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ZEPHYRA's avatar

Are some dogs simply untrainable?

Asked by ZEPHYRA (21750points) August 25th, 2015

Are all dogs able to learn basic commands with the right training? I do not mean that every dog is police or guide dog material, but can they all learn basic daily commands? I tend to think that some simply do not take to any training and just carry on their own way! What is your experience?

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15 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Some breeds seem pretty immune to training, but I don’t think they’re impossible. I’ve read that Dalmatians can be very difficult to housebreak.

kritiper's avatar

Not altogether untrainable. The owner may be a different subject. Being the alpha of the pack makes a HUGE difference! I am in control when I go into an area where the dog thinks he/she rules and I never back down or they win. I bark commands with a loud, commanding voice. I am the alpha! If not, I’m in BIG trouble!

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@kritiper you probably made the dog respect you right from the start, you had a natueal way of showing who alpha is. If I yell commqnds, the dog gets even more disobedient and I get strange looks from people!

josie's avatar

All dogs are trainable. But you have to do it right plus when they are young. As they age, depending on breed, you may not be able to get to them. Sort of like humans.

Lawn's avatar

I think so. My last experience was a lot like this.

I’ve never had a pet that wasn’t neurotic, so maybe it’s just me.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s less about the particular dog and more about the relationship you establish with the dog. The dog has to understand that it’s in his interest to defer to you. That doesn’t mean that you have to be stern or forceful. It does mean making it clear that what you want matters, and that the dog’s life gets better when you’re happy. It also means making it very clear what kinds of behaviors make you happy.

Clicker training is a great way to communicate to the dog exactly what makes you happy. If the dog is at all treat-motivated, they get the hang of this pretty easily.

As for getting the dog to understand that what you want should matter to him, some version of “Nothing in life is free” training helps. This takes quite a bit of discipline on the part of the owner. It means making it clear to the dog that all of the things it likes—food, toys, play opportunities, privileges of any sort—come only through you, and that you expect certain behaviors in return. You establish clear, consistent and non-negotiable rules and boundaries. Only by conforming to the rules do the good things come. When the pleasing behaviors stop, so do the good things.

This is a lot of work for the owner. As one example among others, for a long time I fed my dog all of his meals literally by hand. For each handful, he had to respond to a basic command. This all sounds very domineering, but in practice it can actually be quite tender and intimate.

The question, in the end, isn’t “Can my dog be trained?” but “Do I have the patience and commitment to follow through with it?”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OMG @Lawn! that was freaking hilarious! “But damn it, I was not going to let my poor, retarded dog feel like she failed. ”

Zaku's avatar


OpryLeigh's avatar

All dogs are trainable in someway but as a dog trainer by profession i know that dogs, like children, learn at their own pace and it’s all about finding the right motivator for the individual. Obviously breed plays a big part as well. Collies are generally easier to work with than Bassett Hounds!! Dominance/pack theory training (ie:asserting yourself as the Alpha) is actually very outdated and whilst, it may appear to work, it is not good for your dog’s state of mind. Here is a good article if anyone is interested in the reasons why they shouldn’t be using dominance based methods.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I’m sure dogs have some of the same learning disabilities that humans have. We just don’t talk about it much. What if you have an autistic dog? A dog with photographic memory? Any number of other “ailments”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Or plain old retarded?

ibstubro's avatar

Of course some dogs are untrainable.
Dogs go feral at a slower rate then most other animals, but go wild just the same.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ibstubro I’ve never had a dog, or a cat for that matter, “go feral.”

Buttonstc's avatar

I think @ibstubro means in the period of time after people have abandoned them.

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @Buttonstc. That is indeed what I meant.

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