UBC unleashes canine IQ test

My dog’s smarter than your dog. Or is he?

You can figure out Fido’s brain power with a new video, The Intelligence
of Dogs, created by Psychology Prof. Stanley Coren and members of
the Dept. of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at the University
of British Columbia. The video builds on the popularity of Coren’s
1994 book of the same name, now in its 16th printing.

Designed to help dog owners better understand their pets, the video
guides viewers through a series of simple canine intelligence tests
that can be completed at home.

Starring in the video are 22 dogs belonging to members of the faculty
and the community, including Coren’s own dogs, Odin, a flat-coated
retriever and Wiz, a King Charles spaniel.

Coren hosts the show, giving a step-by-step explanation of 12 tests
designed to measure adaptive intelligence or learning that fits
a particular situation — in other words, canine street smarts.
The dogs show viewers how it’s done, demonstrating the range of
responses you can expect from Rover.

Most dogs have an intelligence roughly equivalent to that of a
two-year-old child, Coren says. Dog breeds known to have high adaptive
intelligence include border collies, poodles, German shepherds,
retrievers and Dobermans. Dogs chewing at the short end of the intelligence
stick are bulldogs, basenjis (an African hunting dog) and the beautiful
but less-than-brainy Afghan.

The video shows how to measure observation, social learning and
memory using simple props such as furniture, towels and, of course,
dog treats.

The language comprehension test, for instance, has the owner address
the dog in the customary tone while substituting an irrelevant word
for the pet’s name. The intelligent dog ignores the command “Here,
refrigerator!” and waits to be personally addressed.

The time it takes to complete each task earns the dog a score on
a five-point scale.

Proceeds from video sales will be used for film equipment and maintenance,
graduate student travel and to fund research chairs.

The video is $19.95 and is available at the UBC Bookstore or by
calling the Psychology Dept. at 604.822.3244.