Is your pet a secret genius? Petplan has put together this fun IQ test for dogs so you can find out whether your best friend is quite as intelligent (or otherwise) as you suspected!
Created by Nick Jones MA, Dog Behaviourist at Petplan, this IQ quiz features 10 questions about your dog's behaviour which is used to evaluate your pooch's mental prowess.
Petplan has also come up with a list of tips and tricks to improve your pet's intelligence which can be found below
You can take the test here.
How should I begin brain-training my pup?
Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and enjoy learning new things throughout their lives, naturally, they are even more inquisitive than puppies. Getting into the habit of providing your puppy with mental and physical exercise will benefit you both.
Often, owners teach their dog a few basic commands as a puppy but then stop. You should continue to try to teach your puppy even when they reach adulthood. Consider buying or making some puzzle toys for your puppy. You'll see lots of toys in pet shops, but you don't necessarily need to buy expensive toys. A muffin tin filled with tennis or rubber balls with one or two treats hidden underneath can be great fun. Watch your puppy sniff and lift out the balls to get to the treats below!
Start with some simple mental exercises for your puppy, then slowly build up to more complex ones. Don't expect too much too soon and keep it fun. If treats normally form the rewards for your games, keep an eye on the number of treats your puppy is getting. Using praise as a reward can be as effective as treats. If you are playing hide and seek with your puppy, asking them to 'seek' their favourite toy should be rewarding enough to engage them.
Also, be careful not to over-excite or over-arouse your pup. Play or train for a few minutes and then give a 'finish' command when you remove the toy. Puppies are learning about the world every day so their brains are being stimulated by all the new experiences they are having. Socialising and making sure your pup is encountering different environments and situations is a great way to do this, as they learn vital skills as well as occupy their minds.
As your puppy grows to be an adult you should continue to keep their brains stimulated, right into their old age. There are many benefits of exercising your puppy's brain, one you may be especially appreciative of is a good night's sleep! If your puppy is under-stimulated during the day it may be less likely to sleep soundly at night.
How do I keep my dog mentally stimulated?
Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is an important way of burning off excess energy. Understimulated dogs can exhibit unwanted behaviours so it's important to incorporate mental stimulation into everyday life.
Mental stimulation games and puzzles.
There are many toys on the market that challenge your dog to find hidden treats. This is a great way to encourage your dog to use their senses to hunt out the prize. This works equally well with a favourite toy or ball if your dog isn't overly food motivated. Try hiding a favourite toy in the house and encourage your dog to "Find it". You might be amazed just how much energy gets burned off in the process!
As most dogs are food motivated, try playing around with their food by hiding treats around the house, or tucking them inside suitable toys. The more creative the means, the better and longer the distraction if you are at home and on that important work or video call.
Switch up your walks
New experiences will help to encourage your dog's mind to stay fit, as discovering new sights and smells, and exploring different areas, will automatically cause new neural pathways to form in response. And one simple way to put this into action is to vary your morning walks. Visiting different parks or parts of your neighbourhood will automatically ensure your pet's mind is more elastic and responsive to the different stimuli around him. To ramp up this effect, it can be worth adding walking trips to the beach or countryside to your dog's routine.
Which breeds are the easiest to train?
Typically, dogs fit into seven breed groups: Pastoral; Working; Toy; Gundog; Terrier; Hound; and Utility. Amongst these groups, certain behaviours and personalities are instinctive, and usually have something to do with the role the breed was originally bred to do. Of these, there are three groups of breeds which are particularly well known for intelligence and trainability.
Pastoral dogs are those who've been bred to work on farms, often in herding roles. Breeds such as the Border Collie and German Shepherd fall under this category. Naturally, these dogs have a strong instinct to herd and like nothing more than being at the heart of a busy home, with people and animals alike.
When it comes to training, Pastoral breeds are some of the most intelligent dogs out there, with a willingness to learn that means they will pick up new skills and training easily. These are some of the best dogs to get if you're a new owner due to their trainability. However, these dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stop them from becoming bored, so you'll need to dedicate lots of time to them.
Bred to flush out, locate and retrieve game, Gundogs are naturally highly active breeds. With their friendly and playful natures, and their love of people Gundogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, English Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels, are among the best dog breeds for families. With their even tempers and natural desire to please, many Gundogs, especially Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are also considered some of the best therapy dogs.
Since they're such people-pleasers, Gundogs tend to be easy to train, with a willingness to learn and the intelligence to match. However, much like their Pastoral and Working counterparts, these loving and loyal dogs need lots of exercise, stimulation and time with the family.
Terriers might be small in size, but their big personalities more than makeup for it! Fun and feisty, terriers were originally bred to control vermin, pursuing small animals underground. Some of the most popular Terrier breeds include Border Terriers; Jack Russells; Staffordshire Bull Terriers; West Highland White Terriers; and Yorkshire Terriers. Naturally, Terriers love to dig and chase and these cheeky canines can be quite a handful. Terriers are happy to do their own thing and, whilst they love to spend time with their families, their independent nature means they can be left alone for longer than other breeds, making them some of the best dogs for people who work during the day.
However, this independent nature can make training a little more challenging with Terriers than with other breeds. Whilst they are intelligent and quick to learn, they are also strong-willed and may exercise selective hearing if lesson time becomes boring. Terriers also tend to be very vocal – something to consider if you have neighbours nearby!