Friday, March 12, 2010

SMART DOG vs DUMB DOG

This is post 300. There was a time when I thought that would be a big deal till I looked around and learned just how many posts the rest of you have put up. Some of you have topped the thousand plus mark. To brag about 300 would be like bragging that I was now a 2nd grader. So I ain't bragging, just amazed that I have made it this far. Wasn't sure I had a month in me. While looking for subject matter is more of a challenge these days, I will keep plugging away til I just dry up and blow away. Thanks so much for hanging in there and making this a fun journey.








SMART vs DUMB

When prospective owners came to my rescue in search of the perfect dog, generally the third question after whether the dog was housebroken and good with children would be, "Is the dog smart?"

My answer would be to ask them just how they liked their lives. Full of peace or full of interest?

Most people think they want a smart dog but what they really want is one that can do tricks and housebreak easily. Housebreaking aside, about that trick part. Dogs who are eager to please make good tricksters. It doesn't necessarily mean they are smart, they just have a decent memory and really, really want that cookie and your approval.


People with good memories like me are not necessarily smart either. They can easily recall old stuff but might not be able to initiate new thought. I can tell you what I thought about at three years old, but don't ask me to look anything other than glazed over when you ask "If a train were going from Boston to New York, traveling at 60 miles per hour........." There are degrees of smartness in us all. Dogs are like that also. The dog you should fear is a smart, independent thinker type of dog.

A smart dog can problem solve. Gates and fences can be over come by the smart dog. They can be tunneled under or as a Chihuahua I had was able to do, climb over. Fence is not an insurmountable barrier, just a problem to be solved. The very smart dogs will watch you unlatch a gate and if tall enough, can replicate the action with nose or paw. They can get into cabinets in the house and help them selves to pantry foods.

The smart dog is constantly looking for something to entertain itself. They are forever bugging you for something to exercise their minds. Yes, tricks are easy for them. They figure them out after just a few showings. However, do not keep them stimulated and you will have a problem dog on your hands.

Search and rescue dogs are smart. They are independent thinkers. If you crave a smart dog, be ready to match and exceed its intelligence. Left without stimulus the dogs often resort to destructive behavior to keep from going bonkers.

One prime example of a smart dog was a Chihuahua mix I had named Lady. I had installed electric fencing about 6 inches from the ground to reinforce my welded wire fencing. This deterred the dogs from digging under or climbing over the regular fence. This was necessary to keep them from becoming silhouettes on the nearby highway.

Because the wire was so close to the ground, I had to patrol the perimeter frequently to make sure no weeds had grown into the wire shorting out the whole fence. The dogs would all walk with me but stayed clear of the fence line.

The majority of my dogs only had to be shocked by the fence one time to never try again. Lady however had discovered that sometimes the fence would not shock. She was my main reason for the constant patrol. She did not know why (she wasn't that smart) but she did know that if that were the case, she could squeeze through the fence safely to explore the woods that surrounded us. I never knew how she could tell whether the fence was working. I just couldn't imagine she was testing it herself. Then one day I caught her in the act.

She was walking with two puppies that were slightly bigger than she was. She slowly edged them near the fence, then my eyes popped as I saw her bump one of the pups with her shoulder sending it kind of drunkenly against the wire. The puppy naturally yelped and I realized that she was using them as test dummies. If they didn't squeal, she was good to go.

Good thing I had lots of dogs or she would have run out of test dummies. Even poor old Dorka learned electric fences bit and that poor dog was off the scales on the low side. That is problem solving folks. I used to say that if I had the time , I could have taught Lady to play Monopoly, making her the banker.

So unless you want life to be a constant challenge, I highly recommend seeking a good ole average intelligence dog if you like peace in your life. Leave the intelligent dogs to those with a lot of time on their hands. I adore Mighty but he really isn't a mental giant. He is pretty much average,maybe even a bit on the low side. Sightly dim dogs will give you all the love and devotion you could possible want with none of the problems.

They housebreak, walk on a leash, come when they are called and look adoringly into your eyes. They just can't figure out how your cabinet doors open. Truthfully, I love all degrees of intelligence preferring Fido average. I appreciate them like a box of chocolates as Forrest Gump would say. Just enjoying what ever comes up knowing some will require more attention than the others but just like that box of chocolates, they all please.

Which would you prefer and have you ever owned a too smart animal?

28 comments :

  1. I probably have had some too smart German Shepherds, but Luckie's mix Ger. Shep. heritage is more to my liking.

    However, she is smarter than I give her credit. I remember the chipmunk in the drainpipe episodes. I may write about it. I have crude movie of it, too, if I can figure how to post it.

    Briefly she watched how Shelly would dump the chippy out the other end, so it could run under fence or up a tree. He often had to bounce the pipe a few times. She learned to do that herself running from one end of the pipe to the other!

    She would do it endlessly until exhausted. Then she would lie down blocking one end and watch the other.

    I was amazed. She never did figure the chippy sure wasn't going to exit either end when a black nose was waiting to great it.

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  2. I've had them all. Sophie, my cairn terror. LD,my "pit" chihuahua. Sassy, my love. Lancer, jail bird. The list goes on...and I loved each one of them. Great Post!!!

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  3. Wow Patti, I just wish I had your way with words. You are a wonderful writer. I can't believe you never did this for a living! On the subject of dogs....I've had smart dogs, less than average intelligence, but I can honestly say I never had a dog that didn't love me unconditionally! I've been lucky!

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  4. Logan is a mental midget (at least that's how he comes off), but I love him unconditionally. He does not do well on the hardwood floor at any speed and tries to leap from the various area rugs we have to avoid epic crashes. Indeed, he has slammed into corners of walls so severely that I don't know how he didn't break bones or cause internal bleeding. But, when placed on a 'down/stay' in another room for example so we can eat in peace, he instantly becomes a Pointer and can slowly creep, unheard and unnoticed, until he is almost by our side, where he wants to be. That includes across the hardwood.

    The greyhound just ignores us and puts her head in a lap, but if you even look at her funny she sulks and hides in the bedroom. Funny critters.

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  5. Makes no difference to me. Moses showed up in our driveway when we lived in WV back in Dec. 1998..He was almost a yr. then...we never found his owner, but he is the best dog. Brindle mix, very gentle with our kids, our grands, and our 4 cats. He and our oldest cat were the only pets for a long while and they are best buds...Maggie loves him to death...He used to carry her around in his mouth when she was a wee kitten.
    And one more thing, I absolutely LOVE reading your posts....Oh to be so creative with the written word....Keep writing.
    Love ya,
    Sandy in NC

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  6. I already have a smart dog and my life is way too interesting! lol

    And go ahead and boast, 300 blogs is amazing.

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  7. I had one very smart dog once. He could figure his way out of any backyard. Unfortunately, it cost him his very short life. I had a very dim dog once. He couldn't learn a thing, would fall asleep with his head in his food bowl. Sweet, but not bright. I think a combo of Tommy the smart one and Gabriel the dim one would have made a fine companion. I stopped having dogs after Gabriel (a beautiful German Shepherd).

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  8. I was neighbor to a really smart dog
    He would open the screen door!!
    and sit in the driveway waiting for me
    I swear he was laughing at me

    Congrats on 300!
    I think it's a great accomplishment
    plus it's quality, not quantity
    and the quality here is worth thousands :)

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  9. Wonderful tale! LOL! This may be my favorite! Congratulations on 300!

    Our Akita, the late Howard Lee was a smart dog. He could open the gate, the patio door, and most disastrously, the pantry door and cans with pop top lids.

    Miss Piggy is not a smart dog, but she can read our minds whenever we are even THINKING about going somewhere. I leave my shoes off until we're ready to walk out the door in order to fool her. It doesn't.

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  10. What a good post. Don't even think about running out of material! Truthfully we all have feast or famine times. I'm in famine time right now.

    Animal adoption agencies should use your article. It's excellent.

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  11. We got Max (Border C/McNabb X) as a manners trained pup. He had never worked cattle but figured it out pretty quick. You could send him miles away to gather a bunch of cattle, or sort cattle in the corrals. He's enjoying his well earned retirement now, but still has the ol smarts. The most well mannered ol fellow I know, man or beast.

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  12. True, Patti, I think.... I'd much rather be around a good-ole-normal-average-intelligence ADULT also.. Have you ever spent time with someone who is VERY VERY smart????? They usually don't have much 'common sense' --and have trouble with many what I call 'normal' things in life...I think it's the same with animals.. Give me a 'mutt' anytime--with average intelligence!!!!

    Have a great weekend.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  13. I've not had many dogs in my life but after this next mission trip I'm thinking one is on the horizon. I do worry about house breaking....not even sure how to begin but I guess I'll buy a book. :) blessings, marlene

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  14. Nitwit1
    Luckie is smart for she learned just by watching. No training required.
    Please do post about it and hope you can manage pictures.

    turquoisemoon,
    Oh I have had one of those "pit chihuahuas". They can be fierce creatures. You have a fine history of pets. They give so much.

    oklhdan,
    Thank you for your confidence in me. Wish I had it. That is one thing all dogs have in common,the ability to return love with no strings. Now is I could find a
    man---.

    Barry,
    You have delt with a lot of dogs so you can spot them. IQ's never effect their ability to be just cool companions. Have you done a video of Logan's skating? Probably happens too quickly for camera.

    Sandy,
    Ah, Moses knew whose driveway to enter. Strays are often the very best dogs. That is what 99.9% of my dogs have been.
    Thank you for the kind words. I can't access your profile but I really appreciate your visits.

    Barry,
    Ah ha, two Barrys in one day. How cool is that. Thanks so much for stopping by and the kudo. Good luck with that smart dog.

    robin,
    You are so right. "Smart" can be hazzardous to a dogs health.
    I have seen those who can sleep in their food. Maybe it is not dumb but just laid back.
    If you get that new home, a dog might be a nice addition. Just a thought. It would have to have the cat's approval.

    Dianne,
    Well you are just too nice and I sure do appreciate it.
    It is true, most smart dogs have a sense of humor.

    marylee,
    OMG, you had the dreaded genius in Howard. They are so clever.
    Mighty is like Miss Piggy, when he sees me pick up my purse he gets all anxious. He thinks he is either going somewhere cool or stuck at home.

    Linda,
    Thank you so much. I had to drop from a daily blog to 3 days a week which is so far working. Actually, today I thought I had nothing.

    Brighid,
    Good cattle dogs have to be independent thinkers for they often work with out command. Max sounds like a dandy and I am glad you have provided for his retirement. Way to go Max.

    Betsy,
    Good grief, are you calling George a Mutt? Kidding big time, he had to be a genius, he picked you didn't he.

    Stichinbythelake,
    I do hope you get one. Housebreaking is easy if you commit to the dog for a while and enjoy nice walks. They are good for our health in so many ways.

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  15. Bumping puppies into the electric fence - WOWZER or is that BOWZER...
    I can see if I ever get another dog again I will look for average or below average in the braniac arena. - Next you will have to tell us how to do a dog IQ test.
    Nicely written. Thanks

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  16. You have a good memory.
    You ARE smart.
    You can initiate new thought.
    You are capable of many more posts, but I congratulate you on 300!

    I've had very smart dogs and some very dumb ones. I prefer the smart ones.

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  17. Wow I congrat you 300 because I will be amazed myself even when I hit a hundred...lol
    You had better keep posting I would miss you.
    Before you run out of things to talk about you need to do a story for me for the new story project I have going on my site...
    This is a very interesting animal story too...so true
    Take care
    Maggie

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  18. GQ,
    Strange you should mention it but there are IQ tests for dogs. The best thing however is to just accept what ever intellegence level they come with and not regret if they are not geniuses. All have advantages.

    Kenju,
    Thank you so much Judy. Can only hope part of your opinion is true, Then I might be trick worthy. Not turning mind you but doing.

    GYH,
    Thank you so much. I am enjoying your story project but will probably pass. Sounds strange when I realize my blog is totally about me and my experiences but I am actually uncomfortable talking about myself except in a tongue in cheek fashion.

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  19. Congrats on 300 posts..WOW!!!!:-)) That is a feat..Amazed & Impressed! Very fast 300 though.

    Oh I've never owned a pet & probably never will as I'm scared of them. But if I ever do, then I want it lovable. Smartness, I can make up for in plenty. wink :D

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  20. Lovely story, Patti! My daughter had two cats who worked together to open the fridge. One was sitting on top and the other one on the floor in front of the fridge door. Both put their paw in the fridge and pulled at the same time. My daughter had to find a means to lock the fridge door.The cats always tried to open the biscuit tins and they succeeded to do so when nobody was at home.

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  21. lostworld,
    You know if you keep coming here, I am going to talk you into a pet. But seriously, don't do it while you are young. They tie you down to much and you should be enjoying your freedom. Plenty of time for pets later.

    Reader Wil,
    Cats cannot be ignored in the super smart catagory. Your daughter's were brilliant to double team the fridge like that.

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  22. Wow!!! What a smart dog!!! I love her!!! What fun!!! Our dog died about 7 years ago...he was extremely smart, and stubborn...and sensitive...what a combo!!! Makes for some hilarious stories...I may have to think about writing some of them down sometime...I thoroughly enjoyed your story!!! You are a wonderful storyteller!! ~Janine XO

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  23. The best dog we had was a mixture, named Cuddles. She lived to be 22 in human years. She didn't do any tricks, but she was easy to please and didn't bark at everything that moved, like the Fox Terriers we've had would do. But I'm at a point in my life, where I don't want any more dogs. We have five buried in the backyard. Our daughter and granddaughter are living here with us and they have a cat. He's easy, litter box trained. Sits in the front window waiting for us to return. Hope you've had an enjoyable week-end.

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  24. If I had a Dog, I would want one that was like Mighty. Sweet and gentle and loving and NOT challanging---at least that is what I would want at this time in my life...lol!

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  25. And....CONBGRATULATIONS On 300 Posts! It is a HUGE Accompliishment Patti and I applaud tou loudly!

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  26. Sniffles and Smiles,
    Thank you so much and I really hope you tell the dog stories you have. I'll be looking for them.

    Patty,
    That is an awesome age for a dog to live. You were both blessed with such a long life span to enjoy eachother.
    Cats really are easy to keep aren't they?

    OOLOH
    I'm with you, not challenginig is wonderful at my stage in life also.
    Thanks about the 300 but you are one of those that dwarf my number. Don't know how you do it. I am in awe.

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  27. Don't dry up and blow away! Your stories are good....real good. I never tire of reading them, because they are real. I think my dog was on the smarter side...not as smart as the one that nudged the puppy into the fence, but he could get out. Cats we have had some were super smart and some on the low side of your scale. One kitten loved me so much that when I went out the patio door to work in the front yard she figured out how to open the screen with her claw and get out. Never learned to shut it, though. I had two male cats that puzzled over that door for their entire lives and never figured it out, bless their little hearts. It is a little lonesome around here without a pet for the first time in like 60 years, but it is nice in a way not to have to worry about them.

    Congratulations on 300 posts. I got all excited when I hit 150 or something. Now I've slowed down some and go a little more for quality than quantitiy. You are pure quality...I get a little off track or on some rabbit trail and then we are off into a whole new world.

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  28. Amber Star,
    Thank you and I am so glad you like the stories for I don't have much else to offer.
    I know how you feel about having pets.I sometimes think of all the places I could go it I weren't tied down with my pets but when I sit on the couch in the evening and I have 3 warm bodies vying for my attention, I forget all about taking that occasional trip.

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