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How to Train a Bernese Mountain Dog: 6 Easy Tips That Work

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

Bernese Mountain Dog outdoors

Despite their large size and fluffy coat that makes them seem even bigger, the Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the sweetest and gentlest large breeds. They were initially bred as farm dogs in Switzerland, and these pups are more than happy to hang out on the couch for much of the day. Although they may be gentle giants, Bernese Mountain Dogs need adequate training to ensure they stay under control at all times. Here are six tips on how to train a Bernese Mountain Dog.

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The 6 Tips on How to Train a Bernese Mountain Dog

1. Start Young

Mini Bernese Mountain Dog puppy sitting
Image Credit: Julissa Helmuth, Pexels

Full-grown male Bernese Mountain Dogs can easily top 100 pounds. It will be much easier to handle the large dog if it learns manners at a young age while having a more manageable weight! You can start basic manners training when your new puppy comes home.

You should also get your puppy used to routines they’ll have for life, such as grooming techniques and having their feet handled. Berners tend to be reserved around strangers by nature, so socialization starting from a young age is vital. They must learn how to respond calmly in any situation and with all types of people.

2. Redirect or Ignore Instead of Punishing

Bernese Mountain Dogs are surprisingly sensitive for such big dogs. They are eager and willing to please their owners but get their feelings hurt easily. Because of this, they don’t react well to harsh treatment or even an angry tone of voice.

Rather than correcting your puppy when they misbehave, try ignoring the bad behavior. You could also redirect your puppy to something more appropriate. For example, if you catch the puppy chewing something inappropriate, offer a toy or safe chew object instead and praise the dog when they switch to that.

3. Use Positive Reinforcement

woman grooming bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: Helen Sushitskaya, Shutterstock

If you ignore your Berner’s bad behavior, the other part of the equation is quickly praising and reinforcing good behavior. For example, you ignore your puppy when they jump on you and promptly praise and reward them when they stop jumping and greet you calmly. Again, Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent and eager to please, which gives them the ability to learn quickly. Once they figure out the type of behavior that earns them your praise, they’ll be happy to repeat it to make you happy.

4. Be Consistent

If you’re inconsistent with your training methods or enforcing standards of behavior, your Bernese Mountain Dog may get confused and have a harder time with training. Choose simple commands and consistently use them for the behaviors that you want.

Keep your responses to your dog’s behavior consistent as well. Sensitive Bernese Mountain Dogs can easily read your mood and tone of voice. If you’re getting frustrated, they’ll know. Stay calm and positive during training sessions.

5. Use Treats Sparingly

bernese mountain dog getting a treat
Image Credit: Kristesoro, Shutterstock

Rewarding your dog’s behavior with treats is an easy way to reinforce what you want them to learn. However, Bernese Mountain Dogs love food and are not the most energetic breed, so they can quickly become overweight. Try using other methods to reward your pup first, such as vocal praise, lots of affection, or even a quick playtime. Affectionate Bernese Mountain Dogs may thrive off that type of reward and not need treats to shape their behavior.

6. Be Patient

Bernese Mountain Dogs want to do what you ask to make you happy. They’re also smart enough to learn quickly. However, the breed sometimes takes some time to process information during training. It’s not that they don’t understand what you’re asking; they may just take a bit longer to let it sink in. Your Bernie will eventually respond to and understand your training commands if you’re patient and understanding.

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Is the Bernese Mountain Dog the Right Breed for Me?

bernese mountain dog puppy with owner outdoor
Image Credit: Oleg Mitkevych, Shutterstock

Regarding its personality, the Bernese Mountain Dog fits nicely into many families and living situations. They are sweet, gentle, affectionate, and loyal dogs, if a bit standoffish with strangers. Berners usually do well with kids, although they could be too much for toddlers and smaller children.

We’ve already discussed the training and socialization of this breed, but it’s important to note that they don’t like being left alone. Bernese Mountain Dogs grow attached to their humans and may develop destructive behaviors if they don’t get enough time and attention. Consider how much time you spend away from home when deciding if this is the breed for you.

Big dogs aren’t for everyone, but the Bernese Mountain Dog doesn’t have the energy and exercise requirements of some large breeds. They are also prone to joint issues and must be careful how much they exercise. Also, they shed a lot and have been known to drool.

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Owners of large breeds, like the Bernese Mountain Dog, always have to be extra careful to ensure their dogs are well-trained and controlled at all times. Thankfully, the Berner’s sweet, pleasing personality makes training this breed easier than others. These six tips should help you get your Bernese Mountain Dog off on the right track when it comes to its training routine.

Featured Image Credit: Andy Lyell, Unsplash

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