Test 1: Look in the Mirror
Put a mirror on the floor and sit in front of it with our dog, a metre or so away. Now get someone to put a piece of card or a book between you and the mirror. On the far side of this new “barrier” put something your pet really wants – a toy or a treat. Your dog must not be able to see the treat directly, but he can see it reflected in the mirror. Will your dog see the treat in the mirror and work out where it is?
This is a really interesting test that will tell you a lot about your dog’s ability to perceive the world around him, and about his inquisitiveness and intelligence. (make sure that he can’t smell the treat, though). Many pets will seem to have no interest in the mirror at all. Some may recognize their favourite toy or treat, and may try to investigate it as though it was in the mirror, or behind it. Some pets will find the toy simply be exploring everywhere. But a few pets will make the mental connection of where the toy is, and go straight to it.
Test 2: how your dog talks to you
A friend takes your dog into a room, say your kitchen. The dog watches as your friend hides something your dog really wants – say a favourite ball – by putting it into a kitchen drawer and shutting it.
Now your friend goes out and you come in. You sit down on a chair; you don’t move; you don’t look at your dog. And you don’t look at the hiding place, since you don’t k now where it is! You’re very quiet and very still.
What will your dog do? Will he tell you where the ball is?
Some dogs will do exactly that. Your dog may yap or bark in frustration. He may come over to you and paw your leg to get attention. He may go to the drawer and paw or scrape it and bark or whine. The really switched-on dog will do all these things, barking for attention and running back and forth from you to the drawer until eventually you give in and get the hidden ball.