They called my dog stupid

Perhaps it’s in comparison to the truly intelligent dogs: the border collie, the poodle, the german shepard.

I find that often people take great offense at being told that their dog is stupid. All dogs are stupid. Even the seemingly brighter ones. And yes, yours is too. But why would you care about the intelligence of your dog? What aspect of your life does that reflect- the bad education you gave it? The decision making you do which is influenced by the dog’s advice…? It’s not your child, nobody’s going to attribute your dog’s intellect levels to your genes. Stop being offended FOR dogs. They don’t care. A dog doesn’t have to be smart or intelligent, it’s the most awesomest form of life on the planet- WHILE being rather stupid. Dogs have so much going on for them that zealously adding intelligence to the list is really mere fanboyism. Dogs are awesome while stupid. That’s probably why they’re so happy all the time.


Typical for your breed :wink:

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I saw my buddy’s Rottweiler do this with another dog once. blew my mind.

Molly, Lucy and Carter used to manipulate me as a gang. They had an elaborate system of drawing me down a hallway to the snacks they wanted. I always assumed Molly was the mastermind as she was the one waiting at the end of the line and had the least work to do.

I could look over my should and see the snack conga line formed up. They were clearly passing me off to one another and working a system.

Nemo and Pretzel are not quite as advanced yet but are only 2.

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Bassets and other scent hounds have never score high on intelligence tests where obeying commands and performing tricks is part of the test. Scent hounds are problem solvers not show ponies. They do not need to rely on a human. They have quite high intelligence but aren’t very interested in learning our tricks and commands.
Train them in scent tracking and field exercises and the Basset really shines. I trust both my bassets intelligence more than most people I know.


I wonder if you were left in the woods with no clothing and equipment how you would fare. Most dogs would be fine. So yeah, they must be stupid.

You are of course, correct that it would be unwise to accept this list blindly, without understanding the underlying motivations of the author. Since I have never owned a dog, (and prefer cats, an arguably less intelligent species) the most I can do is link to an excerpt from the book.

Intelligent dogs are inadvertently taught many unwanted behaviors. Increasing the activity level in a household, and increasing the number of people that are present in it, increases the likelihood that chance associations will be learned. For the intelligent dog this means that there is a greater opportunity to learn things that will be useful in adapting to everyday life, but also provides a greater opportunity for the dog to learn “odd” or annoying associations. Consider the case of “Prince”, a Border Collie whose great joy in life was to race around outdoors. Whenever someone was about to leave the house Prince would race after them, trying to get outside. Once, after Prince had started his mad dash for the exit, the screen door swung closed and the dog ended up crashing through the wire mesh. Rewarded by the chance to romp outside, the dog learned from this one instance that it could create its own “doggie door” by simply running full tilt at the screen. After several repairs had been attempted, Prince’s owners added a protective layer of heavy farm wire that the dog could not break through. Frustrated by this new development Prince began casting around the house and noticed that many of the windows were open and only covered by the same material that used to cover the screen door. For this intelligent dog it was easy to reach the conclusion that these windows could also be used as exits.

Instantaneously, every open ground floor window then became a target Prince’s headlong rush for the joys of the outdoors, much to the dismay and annoyance of the dog’s owners. A less intelligent dog would have been considerably less likely to form the association that crashing through the screen results in outdoor time, based upon a single instance. Furthermore, when confronted with the obstacle of the heavy wire over the door screen, the less intelligent dog would have been considerably less likely to generalize its knowledge and apply its newly learned information to windows or other screened apertures. Simply put, the less intelligent dog will miss many of these chance contingencies and hence will move through the noise and chaos of a busy household without learning bad habits from only one or two associations.

So there you have it.

Comparing me to a dog doesn’t do justice to dogs by any means, however, being that even worms qualify for your comparison towards intelligence shows that we have a disagreement on the meaning of intelligence.

What I mean by intelligence is a kind of behavior that doesn’t stem from instincts but is rather learnt and exhibits adaptability and resourcefulness. Dogs have it to some extent. Fetching a stick, that’s smart? Maybe. Even crabs can be trained. Opening the door and barking twice… how does that learning capacity work in your forest theory?
Smarter dogs, namely Wolves, while still not very intelligent themselves, are superior to dogs thanks to not losing millions of evolutionary years’ worth of progress to human selective breeding.
That doesn’t make dogs any less special, on the contrary- what they lack in some ways they more than make up for it by conquering our hearts like few other animals can.

Progress? Towards what?

Stanley Coren states that there are 525 million dogs on this planet.

I don’t think that wolves are quite that numerous. Domestication is quite the survival “strategy”.

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It’s a curious idea, that some precognizant wolves intelligently chose to be selectively bred, foreknowing our destruction of their habitat and manipulating us really for their prosperity (although that would be pretty cool). What are the basis for dogs’ domestication? When going to a shelter to choose your dog, what kind of intelligence tests does it undergo?
Besides, no creature but the simplest can adapt fast enough to our capacity of instantaneous destruction I guess (in evolutionary terms), but that’s really besides the topic.

This is exactly the kind of behavior you get from a good scent hound which the author labels as being unintelligent.
A good scent hunter can track prey not just because they have a good nose, but because they are natural problem solvers. They adapt to the situation and use their resourcefulness to find a solution to how to get to the prey.

You might have noticed I never used the term intelligent. You said dogs are stupid. I think anything that can’t survive in nature on its own is stupid. So yeah, if you can’t then by my measure a worm is less stupid than you. Not that you aren’t more intelligent, just that any living thing that can’t live in the natural world is too stupid to stay alive.

That’s very odd. That excerpt seems to run contrary to the articles suggestion that train-ability is the measure of intelligence. My bassets are very difficult to train but learn about what they find interesting almost immediately. They even try to make associations where none exist and seem frustrated when it doesn’t pan out. For example, Rosco P Coltrane picked up a blue stuffed toy snake just before I gave him a treat once. The next day, he greeted me with that toy. When I didn’t give him another treat, he dropped it and brought a different blue toy. Still no treat so he ignored me and went to do his thing. The next day, he brought me a green rubber snake toy and acted very proud to have thought of it. I laughed and gave him a treat. Now, he thinks I like all snake shaped objects and even brings me real ones. So, adaptive and creative intelligence but difficult to train due to the intelligence. Classified as unintelligent by the article but exhibits the traits of intelligence from the book… All over the place IMO

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Isn’t the difference between a listicle and a full length book amazing?

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From the 17 April 2015 issue of Science

Dawn of the Dog

So what did happen? Most experts now think dogs domesticated themselves. Early humans left piles of discarded carcasses at the edges of their campsites—a veritable feast, the thinking goes, for wolves that dared get close to people. Those wolves survived longer and produced more pups—a process that, generation by generation, yielded ever-bolder animals, until finally a wolf was eating out of a per- son’s hand. Once our ancestors realized the utility of these animals, they initiated a second, more active phase of domestication, breeding early canines to be better hunters, herders, and guardians.

Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds

I feel pretty confident that these hypotheses are too recent to have been falsified.

They called my dog stupid

That’s what the censors did to Navin Johnson’s dog, too, in the TV edit.

Thanks for the link!
In my eyes though, there’s something not quite right about this sentence “Most experts now think dogs domesticated themselves.”. There’s quite a difference between an animal procedurally letting its guard down to enjoy an easy meal, and actively choosing a path of domestication. The deliberate pattern of pacifying wolves in order to domesticate them, and then to selectively breed out their less convenient aspects of character was, the way I see it, entirely human. It’s equivalent to saying that mustangs gave chase to entice cowboys’ motivation to domesticate them.
I wasn’t arguing in any stage that dogs are not capable survivors, nor that humans are the only adaptable creatures, but for all animals- food is just too important. That’s how they’re caught. Even we can’t focus on anything when we’re really and truly starving and it’s only when this need is pacified that other brain activity can come through.

I can’t help thinking that your objections to this line of inquiry are largely political.

You’re welcome to elaborate on why that is, but I can say that my opinion stems from curiosity regarding the reaction of offense some people take regarding allusions to their pets’ smarts. It seems to me that loving someone dearly and admitting its stupidity are taken to stand at complete opposition, much more so than with other qualities such as laziness, capriciousness, aggressiveness etc.

Do you think it’s possible to apply ape logic to canines in a meaningful way? When we try to measure the intelligence of other apes, say humans for example, we can’t agree on a meaningful and non-biased method. Knowing that, how can we pretend to measure the intelligence of a non-ape in any meaningful way.
I get it. It’s comfortable to view our pets as unintelligent or even a bit dumb but are they really? Are we simply fooling ourselves to avoid the truth that pets are mentally and emotionally stunted creatures we have prevented from reaching cognitive maturity for our own amusement by infantilizing the animal and making it totally dependent on us for its own survival?
How can we pretend to know the true measure of any animals intelligence when we are incapable of accurately assessing members of our own species who speak the same language and who share the same ape based collections of senses? I can only think of one way we could attempt to do so - hubris.

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Surely you’ve heard of

Don’t try to place genetics and animal husbandry in a moral context-- it clouds your vision.