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So, you are considering adding a new dog to your household. But what you really want is a well-trained pup who never barks at strangers, doesn’t pee anywhere they shouldn’t, and brings you the paper on Sunday mornings.
While some of these desires may never be more than fantasy, if you train your dog correctly you will be surprised how well behaved they are, and exactly what you can get them to do.
While all dogs are trainable with the right methods and patience, you can make the job easier by choosing a breed that is highly trainable, rather than the naturally rebellious sort or the loveable but slow-witted.
Here is our list of the 10 most trainable dog breeds and what exactly makes them so easy to work with. We’ve also put together some top tips for how to effectively train your chosen canine companion.
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10 Most Trainable Dog Breeds
We have only included pure-bred dog breeds on our list, as their characteristics are the most predictable. But there are also plenty of cross-bred dogs that are highly trainable, including both Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. But it is generally difficult to predict the adult characteristics of cross-bred pups.
While we have put together our list in “no particular order,” it should be no surprise to see our beloved Labrador Retrievers at the top of the list.
Originally bred as hunting dogs to retrieve game, they are both highly intelligent and eager to please. Combining these two characteristics means they are one of the easiest dogs to train.
They have a playful and tranquil temperament and also have a lot of energy and love the great outdoors. They are the perfect dogs for active families, as they also love children. They will treat them as one of their own, and they know their own strength, so there aren’t likely to be any unfortunate accidents.
2. Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are one of the friendliest dogs out there. So, while they don’t make great guard dogs, they are ideal family pets.
Like Labradors, they mix intelligence with an eagerness to please. This means that a little positive reinforcement goes a long way, and they can learn new commands within less than a dozen repeats. They are particularly motivated by food, so small treats make an excellent training tool.
This is another pooch that has the right temperament to be a family dog or an assistance dog. Like Labradors, they have a soft mouth, which also means they can pick up and retrieve things without damaging them.
3. Border Collie
While these long-haired and regal-looking pups need quite a bit of grooming and exercise, this can be the perfect bonding experience for the two of you.
Bred as herding dogs, Border Collies are more independent thinkers than many of the breeds on this list and often know what needs to be done without requiring commands. But, while they are independent and sensitive to their own needs, they aren’t rebellious. Combine all this with their innate intelligence, and they are very easy to train.
Border Collies are often considered the most intelligent dogs on many lists. this is great, but it can come with a cost. If you don’t provide your Border Collie with enough mental stimulation then he’ll find his own way to satisfy his boredom by possibly becoming destructive and shredding the family couch.
While poodles might have a reputation for being a “posh” breed, not least because of their intensive grooming needs, they are arguably one of the most intelligent dog breeds.
Poodles were bred as companion dogs, which means they have an even temperament, are pliable, and are eager to please. Combine this with their intelligence, and they often pick up on new commands within less than half a dozen repeats.
Whether you go for a miniature, toy, or standard poodle, they are all easy to train, which is why you can keep them in the house without worrying about accidents.
Their tight coat means they don’t shed or leave hair behind wherever they go. However, as you might have thought the no shed comes with a cost. I’ve heard complaints from new Poodle owners about how they have to regularly cut brush, groom, and cut their coats.
5. German Shepherd
German shepherds have long been a favorite working dog and are commonly seen alongside the military or the police. Their size and strength, plus their trainability, make them perfect for this type of work.
These dogs are very devoted to their humans and also love nothing more than having a job to do. They learn new commands quickly, and their reputation for aggression is not deserved. A properly trained German shepherd is quite docile.
But this is another breed that needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If you leave them alone at home for 10 hours a day, no matter how well trained, you will likely find a mess waiting for you.
6. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
When talking about Corgis, it is important to be specific. While a Pembroke Welsh Corgi is stubborn to a fault, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are among the easiest dogs to train.
Larger than their Pembroke cousins, Cardigan Welsh Corgis have cattle-herding instincts, which are accompanied by agility and intelligence They are also loyal and affectionate, but they aren’t territorial (so there is no incessant barking).
These dogs are not only easy to train, but they are relatively small and don’t need loads of exercise, so it is not too difficult for them to adapt to city living.
7. Shetland Sheepdog
Another herding breed, Shetland sheepdogs have that same intelligence and desire to please that makes them easy to train.
They make particularly good dogs when it comes to learning tricks, and their sporty physique means they can complete the agility trials required of show dogs. They are also fascinated by the unfamiliar, so they can come to grips with quite complex tricks and commands.
These affectionate dogs will quickly become one of the family and will be one of the most obedient children. They have a tendency to be territorial and bark, but this is easily controlled with—you guessed it—proper training.
If you are looking for a small breed that is also highly trainable, the Papillon, with its butterfly ears, is perfect. It is one of the few small dogs that has this trainable temperament.
They are curious and always paying attention and intelligent enough that they learn very quickly. They are also eager to please, so will respond well to training with reward. If you train these pups well when they are young, it will stick for life.
While they look like little lap dogs, beware— Papillons have a lot of energy. And, like all intelligent dogs, they need intellectual stimulation as well as physical exercise.
9. Australian Cattle Dog
This is yet another cattle dog with a natural herding instinct and a desire to please.
Australian cattle dogs aren’t just highly intelligent, they are also tireless in their work ethic. This means they can focus on you and learn what they need to without getting distracted. But at the same time, they are independent thinkers and problem solvers. While this is a great skill in a working dog, it does mean they can be escape artists.
These cattle dogs make perfect working dogs or friendly household pets, though, again, if they aren’t working they will need a lot of exercise. A dog with a lot of pent up energy will get into trouble, no matter how well trained they are.
10. Miniature Schnauzer
Another one of the few smaller dogs that are also highly trainable, the Miniature Schnauzers may look like terriers, but they have a different origin, which is why they are much more trainable.
While these dogs are easy to train, they are also willful, so they do need to be controlled with a firm hand. They need consistency in their training and rewards and an owner who can exert an air of authority.
Characteristics Of Trainable Dogs
What is it that makes some dogs highly trainable, while others will never learn not to chew your shoes?
While part of this comes down to you and how you train your pooch, there are a few characteristics that make a dog easier to train.
The more intelligent the pup, the quicker they will learn to associate certain commands with desired actions.
For example, an intelligent Border Collie can learn a new command after less than five repetitions, while some less intelligent breeds might need more than 100 repetitions and still might not remember every time.
Bred To Hunt Or Herd
Dogs that have been bred to hunt, herd, or retrieve game tend to be more eager to please and therefore more willing to put in the time and effort to learn new skills.
They are also motivated by reward and recognition from their owners, so they respond well to training based on positive reinforcement.
But these dogs will also not be equal. Some were bred to work in cooperation with humans, while others were bred to work more independently.
While the latter are still highly trainable, they also tend to be problem solvers. That is great, except when they turn their skills to the problem of liberating the meat you put safely on top of the refrigerator to defrost.
Dogs with a lot of energy tend to respond better to the work of training. But, at the same time, they can require a lot of work. as they have a minimum daily exercise requirement.
If they don’t get the activity they need, all of your work can be wasted. Excessive pent up energy will result in a naughty dog, no matter how well trained.
Not Easily Distracted
Some dogs are more easily distracted than others by the things in their surrounding environment.
It is not every dog that will be able to focus on you when another person walks in the room or the smell of another dog wafts past them.
For example, while bloodhounds are very intelligent, their sense of smell is so good that it will almost always override their training.
It is best to choose a dog that can concentrate on you, even when chaos is erupting around you. After all, that is probably when their training will be most important.
Dog Training Tips
There are a lot of different methods out there for training dogs. If you want to jump deep into any of these approaches and philosophies, check out our list of the 10 best dog training books.
You can also access our complete Labrador Training Guide here.
As a general rule, we always recommend training methods that involve positive reinforcement, which means rewarding dogs for presenting the correct behavior and never resorting to punishment when they have behave in a way other than desired.
But aside from this, here are some of our top tips.
- Find a distraction-free zone
Whenever you are starting to teach your dog something completely new, you will want to find an area that is free of distractions. Having their undivided attention will make a big difference in how quickly they learn the new command or skill.
Once they have mastered the command in a distraction-free zone, you can start adding distractions. At first, this should just be something simple, like having someone else in the room. Slowly you can build up to working on the command in a place full of stimuli, such as the local dog park.
- Use short, regular sessions
Your dog doesn’t have the same attention span as you do. If you schedule hour-long training sessions, they will be finding it very difficult to concentrate long before the session is over.
This can often mean that you end the session on a low, when they are starting to engage in negative, distracted behavior. Ideally, you want to be finishing on a high, when they have just successfully completed the task a number of times.
It is better to break your training session up into short 15-minute sessions a couple of times a day rather than try and squeeze everything into long sessions.
- Reward what you like, and take away rewards
It is common knowledge that you should reward your dog for good behavior, as it reinforces that it is in their best interest to comply with this command.
At the same time, you need to ensure that bad behavior never seems like it is rewarded. For example, if you chase them around the house after they pee on the floor, they might actually think that is quite a fun game.
If your dog jumps up on the couch to sit on your lap and this is something they shouldn’t do, far better than hitting them or shouting at them is to ignore them.
If you give them any attention, this can be a reward, so it is better to look away and completely ignore them. When they climb down and sit in front of you, waiting, you can then reward them with a nice pat.
- Be timely
Whether you are rewarding your dog or dishing out consequences, make sure it is in the moment.
Dogs don’t have the ability to connect things that are separated in time. That is why it is ineffectual to yell at your dog only when you find the puddle of pee. They won’t realize that your actions are in response to something they did hours earlier.
Good behavior needs to be rewarded immediately, and you need to catch your pooch in the act for consequences to have any effect.
What Is The Easiest Dog To Train?
The easiest dogs to train tend to be intelligent dogs that can learn commands quickly and dogs that have been bred for hunting, herding, and retrieving, as they have been bred to work cooperatively with humans. This means they tend to be eager to please and therefore respond better to positive reinforcement training techniques.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are among the easiest dogs to train, which is why they are often used as working and support dogs.
What Is The Least Trainable Dog?
There are quite a few dog breeds that are independent and stubborn. They may be intelligent and understand exactly what you want, but like a cat, they don’t really care. This makes them extremely difficult to train. Among these dogs are
- Afghan Hounds
- Chow Chows
What Is The Easiest Dog To Own?
Which dog breeds are easiest to own depends on what you are looking for. For example, Labradors are intelligent, friendly, and highly trainable. But they also need at least an hour of exercise per day and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. So they aren’t necessarily easy to own.
Poodles are highly intelligent and need less exercise, but they do need a significant amount of grooming.
What type of dog will be easiest for you to own depends on your situation and what kinds of tasks you find difficult (exercise?) and easy (grooming?).
What Breed Of Dog Is Quiet And Calm?
If you are looking for a dog that is quiet and calm, pretty much happy to hang out with you at home, and won’t start barking every time a cat approaches the house, consider a
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Shih Tzu
Which Dogs Can’t Be Left Alone?
There are a number of dogs that crave human companionship and can develop anxiety, depression, and antisocial behavior if left alone for long periods of time. These include
- Toy Poodles
- Bichon Frise
To be fair, these dogs were bred to be personal companions and lapdogs, so it isn’t their fault. But they aren’t the best choice if you spend a lot of time at the office.
Which Dogs Can Be Left Alone For Eight Hours?
If you want a dog but you work long hours and are worried about leaving them home alone, be sure to choose a dog breed that will not develop anxiety and depression if left alone for eight hours. The best breeds for this include
- Basset Hounds
Remember, dogs are social animals and don’t thrive when left alone all the time every day. If you are going to leave your dog home alone all day you may want to consider a different pet that thrives when being left alone.
While all dogs are trainable with patience and the right techniques, there are some breeds that are better predisposed to learning commands than others.
In general, choose intelligent breeds that have been bred to work with humans, such as herders and retrievers.
Labradors meet both of these criteria, which is why they are one of the most highly trainable breeds.
As a service dog trainer when it comes to dog breeds I guess I’m a little bias. After all the majority of dogs we work with are Labrador Retrievers (#1 on our list), Golden Retrievers (#2 on our list) and German Shepherds (#5 on our list).
Why the correlation between service dogs and our list of easiest dogs to train? It’s simple, a service dog needs to be intelligent and trainable to do their job to help individuals with disabilities.
What have you experienced with different dog breeds? Which dog breed have you found to be the easiest to train?
Tell us your experiences in the comment section below.
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