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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see the terms "hard" and "soft" used frequently to describe dogs here on the forum. I've always thought of my dog as a "soft" dog, but have seen some of her behaviors described as "hard," or typical of a "hard dog."

Given of course that all dogs are individuals and will fall somewhere in a continuum, I'm curious to know what behaviors or attitudes they demonstrate which would cause you to describe a dog as "hard" or "soft."
 

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I have found that with most "dog terms" they vary as much as the people that use the terms. I have come to realize that a lot of dog terms you really have to take into consideration the person that you are talking to (or online, the person whose is using the term).

I am sure that there are people that will explain it further than that MUCH better than I could.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didn't phrase it very well, I guess. I meant to ask what "you" specifically would consider hard or soft - exactly because it does vary from person to person.
 

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Reading Leerburg's site is where I first got my definition. So, I interpret it as how severe of a correction does a dog need to be effective, and what would be too severe to start damaging a dog's spirit/mood.

A dog who responds well to "NO!" could be considered soft. A dog who will just look at you and go, "Wait, were you trying to get my attention? Doesn't matter, you're not important anyway" after jerking them 2' on a prong collar would be considered hard.

Because a correction can completely dampen their mood and make them not want to participate any longer, it's good to know what levels are appropriate for your dog. A "hard" dog could handle a somewhat severe physical correction and be able to recover and still participate enthusiastically while a "soft" dog could potentially shut down and no longer want to participate when given the same correction.
 

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Hard/soft refers to how resilient a dog is to a negative experience. A hard dog bounces back quickly, without losing drive or attitude. A soft dog will not bounce back as quickly, and will lose drive and attitude.

What constitutes a "negative experience" differs from dog to dog. Yes, hard dogs typically are tougher in the sense of having a higher pain tolerance, etc.... So yes, in general a harder dog may need a pinch collar to give an effective correction, and a softer dog may only need a flat collar. But there are dogs with very high pain tolerances that, once that threshold is reached, will fold. And others who may seem like a whimp in terms of pain tolerance, but recover very easily and quickly. For most dogs, it also is somewhat dependent on the situation. The same dog may be "very hard" in terms of collar corrections or stick hits from a helper in protection work, but seem softer when it comes to simple verbal corrections by the handler.

But anyway, hardness/softness is far more than just how harsh a correction a dog needs. And is related to the more important factor of what the dog does and how he acts after his threshold has been reached, rather than where his "negative experience" threshold actually is.

Originally Posted By: ceardach
A dog who responds well to "NO!" could be considered soft. A dog who will just look at you and go, "Wait, were you trying to get my attention? Doesn't matter, you're not important anyway" after jerking them 2' on a prong collar would be considered hard.
Just because a dog responds to "NO!" certainly does not mean it is a soft dog. Nor does ignoring a "NO!" mean it is a hard dog. This is something completely different altogether and has much more to do with the dog's biddability and willingness to please (and it's overall relationship with it's handler). Not it's innate hardness or softness. There are stubborn soft dogs who don't give a hoot about pleasing anyone but themselves. And hard dogs who respond very well to verbal corrections because they have a high degree of what is often termed "genetic obedience" and a good relationship with their handlers.
 
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