Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train
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    Senior Member Rinchan's Avatar
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    Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    This is out of curiosity.

    I've always heard that some dog breeds are harder to train than others.

    which are considered the hardest to train? The easiest? what makes a dog hard or easy to train?

    My dog is a beardie, and while they are smart dogs, he was so stubborn about potty training. No matter how much we would correct him, he would still go inside the house. I feel like we tried everything. There were times when we thought he was trained, but then about a week later, he would have or try to have an accident right in front of us. He was probably almost a year old by the time we finally had him trained. However, he learned basic commands VERY quickly. He was giving paw probably less than two minutes of being introduced to the command.

    I've heard that hounds can be hard to train.

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    Senior Member GottaLuvMutts's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Rinchan View Post
    I've heard that hounds can be hard to train.
    Where's Hulk when you need him? LOL
    Since you're pretty new, I'll explain: A member here (Hulk) used to have a geriatric basset hound by the name of Brutus. If there was ever a dog who was completely untrainable, this was him. DF'ers shared many laughs at the expense of poor old Brutus, may he RIP. We miss the stories, buddy! Hope you're having fun tipping over garbage cans on the rainbow bridge!

    My vote for hardest to train would have to be hounds. They're bred to work pretty independently, so many just don't care what the handler wants. At least that has been my impression.

    My vote for easiest to train would be a herding breed. Border collies generally take the cake in terms of brains, although some can be so smart that they resist training or find ways around it. Any dog that is bred to take direction from its handler (like herding breeds) will be easier to train. Add in a bit of food or toy motivation, and the only challenge is getting across what it is that you want. A lot of people are attracted to these breeds because of their biddability and intelligence. Unfortunately, many people fail to consider that all of that brain power means that these dogs NEED to be challenged on a daily basis.

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    Senior Member Crantastic's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Those "most intelligent breed" lists read more as "more easily trainable breed" lists to me. Those are the breeds you see most often in obedience and rally or doing police or service work. They've been bred to work closely with people, like GottaLuvMutts said, so they are more into pleasing their owners than other, perhaps equally as smart but not as easily trainable, breeds are. Here's the list I see referred to most frequently:

    Border Collie
    Poodle
    German Shepherd
    Golden Retriever
    Doberman Pinscher
    Shetland Sheepdog
    Labrador Retriever
    Papillon
    Rottweiler
    Australian Cattle Dog

    Out of those, I've only owned a Papillon, but mine is definitely intelligent and biddable. I can teach her a new command in less than five repetitions. My Alaskan Klee Kai is smart, but he is not as interested in pleasing me. He works for the food, not the love.

    Here are the bottom dogs:

    Shih Tzu
    Basset Hound
    Mastiff
    Beagle
    Pekingese
    Bloodhound
    Borzoi
    Chow Chow
    Bulldog
    Basenji
    Afghan Hound

    Lots of hounds, haha. I don't think any of those breeds are stupid. They're just more independent. Look at the Basenji, for example... I've heard from many people that they're smart, but cat-like and not easy to train.

    Crystal the Papillon and Casper the Alaskan Klee Kai

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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    It all kinda depends on the trainer's personality. That said, most people find training handler-oriented breeds to be easiest. That said, all breeds and individual dogs can present challenges. That said, you need to stay within the parameters of the dog's temperament. I could train my Golden to do just about anything that doesn't require opposable thumbs, but he's never going to be useful as a guard dog. Not ever.

    Herders and retrievers (including Poodles) would rank high on a trainability survey, with herders generally considered the more versatile type. If you have the personality to deal with protection breeds, they are super quick to learn and they are smart enough to learn a wide variety of tasks. With most of the "working" breeds, there is a longish puppyhood and often a difficult adolescence. The very same drives that make a breed useful to humans can give a trainer fits. They require some dedication on the trainer's part, but the results can be spectacular.

    Hounds, sled dogs, and terriers are (in that order) widely considered toughest to train, but it's not 'cause they're stupid.
    If I have to give my dog treats for obeying commands, then the terrorists have won.

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    Senior Member LazyGRanch713's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Those "most intelligent breed" lists read more as "more easily trainable breed" lists to me. Those are the breeds you see most often in obedience and rally or doing police or service work. They've been bred to work closely with people, like GottaLuvMutts said, so they are more into pleasing their owners than other, perhaps equally as smart but not as easily trainable, breeds are. Here's the list I see referred to most frequently:

    Border Collie
    Poodle
    German Shepherd
    Golden Retriever
    Doberman Pinscher
    Shetland Sheepdog
    Labrador Retriever
    Papillon
    Rottweiler
    Australian Cattle Dog

    My GSD never got the memo

    Out of those, I've only owned a Papillon, but mine is definitely intelligent and biddable. I can teach her a new command in less than five repetitions. My Alaskan Klee Kai is smart, but he is not as interested in pleasing me. He works for the food, not the love.

    Tag does it for the food, too. Not the love But what we do usually becomes kind of another reinforcer...instead of a treat after every obstacle, the reward is the NEXT obstacle, and the jackpot is the A-frame. He LOVES the A-frame!

    Here are the bottom dogs:

    Shih Tzu
    Basset Hound
    Mastiff
    Beagle
    Pekingese
    Bloodhound
    Borzoi
    Chow Chow
    Bulldog
    Basenji
    Afghan Hound

    Lots of hounds, haha. I don't think any of those breeds are stupid. They're just more independent. Look at the Basenji, for example... I've heard from many people that they're smart, but cat-like and not easy to train.
    It's weird to me, because both of my cats come when they're called. The reward is usually something good in their food dish. If you can find the one thing that motivates a dog (or cat, or horse, or fish, etc) it's not so hard to teach them stuff. Dude is smart, but he wouldn't work if the reward was crumbled milkbones...(Tag would). Auz is smart, but he's not what I would consider biddable.
    ETA: Tag seems like a genius to me, but put him up against an Alaskan and make the "intelligence" test pulling a sled. I wonder who would win. Same if I put Auz up against an Afghan on a lure course...I got 10 bucks and a steak dinner the afghan would grind my "smart" GSD into the ground.

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    Senior Member SOKAIBA's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    You can add Catahoula's to the list as well. Mine is smart as a whip and learns fast..... when he wants to. He is more stubborn then my wife, but don't tell her that.

    Kai

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    Senior Member Inga's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    I agree that it depends greatly on the trainer. How a dog is trained depends greatly on it's own temperament/personality. Some dogs are the "what can I do for you next?" type. They are bred to work WITH people where others are bred to make their own decisions. Looking at what a dog is originally bred to do will give you a little clue to this. Intelligence in a dog can either work for or against an owner as well. I know many intelligent dogs that run all over their owners because the owner isn't smart enough to deal with a dog that is trying to out-think them constantly.


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    Senior Member Shaina's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    As the above posters basically said...

    Depends on what you are training the dog to do...
    And how you, as the trainer, prefer to interact with and motivate the dog.

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    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    I think most breeds that are considered 'difficult to train' are actually not that difficult..it is a failure of the human to understand the motivations of the breed. Not enough people understand premacking or how to harness an instinctive drive or their type of energy levels based on physical attributes.

    Hounds are known to be difficult because they were not bred to be human centric for working, they are true pack hunters so a scent or another dog's invitation to run are often quite hard to overcome for training. But they do bond, infact many are pretty velcro with their humans WHEN NOT occupied with the scents of the world. LOL It takes WORK but it can be done.
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    Senior Member melaka's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    My family had a Sheltie when I was a teen and she was so easy to train to do anything. I'm sure we didn't train her to her potential - just mostly trained tricks to entertain our friends.

    Years later my parents got a Westie and she was much harder to train. I think it took them 6 months just to get her started on housebreaking and probably a full year before she was completely housebroken. She didn't have a reliable recall until around age 4.5 (also due to a lack of consistent training). Even now, at 6 years old, she is very friendly and listens most of the time, but she still has a very independent streak, which is kind of funny at times. (For example, most days she will come in from the yard when called, but sometimes she just stands there and acts like she can't even hear you - even from just 5 feet away. It's something about her body language when she does it that I really can't describe. Or, you ask her to jump up on one sofa, but she'll run across the room to the other sofa and jump onto that one instead.)

    And my mutt has been pretty trainable so far. There were times when she was more motivated by things other than food, which made things tough sometimes, but she's coming around now as I'm learning to communicate better with her. (I have no idea what breeds she is, except for probably a little bit of Pug and likely some kind of Terrier along with a few other things.)

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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    One of the most successful AKC titling ppl in my dog club is all basenji's.. this is obedience, agility etc.

    My thinking on this is to read and train the dog.. and not so much worry about the breed. OTOH if you want a dog that is easy to catch on.. and continuous fun.. get a Poodle. They are a blast.

    Of course, I have a GSD who is the biggest clown on earth and the breed is considered smart and tough.. and there are GSD';s that are soft (shoud not be used for breeding but are).

    So.. here is what I suggest. Decide what you want a dog to be like for you and then go get a dog that best suits that need. Probably not a good idea to get a Bichon Frise if you want to go duck hunting.. and probably not a good idea to get a Chesapeak Bay Retriever if you want to have a lap dog.

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    Senior Member Inga's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Elana55 View Post
    probably not a good idea to get a Chesapeak Bay Retriever if you want to have a lap dog.
    But if you want a dog that has a similar temperament of a Chesapeak Bay Retriever and still want a Lap dog, get a Rottweiler.

    I have been told by so many people that Rottweilers are very very difficult to train because they are a "think for themselves" breed. Well, that might be true but because the breed works for me in other ways, I find them to be very easy to train. If I wanted to be a high scoring obedience person, I would have to be more careful as to which Rottie I chose. Some, are harder then others. My darling boy Carsten is a pig head but My old girl Inga was a work-aholic. She was drivey and a blast to work with. Each dog is an individual within a breed as well.

    My sister who has never had a dog in her life and know NOTHING about training got an Australian shepherd mix and that dog for the most part trained itself to be an excellent family dog. Super smart and WANTS to learn.


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    NRB
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Cracker View Post
    I think most breeds that are considered 'difficult to train' are actually not that difficult..it is a failure of the human to understand the motivations of the breed. Not enough people understand premacking or how to harness an instinctive drive or their type of energy levels based on physical attributes.

    This^^ in spades.
    I think that for your average, takes one dog class in a lifetime owner who knows little about +R training that the more people focused breeds (herders, retievers, velcro working dogs like the Dobe's and etc) are far easier to work with and train than the more independant minded less people focused breeds like hounds and terriers.

    The "dumbest" dog I ever worked with was a Boykin Spaniel. She was from hunting stock and had a great nose. But I failed miserably to train her in basic obedience as the choke chain yank and yell method I was taught at the time just didn't get through to her. But now, 30 years later I realize what a total failure I WAS as a trainer, and how she was probally a very smart dog with a very stupid owner.

    My mentor, (+R trainer) insists that she will never ever have anything in her house BUT hounds. As the hounds are the easiest to work and live with. She works with all breeds in her dog trainign classes and in her private "problem dog" consultation business.

    I would agree on the list posted about re: the more intelligent breeds. Notice that the top 10 is mostly herders, 2 retrievers and 1 working dog... I can't really comment on the to[ ten least intellegent....

    I have worked with Golden Retrivers, Australian Shepherds, the one Boykin, one mutt and now a Standard Schnauzer. This is my first terrier and first working dog but is by far the smartest dog I've ever worked with. But then again, in all these years I've been learning more and more as well. So I've been getting better at reading dogs and dog training as well.

    I would guess, irreguardless of the trainer, that the smartest dogs are the breeds that are out there excelling in Seeing Eye dogs, obedience, agility, police and search and rescue type work. So that would be Labs and other retrievers, Poodle, BC, GSD, Malnois, Dobies, and etc. Most difficult would be breeds bred to work independent of humans, ie hounds and terriers.
    Last edited by NRB; 01-12-2011 at 12:02 PM.

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    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Crantastic View Post
    Those are the breeds you see most often in obedience and rally or doing police or service work. They've been bred to work closely with people, like GottaLuvMutts said, so they are more into pleasing their owners than other, perhaps equally as smart but not as easily trainable, breeds are.
    In other words, it's a human-centric (i.e. the dog obeys me more quickly) list with no real regard or measurement for the dog's actual intelligences and the tasks/learning styles/training methods that best suit them?

    If so - what's the point?

    Especially considering any dog can be easily trained if you find (and use) his motivation and have a personality and teaching style that matches the dog's personality.

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    Senior Member Crantastic's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by KBLover View Post
    In other words, it's a human-centric (i.e. the dog obeys me more quickly) list with no real regard or measurement for the dog's actual intelligences and the tasks/learning styles/training methods that best suit them?

    If so - what's the point?
    Yes, and don't ask me -- I didn't make the list.

    I'm not sure I agree that any dog can be easily trained, but I do believe any dog can be trained. I know a girl who does rally with her Shiba Inu, and although she said it hasn't been easy, they've earned the RN title (and he's gotten his CGN -- Canine Good Neighbor, the Canadian equivalent of CGC -- as well). Some dogs will require much more patience than others and the proper motivation. I don't think this makes them "stupid" or even stubborn, really. But it does make them a bit more of a challenge for the average person to train.

    Crystal the Papillon and Casper the Alaskan Klee Kai

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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Crantastic View Post
    Yes, and don't ask me -- I didn't make the list.

    I'm not sure I agree that any dog can be easily trained, but I do believe any dog can be trained. I know a girl who does rally with her Shiba Inu, and although she said it hasn't been easy, they've earned the RN title (and he's gotten his CGN -- Canine Good Neighbor, the Canadian equivalent of CGC -- as well). Some dogs will require much more patience than others and the proper motivation. I don't think this makes them "stupid" or even stubborn, really. But it does make them a bit more of a challenge for the average person to train.

    I wonder if the average person can train a dog well in general. Guess that depends on what "average" is. What is the average person with average ability with dogs? How would that be described and would even breeds that are highly trainable thrive (i.e. achieve more than the basics) with that sort of person?

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    Senior Member Crantastic's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    I think of the "average" person as being someone who likes having a dog around, and wants the dog to know how to sit and walk nicely on a leash and eliminate outside and not bark all the time, but doesn't see the need to train behaviors aside from those. Basically, someone who wants a "good" dog but isn't interested in putting in a lot of effort. There's a reason labs and goldens are often suggested as "beginner" dogs, right? I know several people with those breeds who haven't done any real training besides maybe teaching their dogs to sit, but the dogs have picked up on how the owners want them to behave and it looks like the owners have worked with them. I believe that if the people put in even a bit more effort, the dogs would learn whatever the people wanted them to know very quickly, whereas my AKK would walk all over them -- and he's not even one of the "difficult" breeds.

    But then once people start learning about training and putting in more effort, they're not really "average" dog owners anymore, are they?
    Last edited by Crantastic; 01-12-2011 at 01:52 PM.

    Crystal the Papillon and Casper the Alaskan Klee Kai

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    Senior Member LazyGRanch713's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train


    The "dumbest" dog I ever worked with was a Boykin Spaniel. She was from hunting stock and had a great nose. But I failed miserably to train her in basic obedience as the choke chain yank and yell method I was taught at the time just didn't get through to her. But now, 30 years later I realize what a total failure I WAS as a trainer, and how she was probally a very smart dog with a very stupid owner.


    This in spades as well. I find Tag, as operant as he is, a brilliant and fun little dog to work with. If yank and crank were the only method available, I've no doubt in my mind that he would be labeled stupid and defiant. (The only plus he may possibly have had with this type of handling would be he seems to have excellent bounce back).
    My idea of True Intelligence goes hand in hand with intuition; things you really can't "teach". Therapy dogs that visit hospitals and nursing homes and "just know" about kids and the elderly (like Xeph's Strauss) are what I consider the really amazing types. No doubt that some of this goes with experience and maturity on the dogs' part (for instance, Dude will turn himself inside out to get my grandma laughing), but in most cases he briefly greets and then ignores elderly people. I don't know if it's learned or intuition, but he knows about my grandma

    Quote Originally Posted by Crantastic View Post
    Yes, and don't ask me -- I didn't make the list.

    I'm not sure I agree that any dog can be easily trained, but I do believe any dog can be trained. I know a girl who does rally with her Shiba Inu, and although she said it hasn't been easy, they've earned the RN title (and he's gotten his CGN -- Canine Good Neighbor, the Canadian equivalent of CGC -- as well). Some dogs will require much more patience than others and the proper motivation. I don't think this makes them "stupid" or even stubborn, really. But it does make them a bit more of a challenge for the average person to train.
    Well, the thing is--I've got a GSD, one of those amazing, intuitive, biddable, hard-working breeds. This individual dog thinks organized sports are stupid How he works reminds me of how I clean. Getting going is the impossible part; finding the motivation to get started. (I can put off cleaning house for hours at a time). But, once I get going, I get into the "groove" and really make good time. When I start working on something new with Auz, getting him going is the hardest part. His heeling is a perfect example; at first it's sloppy and he's distracted and no reward is really worth doing it. But once he gets going, and we get into the groove of heeling, he's stunning to watch. Great position, excellent eye contact, beautiful form, etc. I call Auz stubborn a lot (among other things, lol) but he's really just difficult to motivate. Premack is Our Friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by KBLover View Post
    I wonder if the average person can train a dog well in general. Guess that depends on what "average" is. What is the average person with average ability with dogs? How would that be described and would even breeds that are highly trainable thrive (i.e. achieve more than the basics) with that sort of person?
    In the Culture Clash (at least I think that's the book), she talks about how dog trainers vs. dog owners trained, and the people doing the training were told it was a study on how different breeds learn. The people who made training their passion gave out a lot more information--better timing, many more rewards, many more corrections. The dog owners were much slower with their timing and not as "free" at offering information via rewards and/or corrections.
    No idea how "average" is, but I found it kind of interesting because not many pet owners I know of ask about books about OC, CC, and the like, don't care about competition behaviors...they just want advice to make their dog pee outside/shut up when told. Most people that spend time on a dog forum want to know more than the average joe. (I don't really care about cars; so I don't frequent car forums. But I imagine there are plenty of people who make cars their passion and spend a lot of their time learning everything there is to know about cars)!
    Last edited by LazyGRanch713; 01-12-2011 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    Quote Originally Posted by Crantastic View Post
    I think of the "average" person as being someone who likes having a dog around, and wants the dog to know how to sit and walk nicely on a leash and eliminate outside and not bark all the time, but doesn't see the need to train behaviors aside from those. Basically, someone who wants a "good" dog but isn't interested in putting in a lot of effort. There's a reason labs and goldens are often suggested as "beginner" dogs, right? I know several people with those breeds who haven't done any real training besides maybe teaching their dogs to sit, but the dogs have picked up on how the owners want them to behave and it looks like the owners have worked with them. I believe that if the people put in even a bit more effort, the dogs would learn whatever the people wanted them to know very quickly, whereas my AKK would walk all over them -- and he's not even one of the "difficult" breeds.

    But then once people start learning about training and putting in more effort, they're not really "average" dog owners anymore, are they?

    Not by that definition, nope - they'll start rising up out of average.

    Plus - that's not really training a dog well. I mean, I know dogs do a lot in figuring us out when we DO train them well, but if they have to basically do ALL the work, then they aren't being trained.

    And yep, those are often considered "beginner dogs" but I guess folks forget that these dogs still need stuff beyond sitting and peeing outside. I mean, those are energetic sporting dogs used to running and traveling long distances and the mental challenges of spotting and retrieving game, often following the handler's direction of need be. What's ironic is their intellect and biddability probably will have them "asking" their people "what are we gonna do today? huh? huh? huh?" and then the dog is "hyper and pushy" now.

    Shoot, if all they want is some sits and peeing outside, probably any dog on that list could give them that, even if they have to bribe them for it (which still isn't training).

    I think that average person doesn't want a dog, they want an animal that looks like a dog but doesn't make any sound and doesn't have a mind of their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by LazyGRanch713 View Post
    No idea how "average" is, but I found it kind of interesting because not many pet owners I know of ask about books about OC, CC, and the like, don't care about competition behaviors...they just want advice to make their dog pee outside/shut up when told. Most people that spend time on a dog forum want to know more than the average joe.
    Yeah - like I said to Crantastic, an animal that looks like a dog but doesn't have a mind of their own and doesn't make any noise (so they should at least communicate via supersonic hearing so they are seen, petted when I feel like it, and not heard)

    Never mind that the dog is probably barking because it's them trying to create their own stimulation because they aren't getting any. Mr/Mrs. Average probably never thought of that. They just think the dog is disobeying and therefore must be punished (or worse, given up/pts, and they continue look for this mythical dog-look-a-like animal).

    I think that list isn't so much easiest for the average owner, but easiest for the average dog trainer/owner-with-a-trainer-mindset. I could see an average trainer achieving success with the 'easier' dogs that put up more with inconsistent signals, weaker (not outright horrible) timing, poorer (not outright clueless) execution, or just not having a clear idea of what the behavior should look like, so accept weaker/wrong versions of the correct behavior, but the dog figures it out fast and gives the right response almost every time and this issue rarely shows up.

    Meanwhile, the 'harder' dogs are probably just more unorthodox in how you approach them (so basic out-of-the-book methods probably won't fly, at least not without modification) and the average trainer would struggle more.

    The average dog owner would struggle with them all, especially with what was said in Culture Clash.
    Last edited by KBLover; 01-12-2011 at 04:52 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

    Wally's latent learning position.

    Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels." - Dr. Abrantes

    "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. " -Confucious says why I love shaping in a sentence.

    "Once you've entered the battle, you've already lost." -Amaryllis' mom on dog and child training.

  21. #20
    Senior Member GottaLuvMutts's Avatar
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    Re: Hardest and easiest dog breeds to train

    I'll add that I agree with a lot of what has been said above. People who think that their dog is untrainable often haven't taken the time to figure out what motivates their dog.

    My experience in training dogs (other than my own) is minimal, at best. She has spoiled me rotten, because as a herding x sporting cross, she is very biddable and finds everything motivating, from food to toys to the chance to interact with people. Honestly, I would probably struggle with the majority of dogs out there: soft dogs and dogs without food/toy motivation would be a difficult transition for me.

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