Are some Breeds More Stubborn, Less Intelligent and thus Harder to Train? We don’t Feel so; Find Out Why
Trainers generally feel that not all dogs are like your typical Border Collie or Poodle. Such dogs are well known for their intelligence. If you are new to dog training, having one of these breeds may help because they are also known to be easier to train.
But again, that begs the question – “Are all dogs trainable, especially those on the lower end of the intelligence scale, like a Basenji for example?”
Are All Dogs Trainable?
Killion, Jane, in her book, When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs (Washington: Dogwise Publishing, 2007) argues that all dogs are trainable and we tend to agree with her. What then makes some breeds easier to train and others, more difficult?
Ms Killion’s answer – the biddability of a dog or lack of it. Some dogs like the herding and gun dogs are generally bred to be biddable (i.e. willing to do the owners’ bidding) while others, like terriers and hounds are bred to act and think independently. Why this selective breeding? Because of the nature of the work that they were once bred to do. Terriers, for example, are bred to go after and kill vermin; being independent is thus a desirable trait as it helps them get their job done. But because of their independent nature, traditional methods of dog training don’t work as well on them, hence their billing as less intelligent, and more difficult to train.
To support her point, Ms Killion cited the research of Scott and Fuller, published in their book Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), where it was found that all breeds under their study appeared quite similar in pure intelligence but when it came to testing of independent capacities, Shelties (known traditionally for their intelligence and capability to handle complex task under close handler supervision), fared worse off than the hunting breeds as they appeared to be hanging around waiting for instructions.
Are Non-Biddable Dogs Trainable?
Definitely yes. The difference is that unlike the biddable ones who are more willing to do your bidding without questioning, the non-biddable ones will want to know the reason why, before doing it. Hence, a means to communicate the “why” is very important. And because traditional training focuses on compulsion, the “why” is not communicated. Many thus find such dogs more difficult to train and from there label them as “not so intelligent.”
So if you happen to own such dogs, do take heart. They may be stubborn and independent but are still trainable; all you need is to introduce the “why” element into the training routine. Positive rewards based dog training provides you with a powerful means to do just that. To find out more about the training the “not so intelligent” dogs, or enquire about our dog obedience training, please fill up the contact form on the sidebar to the right of this page. Alternatively, do fill free to visit our dog training website, browse around and perhaps check out our trainers’ profile.