Summer is over and the kids are firmly back in their school routines. Why not take a cue from the teachers in their classrooms and use this time of year to recommit to teaching our dogs obedience commands and canine good citizen skills? While there is often an emphasis on training dogs when they first come into our lives, to reap the benefits of a well-behaved dog, training is a life-long commitment.
The cornerstones of a successful training program are building trust and maintaining consistency. When dogs trust that we will keep them safe and are confident in their understanding of what we expect from them, they are more eager to follow our lead and make us happy. To build a relationship with our dogs and learn the training methods that work best for them, it’s helpful to have an understanding of their natural tendencies. While dogs, like people, have different personalities and quirks, breeds—or breed groups—have characteristics that impact their trainability. Let’s use a few genetic groups to illustrate the point.
Dogs that fall into the herding group include the Border Collie, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and German Shepherd Dog. These breeds are extremely intelligent and thrive when given a job to do. This makes them very trainable—as long as they are kept active and engaged. Boredom can lead to mischievous or nuisance behaviors. When training these dogs, consider incorporating agility drills that take advantage of their athletic abilities and stamina.
Breeds in the terrier group include the Dachshund, Russell Terrier and West Highland White Terrier. Originally bred to chase down small animals such as rats and weasels, these dogs can be feisty and stubborn. Left unchecked, their determination and tenacity can manifest as aggression. Training a dog in the terrier group requires extra patience and diligence.
The Basset Hound, Beagle and Bloodhound are some of the breeds that make up the hound group. These intelligent dogs were originally bred to hunt, and that instinct remains with them. If they pick up a scent, they are naturally inclined to chase after it. This can make them difficult to train, as they may be less interested in being obedient than they are in catching their prey. However, as with other dogs, positive reinforcement and high-value treats can be used to develop appropriate behaviors.
Within breed groups, individual breeds have their own characteristics. To gain a better understanding of your dog, check out our breed library. It has some facts about breed temperaments and personalities that you can apply to your training techniques. And that will make the training experience better for you and your dog.