Updated - Mar 9th, 2022
Reviewed by Richard Lovejoy, Professional Dog Trainer.
Are you thinking about getting a new dog and dreaming of a tail-wagging companion you can take anywhere? Although all dogs are trainable with the right approach and consistency, some breeds are more adaptable than others. We’ve put together a list of the easiest dogs to train just for you.
What makes a dog easy to train?
Though some breeds are more trainable than others, this is only one part of the trainability equation. Effective dog training depends mostly on the person holding the other end of the leash – a.k.a. you. Training your dog is about partnership and creating a trusted bond, which takes consistent effort and patience.
All dogs are trainable, but some are more receptive to working with humans than others. If you look at dog breeds and their origins, you’ll find some have a natural eagerness to please whereas others are more stubborn and independent.
Here are some traits that can indicate the trainability of a dog:
History of the breed: Some dog breeds were originally bred to be more independent, whereas others were bred to work with a human partner.
Energy: Most energetic breeds are highly trainable, but some require more mental and physical enrichment to help them stay focused.
Distractibility: Some breeds will become distracted more easily than others. Hound dogs like Bloodhounds are a great example of this. Their smell is so acute, it can override their training as they head off to figure out where that unfamiliar smell is coming from.
Age: A young puppy will naturally have a shorter attention span than an adult dog. Though it’s important to train and socialize puppies from a young age, a five to ten minute session of very basic dog tricks is an acceptable training goal for the young ones.
Physical and mental health: Healthy dogs that are physically and mentally healthy can focus better on the task at hand. Dogs who’ve suffered trauma or abuse in life may require more patience and understanding during training. It’s never a bad idea to hire an animal behaviorist or a professional trainer to help you sort out your dog’s needs.
Tip: Never count out a rescue or shelter dog from being a well-trained dog. Many come with basic training, and if not, most shelters and rescues can point you to great obedience training classes. No matter what circumstances your dog has been through, many are willing to create a partnership with you during training sessions.
At the end of the day, your dog will relish any attention from you. If you practice patience, consistency, and give them lots of their favorite treats, your training sessions will be a success. Bear in mind that some of these breeds are more high-energy than others, so you should take your lifestyle and activity levels into consideration to ensure they’re a good fit for your lifestyle as well.
However, if you want to increase your easy trainability chances, here’s a list of dogs best-known (in no particular order) for being easily trainable.
The dog breeds most eager to train
Listed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as one of the most popular breeds, these noble dogs are eager to please, very loyal, and protective of their families. Known for their high intelligence, these workaholics love having a job and thrive in positive reinforcement training environments. Their trainability has landed them solidly in jobs as police dogs, military dogs, and service dogs.
Typically thought of as a designer dog with a fancy haircut, it might surprise you to know that this breed is highly trainable. They come in three sizes (Standard, Miniature, and Toy), making them versatile for any living situation as well. Originally bred as hunting dogs, their desire to please their human partners, along with their high intelligence, and calm demeanor, makes them very easy to train and great family dogs.
Originally bred to fetch waterfowl for their human hunting partners, these dogs crave rewards and praise. Their happy, friendly personalities have contributed to their high status on the list of most popular dog breeds, but not as a guard dog. They aim to please and make wonderful family, therapy, and service dogs.
Border Collies are loyal, responsive, and devoted family or working dogs. This breed is part of the herding dog group, which has notoriety for their ability to herd sheep guided by whistles and hand signals alone. These dogs are eager to tackle any tasks due to their high energy and need for constant stimuli. Some dog owners can handle this, of course, but someone who has a demanding work schedule or complex social life might struggle with training a Border Collie.
Schnauzers (miniature Schnauzers especially) are intelligent, but can also be strong-willed. Willing participants in positive reinforcement training, they are quick learners who do well taking part in most dog sports, consistent exercise, and mental stimulation toys or games.
The loveable Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed. This dog is a very smart, people pleaser (so not a guard dog) that is very easy to train. This is a very food-motivated breed that needs to keep busy to avoid any inappropriate behavioral issues (like chewing up your favorite pair of shoes!). Used as service and therapy dogs, Labs also thrive as hunting dogs and loveable family clowns willing to chill and watch movies on the couch with their family members.
Papillon is French for Butterfly which is a fitting name given this tiny breed’s butterfly-shaped ears and happy, affectionate nature. But don’t let their toy size fool you – these dogs are intelligent and confident. The Papillon thrives on mental and physical activity. These go-getters love to learn new tricks, jump hurdles, and weave poles in agility, and then cuddle on the couch with you. They are superb companion dogs, too.
The intimidating Doberman Pinscher may not be your first pick, but don’t count them out! These dogs have high intelligence and trainability, almost always landing a spot on “easy to train” lists. These dogs are very loyal and protective watchdogs, but breeders originally intended them as companion dogs, making them the perfect cuddle buddy, too. If you’re an experienced dog owner prepared to give your dog lots of socialization and exercise, the Doberman may be the breed for you.
This Corgi breed is obedient, intelligent, and affectionate. Their instinct is to herd, work, and be fearless. Their bravery lets them dive into any task or challenge, but they can be strong-willed, needing positive reinforcement training to keep them interested and having fun. Their small size makes them ideal for apartment living!
Also called Blue Heelers, these dogs are highly intelligent and energetic. They are more independent, but when paired with an energetic parent, they thrive in positive reinforcement training. They make great family dogs, but will need lots of socialization early and often.
These gentle giants are friendly, mild-tempered, intelligent dogs. They require plenty of interaction with their people and respond best to positive reinforcement training. This breed will strive to please you as they carry out the requested task or skill. Plus, who wouldn’t want to cuddle with this giant teddy bear?
These little clowns of the dog world love learning tricks and commands. They’re easily trainable dogs that make excellent companions for first-time dog parents. They also need lots of socialization early, with plenty of exposure to people and other animals. Their compact size makes them ideal for city dwellers or frequent travelers.
Boxers are intelligent, even-tempered, and learn easily. They are great family pets, with patience and a protective nature, even with small children. However, without consistent training, they can become strong-willed and develop destructive behaviors.
Patience, consistency, and lots of tasty treats make training sessions with these dog breeds a breeze. Whether you need to accomplish basic obedience, potty training, leash training, or crate training, you’re bound to be successful with these breeds.
If your sessions are not going well, don’t be afraid to reach out to an animal behaviorist or professional dog trainer for help. Remember, a well-trained dog is a happy dog – so do your best to help them get there.
Even if you put your best foot forward during training, behavioral issues can still arise. That’s why Pumpkin’s dog Insurance plans can help cover treatment for behavioral issues like anxiety and aggression.
Don’t wait – fetch your free quote today!