I do think they're very easily trainable, although how easy (or not easy at all) it would be would be down to individual. Work drive is going to come down to your choice in breeder. You will want to find one that's breeding for working drive, and does a lot of activities with their poodles.
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It really depends on the individual. My boy speaks 'clicker' as his second language, so when I get the clicker and treats out he's learning in a snap! Yesterday at work I got him to open my salon door by just saying 'Yes!' when his paws touched the door handle, he had it in just a few minutes on verbal cues alone.
My girl on the other hand.. she's pretty, very sweet, cuddly, and loving, but there's not much between the ears as far as brains go.
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Thanks everyone. I'm hoping to rescue, so taking a bit of a risk there....but I'm still convinced that a spoo has got to be more clever than the dopey dog I've already got!
They're smart all right! But if I were you, I'd bring treats and do a little training right there at the rescue. If the dog is really a worker, he/she will show you right there. Since you already have a dog that isn't that fast of a learner, you'll see the difference right away--at least you'll see the intelligence at work, even if the dog doesn't grasp the exact thing you're trying to teach. But I'd be willing to bet you teach something basic in only 3 or 4 repetitions, because they are that smart. Trainability is an individual thing though.
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I have a spoo that I just adopted, that would loooove to do obedience! She loves to please! I have had other types of dogs that I have rescued and while they might want to please, the intelligence to know what was being asked of them, was not as good. Now they were happy wonderful dogs that I helped find good homes for, but not as quick and smart as the poodles. I have only been around a couple of poodles that were not smarter than the other dogs that I had to help find new homes. Now since most of the other breeds of dogs were rescued dogs, I am sure they had previous issues some caused by feeling abandoned, but that is what I have seen.
I love the willingness to please that many of the poos have, that have caused them to be in the top 10 dogs when it comes to intelligence. Now having said that, they have to be kept intrigued and engaged or they get bored and find trouble to get into.
Good luck in finding your heart mate.
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There is variety in all litters and variety in different standard poodles lines. Some are incredibly intelligent, some are not. Some are highly trainable and some are not. You need to get a puppy from a temperament tested litter. My Bonnie is smart as a whip, highly trainable. My Jazz is also smart, but not as much as Bonnie (he's still young, though). Bonnie is from some working lines, Jazz is mostly from AKC show lines. He is calmer and sweeter, just what some people want in a standard. Bonnie is a working, athletic machine. My point is, there is variety. Make sure you let your wishes be known and hunt out some poodle with pedigrees showing athletic events.
Mini's are actually JUST as smart as standards and some on them are amazingly smart. They are higher energy by far than standards, but they are bright dogs, too. In an agility trial I watched a few weeks ago the minis excelled.
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Thanks so much for your question! I, too, agonized over this question.
Before my Louie (Spoo), I always had Belgium Tervs and Belgium Shepherds. My last Belgium Shelpherd received his CD in one, three-day dog show! He thrived on obedience and NEVER questioned my commands. I love obedience and really enjoy competition!
But my Puppy, Louie, was not ready for an obedience show until he turned two.
For my Spoo, he totally was motivated by clicker training. Yeah! We are ready, now, and I have learned with a Poodle that they figure things out for themselves and will question everything (like a smart child) and finally, when they decide for themselves that you are smart enough and the command makes sense---they will rise to any occasion!
What I love about my Poodle is that he is gorgeous to look at and is very social with other people and dogs and makes me laugh! I needed to laugh more!
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