I believe as a Lab grows older they actually become more intelligent, perhaps just from absorbing life experiences, like we do.
Duke knows the command "go get your toy". He will always take a toy out into the yard and "forget" to bring it back when he's ready to come back inside so that command is frequently used.
A word he does not have any use for with is "deck" since it does not involve food or travel.
Yesterday evening I was sitting on the deck throwing a tennis ball for Freckles while Duke sat sniffing the breeze. I saw one of his toys in the grass so I told Duke "Go get your toy and put it on the deck." Without hesitation he did exactly that, then sat back down. He knew to get his toy and then he knew what to do with it.
They are amazing creatures.
Duke and Freckles at their country home
Mine know which cat is which. If we ask "Where's Sherman?", they will find the Maine Coon (Sherman) not any of the others, and if we tell Toby to "get Macy out of the closet" he'll herd the Siamese (Macy) out of the closet, sometimes leaving any others that snuck in there inside. They also know quite a few phrases and understand sentences not just single word commands.
Yes they are !
You're right about them getting smarter with age. Mitzi will be ten in December and I can see that she remembers everything I tell her.
When I take them all swimming together, Mitzi no longer enjoys it because Bruno, the ruffian, gets on her back in the water and takes away anything she is retrieving, so I told Mitzi last week that I will take her alone without Bruno. Yesterday I took all three, and when I called them home, only Judy and Bruno came. She stayed by the water just staring at me. I knew she remembered my promise so I put J&B in the yard and came back down to the lake, let her do some dock jumps and water retrieves without her annoying little bro.
Our newest addition, Max, is 18 mos. old and was obviously just a stud muffin to the previous owners. I don't know if anyone ever played with him; he acted like he had never handled a ball before.
Our 6 y/o, Abby, soon taught him the ropes re: the balls and frisbee and their favorite, the sling shot. What has amazed me is the speed with which he has picked up on verbal stuff.
Occasionaly a ball will get lost and Abby will make a half-hearted attempt to find it if I say "find it" (she knows we have more). Max picked up on this right away and he is much more detirmed than Abby. He won't quit until he finds it. This gives me hope that we won't find 15 balls in the yard after the final snow melt next winter.
I agree they are amazing creatures with their ability to remember things. I think too many people presume animals to be dumb.
Lexi is far from it, even though acts like real dummy at times. Like Duke she knows the command "get your stuffie". She has the habit of taking one of her stuffies out with her. When it is time to come in, she's leave it, but I send her back with that command to bring it in.
Same goes for when we are walking. Many of the areas we walk do not have sidewalks, so I taught her the command "car". When I say "car", she automatically moves on the grass from the edge of the street.
My pretty girl, Lexi!
That is such a great story!
I think the longer you are together and the more you talk to them, the more you can begin to speak to them in sentences and they understand enough words to put it all together.
I noticed the other day how well the boys respond to me pointing where they are supposed to go. We have two doors to the backyard. One goes through the garage, the other goes in off the deck into the FL room. If it's been raining, we always go through the garage first.
The other night I had just finished playing fetch with Simon, and he went to the back door and looked back at me. As I was walking towards him I gestured with my hand to the other door, and he promptly ran up the deck stairs and waited at that door. It wasn't a big gesture, or particularly precise, but he understood exactly what I meant.
Oh! Oh! I thought of another funny one, speaking of fetch:
The boys are self-limiting when it comes to playing fetch. When they are tired and have had enough, they will end the game by running past you to one of the back doors. I have gotten into the habit with Simon of, when he does this, saying, "Oh, are you tired?" This line is always delivered as he runs past me to go inside.
So now, I have noticed that if we're in the backyard and I happen to say the word "tired," not necessarily in relation to him but perhaps in conversation with Kevin, Simon immediately stops and runs to the back door. LOL! He thinks "tired" means to go inside now!