How to Train a Small Dog

A corgi on a leash

All dogs benefit from training, no matter their breed size. Often, there’s a misconception that smaller dogs are lower maintenance or that they don’t respond to training as well as larger breed dogs. However, training a small dog is no different than training larger breeds and you might be surprised by how much your small dog is capable of learning. Read on to learn how to train a small dog with these simple training tips.

Training a Small Dog 

The time you spend having fun and playing with your dog can also be used to introduce basic training. By simply encouraging good behaviour and ignoring (never punishing) unwanted behaviour, you can teach your dog good habits that will make your time with your dog more enjoyable. Here are two tips to get started:

  1. Start early. Some small dog breeds can have strong personalities that can make them challenging to train. It’s important to start training and opening your dog up to new experiences as early as possible, ideally within the first 15 weeks of your pet’s life.
  2. Socialize your dog. Simply put, socialization means getting your small dog used to new sights, sounds, people and other dogs while he’s still a puppy.

Small Dog Training Tips

Before you get started, it’s important that your small dog learns some basic commands and develops good behaviour habits. Below are some basic training tips to get started on training a small dog.

Teach basic commands

The first step to training your small dog is to teach him some basic commands. Commands such as “sit”, “stay” and “come” are essential for your small dog to learn as they can help remove him from potentially dangerous situations and keep him safe. Once you select a word for your command, make sure to use the word consistently and to use a consistent and controlled tone of voice during training.

Choose a ‘reward’

Some dogs are motivated by food as a reward. You can give your small dog a treat or a piece of kibble as a reward for learning. However, you must account for this in your dog’s daily food allowance. Also, while treats are a great way to start teaching your small dog commands, praise and cuddles should eventually become the main way that you reward your dog.

Prevent separation anxiety

Separation anxiety can be a problem in small dogs, but there are steps that you can take in puppyhood to prevent your small dog from becoming anxious as an adult. For instance, you can use stair gates to encourage your small dog to spend time away from you without getting upset.

Also, you can occasionally pick up your keys and then put them down again without leaving so that your dog doesn’t learn to associate this sound with you leaving the house. Also, when you do leave the house always make sure your dog has fresh water, a place to rest and plenty of toys and puzzles to keep him busy.

Combine training sessions with exercise

You can use walks and playtime as a way to train your dog too. Playing a gentle game of tug-of-war can teach your dog how to share and playing fetch can be a great way to teach your small dog to come to you when called. If you live in an urban area, it’s often recommended to let your dog play in open spaces whenever you can. Doing so invites more distractions, so it’s a great way to train your dog and test out new commands.

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