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Are there stupid dogs? [COAPE Behaviorist Ewa Jaworska

Are there stupid dogs?

I decided to write this article because I hear quite often during behavioral consultations with dogs such words from their owners:

  • because you know, my dog ​​is not too bright,
  • learning commands is a waste of time, this dog is stupid and doesn't understand,
  • my dog ​​is acting out of his mind,
  • I have already waved my hand to work with this dog, this dog is probably stupid.

When I hear such words, I only smile in spirit and at the end of the meeting I ask again if you are sure you still think that the dog is not too bright? I usually like surprise and enthusiastic responses like:

  • wow i didn't think this dog could do that!
  • I'm shocked he got it so quickly!
  • I'm proud of this dog, it's amazing and so on.

Does it mean that magic happened during the consultation, or I changed the dog to a smarter one, as soon as the Guardian went out for a moment, make a coffee? Well no!

I strongly believe that no dog is "stupid", and at best misunderstood! And it's not his fault, but ours, so we have to try a little and it will quickly turn out that our dog is not stupid, and we are proud that we have him!

So what is the problem, and why keepers often worry that their dogs are stupid?

As is usually the case, there may be several reasons for this.

  • The psychological comfort of the dog
  • Lack of concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Selective deafness
  • We mislead the dog
  • Recall versus recall
  • Tone of the voice
  • Dog activities and sports
  • Canine grandfather and grandmother
  • There are no stupid dogs!

The psychological comfort of the dog

First, dogs may be uncomfortable, which is usually due to many things, but not being stupid.

For example, a dog may be downhill and no one has ever worked with him, and his main concern was survival, so he lived under eternal stress.

Even when he comes to a good home, he must first "evaporate" and understand that he is already in a safe place, he does not have to worry about whether he will get food or go for a walk, how his guardian will behave.

Dogs need time after the shelter, after changing home, after buying from a kennel to feel good and confident in their new home. Therefore, let's give them time, peace and a sense of security so that they "feel at home " and then let's practice with them.

Of course, it is not about postponing dog training for years, but it is about having psychological comfort during exercise.

Of course, if we see after a few days in the new home that the pooch cannot find himself, is restless, behaves unpredictably, destroys things, whether he marks the terrain, or the dog is aggressive in the company of other dogs, it is worth consulting a good behaviorist to at the beginning of our life together, do not make mistakes and understand well how to behave towards the dog to make him happy with us.

If dogs are relaxed, cared for and happy, they are usually happy to work with us.

Lack of concentration

Problem with concentration in a dog

Many dogs have trouble concentrating, which also doesn't mean they're stupid.

Try to focus such a frisky puppy for more than a few seconds and you'll find out for yourself!

But that doesn't mean the dog is stupid and we shouldn't work with him. On the contrary!

The sooner we start teaching the pooch and socializing in a cool and gentle way, the better he will do in adulthood.

But everything to his measure. We do not require that our puppy learns to play the piano right away, it is enough to do a simple "sit " or find a hidden treat in the olfactory mat, that's really a lot and our toddler had to really concentrate to succeed!

In many dogs, the problem with concentration may also be due to behavioral problems, overly shy or overactive or compulsive behavior.

Then you should look closely at the dog and try to solve its problem step by step. If the dog is frightened of something or is frustrated because its needs are not met, it is difficult for us to expect that it will be able to fully concentrate on the tasks.


Dog hyperactivity

Dogs are not stupid, but they can be hyperactive for a variety of reasons.

Dogs have a lot of energy, they jump on our heads, bark a lot, run around without order or composition, or react very quickly and excessively to every falling leaf.

These dogs actually find it a little harder to focus and understand that we are asking them to do some work for us.

So here it is worth adjusting the working technique to specific dogs.

Let's start by learning self-control and focusing the dog on the handler, and then teach the dogs the more difficult things. It is worth finding a learning mode for each dog individually to make it as effective as possible.

Selective deafness

Another common problem of my clients is that during walks their dog begins to suffer from selective deafness and well-known commands, suddenly they become completely foreign and the dog somehow does not know what we are talking about.

This is often the case with summoning the dog to himself when he gallops in the park in pursuit of an innocent pigeon, or he will be super absorbed in playing with his dog buddies.

We can tear our throats, and our dog does not see and hear us.

And now a curiosity, because it can actually be so!

Dogs have a limited number of stimuli that they can assimilate at any one time. It is the same with us.

So if too much is happening at once, we can't focus as much on everything. Our dog has it too.

If, for example, his Maltese buddy Dinuś is too absorbing, and our dog still has to defend his favorite jerker from the temptations of Hart Zbyszek, then it is difficult for him to focus on our mumbling orders, especially if we shout something from a distance ?

So let's remember to fix all commands first in small distractions, and then introduce additional stimuli. If we start learning commands in a dog park or dog kindergarten, where too much is going on, there is a good chance that our dog will not be able to concentrate on us properly.

We mislead the dog

Inconsistent commands

Quite often, I also hear that the dog does not react, for example, to a summon and the car is free, even though it is time to go home, because the night is dark or it is time to go to work.

Then I always ask the client what word he tries to call the dog to himself. And the festival of words that the client uses begins:

  • Come!
  • To me!
  • Come back!
  • Come on over!
  • Okay, let's go!
  • Ciapek, hello!
  • Come here where you are?!

The client uses these words interchangeably in order to get the same reaction from the dog, and now the question is - how should the dog not be confused?? Each time his handler uses a different word, the dog begins to seriously wonder what the hell he means?

Remember that you must speak to the dog in a gentle, simple and understandable way. Let's set one word for one reaction / action of the dog and stick to that.

The dog will be very happy to work with us, but must understand what we expect from him. The fact that he does not approach indicates a communication problem, not that he is stupid!

Recall versus recall

Now that we are sticking to the example of recalling the dog, let's bring up one more issue related to it.

There is an important difference between recalling a dog and recalling it.

We call dogs when, for example, you want to go home and for the dog nothing big is happening at the moment, and we recall him from something (usually for a fascinating dog, such as a dead bird, or a moldy slice of bread, or playing with another dog).

In such a situation, it is no wonder that the dog does not want to approach us at all, it is not stupid ?

What's more, when he hears that we are calling him, he may immediately think in his dog's head "Oh,! They are calling me, there is probably something fantastic and attractive nearby, they want to take away from me, maybe I look around! "

So let's watch out, especially at the beginning, when we try to teach the dog commands that are new to him, not to dismiss him from only fascinating things, because then returning to us will be a punishment for him and a loss of something cool.

Meanwhile, we want the dog to think that when it comes to us, it will be rewarded and it is worthwhile to kindly bother with us ?

Tone of the voice

Another thing worth paying attention to is ours


If we summon the dog in a nervous and raised voice, it is no wonder that he does not want to run up to us.

The dog is not stupid, but it doesn't know if it will be scolded when it comes over.

He does not know what for, but our tone of voice does not bode well for anything good.

To calm us down, he may start sending out signals of stress, and instead of jumping towards us, he may start sniffing in the grass, walk slowly, arc around us.

It will only upset us, we may think that the dog is doing us nothing to annoy us, while the poor man is trying to calm us down.

That is why it is so important to know the communication and signals that dogs send us. They are not always obvious and not always intuitive to us, so it is worth expanding your knowledge and learning from dogs, because they are much smarter than we think.

Dog activities and sports

Dog activities and sports

I often meet with shy questions from clients who look doubtfully at their dog: do you think that my stupid dog is suitable for some dog sports?? I'd do something with him, but will he handle it??

Then I exclaim:

"Yes of course! Just choose the activity for your dog and both of you will have a lot of fun! "

Now you just need to match the puzzles to each other and think together with the handler and the dog what would make them the most happy and what they are best for.

It is clear that a dog with joint dysplasia and the age of Bartek oak is unlikely to be a champion in frisbee throws, but, for example, such nosework type of olfactory work may be very appealing to him.

On the other hand, a dog that has a big problem with concentration and cannot stand still until it is under control, may not get on the podium in obedience competitions (sports obedience, in which perfect execution of commands and 100% concentration counts). But for example, jumping over obstacles and climbing inclines on an agility track may interest such dogs.

You can exchange forever, but the rule is simple - take a look at your dog and use its natural potential and predispositions, do not force it to do things that are not for it, and then do not say that the dog is stupid, because it is not true, but yours the poor pooch won't be able to deny it ?

Canine grandfather and grandmother

Senior dog

There is also a saying that "the old dog will not learn new tricks ".

This is obviously a metaphor, but if you take it literally, you also believe it.

Sometimes clients ask if it makes sense for them to still work with their dog, because he is already a gray-haired grandfather or a long-haired grandmother and it probably won't do anything anymore.

And that's not true!

You can and it is worth working with a dog of any age. Especially with the senior dog.

Older dogs need stimulation as well as young dogs. Only in their case, for health reasons, such a strong physical stimulation often fails, so you need to compensate for the deficiencies in the intellectual field.

In order for such dogs (it is the same with people, anyway) to keep their heads fit for as long as possible and to be in good mental condition, it is worth motivating them to intellectual effort. Dogs do not have to solve sudoku right away or take part in a maths Olympiad, but simple tasks and learning commands are recommended.

Sometimes working with such dogs is actually a bit different than with younger dogs.

Perhaps you will have to repeat an exercise several times so that our senior canine will remember it or hear it at all, but let the first one throw a stone, who never forgot what he meant in the middle of a sentence.

I admit first that sometimes I have to read or hear something a few times to get it, and I'm not a grandmother yet ?

There are no stupid dogs!

There are no stupid dogs

To sum up: I don't believe in "stupid dogs ". I believe that everyone has potential that we can use for their good and for our joy, we just need to look closely at our dog and understand it, and it will quickly turn out that our dogs are so intelligent that we will be quite surprised.

Good luck working with Your smart dogs!

Are dogs that have trouble concentrating stupid?

Many dogs have trouble concentrating, which doesn't mean they're stupid and we shouldn't work with them. On the contrary!

Won't the old dog learn new tricks?

Older dogs need stimulation as well as young ones. Only in their case, for health reasons, physical stimulation often fails, so you need to compensate for the deficiencies in the intellectual field.

Can you train dog sports with every dog??

Yes of course! It is enough to match the activity to the dog.

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