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Well-behaved verses well-trained

A lot of people mix up these two ideas. Many folks throw the two terms around without giving pause to what the terms actually mean and that there is a difference.

I often receive adorable photos of seemingly perfect pups. To the average person, it looks like a “WELL-BEHAVED” dog because ”she’s sitting so nicely and looking at the camera!” When in fact, being a trainer, I see a pup that is very “WELL-TRAINED”.

Now, the important thing is to understand the difference and the IMPORTANCE of BOTH!

Let's discuss each term individually:


- Can perform all the party tricks on command

- Will do commands such as sit, shake, speak, and roll over for a treat

- Might sit and pose for a photo upon request


- Has great self regulation/impulse control in highly distracting public settings

- Looks for your guidance before greeting other people/dogs

- Does well in new environments and around new/different people and dogs

I have met many dogs that can do any trick you can imagine! BUT, just because a dog is “well-trained” says nothing about how “well-behaved” they are.

Most people think teaching their dog to do tricks on cue means they are well-behaved. Teaching them tricks is so much fun, but it does not mean they know how to control their energy or calm themselves down.

When you have a well-behaved dog you understand their body language. You have reinforced their behaviour and have taught them how to control their feelings. Well-behaved dogs can self sooth and calm their mind so they don’t get overly excited and furthermore, they will be able to check in with you in ANY environment. That is why it is SO important to teach your dog to be well-behaved and not just well-trained.

The key is to first lay the foundation of desired behaviours by focusing on self control exercises, exposure, teach them how to calm their mind, then once your foundation is built, start adding the obedience and party tricks.

Find solutions that work for you and your dog; learn how to speak their language by understanding body language and eye contact to communicate. It IS tricky and it takes patience and dedication, but with the right help, knowledge, and information you CAN obtain a well-trained, well-behaved pup! Remember the difference and enjoy the best of both!

So ask yourself, is your dog well-behaved or well-trained?


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