Desire and incentive are key elements and the reason why many people with extremely high IQ's are not alway successful in life even though they have the ability to achieve and for that reason testing a dogs intelligence by assigning a trick to learn does not tell you if they are intelligent just because they learned it.

Other factors that influence results include emotional, confidence, life experiences and with dogs also pack status comes into play

OntarioGreys
December 2nd, 2006, 09:07 AM
I had got Callie at 7 years old extremely afraid of people and was never taken for walks, so was terrified out on leash.

18 months later she was like a totally different dog

They are really different than us, just like we are able to learn new things and adapt , for example how many seniors are learning to use a computer.

Dogs to can learn and adapt. Look at how many seniour dogs end up on petfinder, when they are adopted the have to learn new routines and the rules of their new owners in order to fit in.

Lissa
December 2nd, 2006, 10:41 AM
Great post OG!

they are smart enough to realize that what you are teaching them has no real purpose other than to make them bend to your will, that does not that make them lacking in intelligence

That's where our intelligence comes in - we should be able to figure out how to motivate them (and I really don't look at training Dodger "as bending him to my will")!!

the smartest ones in my opinion are the ones that think for them selves as they are able to apply logic to a situation and figure out how to solve

I agree, Dodger knew instinctively that he had to go a mile away to reach me (I'd climbed over a fence). Most any dog that's bred to work with people wouldn't get that, they'd either feel defeated or they'd have to work up to it step by step because they're velcro dogs. It doesn't necessarily mean the other dog is stupid...its down to breed and how they were raised.

but he almost drove me crazy with all his escape attempts(the grass is always greener on the otherside of the fence) he knew how to open cupboard, pull open drawers pulled open closet door, pushed out wndow screens, in order to get what he wanted. if I was ignoring him, he knew the sure way to become the center of attention was to do something was not suppose to.

I personally think that's just a dog - as I'm sure you know, dogs will take advantage... Susan Garrett says it better: "Dogs do what is reinforcing. If a dog is allowed the freedom to choose what is most rewarding to him, he always will. People call thes dogs stupid, stubborn, untrainable and unmotivated. We call this dog a dog - they've simply learned how to get what they want!
Dodger can also open the fridge, cupboards, doors etc... but he also knows boundaries. Just like he knows he can reach food from the table. Just like he knows when he can get on "forbidden" furniture and when he can't... Any dog IMO can figure out what's most rewarding...the difference is which dogs generalize and which don't. .

so a dog that desires to please you but is lacking in intelligence will still learn the trick but may take a while to learn to do but a highly intelligent one may lack the desire to please and will refuse to learn the trick

I believe that if the dog is refusing to learn something, you are doing something wrong as the trainer. And I am not sure how you can be positive that the dog refusing to do the trick is "highly intelligent" (and not just bored, confused, fearful etc...)

a highly intelligent animal has the ability to reason whether the value is worth the effort

Hmm, I am not sure about that - it sounds intriguing right but I don't agree (and again, I think a lot depends on the trainer)...I think it only comes into play with luring since with clicker training, the animal dos not see the reward until after they have performed the desired behaviour. Dodger is certainly not a breed that is meant to work closely with people but I've BUILT value and drive for working with me (any breed can learn this IMO). Most often, the trainer is the one who has to use their intelligence and set things up so that dog doesn't realize its learning. Not all breeds have a biddable nature but that is not an insurmountable barrier to learning. Even the most difficult breeds will have some desire to please buried inside them.

testing a dogs intelligence by assigning a trick to learn does not tell you if they are intelligent just because they learned it.

I certainly agree with that - there are many other factors to intelligence. However, the dog's ability/aptitude to learn something new (whether its a trick or behaviour like walking nicely on-leash) should definately be part of the whole "testing" process.