Does DHA Really Make Your Dog Smarter?
|October 15, 2013||Posted by amkuska under Dog Nutrition|
Rocco’s House Experiment #2: Does DHA Really Make Your Dog Smarter?
DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid that has been recently advertised as a key ingredient in puppy food. DHA has been proven in multiple studies to make puppies smarter, easier to train, and easier to socialize. That’s pretty cool if you have a puppy whose brain is still developing, but what if you already have a grown dog? Can DHA help make a grown dog smarter?
Let’s find out.
Rocco is a wonderful dog. He is gentle, loyal, affectionate, and sometimes really stupid. I love my dog, but when he shivers by the sliding glass door for hours rather than come back through the door left open for him just five feet away, I sometimes wonder what’s going on in there. I suspect it will be many years before science has progressed enough for us to answer that particular mystery. For the time being, I decided to use a good old fashioned IQ test to help me measure Rocco’s smarts.
I decided to use the Animal Attraction IQ Test developed by Dr. Stanley Coren for my pre-DHA testing. This is actually a series of 6 tests designed to find out if your dog is good with his hands, or more of a social butterfly.
Test 1: Hide-a-Treat!
The first test seems really simple. You show the dog a treat, let him watch you put it under a cup, and then time how long it takes him to get the treat. 1-3 seconds earns your dog the full 5 points. A minute or longer (or never) 1 point.
It took Rocco one minute and four seconds to even claw at the cup. I didn’t think this one would be very difficult, but according to Rocco the second the cup covers the treat it ceases to exist. No wonder Sandy Pawz can bury her treats in a Super Secret Location with three other dogs watching. Covering it up magically makes things disappear. I scored Rocco 1 point, the lowest possible score.
Test #2: Hide-the-Dog
The second test involves throwing a towel over your dog’s head and seeing how long it takes him to get it off his head, covering him head and shoulders. If the dog can free himself in 1-5 seconds he gets the maximum amount of points. If he can’t free himself after a minute, he gets one point.
I apologize for the strange looking photo, this is the best shot I could get of multiple attempts to capture a photo of Rocco with the towel still on. There was no time to even reach my finger to the start button on the stop watch, that’s how fast Rocco whipped that towel off. I suspect this comes from years of sleeping under the blankets. I gave Rocco the maximum 5 points for this one.
And I just have to say–I think his swirling ears are hilarious in that photo.
Test #3: The Smile Test
In this test you wait until your dog is comfortably sitting, but has not been told to sit. You stare at him until he makes eye contact, and when you do you smile. If he responds to your smile by coming to you, tail wagging you get maximum points. If the dog comes to you part way or not wagging you get 4 points. If he stands or shows some kind of response, 3 points. If he moves away, 2 points. If he pays no attention…1 point.
Test #4: Hide-A-Treat Advanced.
This test is similar to the first test, but instead of hiding it under a cup you hide it under a tea towel. After the cup test, I wasn’t expecting much, but Rocco surprised me.
It took him just twelve seconds to get the food out from under the towel, and according to the testing guidelines he can take up to 15 seconds to get the treat for maximum points. 5 points for Rocco! Yay!
Test #5: Hide-A-Treat-In-A-Crack
The idea of this test is to force a dog to use its paws to retrieve a treat. You place the treat under a low table so that the dog can’t use his head to get the treat, but can get it with his paws. Having seen Rocco in my kitchen working the area underneath the stove, I knew how this one was going to go down.
Rocco ended up getting a few more treats then he should have because apparently what I think is too low for him to get his head under just takes a little extra squishing.
Eventually I managed to find something a scant inch above the ground to put a treat under, and he fished it out with his paws in four seconds. 5 points.
Test #6: Does He Know His Name?
This one I thought was a bit unfair. In the same tone of voice you use to call your dog normally, you call the names “Refrigerator” and if that garners no response, you call “Movies.” The idea being to see if he understands the meaning of words rather than just tones. I use tones a great deal with my dogs to convey meaning and so I figured the calling tone would result in him coming happily to what ever word I used instead of his name.
His total points come to 22. This is smart but not genius. He received his first dose of DHA right after this test. We’ll retest him again in a few weeks (this time in better lighting!) And see if Rocco gets any smarter. Wish him luck!