Obviously your pup is the cutest, smartest, best behaved dog to ever exist! But have you ever wanted to test just how smart your fur baby truly is? Just like humans, dogs can be smart in many different ways. Luckily, there are lots of fun tests to assess your pup’s intelligence!

The Three General Types of Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence is basically breed knowledge or breed intelligence, saying that different breeds of dogs have different strengths. Hounds are great at tracking scents; companion dogs can accurately respond to human emotions; guard dogs are protective and watch over things; and retrievers usually love to play fetch. These are just a few examples. 

Adaptive intelligence is what a dog learns through experience and problem-solving. If your dog has figured out how to best get your attention, knows where you keep their treats, and/or can tell whether you’re taking them on a trip to the vet or to the park, then your pup probably has a high amount of adaptive intelligence. 

Working or obedience intelligence is exactly what it sounds like! If your pup is top of the class at doggy daycare because he or she picks up on training tricks and commands easily, for example, then they have great working intelligence!

Basic Signs of Pup Intelligence

Every dog has a base foundation of intelligence in each of the above categories. Most dogs can sniff out a treat and know to come when called. Domesticated puppies pick up on adaptive intelligence skills throughout their lives very well, especially if they’ve lived with the same family since birth.

Other behaviors that indicate a pup’s strong baseline intelligence include:

  • Snuggling with you when you’re upset
  • Bumping your hand when they want petting
  • Initiating play with you
  • Solving puzzle toys

Fun Ways to Test Your Pup’s Intelligence

We’ve compiled a list of fun activities to help you understand your pup’s overall intelligence. 


Make sure not to try all of these tests on the same day! These tests are designed to be fun and challenging for your pup, but doing them all at once might make them feel overwhelmed or frustrated. Space these challenges out and make sure to always reward your dog with lots of pets and love (and treats!) afterwards. They deserve it!

  • The Towel Test: Put a towel or blanket over your dogs head and time how long it takes them to get out from under it. This tests their problem-solving skills and adaptive intelligence (finding their way out of a closed-in space). 
  • The Cup Test: Place 3 cups face down in front of your dog. Let them watch as you put a treat under one of the cups. Once they’ve seen you put a treat under a cup, distract them from the cups for about one minute. Try to initiate play with them in another room. After your pup seems to be distracted from the cups for about a minute, lead them back to the cups and see if they can remember which cup the treat is under. The goal is for them to guess the correct cup on the first try. This tests adaptive intelligence as well as instinctive intelligence. 
  • The Rearrangement Test: This is a great test if your dog has a favorite chair or bed. When your pup is out of the room, move their favorite furniture to another area of the room. Then, see how quickly they can find their go-to spot? This will test their problem-solving skills!
  • The Treat Test: Find a piece of furniture that your dog can fit only their paw under. Let them watch you place a treat underneath the furniture (make sure you place the treat within paws reach). The quicker they retrieve the treat, the better their problem-solving skills are!
  • The Door Test: If you have a fence, real or electrical, this is a great way to test your pups problem-solving skills! Let your dog out to play from one door in your house. Close that door, but open a different door for them to enter from. Did your dog whine at the original door for you to let them back inside? Or, did they try to problem-solve and find another door on their own? 


There are many ways for dogs to showcase their intelligence. There’s lots of fun ways to test their natural and learned intelligence as well. Whether a dog can ace every one of the above tests or needs a bit more encouragement from an owner, we can definitely make the assumption that he or she is still totally fur-bulous!

How did your pup do on our tests? Let us know in the comments below!

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