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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Community > Blogs > Yeah But Can You Train This Dog

Yeah, but can you train THIS dog?

June 10, 2010 -

 I often get asked, “I have a [insert breed here]; can they be trained”?  Of course!  There isn’t a breed of dog that can’t be trained.  There aren’t any animals that I know of that cannot be trained.  All animals modify their behavior based on the result of their actions.  As long as you can control those consequences, you can change the animal’s behavior.  Let’s say you ask your dog to sit and are prepared to give him a treat if he sits.

I often get asked, “I have a [insert breed here]; can they be trained”?  Of course!  There isn’t a breed of dog that can’t be trained.  There aren’t any animals that I know of that cannot be trained.  All animals modify their behavior based on the result of their actions.  As long as you can control those consequences, you can change the animal’s behavior.  Let’s say you ask your dog to sit and are prepared to give him a treat if he sits. 

Let’s assume that your dog knows this, but being a hound (for instance), he is more interested in sniffing out a new smell than having a cookie.  If that is the case, your dog is not going to do what you tell him to because the result (having a treat) isn’t good enough for him.  Now, if he could only get access to the smells he wanted by complying with your requests, he’d be the most obedient dog you’ve ever met.  Getting a dog to do what you want is all about controlling what he wants and giving it to him when he does what you want.  Some breeds of dogs tend to want affection/attention from us, or food and therefore they seem easier to train.

Another question I get a lot is, “My dog is X years old.  Is he too old to train?”  Again, my answer is “of course not!”  Dogs love learning!!  The only thing that sometimes makes it harder when training an older dog is that often the dog has a long history of being rewarded for an incompatible behavior.  For instance, say you’ve always let your dog jump up on you, but now for some reason you cannot allow that anymore and you need to teach him to sit to greet you.  The years of habit-forming will be a little hard to break.  It’s like when I rearrange my kitchen and for months I reach for the wrong drawer out of habit to get a spoon.  I know that I’ve moved the spoons, but muscle memory and habit take over and I reach for the wrong drawer.  After practice, I eventually get it right (as reaching for the wrong drawer never rewards me with a spoon).

As long as you have a little patience, control the rewards that motivate your dog, and teach him correctly (positive reinforcement has been proven to be the best way to learn), your dog can learn what you want to teach him.  No dog is “un-trainable.”  If you are having trouble teaching your dog something, the problem lies with the teacher, not the student.

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Comments

17 Jun 2010 6:19 am

bteeter35 said:

ANY dog can be trained, any breed, any age. I am an Animal Behaviorist and do in home obedience training for adult dogs. I always recommend that people wiht puppies seek a class situation so the puppies also get the all important socialization with other people and other dogs. I will say this, it is NOT the dog that I train, it is the PEOPLE on how to train the dog. What it takes is a COMITTED owner and without that, the dog will learn nothing.

16 Jun 2010 5:51 pm

princess0453 said:

how about an american pitbull terrier that was given to me at 7 months old

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