Bernedoodles are an increasingly popular pet choice in the US. However, Bernedoodle training can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. Despite their smarts and eagerness to please, Bernedoodles often are a little on the stubborn side and wary of strange people and situations. That’s why we’ve compiled this one-stop-shop guide.
Here we outline some of the most common training methods. We also detail what items you will need and cover some of the most common problems owners encounter when training their Bernedoodle.
When to Start Training Your Pup
While training may not be the first thing you think about when collecting your cute new bundle of floof from the breeder, it should certainly be up there on your priority list.
Chances are, if you picked a good facility, your puppy will already have a leg up on the training ladder. Either way, the very best way to quickly make your new pet feel at home is to establish the boundaries of their behavior in a firm but fair manner.
Show your pup the ways of the house right from the start, make it clear the places they can and can’t go. Take them outside to pee frequently and praise them when they do what you want them to do, but never punish any accidents.
Every dog learns at their own speed, and training takes patience. Yet, the rules need to be in place from day one. If you let your pooch sleep on your bed one day but banish them from the bedroom the next, they are going to end up very confused.
Routines that are established in these first few weeks will stick with your Berne. After all, these super-intelligent dogs learn fast. Keep in mind that it’s much harder to correct a behavior than to teach the right one in the first place.
The Best Way to Train Your Bernedoodle: 4 Popular Methods
Berndoodles often take after their Bernese Mountain Dog parent. They tend to be relatively stable and docile dogs who don’t usually need all that much training. Compared with more excited, energetic Doodles, they can be a breeze to handle if you pick the right teaching method.
Here are four of the best as recommended by canine experts:
Early ideas on dog training focused heavily on the owner asserting dominance over their pet through positive punishment (shouting, hitting, and hurting). We have moved far away from these today. Such treatment often backfires, creating an anxious, aggressive dog that is liable to lash out when provoked.
Now, most trainers make use of positive reinforcement methods. Instead of reacting to unwanted behaviors, they focus on rewarding the wanted ones. They do this through the use of attention, praise, toys, and treats. The idea is that if the dog associates a particular behavior with a reward, they are more likely to repeat that behavior.
A potential issue with this technique is that sometimes bad behavior is its own reward. Say your dog likes to steal food from the counter or escape from the garden. In these instances, a negative punishment (removing a favorite toy, treat, or simply your attention) is recommended to let them know this is not acceptable.
Based on the same principles as positive reinforcement, clicker training is the method most often utilized by doggy trainers. This is where praise, treats, or toys are replaced with a sound the pup comes to associate with a future reward, such as a click or a verbal cue like “good boy/girl.”
Clicker training has a couple of distinct advantages. Firstly you don’t have to carry around pockets full of treats and toys wherever you go. Secondly, it can be used at the exact moment your pup displays the wanted action. In this way, the positive behavior is very clearly marked.
Of course, with this method, you first have to train your pal to associate the clicker with a future reward. Do this by encouraging them to obey a command they are already familiar with, using the clicker, and promptly feeding them a treat. With time a link will form between the two. Eventually, the clicker may even become the reward itself – the signal of a job well done for your dog.
Here are some product recommendations if you decide to go the clicker training route:
Best for Clicker Training
The mirror method includes ideas from both positive reinforcement and clicker training. However, it expands these by prompting the dog to copy their owner’s actions (if you sit, they sit, and so on). This desire to mimic as a way of pleasing the leader is a natural behavior among pack animals in the wild.
With this technique, the pup’s base instincts are enforced. They are given the freedom to engage in dog-like behaviors (within reason). Training often occurs off the leash and focuses on promoting actions associated with hunting, defending, and retrieving.
Socialization plays a crucial role in mirror training. Owners are encouraged to include their pooch in all aspects of their lives so as to build a strong bond with them. Getting out and about with other dogs is also vital. Pack-animal mentality means that positive behaviors are also acquired this way.
As the name suggests, relationship-based training is also highly focused on the bond between pet and owner. The idea is that any training built on a solid and trusting relationship is likely to be far more effective. When you have your pup’s respect, they will listen to you and do what you say because they want to please you.
With this method, training doesn’t occur in sessions; it is happening in each and every pet-owner interaction. You are looking to learn everything you can about your pup and their specific needs. The aim is to be in tune with their emotions, be able to accurately interpret their body language, and understand what motivates them.
Positive reinforcement methods are then used to shape behavior. At the same time, the environment is closely controlled to set the dog up for success. So, for instance, you try not to leave temptation in their way if it can be avoided. This training takes a little longer than other kinds but can offer more success in the long run.
Training Items You Absolutely Need for Your Doodle
- Depending on the method you opt for, you will need a few tools to guarantee success. For instance, with each one, you will require reward items such as treats and toys.
- As Bernedoodles are prone to pack on the pounds, make use of healthy, low-calorie snacks such as these:
Best Training Treats
- Substitute treats with fun toys where you can. Here are some toys that will work for Bernies.
- Aside from that, you will want a good quality collar or harness and leash for outside training. Opt for a harness if your puppy likes to pull. These are generally better for bigger, more powerful dogs such as Bernedoodles, anyway, as they give you a little more control.
- Many owners also choose to crate train their pup. This has a number of advantages, including giving your dog a place that is all theirs, a place where they can feel safe and secure.
Check out our dedicated articles on leash training and crate training for more specific advice on each one.
Bernedoodle Training 101: 8 Common Issues and How to Tackle Them
While those super Poodle smarts coupled with that laid-back Bernese Mountain Dog outlook should make for a pretty well-behaved dog, this isn’t always the case. Owners sometimes find themselves dealing with the following:
Counter Surfing/ Stealing Food
Bernedoodles can be pretty motivated by food, which makes positive reinforcement training a doddle with these dogs. However, it also increases the likelihood of them snatching food from tables and counters if not closely supervised.
Adopting the relationship-based method would mean not putting temptation in your dog’s path in the first place. Yet, it’s not really reasonable to expect family members to always keep food well out of Fido’s reach.
Set up training sessions where food is left out on purpose and utilize the command ‘leave’ to help your dog understand what they must do. When they obey, offer pets and praise, and they will soon get the hang of it. Avoid mixed messages by never feeding your pup from the table.
While Bernedoodles tend to be cautious with strangers, the opposite is true with those they love. They may demonstrate their enthusiasm by jumping up to say hello – not ideal if your Bernie is on the larger side.
It can be challenging for owners who appreciate all the loving to discourage such behavior, but not everyone enjoys being sent flying. It’s really best to get your pal out of the habit as quickly as possible.
While the natural response might be to push your pup down, they will likely view this as part of the game. Instead, the best thing to do is withdraw your attention. Turn away from your dog without a sound and cross your arms over your chest. If they keep jumping up, then simply turn around and leave the room.
Bernedoodles aren’t really known to be barkers unless trained as alert dogs, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most. If you are having problems with a noisy hound, try to identify what might lie underneath the behavior rather than simply trying to control it.
Barking can signal an array of issues – everything from boredom to anxiety. So, pay attention to when it occurs. Bernedoodles, being highly sociable dogs, are prone to separation anxiety, so if your pup is disturbing the neighbors when you are away from the house, this is likely the problem. Find out what you can do about separation anxiety here.
These beautiful pooches are also extremely sensitive, which means they can become nervous in unfamiliar situations or around people they don’t know. Early and thorough socialization is the best preventative measure for this.
Pulling on the Leash
A common issue among most young pups, pulling on the leash can be a serious problem with Bernedoodles, though – especially when they are on the larger side. If you cannot control your dog, you shouldn’t be taking them around other animals.
This behavior usually occurs simply because your pup is excited to be outside, and that enthusiasm translates to them wanting to get to the dog park as quickly as they can. But that’s no comfort for your poor arm as it’s being wrenched out of its socket!
Mastering walking on the leash mostly just takes practice. You need to be firm and not let them get away with doing it at any time. If your Berne starts to get ahead of you, simply stop, make them sit if you can, and begin to walk again only when they are a bit calmer. See here for more leash training tips and tricks.
Just like barking, digging tends to be a symptom of an underlying problem like boredom. The thing with Doodles is that incredible intelligence makes them less likely to be satisfied with merely hanging out in the yard all day. They need to be kept both physically and mentally stimulated. If they are not… bring on the destructive behaviors!
Digging is a firm doggy favorite. It’s fun, and so becomes its own reward over and above their owner’s displeasure. The trick is to divert their attention to something else. If they are getting enough walks and plenty of affection, try throwing a few toys into the mix. Puzzle toys have been designed specifically to keep clever canines entertained for longer.
Alternatively, banish temptation by covering up or fencing off your hound’s best digging spots. Finally, try giving your dog a designated space in the garden to dig far away from the fence and your favorite plants and flowers.
Biting and Mouthing
While common in young pups, especially when teething, aggressive biting is not a Bernedoodle trait. Herding dogs such as Bernes might nip to get you to go where they want to go (a behavior they can easily be trained out of). Still, if your pup is getting a little vicious for no reason, you could have a problem.
If it is just puppy teething – not fun in any way when they are having at you with those needle-sharp teeth – consider investing in a high-quality teething toy such as one of these. If that doesn’t help, check out our article: How to Stop A Puppy From Biting.
When it’s happening with your adult dog, then it’s probably a fear response. They could be feeling particularly anxious about something – a new person or other kinds of changes in the household. Alternatively, they might be sick and in pain. In this situation, it’s best to consult with your vet first and take it from there.
Eating Socks and Other Non-Food Items
With their extra-large appetite, you may find that your Bernedoodle is frequently chowing down on things they shouldn’t be, including non-edibles. If you are confident that they are getting enough nutrition for their weight and life stage, chances are your hound is just looking for something fun to chew on and taking it to the extreme.
Again, chew toys are the best answer. They will keep your pet occupied and help them to fulfill their natural instinct for mouthing. This is what keeps their teeth clean and their jaws healthy, after all.
Aim to keep your pup’s favorite non-toy chewables firmly out of reach, and don’t confuse the matter by buying toys that resemble items you don’t want them to chew, such as shoes. The issue should resolve itself in no time at all.
Getting your Bernedoodle to understand where they can and can’t go potty shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Especially because most breeders begin this process long before you pick your new puppy up. Just keep things consistent, and you will get there fairly quickly and painlessly.
A few things you can do are: take your pup out to the place you want them to go on a regular basis. Designate a specific command and offer lots of love, hugs, and praise when they do what you ask of them. Never punish any accidents – this could actually set your dog back.
Some owners recommend crate training for puppies who are having a slightly more difficult time getting the hang of it all. This is effective so long as you don’t keep your pet in there for too long, as dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping areas.
When To Get Professional Help
If your pup starts or continues to display behavior issues such as aggression, food aggression, excessive barking, destructive chewing, mounting, or separation anxiety, it is likely that he will need special attention to address them. The best way to deal with Doodle behavior issues is to hire a trainer, or a behaviorist to come to your home for a one-on-one consult.
BAXTER & Bella’s Online Puppy School teaches you how to train and interact with your new puppy to get the best possible results. Not only will you learn the skills you need to be successful, but your puppy will learn incredible manners and behaviors as well!
Amy helps you set up your home, get your family all on the same page and teaches you exactly what to do the second your puppy arrives for optimal training success. You can also schedule LIVE! Office Hours for one-on-one help with Amy and participate in weekly online puppy classes right in your living room!
Need help with training?
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We recommend this on top of group classes. It’s a phenomenal resource which every new puppy has owner needs.
(By the way, the skills they teach works for any dog at any age.)
Frequently Asked Questions About Bernedoodle Training
Are Bernedoodles easy to train?
Bernedoodles, with their incredible intelligence and people-pleasing manner, are relatively easy to train compared to other dogs. If you’re not confident with what to do, though, make sure you do plenty of research before getting going. Keep things light, fun, and interesting, and you should be able to teach your pal to do just about anything within reason.
How do you train a Bernedoodle puppy?
There are various training methods. The one you subscribe to will be the one that works best for you and your pup. Most techniques focus on positive reinforcement – rewarding your dog for engaging in wanted behaviors rather than punishing them when they do something you don’t like.
How do you discipline a Bernedoodle?
Discipline is a tricky business in the world of canines. Experts agree that shouting and hitting simply do not work in the long run. The best way to let your pal know they have done something you don’t approve of is to remove a high-value item such as your attention, a treat, or a favored toy.
Bernedoodles are awesome dogs, and you will never regret adding one to your household. However, they do take a fair bit of looking after. Training is particularly crucial for ensuring they remain happy and healthy and don’t try and take over the family.
If you’re looking to get a Bernedoodle but, as a novice owner, are a little concerned about how to go about training them, hopefully, the information included in this article has helped you to understand precisely how to go about it.
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