Just how smart are they?

I have heard many people over the years say that their dog is not the brightest.  I love to meet these dogs because it is typically not the case.  It has long been a common consensus that Greyhounds were not intelligent.  After much research I discovered that this label was put on them after attempting and failing to use conventional harsh training methods.  They basically shutdown during the process and those less experienced in true canine behavior consider this dumb.  Hmmmmmm.    Many folks think that because they have a Bulldog the chance of training their dog to comply is diminished.  Hogwash; dogs are dog and like I always say, they are different.  Some of the smartest dogs I've worked with are Bulldogs.

Dogs are simple creatures; yet they hold within them a complicated collection of puzzle pieces that humans are often at a loss putting together.  When I am out with my own dogs or in the presence of a dog pack I will often commentary what is going on.  People are regularly surprised by what is really going on.   I have often been witness to a loud and demonstrative greeting between dogs where one of the owners is appalled by the behavior.  When a dog growls, snaps or lunges at another, many people immediately jump to the 'aggressive' dog mode.

My dog does this..................why?  That is the question and normally there is a very simple explanation.  Elsa quickly figured out, I mean within a few trips outside that if she does indeed go outdoors that she doesn't have to wear her underwear.   So there she stands at the door much more than normal just wanting her underwear off.  She also understands that when she comes in they must be placed on again and so she stands with a not so happy face.  She'll be happy to see the end of this.

Dogs who have been taught, basically given an education from an early age do learn faster.  The whole concept of learning must be taught.  I've worked with older adults who have never been taught anything and it takes a great deal of patience to get to that first light bulb moment.  Dogs are extremely talented in reading our signals and even the smallest of motion can give them a heads up.  Most owners are astounded that the simple application of a particular shoe lets their dog know that they are going for a walk.  This is association and repetition at its best.

Dogs are masters at communication, we are not.  Within a 1/2 of a minute dogs can say a great deal without ever muttering a sound.  We humans get lost in all the 'what ifs' and 'between the lines' crap. Dogs learn at different speeds and through different applications, just like people.  Some dogs are bold and willing to offer new behaviors, others have a tough time just throwing out different behaviors at an owner.  Luke is one of the smartest dogs I know but he does not offer new behaviors.  Elsa offers whatever she can think and I find myself undoing things all the time with her.

All dogs are smart, just different in their own way.  In all my years of training and educating canines I have only ever met one that was an impossible case.  The owner told me that she thought that he might have brain damage due to the fact that he died on the operating table when being neutered and was brought back several times.  I assured her that he did have brain issues.  Even still he was sweet and a wonderful pet, just unable to learn or at least within the range of human patience time span.

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