Smart dogs are a pain in the a$$

Smart dogs are a pain in the a$$.

There, we said it. And we meant it. We know from personal experience just how true this is. Simon, Fran’s 4-year-old Boston Terrier, is possibly the smartest dog we’ve ever lived with. And he’s the most trouble. Smart dogs really are a pain in the ass.

Part of it stems from the fact that dogs’ brains work differently from people’s. They don’t naturally “generalize,” it’s something that has to be taught. Generalizing means that when you know how to use a spoon, you know how to use every spoon, no matter what it looks like or the circumstances. Dogs don’t know that. Every “spoon” is a new and different experience.

How it applies

Take towels. Tango’s (13-year-old Brussels Griffon) has been fighting some kind of stomach upset for a week or so. So we’ve been covering the dog beds with old towels – they’re easier to throw in the laundry when Tango throws up on them. (A daily occurrence for about 10 days.) 

Simon loves to suck on, carry around, chew on, shred material. We finally convinced him that the towel covering Tango’s favorite bed was not to be removed. So Simon went to the second favorite bed and ran off with that towel. And so on. 

Brains = trouble

Smart dogs like Simon also tend to be creative problem-solvers, depending somewhat on their heritage. Almost all small dogs originally had the job of pest-control. They were bred to work independently and solve the problem of getting to their prey. Which means that Simon moves furniture to climb up and see what interesting things we left on the dining room table. Since Simon, surfaces have no clutter around here.

Picture of a Boston Terrier to illustrate smart dogs
Don’t let the sweet look fool you – Simon’s plotting!

The most interesting part of having a brainy dog is seeing how his mind works. He’s a wonderful gauge of our training techniques. Dogs watch our body language as well as listen to our words. When we tell our dogs to “Sit!” we lean over (little dogs) to give them a treat when they do it. Sometimes we want our dogs to stay sitting – especially when we’re training for dog sports like obedience or rally. 

When we straightened up after delivering the treat, Simon stood, too. He pays incredibly close attention to body language. And his interpretations aren’t always right.

Smart dogs are also fun

Taking advantage of Simon’s smarts is fun, even if it does keep us on our toes. He makes up new ways of doing things and makes us laugh. In the “Put Your Toys Away” game, he loves little plastic food storage containers. And he showed us from the start that he likes them neatly stacked in the bin. He’s a bit OCD, to tell the truth. 

So we made up a new game for Simon – Stacking! It’s still in the early stages and not ready for prime time, but we’ll get there. 

If you have a smart dog, you have our sincere empathy. Keeping ahead of their curiosity and mischief is almost a job by itself. And it’s also fun, funny, and so worthwhile. Let us know what clever/naughty/nice things your dog has done! We’d love to know we’re not alone.

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4 thoughts on “Smart dogs are a pain in the a$$

  1. Dave Crawforth

    James Deane is our 3-year-old Dandie Dinmont Terrier. James special trick is to pick up 2 dog toys at the same time and then look at us for approval/applause. He chooses different toys to pick up 2 at a time and sometimes has to work particularly hard to get the 2nd in his mouth, but he works it out. He does not like to have his picture taken, however, when I get my phone out to take his picture, he growls softly and struts back and forth in front of me – funny! His toys are kept in a small Amazon cardboard box. If his toy of choice is on the bottom, he will root around for a bit until frustrated and then with his paw, he will dump over the entire box and get the one he wants- fun to watch
    Thanks for your blogs,
    Dave Crawforth

    1. Golly Gear Post author

      That sounds absolutely adorable! We wish he didn’t hate to get his picture taken. We’d love to see a Dandie Dinmont Terrier in action. We’ve only ever seen them at dog shows – not at home being their own clever little selves! Thank you for sharing. We can just picture him picking out his chosen toys – not to mention the proud strut when he manages both!

  2. Connie

    My 9 month old Malshi is the toughest dog I’ve ever had, but she’s also the quickest to learn tricks. My daughter says “she’s well trained, but not well behaved”. That sums up my smart puppy!

    1. Golly Gear Post author

      We’re totally stealing that phrase “well trained, but not well-behaved.” We can’t even begin to tell you how many dogs we know fit in this category. Thank you!


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