You already know the words that describe puppies: cute, cuddly, fluffy, playful . . .

As they grow up, you might notice that yipping turns into barking that may irritate your neighbors. And the playful nipping turns into biting. You might love to pick up your happy puppy when he runs into your arms after a long day at the office. But you didn’t bargain for an 80-pound lab jumping on Grandma and almost knocking her down the stairs!

Dogs have a wide range of temperaments and personalities. Some seem to be gentle and to know instinctively what to do in social situations. Others seem impulsive and mischievous. Some are easy to train, while others have to repeat their dog obedience class several times.

Although most dogs can be trained to be obedient and follow commands, many experts agree that all breeds were not created equal, and therein lies to key to some basic behaviors.

Canine Behavior by Breeds

Dogs are bred to exhibit certain behaviors, hence the names given to their various classes. Herding dogs’ instincts tell them to make sure everyone is gathered together and safe. In a group of dogs, herder dogs are more likely to make sure all the other dogs are paying attention rather than concentrating on fetching a ball. If you’re looking for a dog to play fetch with, your best bet is with the working class of dogs such as terriers, hounds, and retrievers.

If you want fierce loyalty and great energy, look to the terriers. You might want the alert intelligence of a Standard Poodle or the protective behaviors of a Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher. Do you need a dog who’s gentle with small children? The Labrador Retriever is known for its patience with kids. (Be sure to supervise dogs and children at all times.)

Communication Between the Dog and Owner

Dogs typically try hard to understand what you want of them, just as you try to understand what they’re trying to tell you. If you’re patient with your dog and firmly establish your position as the boss—or, in his mind, the “alpha” dog—he’s likely to be quite responsive to your commands. If you lose your temper and shout at him, he’s likely to become confused.

Teaching your dog to respond to commands isn’t difficult, but it requires consistency and an understanding of the dog’s point of view. The articles in this section feature dog training tips and hints that will help you to establish great communication with your pet.

Understanding your dog’s instincts and breeding helps you to develop strategies to eradicate unwelcome canine behaviors such as excessive chewing or jumping on visitors. And once you realize how hard Rover is trying to please you, you’ll also realize that many of his behaviors are simple misunderstandings.

This section is divided into multiple articles, covering topics such as: