Is Your Dog Smart? Here’s How You Can Tell If Your Dog is Intelligent

Sometimes when you talk to your dog (don’t be ashamed, we all do it), he seems like he’s truly listening. He’s obviously the cutest, most well-behaved, lovably naughty member of the family. But when it comes to comparing your dog to other members of his own breed and the larger dog community, where does his intelligence rank?

There is no formal IQ test for dogs – not yet, anyway. However, there are plenty of small things you can do to determine if your four-legged best friend has above-average intelligence. Ahead, find out all the ways to figure out if your dog is smart.

1. He’s an escape artist

Dog opens door

Dog opens the door | Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

Whether he’s figured out how to lift the gate handle, manipulate his crate’s door lock, or even turn the handle and open the back door, any dog who masterminds his own escape is very smart. It can be frustrating for owners, but this trait is a mark of superior intelligence.

Next: If he remembers this, he’s probably smart.

2. He remembers commands without practice

Training a dog

Training a dog | Kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you’ve gotten lazy about teaching your old dog new tricks or you adopted a shelter pet and aren’t exactly sure what they already knew, sometimes commands don’t remain consistent. But if you can go months or even years without saying, “Roll over!” and your dog still remembers how to do it with ease, then you probably have an intelligent canine.

Next: This pet store buy can help you figure out if your dog is smart.

3. She solves puzzle toys

Dog playing with toy

Dog having fun | Alexei_tm/iStock/Getty Images

You may have seen those complicated looking puzzle toys at the pet store and wondered if something like that would keep your dog entertained. Often these toys will force a pup to perform certain tasks to get a treat out of the puzzle. If they can do it, it proves their problem-solving skills are top notch.

You can also create your own puzzle game by hiding treats in your house and seeing how long it takes your dog to find them.

Next: This action is sweet and smart.

4. She snuggles you when you’re upset

Boy hugging his dog

Boy hugging his dog | John Howard/iStock/Getty Images

Is there anything better than the gentle nudge of your dog’s nose against your elbow when you’ve had a terrible day? It’s not your imagination – smart dogs really do understand your moods and seek to comfort you when you’re sad. Your pup’s cuddling happens on purpose to make you feel better!

Next: He knows that suitcase means something.

5. She knows you’re leaving

Dog in a suitcase

Dog in a suitcase | humonia/iStock/Getty Images

Ever notice how your dog starts acting more hyper and needier when you start packing up your suitcase? This proves that she’s very observant and recognizes a change is happening. If you’ve gone on trips before, a smart dog might even associate that suitcase with going to the kennel and being apart from you.

Next: Create your own IQ test at home.

6. He passes intelligence tests

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky | Anna-av/iStock/Getty Images

While there are no standardized IQ tests for dogs, there are a few simple activities you can try at home to test your dog’s intelligence. Challenges like finding hidden treats, testing your dog’s memory, and staging treasure hunts can give you a good baseline for how smart your dog is.

Next: His intelligence helps him get this thing from you.

7. He knows how to get attention

Dog with paw up

Dog with his paw up | DeRepente/iStock/Getty Images

Rubbing up against your hand to get scratches behind the ears, giving you a paw to get a handshake, and exposing his belly to inspire some tummy rubs all prove that your dog wants attention from you – and that he knows how to get it. Only the smartest dogs do this.

Next: This is an unlikely indicator of intelligence.

8. She knows how to stay safe

Dog walker

Dog walker | hedgehog94/iStock/Getty Images

Whether your dog walks carefully across busy intersections or hesitates before crossing a bridge, an interest in staying safe is the mark of an intelligent dog. And if she tries to block you from crossing that potentially dangerous intersection? That proves she’s even smarter than you thought.

Next: Most people don’t realize this action proves your dog is smart.

9. He initiates play

girl spending time with lovely jack Russel Terrier dog

Dog play | Artem Tryhub/iStock/Getty Images

Most dogs will run after a ball if you throw it. But if you notice your dog bringing you the ball as a way to encourage playing, that’s a sign that he’s made the association between those inanimate objects and your attention. It may not seem like much, but this is very impressive for a dog.

Next: It’s all about timing for this thing.

10. He masters new tricks with ease

Dog training

Dog training | dimid_86/iStock/Getty Images

Just about any dog can be taught basic commands – but how quickly they master a new skill is a marker of intelligence. If you teach your dog something new and he instantly understands and practices it, then you can rest assured that he’s smarter than the average canine.

Next: Your dog might be training you if she does this.

11. She manipulates you

dog behind food bowl and licking with tongue

Dog food bowl | damedeeso/iStock/Getty Images

Dogs who know how to get what they want, whether by whining at an empty food dish or bringing you a leash so you’ll put down your phone and go for a walk, are very smart. Some experts say it’s a bit like the dog is training you just as you train them.

Next: When your dog notices this, it means he’s smart.

12. He recognizes his surroundings

dog in car

Dog in car | Matthias Rietschel/iStock/Getty Images

Does your dog get excited during your drive to the park but cowers in fear while traveling to the vet? Ever wonder how they know the difference? Only smart dogs will recognize landmarks or mannerisms you have on trips to the vet that are different from going someplace fun.

Next: This type of learning proves higher than average smarts.

13. He learns by watching

Happy pit bull

Happy pit bull | sanjagrujic/iStock/Getty Images

If your dog mimics your actions to achieve similar results, such as opening doors or gates, then it proves he’s pretty darn smart. This is even truer if you’re not trying to teach him the trick he masters. Learning through pure observation is a marker of superior intelligence.

Next: Take note of how much she learns by watching you.

14. She takes cues from her owner

owner caressing gently her dog

Dog love. | Fcscafeine/iStock/Getty Images

If your dog looks to you before taking action, it means she knows you’re in charge and cares about what you think of her. The smartest dogs won’t just follow explicit commands – they’ll make sure that their owners always approve of what they’re doing.

Next: Just remember to make fair comparisons.

15. He exhibits the best qualities of his breed

Golden retriever

Golden retriever | jonathandavidsteele/iStock/Getty Images

A bloodhound will always have a better sense of smell than a Pekinese – that’s just biology, and it’s unfair to compare the two. Similarly, when testing intelligence you need to consider the natural abilities of your dog’s breed to assess their level of smartness. But no matter how smart he is, just remember – he’ll be your best friend forever, so cherish the moments!