The variety of dog species is so great that sometimes it’s better not to think of them all as part of the same species at all. Biologists do because they can interbreed. Dog owners have different purposes, so it can be better to emphasize the differences over the similarities.
A Jack Russell terrier looks, thinks and behaves much differently from a Great Dane. The latter are generally very calm. A Golden Retriever is a very different animal than a Collie. Golden Retrievers are fun loving, but excitable. A German Shepherd and a Chihuahua have little more in common than the name ‘dog’.
As a result of these differences, training should be tailored to the breed you’re attempting to train. Patience is required for training all dogs, but more is required for some than for others. German Shepherds are intelligent and take to obedience commands readily and with pleasure. Jack Russell’s are also very smart, but much more willful and will require a different technique.
With terriers, for example, distraction techniques are very handy. Terriers are high energy, highly active dogs. They have evolved to spot movement in an instant and go after the animal producing it. Keeping them focused is a real challenge, so make sure at all times that their eyes are on you. Use treats, toys or other objects and wiggle them to see that the terrier’s eyes are on you.
Collies are equally trainable, but much more mellow. They’re extremely loyal and protective, which is great. But it presents its own kind of challenges. A collie will spontaneously bark and chase any stranger who appears to threaten the family. That can be desirable for a watch dog guarding the house at night. But it can be annoying if carried out every time a child walks by along the sidewalk during the afternoon.
Bark collars are sometimes necessary under these circumstances, but remove the collar when the sun goes down. That way the dog may only associate the discouragement with daylight and still continue to function as a watch dog when it counts.
Dalmatians make for excellent companions, but they are ultra-energetic and very strong. That can be a troublesome combination for one that spends all its time in a small backyard with no one to play with. If you plan on owning one of these excellent dogs, be prepared to spend time working off some of that excess vitality.
Dalmatians need a large area so they can run at top speed – the only speed they know. They’ll work best with someone who can toss a ball far away, and has the presence to command them. They can be extremely loyal, but they need a strong hand. Being the alpha dog when faced with a Dalmatian requires a forceful owner.
Tailor your training regimen to the actual nature of your dog, including both those aspects derived from the breed and the unique characteristics of your specific dog. Just like humans, dogs are individuals.
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