I would have never believed this if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. A friend has a golden retriever that I was playing with one day, and I asked him to get me a stick. He did, but it wasn't the stick I was thinking of, so I just off hand said, "no, not that stick, the one by the rock." and damn if that dog didn't drop it and go get the one by the rock. So I said, "put that stick with the other stick." Bam, done. I was stunned. I told my friend and he said, "oh, yeah, not surprised. He's smart." Now, maybe he didn't fully understand the sentences, and was simply understanding my body language and watching my eyes, movements, etc for clues, but even if so... dang.
Now, my dimwitted sweetheart of a pup often gets confused just between "sit" and "down", but I love her anyway :)
We don't want actually a dog that is super-intelligent but just one that is funny, protective and smart-enough.
A dog like that would need a full-time job, rather than being just a household pet.
Watched the attached video of chaser, and totally agree with one point made- play is the way to teach an animal, not food. Dogs love exercise, and training with food is a great way to make your dog obese, which will make exercise more difficult and its overall happiness reduced. My dogs are 10x happier when they hear "you wanna go for a walk?" than "do you want a treat?"
I don't think the dog understands exactly what you are saying but they are doing guess-work and trying to please. I had a puppy that I was trying to potty-train outside the apartment.
It didn't go very well. Until one time I'm back home and I found out she did it near the sofa. I screamed. She became quite disciplined after that. She guessed that potty-location is very important and something she has to care about.
I didn't do anything as overt as finger pointing, but I do know from plenty of reading on animal training that they're very perceptive to non-verbal cues that you may not even be aware you are doing (ala https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans).
He was way ahead of a human child in terms of linguistic cognition up until maybe the age of about 1 and a half, then he maxed out. Having a dog with the verbal understanding of a toddler comes in handy sometimes...but rarely, mostly I just wish he could learn to walk on leash.
For a decent introduction (there's a lot of crap on Youtube) this channel gives pretty good info, introductions, and lots of short videos on how to train all sorts of things: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-qnqaajTk6bfs3UZuue6IQ
Be warned, once it starts to work both dog and owner can find it (very) addictive. :)
Most impressive thing? First time seeing my dog stop and think, puzzle it out, then try something different. This is not mindless training by repetition.
 Edit: Free shaping is leaving everything to the dog to work out with human just providing helpful carefully timed nudges when he edges closer to the right thing. Before long the dog will start experimenting and look to you for reactions a lot more. It's magic, fast, and you'll transform your view of how smart your mutt is.
We had a trainer once who said the hardest thing for a smart dog to do is to just ignore stimuli. You're putting together furniture, cleaning the closet, setting up a stereo, what's that? where does it go? what does it smell like? Is this a game? Can I help?
Smart breeds also need to be kept busy and entertained or they get anxious and angry. They'll start destroying property or fighting with others. If you don't have the time and energy, it's much better to get a less intelligent and mellow dog instead.
The anxiety is enough, it certainly doesn't take (much) brains.
High energy dogs get bored, frustrated, or destructive when not given enough exercise. And a high intelligence just means they're that much more creative in finding ways to amuse themselves (that probably won't amuse you...).
Additionally, part of what makes dogs such amazing companions is their empathy for humans not just intelligence. The current dog of my aunt and uncle is pretty dumb, compared to the previous one. But he loves people, cuddling, and he's super mellow.
He still needs to be walked 3-4 times a day, but not particularly long and he's perfectly happy just chilling and lying next to you all Saturday. That fits much better into less active lives than something high energy that needs to run 10-15 miles a day...
Just pretend you got picked up by aliens who only communicate via flashing lights. After months you might be able to associate certain light combinations and color are associated with food, with being allowed to use the bathroom, with types of interaction, and if you were really smart you might be able to figure out verbs and simple sentence structure, but those lights need to be flashing slowly and distinctly, and if the aliens start using the same light to mean two different things then you're going to get screwed up.
For another species to grasp our language is an incredible thing, something no human has ever done, you have to keep things incredibly simple and teach them as if you were teaching language, not just saying what comes into your head.
My dog is frequently confused when he eaves drops on conversations and hears some one talk, for instance, about a long drive to the beach last year, and he waits at the door excited to go. And I have to think why is he waiting at the door, does have to pee? why is he so excited?
Yeah, there's some science. But mostly, just an incredibly sweet story. Dr. Pilly, Chaser's owner, died last year at 89. Chaser also lived a long, happy life.
He clearly has determined what the outcome will be and decided not to do it, which is really interesting to watch, and very surprising the first time it happened.
I had an English Shepherd, which is a closely related breed, also very smart, and has significantly less need for constant stimulation than border collies. I can't say enough good things about English Shepherds. Still needs exercise and stimulation, just not to the extreme degree of border collies.
It's having an animal bred for this in your house: https://youtu.be/hxMsVbFr1Bc?t=15
I think far too many people aren't aware of just how much work taking good care of a dog is. I'm grateful for some co-workers that explained the time needed to properly care for a dog, which helped me realize it wasn't going to be a good fit for me.
It's easy to go to a shelter and find a dog that's 2+ years old with a known history of being safe around kids. Whether or not it's intelligent, you can select it for appearance and ease of care.
Our BC on the other hand has no desire to be outside without us, does not want to leave the property, and will follow you around constantly hoping you pick up a ball or frisbee. No interest in other dogs, just people. And she'll ignore food and treats completely if there's an object to chase or a puzzle to solve.
She used to fetch her bowl and whack your knee if you had tea and she wanted some, runt of the litter (though she grew up normal size) and endless energy.
My point is that working from home rules, I suppose.
"Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets" by Jessica Pierce
Taught my dog to count to 4 with visual cues (fingers or chews).
Would love another Collie but sadly most work places in the UK aren't dog friendly.
Our BC spends all her waking hours looking for a job, and her wakefulness and energy is so much more intense than any other dog I've had. Makes sense for a breed that had to walk/run for effectively dozens of miles a day while herding.
One of ours can reliably tell time from analog wall clocks. It's her job to put our daughter to bed on time, and she does, understanding school nights, weekends, and summer vacation all make circumstances different. We figure she's reading the clock because she's not confident about the DST change if we miss resetting those.
It sounds crazy!
Little hound grew and is polite but insistent on the fact that there is still a bedtime, even though it is later now and daughter no longer needs someone to sleep beside her all night.
No idea if they're still going, but I haven't heard anything of them for ages.
Can't, for the life of me, remember the name of the kennel though.
Malis seem to be becoming more popular as police dogs too, as there's so many hip problems in shepherds.
I personally think it’s tragic that we selectively breed breeds into those kinds of problems for aesthetics.
Far too clever for his own good that dog, I miss him.
This seems to have the most history: https://olderhill.webnode.com/history-of-the-olderhills/
Moreover, most animals are smarter than people assume.
She knew when to be emotionally available, she understood body language and speech so well. A fantastic riding companion that knew how to pace herself for miles.
Not a very good mother, though. Her entire brood was eaten by coyotes over a couple of weeks.
I'm highly considering getting another border collie when the time comes for a new dog... if so I'll definitely be trying to push her like Chaser.
I've had a couple of dogs as pets in my lifetime and I think they are way smarter than what we give them credit for.
I didn't go to near the extent of the training John Pilley did with Chaser, but I did do the verbal only approach and put the toys in another room - and I was able to teach him to retrieve probably 5 or 10 toys by name. I was really amazed. I didn't do nearly as much training with the second Aussie - but she picked up on the whole game even quicker than the first dog (because she had a role model?).
Another thing I learned about this game/training : it really wears the dog out. After 20 or so minutes of playing "go find the toy" they dogs lay down for a nap.
(ps. doing "nose-work" games with dogs also wears them out)
Then we tried in vain to get our dog to make word/object associations like this dog. No luck.
Yes, BCs are smart. But that particular BC was really really smart. I hope its genetics live on in some lineage somewhere.
I remember seeing some study about a dog IQ test (something like an oversized obstacle course in a barn -- but a legitimate study) and iirc Border Collies were the main subjects, and the IQ curve was basically a standard distribution, there were lots of dumb and average Border Collies, and only a handful of "highly intelligent" ones.
* Our German Short Hair Pointer had seizures which in time led to him having to be put down; despite having him treated at the Animal Medical Center in NYC amongst other places.
* Our English Cocker Spaniel (a found dog that was living on the street) had terrible dermatitis which caused him to lose much fur and I'm pretty sure was no fun him.
* Our Yorkshire Terrier had kidney disease, also with seizures, though much less common than the Pointer's until later in his life; he too eventually had to be put down due to kidney disease.
That was it for the pure breeds, I told my partner next dog get a mutt. Indeed she did, and he seems like a good dog so far--smart and happy.
The Wikipedia's page about Border Collies has a section about their common health problems:
All the other breeds you mentioned are bred for looks. Border collies are bred for behaviour. The definition of a collie is fundamentally personality and behaviour traits, not a look.
There is a wide variation in the physical profile of border collies. Size, colouring, physical comportment, etc. Ours is completely black, others are black and white, or grey, etc. Ours is under 30lbs, some get to be 40 or 50.
I've always preferred mutts, but our dog before our BC was a mutt, a rescue, some sort of a collie cross. Her health problems were numerous: hip dysplasia, pancreatitis, and she died at 6 from lymphoma. She got dealt a bad set of cards. Poor lovely soul.
But our BC in contrast is the measure of health. Extremely vital. But I still miss the old dog :-(
Unfortunately, when things become popular (who wouldn't want the "smartest" dog?) they become lucrative, and the "working dog" heritage that protected them from genetic deficiencies now became a point of sale for them, leading to the inevitable inbreeding.
Whereas before what constituted a Border collie was general physical ability and endurance combined with "the eye", now many regions have show standards for Border collies as well.
So, simply getting a Border collie is no longer a guaranteed way to get away from the "pure breed" mentality and all the problems associated with it.
They're really lovely dogs, in personality. A challenge, to be sure, but she has such a strong desire to please and work hard.
Most "cute" dogs out there are deformities that are breeded into a race
I'm soo sorry if my obvious point was over your fucking head. Here's an article for the more enlightened members who might actually be interested in alleviating the suffering of dogs--which are freakin awesome animals.