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What is the most intelligent thing your dog has done?


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What is the most intelligent thing your dog has done on its own that you did not teach it? I've seen many but my favorite time was when we moved, we did not have a lot of space in the back yard for fetch. I would take him across the street to a large fenced in park for that. Well that was not good enough for him. He wanted to play no matter what. So he would bring the ball to the neighbors kids and literally throw the ball over the fence so they would play with him. They loved it because they didn't have a dog. He wanted to play and found a way for someone to play with him and we didn't know until one day we saw it in action. He would bring the ball to the fence, throw it over the fence, the kids would pick it up and throw it. It was quite amusing. If only I was able to get it on video.

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Many years ago I had a female portuguese water dog mix. Great dog. But she was a family dog, no training whatsoever. She came when called and walked at heel with or without a leash, but she was born knowing those, we never thaught her anything.

One day I was sitting on a balcony that led to some stairs to the ground floor, and my cigarettes packet fell. She got up, went down the stairs, picked it up and brought it to me.

Tess will go to the ground floor to get my slippers, and will pick up and deliver to me anything I ask, but we WORKED on that skill, a lot. That other dog, she did it without me asking for it, only because it made sense to her, in that situation. I thought it was pretty clever.

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I think of all of my dogs, Dean is the one who does this sort of thing the most.

 

He has a toy stick. When we work in the yard and fill the wheelbarrow with pulled weeds, or cut branches, or whatever and wheel them to the burning pile, he brings his toy stick and puts it into the wheelbarrow along with the trimmings, and then he walks along beside the wheelbarrow as we wheel it back to the pile. When we get to the pile, he will often pull his stick out and put it on the burning pile (we always remove it, of course).

 

We never taught him to do this. He just figured it out on his own. If the stick is not available, he will do the same thing with a Frisbee, but his preference is always for the stick if it is out there.

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Lily used to have a problem with being crated for more than a few hours at a time. She soon realized that she could use her paws to open the wire crate door. This latch is the kind that has to be lifted and then pulled, so it's not easy to escape. Somehow Lily figured this out, I know that is the case because after the second or third time she escaped I sat on the bed and waited for her to break out and she did with ease. She then learned that she could also let Lyka out and play after we left. Lyka occasionally gets into grains which don't agree with her stomach and she has to be kenneled when left alone at those times, so we had to temporarily use a clip to keep the crates closed. Lily seems to have stopped escaping even after we stopped using the clips.

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I have a story from childhood I use to tell people how smart Border Collies are and how they seem to understand English.

 

We lived on acreage in the country. The dogs had access to the county road out front. Most of them stayed away, but we had what we thought was a Catahoula-type mix from the local shelter who had developed a taste for dried-out roadkill. She'd scavenge along the side of the road when we weren't watching and bring back her treasures to enjoy at home. We hadn't had her very long and she wasn't well trained or especially inclined to obey if she couldn't see an immediate benefit to her. One day she came trotting up into the yard with a flattened, dried out squirrel. I called her, and she said "yeah right." I told her to sit, and she said "yeah right." I said drop it, and she said "make me." I called our Border Collie, Oreo, and told him to get the squirrel from Dixie. Needless to say, I had never trained this dog to take roadkill (or anything else) away from another dog on command. But he went over to her, grabbed the squirrel, and took it away. Then I realized I didn't know what to DO with it since I wasn't going to touch it with my bare hands. I told him to watch it, and went inside and got a plastic bag. I had certainly never taught him to guard confiscated roadkill, but he stayed there and kept Dixie away from it until I came back out, bagged it, and threw it away.

 

Needless to say, there are many things in that story I don't recommend (letting your dogs have access to the road, giving your dogs commands you have no reason to think they'll obey, letting your untrained dog run loose, having a dog take a valued item away from another dog, I could keep going...), but at the core of it I'm still amazed that somehow he figured out the bizarre task I wanted him to accomplish and he got it done. I don't remember that I had to do any coaxing or repeated gesturing or anything -- I just told him to get it, then to watch it, and he did just that.

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A few months ago a friend was in my home office. The door to the balcony was open, the office door closed as I don't want the cat on the balcony (she jumps on the bathroom window ledge and I have an heart attack. It's a big fall.). My friend opened the office door, I yelled from the other side of the house for him to keep the door shut as I didn't want the cat to have access to the balcony, my friend yelled "What?" and the cat ran through the door. Tess imediatly ran after the cat, pinned her to the ground just before she could enter the balcony and kept her there till I arrived.

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Gideon always accompanies me to the bathroom and occasionally Micah does too. Gideon has the barest little bit of resource guarding and while he had me right where he wanted me, scratching his bum, he lifted his lip at Micah and Micah left. I immediately stopped the scratching. Gid repositioned himself in the way he does when he is telling me to scratch his bum, but I didn't respond in the expected way. Giddy gave me a sidelong stare and I said "You scared Micah off with your ugly face, so I'm not petting you. Where's Micah?" Gideon suddenly left. Pretty soon Micah was back with Gideon right behind. Gid made Micah come all the way into the little niche that the toilet is in and then positioned his bum for more scratching. He has never made ugly face at Micah again in the bathroom, he just swings his bum over for a scratch instead. If only Gid is in the bathroom with me and I'm not attentive enough, he will go get Micah and try again.

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I got another one. So my bc mix was mad because there was no room on the couch because my golden was on the couch with myself and my fiance. He tried finding a way to no avail. So he left the room. Moments later he came back in the room wit a tennis ball throwing it, chasing it, squeaking it, etc. So my golden leaped off the couch to have fun too and my bc mix jumped on the couch and took her place. It was amazing watching him think of a way to get her off and act overly amused with the tennis ball and having his plan work.

 

My golden taught herself how to open rounded door knobs but nothing else too exciting that I can think of.

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We had a bad winter once and my old boy Buddy was always hearing me say, "Gotta get my mittens" before he could go for a walk. One morning, I found only one mitten in the spot I'd left them; I said aloud, "Where's my mitten!?" Buddy ran to his bed: there it was. I had no idea he knew the word, but he'd clearly learned a whole lot of English without my teaching him. :)

 

I taught Cricket "paw" about a week ago. She doesn't like touching things with her paws; doesn't love the command. But the next morning, when I wasn't paying enough attention to her, she sat next to me on the couch and started "pawing" me over and over. I could see her little wheels turning: "This activates the human to do my bidding."

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I have a mixed breed dog named Twitch who loves to play "dog with stick". he gets a stick and we, the humans and the 2 border collies chase him around the yard trying to get his stick. I admit, I have defective border collies. they do not chase sticks, balls or Frisbees; they chase dogs with sticks, balls and Frisbees. it gives them great pleasure. so bc #1, Nova, has learned to find sticks for Twitch. she finds a good stick, runs up and taunts him with it, dares him to pick it up, just so she can chase and wrassle with him!

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And where Dean is the dog among my dogs who does the most "intelligent, but not taught" stuff, he is also a ding dong in other ways.

 

That boy has always been somewhat impaired when it comes to keeping track of flying toys. If he looses sight of a flying ball or frisbee, he has trouble finding it. (He has no problem bringing it back once he locates it, he has trouble locating it)

 

Speedy, all on his own, without any instruction, learned to show Dean where the toys went. He would always keep an eye on the flying toy (he always had another in his mouth already) or he would find it by scent, and if he could see that Dean was lost, Speedy would go to it and stare at it until Dean came along and got it. Dean knew this and would look to Speedy for this direction.

 

Bandit will actually do the same thing, but Dean ignores him. :blink:

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I really like this thread and I am trying desperately to think of a really intelligent thing Juno has done without me asking. The thing is I am probably missing most of them because I am not the most observant. What really amazes me about Juno, however, is the way she is in general. She is just so much more than a dog. She seems to understand what I say and everyday she does something to impresses me.

 

One time, when Juno was a puppy, she really impressed me when my wife took her for a walk in the woods by herself but fell and sprained her ankle quite badly. When Juno saw that she was in pain and couldn't get up she just went right over to her and lay down beside her until help arrived. Prior to the fall she was off leash and running around with the exuberance of a Border Collie puppy. I don't know how much intelligence this showed but it certainly showed compassion.

 

Bill

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A while back we had a bichon and whenever it snowed heavily he would have trouble getting through the snow. My border collie walked the perimeter of our fence, then walked diagonally from one corner to another and a straight path to the back. He did this multiple times until the bichon could have a nice walkway. Then he went up to my bichon and showed him the paths. It was amazing to see. The bichon used the paths until the snow got easier to walk around. It was nice for us because the poop was easy to find if you walked the path he made in the springtime when the snow melted.

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The most intelligent thing all my dogs have done is trained me very well to be a good dog owner.

 

I'd have to say that Tillie, my first dog as an adult, wins this prize. She was a stray, a blue heeler, (they're called Australian cattle dogs today,) and she was a very, very sweet dog.

 

A friend showed up at my home, bawling her eyes out. She was crying so hard I thought that something had happened to one of her kids or her husband. When she calmed down a little, she told me that she'd had a really bad fight with our boss and didn't know what to do.

 

Tillie came up and dropped a ball in her lap. Totally broke the tension, we both laughed. Tillie got some affection, picked up her ball and went and laid down. Her job was done.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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The thing that sticks out for me was a problem-solving response by Sugarfoot. I was walking with a friend down an access road with an 8' chain-link fence on one side. We were throwing the ball for Sugar and my friend somehow mangaged to lob it over the fence. Sugar was watching, but the ball disappeared into a stand of dry weeds.

 

Sugar turned to me in exasperation, and I said, "Sorry pal, if you want more you'll have to find the ball yourself."

 

Well, she got the find the ball part alright, but there was this fence. So she stood there for a moment looking left, right and up. Up was out - fence too high. She took one more glance to the right and went haring off down the fenceline in that direction. About 200 yards down she found a gate with a 6" or 7"gap under it, and squeezed under. Then back she went, down the inside of the fence to about where we waited, watching. She started casting in circles, nose down, and quickly found the ball. Then she ran back to the gate, squeezed under, and returned to us with the ball. She did all this without any coaching from us, and was mightily pleased with herself. She dropped the ball at my feet and I threw it for her again. This time on the correct side of the fence.

 

My friend who mostly knows retrievers was impressed. But my take on it was that Sugar was just using her Border Collie brain. I've had several Lassie Collies that would do that sort of problem solving, a husky mix, and Collie/ German Shepherd Dog cross. Retrievers rarely come with that variety of intelligence, in my experience. They will happily do endless reps of the most boring command - something that would set most of the thinking dogs I've known to grinding their teeth. But don't expect them to get creative with problem solving. I guess that's why they make good guide dogs. They cope well with boring routine and endless reps.

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Mine's not as impressive as some of the other ones, but Gabe "takes turns" with who is going to throw his ball. It makes new people really happy when he brings the ball to them spontaneously after a few reps with me and my husband to get comfortable. It's also a good "getting to know you" activity for him. But I always think it's so special when he goes up to a new person and drops the ball in their lap like "okay, your turn to play now!"

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These threads are so funny. I don't think this is the smartest thing Kieran has done, but it's hard to think of things. I think I might have told this story in another thread.

 

I used to put some apple cider vinegar in his water for his yeast problems, which he hated. One night it was pouring. At three in the morning, he kept going to the door like he needed to pee. I took him out once, but he just walked around. So we went back inside. Five minutes later, he went to the door again. I got annoyed, thinking maybe he just didn't want to go in the rain. I watched him more closely as we went out, and he was actually dragging his tongue across the puddles trying to drink the water as we walked. When we got back inside I dumped his bowl and put regular water in it. He drank it so fast. Poor guy.

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My friend who mostly knows retrievers was impressed. But my take on it was that Sugar was just using her Border Collie brain. I've had several Lassie Collies that would do that sort of problem solving, a husky mix, and Collie/ German Shepherd Dog cross. Retrievers rarely come with that variety of intelligence, in my experience. They will happily do endless reps of the most boring command - something that would set most of the thinking dogs I've known to grinding their teeth. But don't expect them to get creative with problem solving. I guess that's why they make good guide dogs. They cope well with boring routine and endless reps.

 

My lab was getting spooked by a tiny gate I wanted her to go through- she would have to squeeze, I had to go out sideways. It was getting dark and we had to leave the park by this gate since the others were locked.

 

I coaxed, I ordered, I wheedled, to no avail. So I drop the lead. I mean, the whole problem is that it's a big fenced area that she can't get out of, right? And I go tie the other dogs to a tree to keep them safe for a minute while I deal with the silly dog.

 

She is quite happy and confidently starts heading off along the path. I meanwhile am following, telling her what an idiot she is, there is a gate that way etc. She goes over, finds the gate - and remember, this gate does not lead outside, she's never used it to go out, it goes into another fenced field. It goes exactly away from where she wants to go. I assume she's just being stupid, and tell her so repeatedly.

 

It's a sheep gate which she (as far as I know) has never opened before. It's quite counter-intuitive since pushing against it will get you stuck, you have to pull it and then stop it at the right point. I have seen kids getting stuck in it who aren't quite familiar with it and it makes loud clanging noises which she tends to be afraid of. She pulls it towards her with her muzzle, stops it, goes out neatly without hitting it with her body which would close it, runs to a point in the fence where the lowest slat is higher than it should be, slides under it, runs around to the other fence, goes under that, and then comes trotting back to me.

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Another Dean one . . . !!!

 

Last winter (not this past one but the winter before), I started finding Dean out in the big yard after I had let the dogs out into the dog yard only. I could not figure out how he got out there. There was no place he could have jumped, the gate was not moved . . . I had no clue. But he would not come back in the way he went out when I called him. He would sit at the gate and just look at me until I let him back in.

 

This went on for about 2 weeks. I tried to watch to see how he was getting out there . . . couldn't catch him. And he would not come back in when I called.

 

Finally, I just happened to go back out the door and I caught him in the act. There was a hole in the lattice around our deck that I didn't know about and he was just going under the deck and out an opening on the other side. I caught him walking through the flower bed.

 

He looked up and there I was.

 

Here's the thing - after that, when I would call him back into the dog yard, he would come back in the way he went out. No more standing at the gate looking clueless!!

 

We finally fixed the hole, and that ended. But it was funny how he came back through so readily after he was caught . . .

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The other day I was able to direct Hank (cattle dog x terrier) to go get me toilet paper (I was stranded!). He went and got me a roll and brought it back to me. I was very impressed. I've never asked him to do anything like that before.

 

My younger papillon does incredibly intelligent things constantly but they are self serving. She is one of those that will survey the environment and use whatever she can find to open doors, gates, climb, etc. She is ornery! One of my favorite incidences is when she locked my other papillon in a crate. She very calmly watched Summer walk into the crate then shut the door and locked it. Summer pitched a FIT.

 

It's a running gag at classes and things that I always try to secure food away from her and yet she always somehow gets to it. Still haven't figured out how my 10" dog can climb my countertops in the kitchen (won't do it while I'm home) but she does. Somehow. I really think she's smarter than me sometimes!

 

And what is funniest to me is she LOVES being 'caught' in a plan. I see her start sneaking and I will ask 'Hey what are you doing!?' She gets all wiggly then promptly behaves. Till she knows you're not paying as close of attention anymore...

 

She also used to stuff my shoes full of tennis balls and carry them around from room to room. I don't know if she figured it was fun or if she realized she could carry more that way?

 

My other dogs just aren't the same. (Poor Summer is a sweetie but not very brainy at all)

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Hahaha! The picture of the evil little papillon sabatoging here sister is giving me the giggles.

 

Keeper's smart thing is mostly just instinctual, but I find it funny. He was totally solidly potty trained at 10 weeks old, and no, I'm not kidding. He was a potty training genius. That said, he has NEVER been punished for pooping in the house. So one night he must've really had to go for some reason, and he couldn't wake me up. I woke up to him having pooped in the bath tub in an effort to keep it out of the house. His little face was so ashamed. I rewarded his ingenuity.

 

But really, Keeper's amazing trait is how he deals with my brother. He's pretty moderately autistic, and he has anger outbursts with some regularity. Keeper has earned the name PeaceKeeper because he can tell when Andrew is getting upset long before any of us know it. He can tell by the way he walks, if he takes a deep breath, anything. And he can hear it when Andrew is clear on the other side of the house. Keeper will bolt up and run to Andrew and jump up and paw him until he bends down and gives him attention and eases up on the anger. It has been the greatest thing to teach self-control, and it can stop an outburst in its tracks. Pretty cool, really.

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And what is funniest to me is she LOVES being 'caught' in a plan. I see her start sneaking and I will ask 'Hey what are you doing!?' She gets all wiggly then promptly behaves. Till she knows you're not paying as close of attention anymore...

 

That sounds more to me like appeasement behavior than loving to be caught.

 

Just sayin' . . . .

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One day I walked into the laundry room and noticed a strong poop smell. I went to check the litter boxes. I used pee pads as walk-off mats for the litter boxes and noticed one pad was folded in half. I was surprised to find that my dog, Zuri, a 50 lb flattie mix), had left a huge dump there.

Then I remembered we had strong thunderstorms the night before. Zuri was very scared of thunder and I couldn’t get her to go outside. She had been a pregnant farm stray before I got her, so as far as I know, she had never used a pee pad, and she didn’t like going into the basement. But, she had gone down two flights of stairs during the night, pooped on the pee pad, and then covered it up. Not sure how she put that together, but she constantly amazed me.

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