Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Train a St. Bernard: 10 Expert Tips

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

saint bernard puppy at the park with owner

When your St. Bernard reaches their full size, they can weigh up to 180 pounds. This makes it extremely important to train them; otherwise, they can be challenging to control.

The good news is that with a bit of persistence, patience, and know-how, there’s no reason you can’t have an extremely well-trained St. Bernard. They’re great dogs that are eager to please their owners, so if you follow these ten tips, you should be able to train them in no time!

Divider 1

The 10 St. Bernard Training Tips

There are a ton of tips and tricks out there you can follow, but sometimes, when you get too much information, it can be a little overwhelming. It’s something we completely understand, and that’s why we limited our list to the ten best tips you should follow when training your St. Bernard.

1. Start With the Basics

You might want to teach your St. Bernard all sorts of new tricks and want them to listen to you in even the most distracting situations. And while you should be able to get there, you won’t be able to start there.

You need to start slowly and teach them the most basic tasks. This means starting with teaching them their name, teaching them to sit, and teaching them basic recall commands. Once your pup masters these basics, you can start to move on to more complex tasks.

saint bernard puppy sitting on the floor
Image Credit: sean1006, Pixabay

2. Use Positive Reinforcement

No matter what you’re trying to teach your St. Bernard, you need to exclusively use positive reinforcement. You want your dog to enjoy and seek out training sessions, not fear them. If they’re happy to be there, then they’ll do everything they can to figure out what you want them to do. Negative reinforcement only makes them want to leave, not do what you want them to do.

3. Minimize Distractions

Your St. Bernard has the attention span of a toddler. They can’t stay on task or focus on anything if a bunch of things are going on around them. Because of this, you need to do everything you can to find a quiet place without any distractions for your training sessions.

4. Stay Patient

Your puppy isn’t going to master everything during the first few training sessions. The more complex training tasks you want to teach them, the longer it will take. Stay patient and recognize that it’s a process. They’re not going to master it all in a few days or even weeks!

saint bernard puppy at the beach
Image Credit: knelson20, Shutterstock

5. Stay Consistent

When you’re training your pup, the most important thing you need to do is stay consistent. If you have one training session and then wait a week or two for another one, you won’t get the results you want. But if you set aside time each day for a training session, you’ll get far faster and more consistent results.

6. Have Fun

Your St. Bernard can tell if you’re frustrated, annoyed, or if you’re having a blast. And if you’re having fun during the training sessions, your dog is far more likely to want to be there and keep giving it their best effort. If you’re not having fun with it, take a break and come back to it at a different time.

7. End With Something Easy

Once your St. Bernard masters a simple task, you’ll want to end every training session with it. This gives you and your St. Bernard the opportunity to end on a positive note, cementing it as a positive experience for your pet and making it more likely that they’ll want to participate next time.

saint bernard puppy sitting on the fallen leaves
Image Credit: knelson20, Shutterstock

8. Meet Their Exercise Needs

One mistake many pet owners make when they’re trying to train their dog is that they don’t meet all their pet’s exercise needs before the training session. This means your St. Bernard will have way too much pent-up energy, making it hard for them to focus and learn.

Instead, they’ll want to run around and burn off some energy, which isn’t conducive to a positive training session.

9. Use Treats

While St. Bernards thrive on positive reinforcement, if you want them to pay attention to you during your training sessions, add some treats. Pick their favorite treat, and then only give it to them during your training sessions. This is a surefire way to get them to do everything they can to try and earn it!

10. Keep Sessions Short

While you need to stay consistent with your training sessions, and it’s best to have at least one each day, you shouldn’t have very long training sessions. Instead, aim for a training session that lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.

Your St. Bernard has a short attention span, and a training session that lasts any longer than this won’t keep your puppy’s attention as it should.

owner feeding the saint bernard puppy
Image Credit: schubbel, Shutterstock

Divider 2

Final Thoughts

The last thing you want is a dog that weighs close to 200 pounds that you can’t control. With that in mind, follow the tips we’ve highlighted for you here, and there’s no reason you can’t have a well-trained and well-behaved St. Bernard in no time.

Start sooner rather than later since St. Bernards grow quickly, and if they’re already fully grown, you need to get control over them as soon as possible!

Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database