Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

8 Types of Specialized Dog Training

Dean Eby

June 21, 2021

Dog training can be simple or complex, depending on what kind of training you want your dog to have. Basic commands like sit, stay, lay down are all well and good, but dog training can go a lot deeper than just the basics. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures able to learn a variety of different tasks, jobs, tricks, and more. They’ve been trained for very specific jobs, which they can carry out with aplomb.

In this article, we’re going to discuss eight very specialized types of training that dogs can undergo to gain specific skills for various tasks, jobs, and competitions. These types of training go far beyond the basic commands and require a good set of basic skills to even attempt. Before we start discussing these eight specialized training types, we’ll discuss four styles of dog training that can be applied to most of the types of dog training.

divider-multiprint

Four Styles of Dog Training

Every dog trainer has their own style that they prefer. This could be based around a particular training tool or just a manner in which they communicate with the dogs they’re training. Some types of training might work better with some dogs, depending on their personality.

hunting dog with training collar
Image Credit: PaigeWhite, Shutterstock

  1. Positive Reinforcement – Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding good behavior. When using this style of dog training, you avoid punishing the dog for bad behaviors, instead, redirecting them and only rewarding them for good behaviors with treats, praise, and toys.
  2. Dominance Training – Dominance training is training that’s centered around you being the alpha of the pack, and that your dog is subordinate to you. This type of training employs methods such as walking in front of your dog, being the first to go through doors, and eating before your dog does.
  3. E-Collar Training – E-collar training utilizes an electric collar to correct unwanted behaviors. The collar can shock, vibrate, or simply make a noise, depending on what you prefer and how the dog reacts. They have a remote that allows you to punish the dog from afar the moment that It acts up.
  4. Clicker Training – Clicker training is essentially signaled positive reinforcement. The clicker is used to signal that the dog has done what you want, indicating that it’s time for a reward. While this is great for teaching new behaviors and tricks, it’s not a great method for stopping behaviors you don’t want.

8 Specialized Types of Dog Training Are:

These types of training are far more advanced than basic commands. Not every dog will be able to advance to these types of specialized training, though some special dogs can excel in such training and perform admirably at the tasks they were trained for. It also takes a special trainer to prepare dogs in these training types; inexperienced dog owners won’t have the skills necessary to work with dogs on such a level.

1. Obedience Training

Every dog should undergo obedience training, at least on a basic level. This should begin early in life with the simplest commands of sit and stay. This type of training is meant to prepare your dog for the many social situations it might encounter throughout its life. You want to make sure you can get your dog under control when the moment counts, which is why obedience training is so important. It’s also a great way to further strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Dog training outdoor_Paya Mona_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Paya Mona, Shutterstock

2. Behavioral Training

Behavioral training is focused on helping your dog unlearn bad behaviors that you don’t want to see. It’s used to stop things like digging, excessive barking, biting, poor walking skills, accidents in the house, and much more. This is perfect for dogs that are currently having such behavior problems as it can help them to start behaving properly, which will enable them and their family to live much happier.

dog trainer_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

3. Tracking

Tracking is when a dog uses its nose to find something based on scent. Some breeds are particularly adept at such work thanks to extra-song sniffers. These dogs can be used to track many different things, from using it as sport or game, to letting the dog track down animals for the hunt, to even tracking bombs or drugs in serious police and military work.

dog training outdoor_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. Therapy Training

Therapy dogs are not service dogs. Rather, they’re meant to provide comfort for people in vulnerable positions, such as people who are extremely sick in hospitals or those that are dying in hospice. While therapy dogs don’t have any special privileges or protections under the law, they do need to pass the American Kennel Club therapy dog test for certification, which requires them to be exceptionally well trained, calm, gentle, and friendly with strangers.

golden retriever as therapy dog
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

5. Agility Training

Agility training is the training you do for your dog to be able to run through agility courses. You’ll be taking the dog over, around, and through different obstacles, providing excellent mental and physical stimulation. Some of the obstacles that are commonly used include hurdles for jumping, weaving in and out of poles, running through a tunnel, or running up and down a teeter-totter.

dog training outdoor_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

6. Service Training

Service training is the type of training that dogs go through in order to legally perform service work. For people in need, these dogs are valuable tools that make their lives far more comfortable and manageable. Some examples of service training dogs include mobility assistance dogs, hearing dogs, guide dogs, PTSD dogs, diabetic alert dogs, and many more. The dog will need specific training for one condition, and it takes many years of training to fully prepare.

golden retriever as service dog
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

7. Protection Training

Protection training teaches dogs to be great guard dogs and protectors. The dog will need to have certain natural traits that work with such a job, including courageousness, being suspicious of strangers, confidence, and even some independence. Some breeds are better suited for protection training than others, including Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Rottweilers, and Bull Mastiffs.

german shepherd police dog
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

8. Retrieving

If you’re a hunter of certain game, a retrieving dog can be invaluable. Once you bring down a duck, rabbit, or similar game, the dog can chase it down or swim out and retrieve it, depending on the circumstances. Retrieving takes a lot of very specific training and certain breeds are best for this task, including Golden and Labrador Retrievers. The dog can’t bite or attempt to eat the animal. It must be gentle with its mouth, and if you’re hunting waterfowl, it often has to swim out to retrieve the downed bird.

divider-paw

Conclusion

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it really depends on the dog and the trainer. With the right skills and approach, you can train dogs of any age to perform all sorts of tasks. Dogs can be trained for very specific skills that make them excellent helpers in a wide range of fields.

We’ve covered eight types of specialized training that dogs can undergo, including learning to retrieve, learning to protect, or learning to run agility courses. Some of these are great for a pastime, others allow dogs to help people in important ways. It all goes to show just how strong the connection is between humans and dogs after millennia of side-by-side evolution together.


Featured Image Credit: Lois McCleary, Shutterstock

Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.  He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning.  An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts by email whenever there's a recall.