Interpreting the Intelligence of Your Dog

Popular wisdom would have it that those dogs that exhibit the highest degree of problem-solving and learning ability should also excel at what is known as obedience intelligence/ work intelligence.

But forgive me for I am getting way ahead of myself because if we are to properly understand dog intelligence we need to go back to the beginning; which is we need to break down intelligence into its component parts.

Most often when we think of intelligence as a parameter of measurement we equate that measurement with the ability to learn and the ability to solve problems. In fact the capacity to learn is measured in terms of the number of experiences required for any given individual to imprint an occurrence or event as a permanent memory.

Thus those individuals with above normal or excellent learning ability require few or less than average exposures to a given situation to create usable memories and associations.

Problem solving on the other hand is quantified as an individual’s ability to mentally surmount obstacles, correctly string together bits of information resulting in an accurate response or solution to what for all intents and purposes is a novel solution to their dilemma. In both people and dogs learning ability and problem solving ability constitute what is referred to as adaptive intelligence.

Adaptive intelligence thus correlates to the smarts or skills required of an individual enabling them to adapt, modify and conquer and obstacles presented within or by their environment. A simple example of adaptive intelligence is illustrated by a person improving their driving skills, typing skills or even driving skills.

Whenever problems arise during this period of learning then the resultant effective solutions are rendered to memory (in other words learned) such that on subsequent occasions when the individual is confronted with a similar dilemma they may expeditiously elicit and apply the best response.

Componential Intelligence

A Yale University psychologist called Robert Sternberg who is responsible in no small manner of our understanding of human intelligence, analyzed that intelligence and concluded to subdivide it into component parts. It was for that very reason he preferred the term Componential Intelligence to that of Adaptive Intelligence.

Sternberg posited that a number of meta-components comprise an important set of components found in adaptive intelligence. The prefix meta is of particular importance here for the fact that it is derived from the Greek root that denotes of stands for “higher level” or “transcending” pointing to the fact that such components play a significant role in controlling and organizing a vast array of more specialized behaviors.

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