I want to talk to for a minute your about how your dog’s breed learns. Very frequently, dog owners will ask me, “Have you ever dealt with this breed before?” Sometimes I chuckle when it’s a very common breed. You’d be surprised at how many people have asked me if I’ve ever trained a German Shepherd, for instance. My response? “Well, not since twenty minutes ago!”
Often, owners are under the impression that their dogs are very unique. Of course, some dogs are. For instance, there are only a few dozen dogs in the entire United States of the same breed as my dog Chocolate Chip. But whether you have a feels de Miguel, or a German Shepherd, or a Yorkie, every dog on Earth is different. Dogs within the same breed do tend to share certain characteristics. Many labs are fun and goofy. A lot of herding dogs like to bite and nip at your fingers. These common characteristics appear in any gene pool. Breeds and types—and therefore some similarities—naturally occur. But within that, it’s fascinating to me how every dog learns in a very signature way.
We’ve put over a hundred breeds through our Transform Your Dog In Sixty Days program. Every one of those dogs goes through the exact same motions for nine weeks. We need to tweak or change the program for some of them, but that’s usually the result of that dog’s personality or past experiences rather than its breed. If you have a communication system that works, it usually works with every dog. It may work 99% with one dog and 85% with another, and that’s why we make small tweaks. Yet every one of them will learn certain things in the same way.
Every dog will increase behaviors if you praise them and find something that motivates them, whether it’s a Saluki or a Shih Tzu. Every dog will decrease a behavior if you find a way to correct it properly.
This is a call for sanity. Owners frequently get caught up in thinking that their training program has failed because of their dog’s breed. That’s not true. Your dog will learn in the same general way as others. Your dog’s breed isn’t holding him back. Your inability to communicate with him is
I don’t want to sound mean, because this truth is the reason why dog trainers like myself have jobs. We try our best to help facilitate that communication, whether in person or in books and videos. There are solutions!
But what I don’t want to see is owners saying things like: “I just can’t train this dog because he’s a Rottweiler” or “You just can’t house train a Yorkie!” Certain breeds may present certain kinds of challenges, but if you understand how to create and get rid of behavior you’ll be able to craft a system that works for you. Worry less about the breed and more about being able to communicate with your dog!