Looking for a list of easy to train dogs? You are in the right place! Researching the right dog for you and your family is one of the most important things you can do before getting a dog. And that’s true whether you’re adopting a rescue, or purchasing a puppy from a breeder.
The first step in deciding what dog to get is a look at your own personality, lifestyle, and availability. From there, you can factor in what you desire in a dog, and then it’s time to do some research!
If you’re here, I’m guessing you’re on that research step. Hopefully by now you’ve got an idea of the size of dog you’d like, and even what kind of activity level you can handle. You’re ready to learn about easy to train dogs.
Here’s I’ve put together a round-up of large dog breeds that are easy to train. So let’s get to it!
A note about breeds that are easy to train
These dogs are as smart as they come, and will make things like housebreaking, crate training and basic commands a lot easier to accomplish.
But before we dive in, I want to make an important note. Easy to train doesn’t necessarily equal well-behaved. The smartest dog can quickly become the most frustrating if their exercise needs aren’t being met.
What’s more, very smart dogs are usually bred to perform a job or task. So, these breeds may be more prone to boredom (which can lead to destructive behavior), obsessive behaviors (like paw licking and chewing), and even separation anxiety than dogs that aren’t on the working spectrum.
Of course, there are exceptions to every generalization – but on the whole, I’ve found this to be true.
In short, just make sure that the dog you’re choosing is right for you on multiple levels. You want a dog who’s energy level and exercise needs meet yours, in addition to their intelligence and easy training.
Related Reading: Dog 101: 10 Tips for First Time Dog Owners
What to look for in an easy to train dog
As you search for an easy to train dog, there are certain characteristics to be aware of. These tips can help people looking to adopt a rescue dog or mixed breed find an easy to train dog, too!
This is because certain dog lines, groups of dogs, and characteristics tend to naturally lead to a dog that’s going to catch on to training more quickly than others. These are things you can usually tell, even about mixed breeds, based on a dog’s history, looks, or background.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you search for easy to train dogs:
- Motivated by food
- Social nature
- Ability to focus
- Eager to please
- Loyal and enjoys companionship
- Comes from a working breed or group
Related Reading: Basic Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Sit and Other Tips
7 Easy to Train Dogs
1. Standard Poodle
Standard Poodles are gaining popularity in recent years because they are a hypoallergenic large-breed dog. According to the AKC, they rank in the top 10 most popular dog breeds.
Poodles are highly intelligent dogs that are very easy to train and respond well to positive reinforcement style training. They are people-oriented and enjoying pleasing their family and owners. By starting young and staying consistent with your training efforts, you can easily maintain a very well-trained Poodle.
Poodles are not known to be aggressive but are good watchdogs because of their protective instincts. They are generally quiet throughout the day, but they will bark enthusiastically when startled or when visitors come to your home.
One thing to note, this breed thrives on companionship, which makes them prone to separation anxiety. Some describe Poodles as being hypersensitive to sounds and sudden movements, which can mean they aren’t a great fit for families with very young children (source) because of the unpredictable energy children bring. They do better in homes that are calm and peaceful.
Collies are one of the friendliest, loving breeds out there. They are known for their ability to bond with children and have loving lasting relationships with kids as they grow up. Collies take on a playful and loving role with kids while also protecting them. There exist many heartwarming anecdotes about the relationships between children and their Collies.
Beyond that, Collies are intelligent and happy, making them easy to train with positive reinforcement. Due to their extremely social nature, Collies don’t like to be left alone and do best in a busy household with lots of people. They aren’t the type of breed to attach to one person, instead, they enjoy the love of everyone in the family. The more the merrier in their mind!
Despite their herding and guarding roots, most Collies love to retrieve as well! This makes for an excellent way to exercise this active breed.
3. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers always land a spot in the AKC top 5 most popular dog breeds. These adorable, loyal and smart dogs make excellent family dogs. They are easy to train, are arguably the cutest puppies around, and their intelligence can lead them to successful working dog careers, too.
Golden Retrievers are active and very smart dogs. They are loyal, fun-loving, and friendly towards humans. They are not the type of dog to attach to one person only. This makes them perfect in an active family setting. Golden Retrievers are highly social and do not like to be alone for long periods of time.
It’s important that you are ready to make a commitment to your Golden Retriever's physical and mental needs. Because they are smart and active dogs, committing to daily exercise, training, and mental stimulation is important or you will be dealing with destructive chewing and other less than desirable behaviors in the home.
4. Labrador Retriever
Similar to the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retrievers also usually take a spot in the 5 most popular dogs in the US. Labs are very smart, easy to train, agreeable, and make excellent family dogs. They’re know for being very food driven which makes learning basic commands and house training your Lab with positive reinforcement is a breeze.
This working breed is large in size and was originally (and still are!) bred as bird hunting dogs. Because of their intelligence and athletic abilities, Labs require adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation. While they are the ultimate family dog, don’t forget they are still a working breed!
Without proper exercise, especially when they are young, your Lab can cause quite a bit of trouble in the house and be prone to destructive behavior.
5. German Shepherd
Perhaps one of the most iconic dogs in both popular culture and everyday life for their work as police dogs, in the armed forces, and with disabled persons, the German Shepherd Dog is very popular and very smart.
Because of their intelligence, there are very easy to train! They have incredible memories and will quickly adapt, adjust and pick-up on your routines, often acting a step ahead of you. Extra training classes and efforts to keep your German Shepherd mentally stimulated will go a long way in their happiness and a calm disposition around the house.
Because of their intelligence, when their mental and physical needs are not being met, German Shepherds are prone to obsessive habits like licking and chewing themselves or furniture, separation anxiety and generally frustrating behavior.
6. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are best known for the super friendly dispositions and are ranked as one of the best breeds for families with children. They are playful and energetic, but once they are full-grown are also able to be gentle, kind, and adaptable to the unpredictable energy of kids.
Berners are highly intelligent working breed dogs. They are often referred to as an “all-purpose” farm dog because of their ability to herd, guard and pull around the farm in every season. Because of these traits, this breed requires a lot of exercise, especially when they are young.
Because of their social and sensitive nature, Bernese Mountain Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement training. They love to be with their family and don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. In fact, you may see them act up or start chewing if they are left alone too often.
Rottweilers are highly intelligent dogs that are loyal, playful, and make great family dogs if they are well socialized, exercised, and properly trained. Rottweilers are not a breed for a novice owner, but with the right training and socialization in place, they make wonderful companions.
Rottweilers are extremely loyal and intelligent. But they are also well known for being protective and often get a bad rap for being aggressive or dangerous. Sadly, this can happen with Rottweilers, but it is the specific result of poor training, lack of socialization, and inadequate stimulation.
When Rottweilers are properly trained and socialized they are known for being extremely loving, great with kids, playful, energetic, and cuddly.
Most dogs are easy to train!
It’s true! At the end of the day, most dogs ARE easy to train with patience, consistency and reinforcement. Above, I’ve listed some of the most popular and intelligent breeds out there, but every dog has training potential.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, in addition to trainability, it’s so important to find a dog that matches your lifestyle. Keep in mind that dogs that aren't motivated by food, or enjoy solitude might be a bit more challenging or stubborn, but still not impossible to train!
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