"Will to please" in dogs: what is it?

Some dog breeds like the Labrador or the Golden Retriever are said to have a "will to please". The term comes from English and can be translated as "willingness / willingness to please". These dogs attach great importance to working with or being with their humans. The following tips reveal what this means for dog training and which breeds still have this property. Golden retrievers, like this cute puppy, usually have a pronounced "will to please" - Shutterstock / Jeff Wasserman

Occasionally, the "will to please" is equated with zeal for work, but this is not quite true. For example, there are dogs who show great zeal for work and need a meaningful, race-appropriate task, but are very independent and do not necessarily want to work with their humans - like herd guard dogs. At the same time, many companion dogs have a need to please and be close to their caregivers, but are not particularly keen on work.

What does "will to please" mean in dogs?

The "will to please" in the dog essentially refers to how people-related he is and how important it was originally for his breed to work with people. Such dogs are naturally endeavored to understand what their caregiver expects of them and are willing to do so. These four-legged friends were bred for tasks that require willingness to cooperate and good teamwork with their owner. For some hunting dogs like the Golden Retriever or some working dogs like the German Shepherd, this was always important, for example, but especially for companion dogs, which - as the name suggests - have their main task in keeping people company.

Dog breeds with a pronounced "will to please"

In addition to all retrievers such as the Labrador and the Golden Retriever as well as the German Shepherd, the following dog breeds have a "will to please":
● Australian Shepherd
● Australian Cattle Dog
● Australian kelpie
● Malinois / Belgian Shepherd Dog
● Shetland Sheepdog / Sheltie
● Collies
● Spaniel
● Kooikerhondje
● Spanish Water Dog / Perro de Agua Español
● Welsh Corgi
● Continental dwarf Spaniel / Papillon
● Löwchen
● Bichon frisé
● Bolognese
● Maltese
● Havanese

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Use "Will to please" in dog training

A dog with "will to please" is mostly considered to be easy to train and suitable for beginners. However, this in no way means that the dog educates itself or always understands the human being without any problems. You still have to teach your friendly, cooperative four-legged friend rules and commands so that he knows what he is allowed to do and what is not. It is also necessary that you communicate with your dog clearly, unambiguously and consistently so that he can understand what you expect from him. If you are inconsistent, your animal friend may memorize unwanted habits.

In addition, these dogs are only happy if they are challenged according to their breed. A small companion dog may have more fun playing intelligence games, tricks and light physical activity, while a working dog, shepherd or hunting dog with "will to please" needs proper work, intensive dog sport and lots of exercise to be happy and busy. However, what is actually easier in dogs with "will to please" are rewards and motivation. With praising, caressing and playing together, they can easily be excited about a new task or training session.

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