Breed specific dog training and why you don’t need it


A common misunderstanding among dog owners is that their breed of dog has specific training needs. This belief is perpetuated by trainers, vets, books on the breed and breed forums, so it’s no wonder that so many people believe that their specific breed has specialist needs.

breed specific training

First off, let’s look at why the myth exists

Here’s an example or two:

You’ve got a husky.  You know that huskies are used as sled dogs, so when  your husky pulls on the lead and you find it difficult to train it not to, you go online.  Online you find a forum of husky owners who have also found it difficult to train their huskies to walk on a slack lead (which can be done, I have helped many people achieve this) – so you all conclude that huskies are very difficult to train to walk nicely on the lead because they naturally pull.

You have a Beagle.  Beagles were traditionally used as scent hounds, so when your beagle is pulling on the lead with it’s nose on the ground and you find it difficult to train it not to pull, you go online.  You find a forum of beagle owners who are also finding it difficult to walk their dog on a slack lead (it can be done, I have helped many beagle owners achieve this) so you accept the suggestion that beagles can’t be trained to walk nicely because they are scent hounds.

We accept things that appear to be true

I’ve intentionally used two examples where the behaviour was the same, to show that it’s not a behaviour that is exclusive to a breed.  It just looks like that breed of dog is like that because the conversation with other dog owners with that breed backs that idea up.  You could have the same conversation with a labrador owner, a staffie owner, a mixed breed owner… I’d say 90% of dogs I help are pulling on the lead.  It is in no way related to their breed.  All of those dogs can be taught not to do that, if we are prepared to be patient and do the right things which allow this to happen.  Find out more by reading about this kind and calm way to teach your dog to walk to heel.

Stubborn behaviour

A lot of people have heard that their breed of dog is a stubborn breed.  I have heard this said about Boxers, Schnauzers, Shihtzus, Rottweilers, Huskies, Jack Russells, Terriers in general, Malamutes, British Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles… The list is endless!  The most stubborn dog I have ever encountered was a Golden Retriever.  But that had nothing to do with his breed, it was just his personality.  And he came round with consistency and patience.

DOGS can be stubborn.  Just like children can.  Whether or not a child is stubborn depends on their individual personality, not which race they are from.  The same is true with dogs.

Personality, history, circumstance and your behaviour

These are the 4 main factors which influence a dog’s behaviour.  History and personality we can do nothing about.  They are what they are.  To some extent, circumstances are what they are as well, although there may be a little bit of flexibility around those.  So the biggest factor that can influence your dog’s behaviour is…. YOUR behaviour.  If you believe that your dog is a certain way because of it’s breed, then that thought will influence your behaviour and the cycle continues.  If you accept that your dog is a dog first and foremost and empathise with what is going on for them (more on that in this article) you can find that there are improvements possible in behaviour for all dogs.  No matter the breed.

So what influence does breed have?

  • Size & strength of dog
  • Size of poo!
  • Amount they will need to eat
  • Cost of acquistion
  • Hereditary conditions and associated vet bills
  • Grooming requirements & fur shedding
  • How much exercise that dog is capable of (rather than how much they need)
  • An increased likelihood of certain characteristics.  E.g a lab may be more interested in retrieving than a doberman.  But this is only a stereotype, rather than a certainty. This has no affect on their trainability.

Think of it like this:  Within each breed of dog there are multiple strains.  Within each strain there are multiple litters.  Within each litter there are multiple personalities. Like Forrest Gump said “You never know what you’re gonna get”.  So don’t give up, or worry that you’re going to have an impossible and expensive task on your hands.  Us Dog Listeners can help you whatever breed you have.  I’m based in Leigh on Sea and provide Dog Training and Dog Behaviour services for people in Southend, Basildon, Chelmsford, Wickford, Brentwood and beyond.  Just get in touch to find out how I can help with your little ball of furry personality!  Or check out some of the other listeners via this link.


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