A Cocker Spaniel is so intelligent that it has mastered the xylophone and complex brain-training games – even learning a few tricks so quickly that its owner has to film them in slow motion to understand how it does it.
Impressive footage shows Emily Anderson’s pet dog Leo stacking a tower of rings using only his mouth in 10 seconds before completing a maze by pushing a bead with his nose.
Dog trainer Emily, 30, then says “music”, prompting the two-year-old to pick up a mini mallet and slide it over a toy xylophone on the same table.
Leo also knows how to inflate the puddings using a combination of his mouth and nose before stacking them on top of each other in order.
Emily, from Aberdeen, said: “Every day he totally amazes me. He’s a real dog in a million, I’ll never have another Leo.
“The things he does constantly surprise me because I don’t think they’re possible and he masters them in 20 minutes.
“I’ve been training him since I brought him home at eight weeks. I already had his half-sister Phoebe, so I met him when he was three days old.
“Most of the toys he has are children’s toys. I’m always looking for something new for him to learn. Baby toys work well for him.
“With the bead maze, I had spotted it in a doctor’s reception and thought ‘Leo could do that with his nose’.
“One day I was looking for a gift for my friend’s child, then I came across the activity table in an Argos catalog.
“I thought the sticks were solid, but it turned out they were wobbling, so I didn’t think he would manage to do it. Lo and behold, he had it under control in 20 minutes.
“I had to film him in slow motion to understand how he did it. He holds the object in his lower jaw and then maneuvers it with his tongue.”
Emily stepped up training Leo after he nearly died in March 2020 when he contracted a parasite called giardia.
Emily said: “I thought he was sleeping right under my desk one afternoon at work, but when he came for me to leave he just didn’t get up.
“Leo was in shock so I rushed him to the emergency vet. They initially thought it was Lyme disease but a few days later he came back as giardia.
“It shouldn’t make the dogs so sick, but Leo took it the wrong way and it shocked him. It was a horrible few days.
“Unbelievably, he recovered physically after just a few days, but it really affected him mentally and made him very anxious.
“We started to get back to normal and then we went into lockdown. So out of nowhere, we were home all the time and he was really, really sad.
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“He wasn’t like the happy dog he used to be anymore and I knew I had to do something to help him out of his crisis.
“I knew he had always enjoyed his training so I decided to focus on that a bit more with him and that’s how the stuff started.
“The first thing we did was roll up a blanket and then stack the rings and it just snowballed from there.”
Emily teaches Leo a new trick every week and methodically builds them up by making them a little more difficult.
Emily said: “To stack the rings, I started by teaching her to hold things in her mouth and then put them in a laundry basket.
“Gradually his target got smaller and eventually I had him drop the rings onto the pile while I held it. It took about a month in total from start to finish.
“Some of them use similar skills but use them on different objects. Leo is incredibly happy when he practices.
“He will fall asleep watching TV afterwards but ends up waking up from wagging his tail.
“Phoebe will do tricks for treats but she doesn’t like brain games as much, she prefers to sneak through targets.”