The Dog Training Challenges of Primitive Breeds

training primitive breeds

Successful dog training requires an understanding of what makes any given dog “tick.” To do that, it’s helpful to understand the origin of the dog’s breed.

During the Victorian period of history, many dog breeds were genetically adapted (via the breeding) process to strip away the independent, willful nature that was common to the working dog. This resulted in the breeds we regard today as companion dogs. From a trainer’s perspective, these dogs are generally easier to train and handle than what we call the primitive breeds.

Primitive breeds are simply those dogs who still behave and react according to their ancestral nature, because it has not been significantly diminished over time. To successfully train – and live with – an ancient breed, you must understand and respect their motivations.

Understanding the Primitive Breed Dog

Some breeds, despite the passing of millennia, have retained their essential nature. Each breed had a purpose, whether it was to hunt, to herd, to pull or to guard. And, although most of us don’t put our dogs to work in that manner today, primitive breeds have retained the psychological and cognitive processes they were bred with thousands of years ago.

Ancient breeds are grouped into general types, including sled dogs, Asian and spitz types, watchdogs and herding breeds, and true primitives.

Some common examples include the Akita, the Samoyed, the Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Afghan Hounds, the Malamute, the Husky, Shiba Inu and the Tibetan Mastiff. True primitives include Mexican Hairless, the Pharaoh Hound and the Basenji.

Dog Training and the Primitive Breeds

As compared to dogs whose essential nature has changed through the breeding process, ancient breeds are more straightforward in their communication with you. If they are uncomfortable or unhappy about something, they will let you know.

Primarily, this communication involves calming signals and, if you don’t pick up on what your pet is trying to tell you, they may not hesitate to increase the volume until you do. This doesn’t mean they are any more prone to aggressive behavior, but they can be demanding pets.

The only way you can successfully train and handle an ancient breed dog is through mutual respect. These are strong-willed pets who are usually happy to spend time on their own when they aren’t engaged with you and your family.

Using Motivation for Primitive Dog Training

As strange as it may sound, many dog trainers do still use force rather than positive reinforcement methods. When dealing with a primitive breed, however, force does not work.

In fact, trying to use force with one of these willful dogs is never a good idea, particularly in the training process. Primitive breeds are sensitive and they strongly dislike being emotionally uncomfortable. Training methods that go against their nature will make them uncomfortable and they will refuse to cooperate.

If a trainer continues to push them past their comfort zone, they will react. This is why we strongly recommend professional dog training for primitive breeds. In fact, before you make the choice to bring an ancient breed dog into your home, we suggest you spend some time talking with trainers, breeders and other pet owners to get a better understanding of their nature and needs.

In Salt Lake City, Innovative K9 Academy, we provide professional training services including dog and puppy boot camps and individualized programs. Contact us today to learn more about how professional dog training can help you understand your primitive breed pet.