You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, :My God, you’re Right! I never would of thought of that!”
The association between dogs and humans stems from the fact that dogs perform functions that are useful to us. Some of these functions are quite utilitarian, others are more personal and psychological in nature. Some of the more common utilitarian functions include guarding and protecting property and people. eg. police work and war dog work, helping during hunting, finding game, pulling it down, digging it up, and retrieving it, shepherding, tending sheep, cattle, reindeer, and even geese or ducks, hauling, pulling carts or sleds, carrying packs, seeking and finding objects, people, or substances, tracking dogs, drug snigging dogs, gas-detecting dogs, truffle seeking dogs, performing rescue work, retrieving people from water or people buried in snow or wreckage, assisting the disabled, seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, handicap assistance dogs.
At the more physical level, the most common function of dogs is to serve as companions. In recent years, this has been extended to a more formal use as part of preventative and remedial therapy for the elderly, socially isolated, or psychologically disturbed. Even this very incomplete list shows how many different skills are demanded from dogs
Some of the skills such as hunting, tracking, and searching skills reflect aspects of behaviour normal in all wild dogs and their relative as so probably are hereditary or instinctive in nature. Other skills such as guiding the blind involve extensive training.
Perhaps the best way to asses the degree and nature of dog intelligence is to observe how it shows up in various tasks dogs preform, either for themselves or for humans. Theses are three different dimensions at manifest intelligence – a dogs’s total measurable intelligence, namely adaptive, working and instinctive intelligence.
Look for updates to this article in coming weeks. Don’t forget, dogs are also our family.