A new survey of 155 Bark Busters dog trainers across the country says conventional wisdom on training canines is, well, just doggone wrong! For example: Pit bulls are actually easier to train than other breeds; you can teach an old dog new tricks; and it’s not the dog—it’s YOU.
Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company, asked its U.S. dog behavioral therapists to pool their collective knowledge and experience—a estimated total of over 750 years and 200,000 dogs trained since 2000. The results, in some cases, were surprising.
The trainers see more Labrador retrievers, by far, than any other breed (80% ranked them in their top three most often trained). Pit bulls came in second, with 46% of the vote. However, while Labs took top honors for the most difficult to train (based on time- and effort-intensiveness of training), pit bulls came in a very close second for easiest to train, next to golden retrievers.
“You might expect that the breeds we get called on to train most often, like Labs, would be the most difficult; owners typically don’t seek out a trainer if their dog has easily addressed behavior problems or training needs,” said Liam Crowe, CEO and Master Dog Behavioral Therapist at Bark Busters (and a regular Speak Dog Blogger). “But, while we are hired to train pit bulls second-most often, they have also been the second-most easily trained breed. This might say something about the stigma surrounding that particular breed.”
When asked to rank dogs on a variety of factors affecting the difficulty of training, trainers responded that senior dogs, along with mixed breeds/mutts, were actually easier than the average dog to train; puppies were at the other end of the scale with small, toy dogs.
However, while the trainers saw the categories of breed and age as having some impact on the training experience, overwhelmingly, they said that what makes the most impact on the time and effort required to successfully train a dog isn’t actually the dog at all—it’s the owners’ consistency, personalities, and bonds with their dogs.
“We often joke that our real job as dog trainers is to train people,” said Crowe. “It’s not about our relationship with a client’s dog; it’s about the owner’s relationship with his or her dog. And that’s the difference people need to understand between what they see about dog training on television and what the realities are of the human-canine bond and the likelihood of training success in the more than 70 million dog-owning households in America today.”
The takeaway? If you want a well-behaved dog and you’re willing to invest the time and effort to train him, that 3-year-old pit mix waiting for a forever home in the shelter downtown might not be such a bad idea after all—and you could put the money you didn’t spend on a purebred puppy toward a Bark Busters training package to start you both out on the right paw.
CLICK HERE to see the detailed, graphed results of the survey!