Are All Dogs Trainable: What You Need to Know

Are All Dogs Trainable: What You Need to Know

At some point, every dog owner wonders: are all dogs trainable? The short answer to that question is “yes,” but there’s much more you need to know before determining if your dog can be trained and, more importantly, the best method for preparing them.

The Dan Gentile Dog Training Center understands that all dogs learn differently. Their dog training services in Howell Township, NJ focus on customized canine education, considering your dog’s breed, personality, and unique skills as we craft a program to train your dog.

Read on to learn more about how dogs learn and what dog breeds may be more difficult to train (though not impossible).

Your Dog’s Age

Regardless of your dog’s age, they are capable of learning just about anything. However, if the training you want with your older dog runs contrary to their long-term habits, you may have a difficult time.

A more immediate issue influencing an older dog’s trainability involves their medical health. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) may develop in your dog as they age. This neurobehavioral disorder is very similar to dementia in humans and affects senior dogs in their daily lives, including training.

There are supplements and foods available that can help relieve CDS symptoms and improve cognitive function, including Senilife and Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diet NC Neurocare.

It is much easier to train a puppy than it is to retrain an adult dog, though there are particular challenges to puppy training as well. It is recommended to start training your new puppy as soon as you bring them home. Certain periods of puppy development can make training more complicated, so be careful during teething and fear periods.

Fear periods are times in your puppy’s life when they will be very sensitive to bad experiences and are more likely to be frightened by a variety of things. Fear periods are so significant for developing puppies that things that frighten them during these periods may scare them for the rest of their lives.

Your Dog’s Breed

Dogs have been selectively bred for hundreds of years, developing specific physical traits and enhancing working abilities to create specialized dogs that can learn some training and behaviors more quickly than others.

“Smart” dogs aren’t necessarily more trainable. Dogs that are considered above average in their intelligence, including Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds, receive this designation because they are easy to train. This labeling, however, is more due to obedience and an innate need to look to their owners for direction.

Some truly intelligent dogs, such as the sighthounds, are notorious for being “dumb.” The Afghan Hound, for example, is often thought to be quite dim but actually possesses an almost human intellect.

The criticism of their intelligence stems from their still primitive nature and preference to work independently. Though they have minimal motivation to please humans, they can be persuaded to embrace training in other ways.

Dogs With Disabilities

When you ask, “are all dogs trainable?” you have to consider how much training your dog may have been exposed to and how responsive they have been to it. If your dog has a physical or mental disability, it can be more challenging to train them. CDS is a problem that may develop with age, but other physical and mental disabilities can hinder a dog’s ability to learn at any age.


Obviously, a dog with a hearing impairment will not be able to respond appropriately to verbal commands. You can, however, adjust your training techniques to accommodate their disability, such as using hand signals instead of verbal commands.

The most challenging part of training a dog with a hearing impairment is getting their attention. Therefore, breeds more focused on humans will have a more accessible time training with a hearing deficit than an independent type of dog would have.


Visual impairment will not hinder a dog from hearing your verbal commands, but body language will be impossible depending on the degree of blindness. Patience and the proper training techniques can help dogs learn basic rules and behavioral orders with little to no sight.

Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities, such as arthritis or missing limbs, can make it more difficult for your dog to respond to commands quickly, but it won’t keep them from learning. If your dog has any physical limitations like this, you will have to adjust your training to make it easier for them to obey commands and learn.

Emotional Disabilities

Anxiety, fear, and extreme stress can keep dogs from thinking clearly, forcing them to respond instinctively. When dogs are in this mode, it is almost impossible to train them successfully. In order to train them, you have to bring them out of that mode of fear and stress and into a more relaxed frame of mind.

Training Methods

All dogs can be trained, but the method for teaching them will vary from dog to dog. Sometimes when a dog is not responding to training, you just need to try a different training style.

Training trends have varied over the years, moving from methods based on compulsion to techniques using positive reinforcement. Both types of training work with some dogs, but most dogs respond the best to training methods somewhere in the middle.

The biggest challenge when it comes to training your dog is finding the suitable method for them. Some dogs do well in a classroom environment, while others shine with a private trainer. In any case, the best trainers will be familiar with various methods and have the experience to work with your dog in the best way for them to learn and grow.

Training Assistance

Are all dogs trainable? Absolutely! If you are struggling with your dog’s behavior or if you’re ready to start training your puppy, call us at The Dan Gentile Dog Training Center. We offer a wide range of training programs, including an inboard training program for dogs–it’s like “summer camp” for dogs!

Give us a call at (732) 938-5040 and start today!