How Your Dog Can Tell if You’re a Genius

By Lincoln Bourne, May 2021

Motivated by a recent article, How to Tell if Your Dog Is a Genius, here’s a test a dog might use to rate your abilities.

1. Smell, Part A (30 points): You’re presented with a light post on a busy sidewalk. Determine the number of others who have peed on it over the past several days, and the age, gender and health status of each. Then leave your mark for the next test subject. Time limit: 30 seconds


2. Smell, Part B (10 points): You’re presented with a dirt trail along which a dog walked 24 hours ago. Determine age, gender and health status of the dog. Time limit: 5 seconds 


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3. Communication (20 points): Get down on all fours to greet a dog you’ve never met before. Perform a sequence of maneuvers with your body and head to indicate that you want to roughhouse, but not to worry, it’s only play. Time limit: 0.6 seconds

4. Hearing (20 points): In the tall grass, a mouse squeaks. Determine (a) its direction to within 2 degrees and (b) distance to within 6 inches. Time limit: 0.1 seconds

Bonus (10 points): Catch the mouse with your teeth. Time limit: 30 minutes



40 to 90: You’re no human! Clearly a dog.

10 to 39: You’re some kind of animal. But certainly not a human.

7 to 9: Congratulations, you’re a genius!  

3 to 6: Pretty good, for a human.               

0 to 2: That’s okay. I’ll still be your friend.

Lincoln Bourne is a German/English/Scottish mix who lives in San Jose, Calif. He is best friends with Shasta, an energetic part German Shepherd. When not spending time with Shasta, he’s a senior engineer/scientist at IBM, with a PhD in experimental solid-state physics and 31 papers in refereed physics journals to his credit.

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