Small breed puppies are adorable. Few can resist the tiny ball of fur with those huge eyes. What makes training these little guys different from training any other puppy? Primarily, it is that cuteness factor combined with their small size, intelligence, and delicate physique.
Being aware of these important training details can help you train safely and effectively. Effective training will help your small dog use good manners, develop into an emotionally secure adult and cement a lifelong bond between you and your small dog. Here are some tips compiled from well-known dog training experts.
Make sure you have all the supplies you will need to welcome your puppy to its new home. That includes supplies scaled to small-breed dogs. You will need small-breed food, food dishes, toys, bed, crate or gate for confinement, leash, collar, and anything else you will need for your environment.
Having what you need handy will help keep the excitement and anxiety level lower when the puppy arrives at its new home. As part of your preparation, read about the breed characteristics of the puppy you have chosen and anticipate what your puppy may need along those lines. Perhaps your small-breed puppy is super-intelligent, and the puppy would love a small-breed toy designed to stimulate that trait.
Consistency may the most important key to effective training, especially with small breeds. They are so cute that it’s easy to ignore some of their antics. However, you cannot allow your puppy to take advantage of cuteness. Small breed puppies that become used to having their way can turn into unpleasant snappy and demanding dogs.
Lack of consistency can also lead to confusion about the rules of behavior. Puppies that are confused about the rules of behavior can become insecure adults, and this insecurity can manifest in unpleasant neurotic behaviors. Insecurity can cause the dog to be afraid. It is not the dog’s fault.
To help develop consistency, establish a daily routine and stick to it as best you can. Consistency means feeding, walking, playing, sleeping at the same times each day, with the schedule evolving as the puppy matures. It also means picking a word command and always using the same word command, such as “no”, “sit”, “off”, etc., when telling it what to do. It means never allowing the puppy to chew on furniture, your fingers, or anything inappropriate. By the way, puppies and dogs need to chew, so when you see it starting to chew on something, tell it “no”, and then give it something appropriate to chew on. By the time the puppy is an adult dog, it will prefer to chew on things that are appropriate.
Make yourself smaller when you are getting to know your puppy. Use a softer voice, quieter gestures, and remember that the puppy is smaller than almost everything else in its environment. You are a giant in the puppy’s eyes, so realize that your size is intimidating to the puppy. At first, try to avoid direct eye contact, which is confrontational language when dogs first meet other dogs for the first time and sit or squat low when you interact with the puppy until it knows you.
When you start training the puppy, you should squat or sit, otherwise, your back will pay for it. With treats, use really tiny treats to avoid overfeeding. Learn how to use a target stick in your puppy training. When you begin teaching it to walk on a leash, you will want to use a target stick to avoid having to bend over frequently to teach the puppy to heel.
When your small breed puppy does something good, use its name and tell your puppy in a happy and soft tone of voice what a good puppy it is. If your puppy does something really good, like comes when you call, make it a party! Give lots of love and a treat. Once your puppy learns a command, only give a treat once in a while when it obeys that command.
We, humans, love to pick up small dogs and cuddle them in our arms. You can startle your puppy when you suddenly scoop it into the air. Before long, your puppy may avoid or resist being picked up. One training tip that will help both of you is to teach your puppy a “pick-up” signal. Choose a word, such as “pickup” or another unique word command, and use it as you place your hands under its body and lift the puppy slightly. Give it a moment to let it understand that you are about to pick it up. Your puppy will learn what is coming and will not be afraid.
On the point of picking up your small puppy, try to limit the frequency of it. The puppy needs to learn confidence in walking along with you and be able to face the world on its own four feet. This includes meeting and interacting with new people and new dogs. This lets the puppy know it has some freedom in movement and helps it to develop good canine social skills. Of course, you need to protect the puppy from potentially dangerous situations, which may include picking it up.
When your small breed puppy misbehaves, use a stern, yet the gentle tone of voice. Make sure it is clearly different in tone from your happy praise tone of voice. You do not need to yell or be harsh. And never, ever hit or spank the puppy. Be aware that small breeds may be very sensitive and easily intimidated and easily injured. Even aggressive leash pulling can cause serious or even fatal injuries. Negative reinforcement can mean simply turning your back to your small dog when it jumps on you. Tell it to sit, and then pet it when it sits. Be sure to use positive reinforcement at least twice as often as you use negative reinforcement.
Also, be aware that many small breeds are very intelligent. They learn quickly and will get bored and ignore you if you keep running through the same training routine over and over. When that happens, just do something else.
Regular game playing with your puppy will help it learn boundaries, such as being careful where it puts its teeth. Play will also reinforce your role as being a source of fun as well as security.
Professional training can make the job of training so much easier. Both you and your puppy will learn what to do, and your relationship with your dog will be that much better. If your budget is limited, take your puppy to a group puppy training class at your local pet store. You will both have loads of fun.
That, of course, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. Before, this training phase was being delayed until 6 months of age, but it seems that this is something that has to be done as soon as possible after birth.
It can learn simple commands as `sit`, `down` and `stay` as young as 7-8 weeks of age. The pup has nothing but to learn in the juvenile stage, so it is important that it is taught what it should do so it makes everyone happy, not just itself.
The best and most used technique is positive reinforcement when the pup stops barking (something like ` GOOD boy, now HUSH! ` – with a calm voice, of course – and then giving it a treat) and also ignoring it if the barking doesn’t stop.
Positive reinforcement all over again. You could try this: for a period, most of the time, just pet it and give it treats when it sits quietly and calmly. Ask all your guests you’re having over to do the same.