How to test how smart your dog is: 5 simple exercises and how to assess them

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. April 28 - Photos: Love my dogz

With this playful test, you can find out how clever your pet is.


Most owners are extremely proud when their four-legged friend learns a new trick or obeys a newly learned command. Rightly so, if you praise the dog for it! Also numerous studies have been conducted to determine which dogs are the smartest. Some breeds learn faster but basically, you can say that individual ability also matters. Below are five easy-to-do tasks that you can try to see how resourceful and smart your dog is.

The Labrador is one of the smartest breeds. Because of their excellent abilities, they were used for various tasks, for example as a helper dog.

“IQ test” – how smart is your dog?

The task sequence was constructed by Stanley Coren, a Sociologist, and author of The Intelligence of Dogs, and could be broadly compared to IQ tests for humans. (To make things clear, there is no point in talking about IQ in the case of animals, as this can be measured by several tasks specifically designed for humans. For this reason, they are similar, not identical.)

The things you’ll need:

  • treats
  • a large towel or blanket
  • three plastic cups or bowls
  • cardboard
  • stopwatch

As the author himself points out, the following test is mostly playful; do not draw any conclusions from it! It’s also important that the tasks don’t have to be done all at once, you can test your dog at different times. Otherwise, it can be too tiring for them.

This border terrier is very playful; how would they do in the test?

Challenge 1: The towel test

Let your pet sniff your chosen towel or blanket thoroughly. If you think they have gotten familiar with the item, put it on their head. Watch how long it takes for them to get out of it! If 15 seconds is enough for them, give them 3 points. For a result between 15-30 seconds, they’ll get 2 points, and if they need more time, they’ll get 1 point.

Challenge 2: The Hidden Treat

Put a treat on the floor and then spread some fabric over it. Scoring is the same: if the dog sniffs and gets it in less than 15 seconds, it is worth 3 points. A score between 15-60 seconds will be awarded 2 points, slower than that 1 point.

Vizslas are also great working dogs.

Challenge 3: Under which cup?

Place the three cups upside down on the ground, then hide a treat under one of them in front of the dog. Distract them for a while, then let them go in search of the treat. This tests how well they can memorise the information.

3 points if they immediately go to the cup with the reward, 2 points if they’ll first check an empty one and then go to the correct one, and 1 point if they find the correct cup last.

The sinka is little known, but they are a well-designed animal!

Challenge 4: Problem-solving

Choose a piece of furniture that only fits the dog’s paw underneath, then put a treat under it, so they can reach it. Here the dog has to think and then solve the task.

If they complete the challenge in one minute using only their paw, it is worth 3 points. If they try to stick their head or nose in first, they’ll get 2 points, if they give up, they get 1 point.

The French bulldog is considered by most to be just a cute dog, but they can be taught to do many things.

Challenge 5: Beyond the barrier

This task will require a little creativity on your part. You’ll need a cardboard board that’s tall enough to prevent your pet from jumping over it. Cut a slit through it, then show them a treat and encourage them for 60 seconds to take it.

If the dog realises within 30 seconds that they’ll have to go around the cardboard, it is worth 3 points. If they need more time than that but make the detour successfully, they’ll get 2 points, while if they try to climb over or under it, they’ll get 1 point.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is also very trainable.


13-15 points: congratulations, your dog is a genius!

9-12 points: you should be proud; you are the owner of a really smart animal!

8-5 points: your dog more or less recognises obstacles.

4-1 points: your pet probably needs your help in everyday life to solve problems.

We repeat: the test is a game, so don’t be discouraged if your four-legged friend doesn’t do the best! Repeat the exercises with them several times, which is also a great way for you to spend time together – which is very important for the healthy mental and emotional state of the animal. And it is also good for you!

If you want to train your pet to be a “smart dog”, sign up for a course! It is worth mentioning that there is more to a dog’s life than their intelligence, or how many tricks they can do. Some dogs even need a little help with things like play. In this article, we give you some tips with helping your dog enjoy some playtime.

Education Game IQ test playing with the dog smart dog test Training

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