Like many pet owners, I believe my dog is pretty smart.


There have been quite a few evenings on the couch, staring into his big brown eyes, I’ve convinced myself he is more than smart, he is intelligent. The love-obsessed, proud, wine-powered, dog mama in me is fully convinced we can speak the same language. Of course, I accredit his intellect to my own fabulous training skills, but turns out his pup-smarts, might also be something he was born with.

It’s times like this I love to turn to IGNITE’s resident canine training and behavioral expert, Donna Chandler.

Donna’s 30+ years of training experience is second-to-none and she’s written a virtual library on canine behavior and training. Donna’s mission is to keep every dog in his or her home by dramatically reducing the number of dogs abandoned, surrendered, or euthanized every year due to behavioral issues.

Using my IGNITE subscription, I can reach out to Donna in seconds, with my vital question of the day: “Donna, do humans and canines learn in similar ways?”

“What a great question!” Donna responds. Within minutes, I have two pages of interesting, relevant and applicable information in my inbox, which I will now share with you!

Donna writes:

Dogs like Humans are Intelligent

Dogs, like [most] humans, are highly intelligent.  There are many recent studies that claim dogs can have the same intellectual abilities and range of emotions as that of human children 2-years of age. Dogs have memories once they are taught behaviors—so do humans. Dogs can solve problems with tracking, guarding a flock from predators with their instincts, and dogs can detect danger in situations—humans can do the same.  This is why so many dogs are trained for law enforcement and search/rescue. Just think how many times you have heard someone on the news state, “The dog saved my life.”

Dogs and Humans Learn Habitual Behavior

Humans are habitual in their behavior and so are dogs.  The estimated time for habitual behavior to develop is 6-months for a puppy (0-7 months) and 4-months for a dog of juvenile age (7-18 months) to adulthood. This is not much different for humans, except humans do not age as fast as dogs.  

Consider this: You travel to a foreign country for a week. Think about all the words you would learn in order to maneuver around the country and communicate. When you returned to America, it will most likely take you 30-days before you forget everything you’ve learned over seas. However, if you spent four months in that country, the words you used every single day would be embedded in your brain forever. You would not forget your experiences, food you enjoyed, or what you saw. It is no different for dogs.


Thanks to Donna, I was starting to build a fairly robust argument for the next conversation I had with my best friend about why raising puppies is just as difficult as raising children. [Told you, Molly!]

But that wasn’t ALL Donna wrote – tune in next week when I share the remaining points on how dogs and humans learn similarly in One Smart Puppy: How Dogs and Humans Learn Alike Pt 2!


November 14, 2018

Samantha Ross

Written by Samantha Ross