Intelligence vs. Trainability - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Intelligence vs. Trainability

This is a branch-off from the discussion in this thread:v https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...-next-gsd.html

A poster wants a highly intelligent dog, the perception being that type of dog will be easier to train. Several posters pointed out that just because a dog is highly intelligent doesn't mean he'll be trainable and biddable.

My dog has figured out how to pull the lever, open the dishwasher, and pull the dirty dishes out to lick the leftover food off of them. He also went through a phase in his younger days where he enjoyed going into the kitchen cabinets and pulling out the pots, pans, and tupperware. I installed child locks on the cabinet doors. Within 4 days he had figured out how to push the lever on the child locks. This is despite training in agility multiple times a week and getting mental and physical exercise. He just got bored while I was at work. Of course he's also very trainable and loves to please, but when left to his own devices there's no predicting what direction that intelligence might take.

I don't think this is what most people are looking for when they say they want an intelligent dog.

Does anyone else have examples of the difference, and perhaps how to pick the type of puppy you actually want?


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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 08:51 AM
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I would look for a pup that is biddable, shows some pack drive as well as hunt drive. I am not real fond of the pup that is too independent. Off switch must be there and a higher threshold is what I want.
A thinking pup is sometimes more difficult to train, the hesitation while thinking may frustrate some handlers. Or the pup overthinks, may be a bit handler sensitive and almost too dependent on the handler. Higher threshold may be more difficult to activate the dog as well....yet a low threshold dog may have the dog reacting so much it is hard to get focus.

Karlo is a thinker, he is biddable to a certain extent, but if he doesn't want to do something, then we may have a conflict.
I love his personality, and he keeps me active as his handler. If he was super easy to train, and never bored as easily as he does I don't think I'd have learned so much about working WITH him.
A dog that does everything asked of their handler may be a blast to train too...but that handler isn't being challenged in learning about different methods of working the dog.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 11:27 AM
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I have a smart dog, but she's definitely biddable. I like the way the two traits work in concert with her - she's a quick study and ultimately wants to please her handler. She is a GREAT dog to learn on.

She's probably more biddable than smart. She is intelligent, but I wouldn't say she's the kind of independent-thinking evil genius problem solver that some extremely intelligent dogs are. (On the other hand, I give her very few chances to get into trouble, so maybe she's a sleeper.)

I'm not necessarily sure this was all an accident. I was very honest with the breeder about what I wanted to do with my puppy, and I kept the breeder in the loop as this evolved. I framed a lot of it as end goals - like this is what I want to be able to take my dog out and do together, which can imply quite a few different traits. I think that left less room for "okay what did she mean" than just saying, "I want a smart dog" and leaving it at that.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by onyx'girl View Post
I would look for a pup that is biddable, shows some pack drive as well as hunt drive. I am not real fond of the pup that is too independent. Off switch must be there and a higher threshold is what I want.
A thinking pup is sometimes more difficult to train, the hesitation while thinking may frustrate some handlers. Or the pup overthinks, may be a bit handler sensitive and almost too dependent on the handler. Higher threshold may be more difficult to activate the dog as well....yet a low threshold dog may have the dog reacting so much it is hard to get focus.

Karlo is a thinker, he is biddable to a certain extent, but if he doesn't want to do something, then we may have a conflict.
I love his personality, and he keeps me active as his handler. If he was super easy to train, and never bored as easily as he does I don't think I'd have learned so much about working WITH him.
A dog that does everything asked of their handler may be a blast to train too...but that handler isn't being challenged in learning about different methods of working the dog.
That bolded sentence is important. A highly intelligent thinker is going to make you aware of a partnership. Intelligence most often plays out as the opposite of biddable. It challenges your ability to handle the animal in question, and makes you find another way, because a highly intelligent dog who thinks is not likely to blindly obey a command unless it suits their purposes.
The thinking pup is often the one hanging back, not hesitant but weighing the benefits of following the rest.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 04:22 PM
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IME the crazy smart dogs, like the ones you could swear can do calculus are the most pain in the butt to work with. They are always thinking of a faster way to get what THEY want. That's not always the same thing that YOU want. In your head, you think. "all you have to do is "A" to get to "B"." While they're thinking, 'I don't care about doing "A" all I want is "B" so if I do "Q" plus "Y" divided by two, carry the three and multiply by "pi" then that get's me "B" faster, so I'll just do that instead.'

GSD's are a very intelligent breed. So I look for bid-ability and pack drive most of all.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emoore View Post
This is a branch-off from the discussion in this thread:v https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...-next-gsd.html

A poster wants a highly intelligent dog, the perception being that type of dog will be easier to train. Several posters pointed out that just because a dog is highly intelligent doesn't mean he'll be trainable and biddable.

My dog has figured out how to pull the lever, open the dishwasher, and pull the dirty dishes out to lick the leftover food off of them. He also went through a phase in his younger days where he enjoyed going into the kitchen cabinets and pulling out the pots, pans, and tupperware. I installed child locks on the cabinet doors. Within 4 days he had figured out how to push the lever on the child locks. This is despite training in agility multiple times a week and getting mental and physical exercise. He just got bored while I was at work. Of course he's also very trainable and loves to please, but when left to his own devices there's no predicting what direction that intelligence might take.

I don't think this is what most people are looking for when they say they want an intelligent dog.

Does anyone else have examples of the difference, and perhaps how to pick the type of puppy you actually want?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mycobraracr View Post
IME the crazy smart dogs, like the ones you could swear can do calculus are the most pain in the butt to work with. They are always thinking of a faster way to get what THEY want. That's not always the same thing that YOU want. In your head, you think. "all you have to do is "A" to get to "B"." While they're thinking, 'I don't care about doing "A" all I want is "B" so if I do "Q" plus "Y" divided by two, carry the three and multiply by "pi" then that get's me "B" faster, so I'll just do that instead.'

GSD's are a very intelligent breed. So I look for bid-ability and pack drive most of all.
This is some funny stuff right here!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mycobraracr View Post
IME the crazy smart dogs, like the ones you could swear can do calculus are the most pain in the butt to work with. They are always thinking of a faster way to get what THEY want. That's not always the same thing that YOU want. In your head, you think. "all you have to do is "A" to get to "B"." While they're thinking, 'I don't care about doing "A" all I want is "B" so if I do "Q" plus "Y" divided by two, carry the three and multiply by "pi" then that get's me "B" faster, so I'll just do that instead.'
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 05:34 PM
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I think you can have an intelligent dog that has a high degree of pack drive and moderate to low energy that would be very biddable/trainable. I think that is what most people want. With the GSD though, the idea of intelligence is also a degree of confidence, aggressiveness, and, hence, rank drive among other canines. That introduces all the posts that start with or end with HELP!

My dutchie, and I know many GSD fit this too, is intelligent, independent (less pack drive) confident and high energy. Oh you can teach him stuff, learns fast but you better be on top of things or he just takes advantage of sloppiness and inconsistency and takes advantage with lightening speed. What a pain in the butt to live with. This kind of dog shines when given a drivey -job (we do SAR work) and he is on it and dedicated to the work because, I think it is so high energy and mentally stimulating, in addition to physical. If he had no such job, I would have big problems with destructibility, OCD behaviors and aggression, I believe.

I think with good training, and for me it was tons of investment because I did not come to this naturally, the dog I describe in the last paragraph can be amazing, but it was WORK (blood and sweat too). I think what so many people don't get is that there is an equal if not greater need for the human in the partnership to be trained and this is especially true with the high intelligent, independent, high energy dogs.

So wondering what we mean by trainability? Teaching is one thing, many can be taught quiet easily. It is the other stuff that determines consistency in what they have learned. So does this dog want to work with you and please you and be part of the team (pack drive) or do other drives reward more... like chasing deer or picking fights, etc. Or is the dog bored with consistent application of commands and looks for opportunities to spice it up.

Just thoughts.

Karin
Dutch Shepherd - Ptygo (Tee-Go) de las Flores
Rescue GSD - Freyja (Husband's Dog)

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 06:07 PM
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I'm wondering if anyone can give a an example where a dog is asked to respond to command and what differences to approach one might try to deal with a dog that is intelligent AND higher threshold than the norm as opposed to a dog that is biddable? Or maybe that's not the right term. My dog makes me fetch not her She'll take the ball and deliberately put it somewhere that only I can get it out of and she thinks it's hilarious. If her blanket isn't tucked in right - she'll come get me and do the lassie routine until I fix it.

I have NEVER spooked my dog - she's never shown uncertainty, never ears back, never crouching or avoidance. I can correct her and 2 seconds later she's right back in there. She tries to wear me down to get her way and she's so persistent but I don't back down.

How does one train differently if you have a dog that is intelligent but not very biddable? Show them who's boss somehow? - If I push her, that could really backfire.

If the differences are like the differences between treat training and shock collar - I get that. But if there's a different way of thinking with a harder dog, I would love some tips specific to them. Thank you.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 06:14 PM
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If the dog isn't biddable, then you have to have something they want...find that sweet spot and play on it. Many times too much freedom can be the reason the dog isn't showing biddability.
I wouldn't use corrections but change up my training methods. If you are playing fetch and the dog isn't interested, then you need to look at the way the dog actually wants to be engaged.
Tug is usually a way to get the dog engaged, no tug if the handler isn't participating. Food drive is another.
Onyx is a dog that could care less about anything other than her own agenda. I chose to NOT train her for any sport or competitive games because she is also reactive and dog aggressive. Some dogs are not meant to be out there doing what the 'normal dogs' do. Onyx is one of them.

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