Nat Geo Wild Three-Night Event: Is Your Dog A Genius?

Is your bichon a brainiac? Is your elkhound like Einstein? Might your four-legged friend who eats from your unattended garbage be one of the most intelligent beasts in the animal kingdom?

Nat Geo Wild and dog scientist Dr. Brian Hare hope to answer those questions in Is Your Dog a Genius?, a three-night event that explores and explains the goings-on inside the minds of dogs. Dr. Hare — an evolutionary anthropologist and codirector of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, coauthor of The Genius of Dogs, and cofounder of Dognition, a doggie IQ testing site — uses his research to help dog owners better understand their canine companions. In the series, Dr. Hare explains that a dog’s intelligence has more to do with brains than breed, introduces at-home games that assess both dog and human, and showcases extraordinary dogs with remarkable problem-solving abilities.

I ran my dog — a golden retriever/poodle mix — through a few of Hare’s tests. Although the breeds with which my dog is mixed are among the so-called “smartest” in dogdom, based on his actions, I’ve always assumed that Buster was most definitely not a genius. Through the tests, I realize that he has his own kind of genius tendencies: He relies on his owners for cues, is empathetic and connected to everyone in his family, and actually does listen to us. I was flabbergasted — maybe I’ve been underestimating my doggie’s IQ all along! And regardless of my pup’s brainpower, the entire family had a blast trying the tests, and connecting with our canine made all of us feel pretty smart.

Is Your Dog a Genius? > Nat Geo Wild > May 15-17 at 10pmET