Mark Vette – Internationally renowned Animal Behaviourist, Educator, Author and TV personality

The Easiest Dogs to Train

The Easiest Dogs to Train

Here I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be some of the easiest dog breeds to train, for a normal home environment.

Note I’ve made that distinction because I’m not looking at the most highly intelligent breeds who would best excel at agility or high level training challenges, but rather the dog breeds that fit most easily into normal family life and are most trainable and manageable within that context. 

For example, border collies are absolutely renowned for their intelligence, energy and strong work ethic. This makes them a great choice if you’re wanting to do agility or advanced tricks with your pet. However, in a normal home environment I find that they can potentially become too hyper-vigilant, oversensitive and reactive. So despite their undoubted intelligence, I’m not including them on this list.

So, in no particular order…

1. Poodle

Poodles are notorious for their intelligence, and they’re also versatile, making them easy to train.
Standard, miniature, and toy poodles are known for their ability to grasp commands quickly, making them excellent family pets. They are people-pleasing but can have a sensitive nature, for this reason I particularly like them as part of a mixed-breed combined with a breed that’s a little more emotionally robust.

2. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are not only known for their loyalty and protective nature but also for their ease of training. They are highly intelligent, loyal and courageous and tend to have a great rapport with their handler, which contributes to their trainability. Though smart and trainable, they need a lot of activity and exercise to prevent boredom and frustration, and their guarding nature needs management by a confident owner. They are strong dogs and require physically strong handlers.

3. Golden Retriever

Renowned for their friendly demeanour, Golden Retrievers are great family dogs and highly trainable. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them quick learners. They are tolerant, devoted to their family and food oriented, which also helps! Again they are a large breed and need some strength to handle.

4. Labrador Retriever

Labs are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities, and they’re also among the easiest dogs to train (their very high food drive doesn’t hurt, they’ll do backflips for a treat!). They’re bred to be people-pleasing, stable and confident, which makes them an excellent family pet – they are not easily fazed. They are intelligent and have a strong desire to work and learn with their favourite humans. Though note they can be excitable and strong on the lead too!

5. Papillon

Despite their small size, Papillons are known for their intelligence and agility. They are quick learners and can perform tricks with ease, making them delightful companions for those seeking a trainable small breed. They love to connect with their people and are happy, outgoing and intelligent, making them relatively easy to train. This is one of my personally preferred little breeds.

6. Border Terrier (for a terrier!)

Though terriers generally don’t rank in terms of trainability for me, given their gaminess and hunting drive – of the terriers, border terriers are relatively trainable. They were bred to think for themselves, which can be both an endearing and frustrating quality! But they are determined, energetic and loyal, so if you like terriers I think this is a good choice. 

7. Australian Shepherd

This is a highly intelligent and versatile herding dog, a good option for active people looking for a medium size dog. They love people and are remarkably intelligent, so will learn new things quickly but are best suited to an active and engaged owner who wishes to do ongoing training.

Remember…

Now it’s worth noting that a dog of ANY breed can be trained and EVERY breed does require good training and socialisation to become a well-rounded dog. This is just an idea of those that will be on the easier end of the spectrum from the training perspective. 

Breeds are a very personal choice and often prior experience with a breed will influence your decision – different people like different traits, which they may find useful or simply endearing. It’s important to do you homework on what the breed you choose was selected for, and that will inform your decision better. Check out these blogs on How to Choose the Right Breed and Your Dog’s Breed Purpose to better understand how to find a good fit for you!

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