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Identifying Your Dog's Temperament

There's something of a fallacy about dogs that goes around telling us all which breeds are calm, which ones are aggressive, and which ones are hyper.

To be sure, some breeds may have more of a chance to become hyper or relaxed, but in general, every dog is different.

So, rather than making assumptions about your dog based solely on their breed, you'll want to identify what their specific temperament will be.

Why? Because, when you know your dog well enough and the fundamentals of dog psychology, you can cater your training methods more effectively to their personality.

Types of Temperament

To start with, know that not every dog will fit into just one category of temperament below. There are dozens of different types of dogs with combinations of characteristics.

Responsive Dogs - A responsive dog is one that is quick to learn and eager to please. They will work best with lively voices and simple leash corrections. If you are too harsh or firm, these dogs will get upset and dog training will be hard.

Sedate, Relaxed Dogs - A sedate dog is one that will move at much lower speed and will respond slowly to your commands. They will just generally take longer to teach much of anything.

You'll need to use a firm voice with them and be extremely patient with lots of praise for when they do something right. They will do best with voice correction but will not like harsh commands or random noises.

Energetic - Dogs with high energy levels are easy to excite and become distracted very quickly. They will get wound up over pretty much anything and would much rather play with you than participate in training of any kind.

You will need to be very firm with energetic dogs and not allow for any nonsense during the process. You'll need to be patient and relaxed, but firm and give praise in a subdued, relaxed voice to minimize excitement. Short training sessions are important here.

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Strong Will - This is a stubborn dog and will be hard to train because they don't want to be trained and are often intelligent enough to recognize the boundaries they can push. You'll need to be incredibly patient and firm with them. You should avoid anything that makes it into a challenge, however.

You'll recognize a strong willed dog in that they will not become aggressive in their training, but will frequently ignore your commands, turning their back to you or backing up from you when you offer a command.

Shy Dogs - A shy dog is going to be very susceptible to fear and needs to be handled carefully. Avoid quick movements, harsh tones or loud voices or you will only frighten the dog. Never use leash corrections and keep your voice soft and quiet at all times to soothe the dog.

Shy dogs will usually be shaky and easily frightened. Small dogs fit the bill more often than not, but large dogs can be just as shy, especially if they had any traumatic experiences as a puppy.

Aggressive Dogs - I don't recommend you ever try to train an aggressive dog. An aggressive dog will respond to your commands with the signs of aggression we've discussed, bristling and reacting negatively. You'll need a professional trainer for dogs with this temperament.

Effective Training

Once you've pinpointed exactly what type of temperament your dog has, you can jump into the training process in earnest. You'll need to be patient and spend time learning what works and what doesn't.

And always remember that your dog may not respond in the same way as any one group, as it could be a mixture of multiple temperaments.

  Do that and you'll be well on your way to a happy, obedient and healthy dog.
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