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What breed of dog is the best behaved?

Well-Behaved Dog: Training, Play, Socialization

Well-behaved dog walking on a leash with person's legs showing

If you want a well-trained, well-socialized, well-behaved dog, you must interact consistently and practice skills to build a foundation of trust and a healthy relationship. All dogs benefit from learning and practicing basic cues daily. Keep all interaction fun; if you are stressed on a particular day and thus won’t play nicely with your dog, skip your training session. Dogs are sensitive to your emotional state and can pick up on your stress.

Teaching basic dog cues and skills

There are certain basic dog cues and skills that will help them be well-mannered canines wherever they go. Here are some key skills to set your dog up for success:

  • Name recognition: Use the dog’s name often when you’re praising and playing with them — and always with a happy tone. Dogs should have only positive associations with their names and nicknames.
  • Recall: Call the dog to you often; again, always using a happy tone. Add treats sometimes to pleasantly surprise your dog and keep them coming to you fast. Remember to practice recall frequently, not just when something fun is about to end. People often hinder recall training because they only call the dog for negative reasons or use a negative tone.
  • House-training: Set your dog up for success by taking them outside to use the bathroom, and then let them spend some time loose in the house. Utilizing a crate can help with this as well. Dogs typically will not eliminate where they sleep, so you can work on crate training by giving your dog some time in there with a high-value item to chew on; when they exit the crate, they’ll go right outside to use the bathroom. Adult dogs can typically hold it for several hours, so you don’t need to take them out every hour as that will only encourage them to use the bathroom that frequently. Puppies will need an opportunity to go out every couple hours.
  • Wait: Teaching the cue “wait” is helpful for when you want your dog to wait at doors, before going in or out of a car, when you’re giving them their food bowl, and more. Make sure your tone is firm but not harsh. The dog can be sitting, standing, or lying down as long as they pause when you give the cue.
  • Stay: Teaching the cue “stay” also can be monumental for a dog’s safety, keeping them away from something that is hazardous. To start learning to stay, the dog should be in a sit or down position, as standing for long periods can be physically difficult, causing the dog to break position to get more comfortable. Gradually build the length of the stay and the distance you move away from the dog.

Games to play with dogs

Playing games can also encourage good behavior in dogs. In fact, training should always feel like a game for dogs. Here are some fun things to do with your dog to try:

  • Fetch: This game is not for every dog, but many enjoy it. Always start with two toys, so the dog can learn to trade the toy in their mouth for the toy you have in your hand. This keeps the game moving and also reduces the risk of your dog grabbing or guarding the ball. Add words for trading toys — “out” and “drop” are common words used — that you also can apply to other situations where you need your dog to drop something.
  • Tug: The game of tug, with rules, can be a healthy, educational game. While learning the game, your dog might accidentally grab your hand instead of the toy. If this happens, give a gentle “uh uh” and go neutral. This helps dogs learn to play within limits. Like with fetch, you can use two toys to help the dog learn to drop the one they’re holding, signaling the end of one tug game and the start of another. If your dog has a history of guarding toys, do not play tug with them and stick to a cooperative game like fetch.
  • Search: Keep them thinking! Hide food, treats, and favorite toys to encourage your dog to search daily. When a dog finds these hidden treasures, reward them with lots of praise.
  • Agility: Many dogs enjoy agility training and benefit from the experiences that come with doing something physical. In agility training, dogs learn how to really use their bodies. Fearful dogs learn to be more confident, and overweight dogs get some great exercise. But just about any dog can benefit from learning to negotiate over, under, through, and around objects. Agility training can be fun for your dog — and for you, too. Remember to check with your veterinarian before beginning any exercise program with your dog.

Social time with dogs

Having some quality time with your dog also can be a great way to encourage good manners. Here are some things to practice with your dog:

  • Touch: Teach your dog to enjoy being touched on all body parts. Start with getting your dog to enjoy your touch, and work toward the goal of getting them comfortable with being touched by people they don’t know. It is important that dogs allow us to touch them because they might need to be handled by various people: strangers, rescuers after an emergency, the vet, the groomer. One spot you shouldn’t forget is their paws, which you will need to be able to handle for nail trims. Make sure that anyone who grooms your dog is kind and gentle, so your dog only associates the touch with positive experiences.
  • Lifting: In addition to touch, your dog might need to be picked up off the ground for grooming, medical, or other reasons. If you can lift your dog’s body up off the floor, practice this to help them relax and realize that nothing bad happens.
  • Relaxation: Some dogs don’t know how to control their own energy, and the result can be destructive, nuisance, or rough behaviors. People must teach their dogs to have an “off” switch. Every day, you can help your dog by teaching them how to relax in your home and during outings. Keep dogs tethered while you drive instead of letting them jump and bark, teach them to enjoy walking without pulling, and use cues to help them focus on you so they don’t become overexcited. A crate can also come in handy here as well. Making it a quiet, positive place can make for a great place for your dog to learn how to settle and decompress if they are struggling with that in the home.
  • Social skills with other animals: Our dogs will meet a variety of people and other animals in public, so it’s important to practice their social skills. Set your dog up for success by keeping experiences positive. For example, enlist people you know with dog-friendly dogs to take a walk with you and your dog. But if your dog has known aggression or does not enjoy being around other dogs, do not force them to have playdates.

Getting the behavior you want from your dog

Be proactive by teaching your dog to perform the behavior you want. We can reward any behavior we like and want to see more of, including being calm and gentle.

The most effective way to squelch unwanted behavior is to ignore it. Why? Because giving any attention — even negative forms of attention, such as saying “no!” — for unwanted behavior is still seen by the dog as a good thing because it’s attention. You can immediately ask for another wanted behavior while ignoring what the dog has offered.

It’s also key to keep your dog up to date on veterinary care. Often, changes in behavior are related to changes in a dog’s physical health.

The Naughtiest and Best-Behaved Dog Breeds, According to Instagram

Graeme is a senior writer at ProtectMyPaws, working with our in-house team of data analysts and researchers to produce original studies and reports you will find under the Pet Care section of the site. Even though he doesn’t have any pets at home now, Graeme grew up with a yellow Lab called Jake and a goldfish called Rudolph.

James Booth

Edited by
James Booth

James Booth

Edited by
James Booth
Senior Writer

James is the managing editor of ProtectMyPaws and his main focus is to ensure every article on our site is backed by trustworthy research and written in a clear way. He is a self-proclaimed cat person after growing up with grumpy Hemingway and later taking in feral Louie.

March 7, 2023
Why you can trust us

ProtectMyPaws is an independent publication with no ties with companies mentioned on the site. We don’t accept free products in exchange for glowing reviews. Instead, we report our own findings to help you make an informed decision.

Why you can trust us

ProtectMyPaws is an independent publication with no ties with companies mentioned on the site. We don’t accept free products in exchange for glowing reviews. Instead, we report our own findings to help you make an informed decision.

Here are four reasons you should trust us:

  • We are a team of independent reviewers. We don’t accept freebies sent by pet companies in exchange for a 5-star review.
  • We love our pets as much as you love yours. We care about our pets as much as we care about the rest of our human family, so we would never recommend something we wouldn’t feel comfortable buying ourselves.
  • We have zero problem saying a product sucks. We don’t care if saying something is bad means we will lose our affiliate commission.
  • We look out for fake reviews. We don’t direct our readers to product listings packed with fake reviews (hello Amazon!) thanks to our data analysts who help us uncover fake review activity.

You might think there are just two types of dogs on Instagram: good boys and good girls. But dig a bit deeper, and there are juicier trends to chew on.

Every dog has a unique character. But some breeds share distinct traits. Science has shown how DNA may shape around 15% of a dog breed’s personality: the Labrador is most likely to get anxious when you stop working from home; the Border Collie and the poodle are among the diverse breeds categorizable as “eager learners.”

But how about naughtiness? Protect My Paws wondered if any of these breeds of good boys are – you know – gooder than the others.

To find out, we went back to Instagram. We counted the posts that mentioned a breed along with a popular behavior hashtag (#gooddog, #cleverdog, #cleverpuppy, #baddog, #naughtypuppy, #cheekydog, #muddydog). And then we balanced the positive hashtags against the naughty ones and looked at where they were geotagged.

Finally, we made charts and maps to show which dog breeds are the naughtiest good and which ones are the best-behaved even gooder.

Key Findings

  • The best-behaved dog breed on Instagram is the Korean Jindo Dog, with 75.86% positive behavior tags.
  • Instagram’s naughtiest dog breed is the Japanese Spitz, with 86.67% of Spitz behavior posts reporting bad behavior.
  • South Africa is home to the naughtiest dogs: 87.85% of dog behavior Instagram posts are negative.
  • Ukraine is the land of good boys, with a 96.72% good behavior report.
  • Moscow, Russia, is the city with the best boys (98.41% positive).
  • Canberra, Australia, is the city with the naughtiest dogs (99.74% negative).

The Japanese Spitz is the Naughtiest (or Most Misunderstood) Breed on Instagram

First, let’s look at the breeds with the highest proportions of bad- or good-behavior hashtags.

Public enemy number one is the Japanese Spitz . In fact, the gap between the naughtiness rating of the Spitz (86.67%) and number two, the Shichon (78.38%), is bigger than the gap between the rest of the top 10.

If being affectionate is a crime, the snowball known as the Spitz is going straight to the doghouse. Couple this lack of respect for your personal space with a mischievous sense of humor, and you can expect to be clambered over, interrupted, snuzzled, and maliciously cuddled. What a villain!

The Jindo is an actual national treasure. Native to the South Korean island of Jindo, this loving but independent hunter was declared “ Republic of Korea Cultural Asset No. 53 ” in 1962. Not only that, but the Jindo is a very good dog indeed.

Over centuries, the Jindo’s harsh island environment drove the dog to become “ energetic, watchful, alert, fearless, loyal, and obedient .” Yes, they may be less warm towards strangers – but the Jindo’s keen companionship assures them a positive behavior report in more than three-quarters of Jindo-based Instagram posts. Pointy of ear, with a tight, brindled coat, the Jindo is a credit to their master and their Instagram account.

South African Dogs ‘Mostly Naughty’

Next up, we used Instagram’s geotags to see where all the good and less good dogs are. Disclaimer: they say that there’s no such thing as a bad dog – only a bad owner. While the truth isn’t quite as simple as that, don’t let our study tarnish your impression of a particular country’s dogs. This is Instagram, after all, where even an over-affectionate hug gets a playful #baddog tag.

South Africa is home to the world’s naughtiest dogs, and you’ve got to love them. Just take Mia and Albertus, for example. Not only did these furniture-chomping bulldogs make a meal of mama’s rattan, but they had the audacity to play dead when caught. The dogs of Instagram have an 87.85% naughtiness rating in South Africa.

Slovakia (85.42%) is the second naughtiest country for dogs, followed by Singapore (85.11%), Australia (80.55%), and the UK (80.54%). Meanwhile, there is a distinct ‘best boy bloc’ of Ukraine (3.28%), Russia (5.92%), and Belarus (8.70%).

47 American States Vote ‘Good Boy’

The US puts a new spin on the ‘no bad dogs, only bad owners’ cliché. While human crime soars , most Americans are filing only positive reports about their beloved pooches. Kansas (56.52% naughty) and North Carolina (53.96%) are the only states who vote ‘naughty dog’ – and only by a small margin. South Dakota and West Virginia are neutral. The remaining 47 states reckon their dogs are well-behaved, while the District of Columbia has the highest approval rating of all: 92.42% good dogs.

Of course, these are beloved dogs under review by their adoring owners. Some say that, while Americans have inherited the British affection for the four-legged friend, there remains a cultural divide between the brash Yankee pooch and the more refined European canine – and that more patient, positive, professional training could help bring American dog behavior into line with their owner’s praise on Instagram.

The Good, the Bad, and the Pugly

The canine world is complex. No breed is bad, no dog is flawless (no matter how much they love chewing on the pet door flap), and some good boys are gooder than others. To find where your preferred brand of dog figures in the behavior ranks, check out the full results in our interactive table below.

Click the buttons to switch between the Naughtiest and the Best-Behaved.


To create these tables, we made a list of good and bad dog hashtags ( #gooddog, #cleverdog, #cleverpuppy, #baddog, #naughtypuppy, #cheekydog, #muddydog). Then we made a comprehensive list of dog breeds and analyzed Instagram posts featuring a dog breed and any of those hashtags. (87,886 posts in total.) We then calculated the proportion of good to bad hashtags for each breed to identify the top naughty and well-behaved breeds. 43,367 geotagged posts were analyzed in order to create the maps. The data was gathered in June 2021.


Instagram. (2021). Instagram .

Finances Online (2021). Number of Dogs in the US .

Pet Secure. (2017). Worldwide Pet Ownership.

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