Special Report: How smart is your dog? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: How smart is your dog?

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May 8, 2008

Albany --  Brantley is a one year old Australian Shepherd. He's the dog of Amanda Turner and Kevin Hosey, and they're convinced he's a smart dog.

So we chose Brantley to take our dog IQ test. We ordered a POOCH IQ kit off the Internet that included toys and a test booklet.

In exercise one, Brantley watched as his owner put a treat under a blue cup.  Then, he was supposed to find it. But Brantley wasn't too keen on that one. 

He lifted his paw, then gently rolled onto his side. So, we moved on to an exercise that tests whether the dog can be confused if the owner alters his appearance. 

An alert Brantley responded loudly when his owner walked into the room wearing a burglar's mask, but he wasn't completely fooled. Even though he barked, his tail was wagging. Good job and a high score on that one, Brantley.

Next, we tested Brantley's level of curiosity. Kevin put a squeaky toy on top of the table out of Brantley's line of vision. Brantley showed his curiosity by running around the table and trying to find the noise. 

Then it was time to try to trick him. First, Kevin threw a treat down the hall. Then he faked a throw.

And, nope, Brantley wasn't falling for that one. He didn't move. That earned him 10 points!

As our test progressed, it became evident that Brantley was distracted by all of us in the room watching him.

Our point was proven when we all left the room and watched around the corner as Brantley successfully removed all the treats from a small rubber cone.

In the end, he did fairly well.  But again, Brantley would very likely have scored higher without the glare of TV lights.

So Ben Roberts and I decided we'd test our own dogs, who aren't complete strangers to TV cameras.

Ben has a lovable mixed breed named Osgood, I have a feisty Peek-A-Poo named Rocky.

First, we tested whether Osgood could find a treat after Ben placed it under a blue plastic cup.

He sniffed all around it, but one minute and eight seconds later, we had to call time on Osgood. Sorry boy, just one point on this one.

When it was Rocky's turn, my treat-addicted pooch nailed it in 11 seconds.

Osgood made a strong comeback, though.

He was quite tenacious with a plush satellite-shaped toy full of soft balls. He gnawed and shook it until they all came out. Good boy, Osgood. Ten points.

But, Rocky? Well, the absence of any treats inside the toy just made it plain unappealing. Not interested. One point just for showing up.

So what about that burglar's mask?

While Ben looked pretty scary wearing it, it wasn't enough to make Osgood bark. He sniffed a lot and earned himself nine points.

Rocky was fierce when I walked out wearing the mask, but he wasn't fooled. He barked, sniffed and wagged and earned a 10.

Then it was time to see if the two doggies could be easily fooled.

We tried the old treat fake throw on Osgood.

He didn't buy it.  He took a few steps toward the hall, but he knew the truth.

Rocky sprang forward, but stopped after about five steps and stared into the camera. I'm pretty sure he thought the photographer ate the treat.

At any rate, both doggies did fairly well on that one, scoring seven points each.

But neither did as well as Brantley, who didn't budge!

In the end, Osgood scored 119 and Rocky 126.

Brantley scored 106 which is considered average.

And that's just fine with Amanda and Kevin.

"He's our little bundle of joy. Everyday you come home and he's there ready for you to play with him," said Kevin.

To dog lovers, that's what really matters.

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