The Boxer is one of America’s most popular dogs. Ranked at #11 according to the AKC, the Boxer is described as a fun-loving, bright, and active dog. I have met my fair share of Boxers over the years, and can say they are one of my favorite breeds. Working with them I have learned a few things when it comes to trainin
Are Boxers easy to train? As a whole Boxers are easy to train under with strong and consistent leadership. Boxer dogs are an intelligent breed that are eager to please and will pick up commands quickly. They can also have a stubborn streak. Using a fun and positive approach can make training easy.
In my personal experience as a dog walker I had several Boxer clients. The fun loving, goofy and energetic personality is a highlight of this breed. When shown the right leadership Boxers are very attentive and easy to train.
I have used a set of principles and techniques with all dogs, but especially Boxers to make easy work of basic commands. Their stubborn streak can be strong, but it’s just a matter of knowing how to address this. In this post I will go over my strategies and tips to help you make training a Boxer easy.
How Smart Is The Boxer Breed?
On average the Boxer breed is a very smart and intelligent dog. Boxers are very eager to please their owners and respond exceptionally well to positive reinforcement training. Their bright and alert character lends itself to being great problem solvers. Boxers always enjoy being challenged mentally.
There are some who may claim however that Boxers are not as intelligent as people claim. One study in particular suggests that Boxers rank #90 out of #138 breeds in intelligence. This study does not take into account the willful and free thinking nature of certain breeds like the Boxer.
The study measures the repetition of commands and the response rate. In tests such as these a Boxer may respond slower as they question whether they want to follow the commands, not whether they understand the command. This is the willful side of the Boxer that some refer to as stubborn.
Are Boxers Easy To Potty Train?
As a general rule Boxer puppies are easy to potty train. Boxers have been described as “fastidiously clean” dogs and pick up potty training fairly quickly when set up for success. Creating the right routines, environments, and reward systems from an early age will help the potty training process.
Dogs are creatures of habit. Puppies understand a routine before they understand much of anything else. Having a consistent routine of times you take your puppy for a potty break will greatly increase your chances of potty training speed and success.
Crate training is also an invaluable tool when it comes to potty training your Boxer puppy. By controlling their environment you can ensure they are not free to potty anywhere they please. Dogs don’t like to relieve themselves where they sleep or eat. Providing your Boxer with a good crate will reduce accidents and help you dictate when they potty.
I have written an entire article on house training a Boxer puppy. I go over 10 really great tips on how to easily potty train your puppy.
How Do You Train A Boxer Dog?
There are a few things to keep in mind when training a Boxer dog. They can be stubborn and strong willed and will require a fun, positive, and challenging approach. The earlier you begin your training and socialization with a Boxer the better. Establishing your role as a calm and strong leader is crucial.
I have worked with Boxers in my years as a dog walker and implemented many of the following principles in my practice. These tips will provide some tremendous benefits to your training program if applied consistently.
Keep Training Short
Training sessions with your Boxer should be short and focused. Roughly 15 minutes per session is plenty to work on new commands as well as reinforce and practice previously learned commands. Puppies can be easily distracted so short focused sessions are important to learning.
These 15 minute sessions may not seem like a lot, but over time it really adds up. You can also include a few sessions throughout the day if your Boxer puppy is able to engage with you. I work with my Pocket Bully 15 minutes a day and the amount of obedience he has picked up in 2 months is stunning.
Keep Training Consistent
Training your Boxer needs to be a consistent practice. A daily schedule of one or more training sessions to work on basic commands, tricks, and some new, more advanced obedience is a must.
A consistent schedule will help engrain your Boxer’s learnings and ensure you are establishing and reinforcing good behaviors daily. Sporadic training done here and there are significantly less effective. Dogs need to practice new skills daily, just like humans, for things to stick.
Keep Training Fun
Boxers are one of the most fun-loving and goofy breeds around. They love to play and have fun. Training should tap into their natural love of a good time and be a fun and enjoyable activity. This is one of the best ways to combat the notorious stubborn streak that Boxers can have
Because Boxers are so smart, boring repetitive training exercises will leave them disengaged and unwilling to participate. Here comes the stubborn. Making training a game and a challenge will activate your Boxer’s brain and give them a reason to want to learn and interact with you.
Keep Training Positive
The love and eagerness to please that Boxers possess makes positive reinforcement training a must. These dogs love to be showered in praise and will respond to positive training techniques very eagerly.
On occasion the stubborn streak of the Boxer may appear and training sessions can become frustrating. When you have reached a point where you shout, yell, or even hit your dog out of frustration, it’s time to stop.
Negative reinforcement is an ineffective technique with Boxers, or any dog for that matter, and will create other potential behavioral problems. Fear based reactions can be a consequence of negative training techniques and lead to anxiety, stress and aggression problems.
When you begin to get frustrated with your Boxer during training, end the session. Regroup, calm down, and try again later when you have composed yourself and can engage your dog.
Keep Your Boxer Healthy
Maintaining the health of your Boxer is obviously a top priority. Training with a dog that is sick, overweight, or malnourished will make learning much more difficult, if not impossible. Feeding your Boxer a high quality dog food with real proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals is crucial.
Additional supplements of Omega 3 fatty acids like Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil can provide amazing overall health benefits to your Boxer’s skin, coat, joints, heart and immune system health. I give both my dogs Omega 3 fish oils every day.
If your dog is feeling sick, having an off day, or suffering from something chronic, always consult with your vet. Never force training sessions on your dog when they are ill. Allow them time to get healthy and get back to training when they are ready.
Give Your Boxer Exercise
Boxers can be seemingly endless balls of energy. Especially when dealing with Boxer puppies. Proper exercise each day will drastically improve your ability to train with your dog. Going for a 30 minute walk before a training session can help drain some excess energy and help your dog focus during training.
When a Boxer is pent up with energy they will be easily distracted or over hyped during training. This will make your session far less effective. Get them a little tired, but not exhausted. That can make all the difference between a productive session and an unproductive session.
Give Your Boxer Mental Stimulation
Keeping your Boxer mentally stimulated in between training sessions is important. Just like physical exercise to build and maintain muscles, mental exercise will keep your Boxer’s brain sharp.
Games and activities that engage your Boxer’s problem solving skills are a perfect way to stimulate their brains. Things like food puzzles or Kongs are also a great way to give your Boxer a rewarding challenge. I keep several frozen Kongs on hand for my dogs for this very reason.
Give Your Boxer Socialization
Your Boxer can learn a great deal from you during training sessions. There are however things that they learn much better from interacting with other dogs. Socialization of your Boxer from an early age is a must.
These interactions will help your dog understand basic manners when interacting with other dogs. They will learn when they are playing too rough, or being a pest when other dogs let them know.
Socialization will also prevent nervous or aggressive behaviors as they grow older. Getting accustomed to as many dogs, people, kids, pets, smells, sights, and sounds as possible from the start will ensure a well balanced adult dog.
Give Your Boxer An Early Start
The best time to start training a Boxer puppy is now. The day you bring them home. From the age of 8 weeks on, your puppy is like a little sponge and can learn a great deal in a very short period of time. Start early and set them up for success.
The sooner you form this bond and line of communication with your Boxer puppy the better. This early training can help reduce any stubborn streaks that may develop as they get older. Establishing your role as leader and caregiver from day one will pay tremendous dividends.
Give Your Boxer Rules And Boundaries
House rules and boundaries are important for every dog. Boxers need to learn what they can and cannot do around the house, in the car, and while out in public. Setting up consistent rules and boundaries are a must to peacefully coexist with your Boxer buddy.
Rules such as no jumping on the bed, or not being allowed in the kitchen while you are cooking are simple examples of house rules and boundaries. I don’t allow my dogs in the kitchen when I am there for safety reasons. I could trip over them or drop something hot or sharp causing injury to one or all of us.
Consistently establishing boundaries and not wavering will help everyone live together easily and reinforce your role as the leader in the home. Every member of the family must apply these rules and boundaries equally. Dogs can find the weakest link and before you know it they are sleeping in the bed.
Set up some agreed upon rules and boundaries with your family and stick to them with your Boxer.
Why Are Boxers So Stubborn?
There are several reasons why Boxers are so stubborn at times. One of the main reasons is poor training practices from the owner. Boxers are very intelligent and will need a reason why they should listen and not follow blindly. This is a result of inconsistent or negative training practices.
Many Bully breeds have what people describe as stubborn streaks, but I prefer to call it willful behavior. Boxers are free thinking and wilful dogs, this can present itself as stubborn when they choose not to take a command seriously.
Forming a bond and establishing yourself as the leader will earn the respect of your Boxer much easier. When they believe they don’t have to obey a command because you will not follow through, they will choose to not obey. Simple as that.
Give your Boxer a reason why they should follow you as a leader. Positive reinforcement, following through with commands, calm yet firm instructions, and consistency can prevent wilful behavior.
To avoid much of the describe wilful or stubborn behaviors training needs to start from an early age. The earlier you are able to establish yourself as the leader, create lines of communication, and form that bond with your Boxer, the less likely the unwanted behavior will arise.
Boxers are easy to train when approached correctly. Following the simple practices outlined in this post will not only accelerate their learning ability but will prevent stubborn behaviors. Use the intelligence of your Boxer dog to your advantage and make learning a positive and enjoyable experience.
I have spent years working on these various tips with my own dogs, and applying other individual principles with my dog walking clients. The success I have seen by applying these techniques is nothing short of amazing.
I can’t promise you that everyday training with your Boxer is going to be easy. What I can say is that using this post as a guide will make the journey easy over time. Practice patience and calm, assertive leadership when using these principles and you can easily raise a well balanced, happy, obedient Boxer dog.