The Den

Man training small brown dog

How a Dog's Age and Breed Affects Training


Your dog’s ability to learn depends on a few different factors

Training a dog involves multiple variables: Genetics, socialization, environment, and the nature of your relationship are just a few. This article focuses on two factors we get asked about all the time: Age and breed.

Age is more than a number

Research has shown that while dogs of all ages can learn, older dogs don’t learn as quickly as younger ones. So patience in training mature dogs is a must. Some other age-related facts to consider:

Changing habits is harder for older dogs. Just as it often is with humans, when dogs reach full adulthood they can be stubborn about releasing old habits. Remember when you train an adult dog that he may be trying to unlearn or relearn old behaviors, acquire new behaviors, and make you happy at the same time.

Dogs mature at different rates. Remember that puppies grow up fast at first, but their development doesn’t continue at the same pace. Most dogs tend to become socially mature between age 1-3 years.

Even older dogs need challenges. Exercise and social time are great for older dogs (age 7 or up, depending on the breed), but don’t stop advanced training. Older dogs enjoy it and it brings the two of you closer together.

Canine Senior Citizens need special consideration. If your dog is in the last quarter of his life, focus on health, diet, and just enough activity. Expect their attention, mobility, and stamina to limit the ability to learn.

Breed is more than a personality

Historically, breeding takes a dog’s natural talents and tendencies and develops them for certain types of work, so your dog’s breed can give you an early indication of what to expect when training starts. Here are some notes from Canine Company trainers.

Terriers are tenacious. They tend to be very determined and feisty. Be alert to when their natural tendency for being energetic and willful goes overboard into being disobedient. It takes time to train a terrier.

Herding dogs take care of business. We’ve all heard stories about how intelligent and trainable Border Collies are (and herding dogs in general). They are task-focused and amazingly serious about their work, making them often very easy to train. But be on the lookout for a strong independent streak and the tendency to watch their surroundings rather than their trainer.

Hounds are born to hunt. This can sometimes mean that they’ll be more focused on what they smell than what they’re supposed to be learning. We love hounds for their independence, but it can sometimes be a distraction.

Mixed breeds often have their own instincts. What makes mixed breeds so interesting is that you can see different tendencies emerge in them over time. Sometimes it takes an experienced trainer to navigate their personality and train them in the best behaviors. Pet parents, try to get as much information as possible about your dog’s ancestry.

Just as people have different strengths in learning, such as by doing, by reading, memorizing, copying, etc., so do dogs. “Knowing and understanding your dog’s particular learning style, and teaching to it, will help you and your dog both throughout his training. Our Manners obedience trainers are pros at determining both his learning style and what motivates your dog best, and applying canine learning theories to tailor the experience to your pet for ease of understanding and success,” said Heather Corum, Canine Company Manners Obedience Expert. 

Get Manners Training for your dog

• Canine Company’s certified trainers can help you train your dog in an on-site or online training session.

• Involve other family members as you like.

• With Canine Company, it’s not just about training your dog. It’s about creating a stronger relationship for both of you.

Improve the quality of your dog’s life

Schedule a Manners Training session now