If you’ve owned a dog, especially one of the dog breeds considered highly intelligent like Border Collies and Poodles, you probably have amazing and funny stories to share that highlight how smart your dog is. We have a few entertaining stories of our own. We’ve wondered over the years, are our dogs more trouble than they’re worth?
Border Collie Intelligence
Border Collies are considered one of the most intelligent breeds out there. Their culture and history are based on cattle and sheep herding, and general farm work helping with the livestock. Or otherwise, chores that could be easily taught.
One reason why Border Collies are so genetically intelligent is their instinctive decision-making skills. If you observe them you see it applied when livestock head exactly where the dogs want them to go, individually and as a group. This ability is not trivial and it has contributed to the development of this dog breed that can think on its feet and solve puzzles as it goes.
Our Border Collie Experience
Nikko, a pure-bred Border Collie we once owned, was extremely bright. One evening, we sat in our family room and watched a movie. Nikko relaxed with us. That is until my daughter brought in a hamburger. She placed it on a low, square table in the middle of the room, and sat cross-legged on the floor. She proceeded to eat.
Nikko trotted over to that side of the table and sat right next to my daughter, nudging her a bit, looking for a handout. My daughter pushed him away a few times. Finally, he retreated back to the other side of the table. A few minutes went by while Nikko stared at my daughter eating her burger. He barked twice (to get her attention), then proceeded to squat on the floor as if to urinate on the rug. As expected, my daughter leaped up, ran over to the other side of the table to stop Nikko from using the bathroom.
What was unexpected was that Nikko took the opportunity to run to the side of the table where my daughter ate, and wolfed down the unprotected burger. What a setup! True story.
Nikko’s sleeping area was in our basement. There were many times when he played down there, and we wouldn’t hear him for long periods of time.
One day, as I sat in my office upstairs I heard a dog barking outside. I wondered why the owner wasn’t attending to the barking when I remembered an important point. My neighbors didn’t have dogs. I ran downstairs into the basement and the patio door was open!
Nikko was the dog outside that had been barking for the last 30 minutes. I grabbed him by the collar and made our way back into the basement. I closed the patio door and then stood around for a few minutes to see what Nikko would do. He nonchalantly walked over to the patio door, stood on his hind legs, used his paw to slap down the lock. Then he used his teeth to slowly pull the door sideways to open it, and walked outside again. At this point, I knew we were in trouble.
One example where the instincts of this breed get in the way of predictable doggy behavior is playing a simple game of fetch.
If I throw a stick or ball near a 3-month-old Labrador Retriever, his instincts will tell him to bring it back to me.
If I throw a stick past Nikko, he simply looks at it without making any move to bring it back. He’s a herding dog and the stick isn’t moving, so in his mind, he’s thinking, what’s the point?
See Mara the Border Collie’s video below for great ideas for activities and tricks, taught by her caring and patient doggy parents. Clearly, the love of our smart pets overcomes all.