Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Smart Dog

So it's always been a joke in the family that Saffy's a bit stupid, even for a Jack Russell. She's took a long time to master how to play fetch, she has trouble remembering more than four or five commands and she's walked into doorframes countless times through being too excited.

But today, I decided it was time to clear it up, once and for, all- is Saffy stupid for a dog?

I looked up 'Pet IQ tests' on google, and got a suprising number of hits. I picked out two that looked fairly sensible, found Saffy and got to work on testing her.

It began with a couple of questions about behaviour: How does she act when I come home after being away all day, and does her behaviour change when she's been naughty? She scored highly on these, she's very affectionate when we get home and she does know when she's been naughty, although maybe doesn't always know why.

The first task she had to do was get a piece of food from underneath a cup, having seen me place it there. I had actually done this before with her as part of a biology experiment on learned behaviours so I was expecting her to do well. Unfortunately she scored the lowest possible score by failing to retrieve the food. She knew it was there and sniffed around, but it didn't occur to her to knock the cup over so she gave up.

I was hoping that with the second challenge she might redeem herself. This involved placing a blanket over her head and seeing how long it took for her to free herself. It wasn't a great result- she didn't really care that she was under a blanket and just stood up to carry on playing with her toy. It fell off after about 30 seconds so I didn't give her the lowest score, but I don't think she was really trying to get out at all!

Then we had to test her reactions to words to see if she knows her name. Unfortunately, she seems to think that 'refrigerator' and 'movies' are her name, whereas 'Saffy' is just some random thing that comes up in human conversation.

Finally there were a couple more 'food-retrieving' tasks which Saffy could do easily because the food wasn't hidden and she's had plenty of practise at getting food from awkward places. Mainly because it's meant to be out of her reach...

At the end of two IQ tests, Saffy actually came out as average. She's no genius dog but apparently she's not so stupid after all. I think she just applies her intelligence selectively!

"If I can play Monopoly, I must be pretty smart!"