How to Train Your Small Dog to Ask Permission

Medium
4-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Small dogs are known to be little tyrants. They can sometimes be pushier than big dogs and even more demanding. Teaching your small dog some manners can help tip the power scale in the household and teach your dog that "nothing in life is free." One of the best ways to establish ground rules with your small dog is to teach her how to ask permission for things that she wants like food, playtime, and affection.

Just because it's easy to pick up a small dog and move her, doesn't mean she shouldn't learn how to ask for the things she wants instead of demanding them. Jumping, barking, and rushing between your legs can be dangerous and frustrating habits to break. When you teach your small dog to ask for permission, she will learn her place in the household and give you some peace of mind.

Defining Tasks

Teaching a small dog to ask for permission is similar to teaching big dogs, but there are a few considerations. First, you need to train at her level. Standing over her can be intimidating to her and painful for your back. You can kneel or sit to make yourself closer to the ground. You also need to make sure your reactions are calm and quiet. You look like a giant to her, so any big movements can be frightening. Be sure you are rewarding her with small treats or cut them into tiny pieces. She can't eat as much as a bigger dog, and you don't want her to fill up before you've made any progress.

Teaching your small dog to ask for permission will take a little bit of time, but it will be well worth the effort. Instead of jumping on you or barking for food, she will sit quietly and wait. Teaching her some manners can change your relationship and the relationship of the entire household.

Getting Started

To begin this journey from demanding to demure, you'll need to start with a few items. These will help you with your training and make sure you accomplish your goal.
  • A quiet place to train
  • High-value treats like bits of cheese or sausage cut up very small
  • A mat or small blanket
  • A leash
  • Lots of patience
The last item is the most important on the list. If your dog is older and has been displaying these habits for a while, you'll need to take your time. Teaching your small dog to ask permission when she is a puppy is the best way to create good habits that won't need to be changed. Read through the three methods for training your small dog to ask permission below and pick the best one for you. Soon you'll be on your way to a well-mannered household.

The Default Method

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Step
1
Choose a quiet space
Find a quiet room with no distractions to begin the training.
Step
2
Decide on a default behavior
Choose which behavior you want your dog to default to instead of jumping and barking to get attention. It could be a 'sit' or a 'down'.
Step
3
Stand quietly with your dog
Bring your dog into the room and stand quietly. Do not ask for the desired behavior and ignore any other attempts for attention.
Step
4
Reward the behavior
When she does the behavior you want, immediately give her a treat or mark it with a clicker.
Step
5
Keep practicing
Continue practicing until she begins to do the behavior consistently.
Step
6
Move on to new activities
Move this new behavior to meal times or when she wants to go outside. Hold her bowl and wait for her to sit before you put it down. Wait for her to sit before you open the door. Soon she will know that sitting means to ask permission and she will do it regularly when she wants something of you.
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The Nothing in Life is Free Method

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Step
1
Choose a behavior you want
First choose a behavior you would rather your dog do before he gets the things he wants. Most people choose 'sit'
Step
2
Reinforce the 'stay' command
Once your dog is sitting quietly, you want to reinforce the 'wait' or 'stay' command. You want your dog to wait until you release him.
Step
3
Nothing in life is free
Begin to ask for a 'sit' and 'stay' before you do anything with your dog. Make him sit and stay before meal times, before you give him affection, before he goes on walks, before you invite him on the furniture.
Step
4
Make this behavior a habit
Praise and reward your dog when he asks your permission by giving him what he wants, whether it's food, attention, or play time. Always wait to release him until you are ready.
Step
5
Get family and friends involved
Make sure all family members and friends who visit with your dog get in the habit too. Have them ask the dog to sit before they give him attention, play, or food. Soon your best friend will learn that asking permission with a 'sit' works better than demanding what he wants.
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The Leash Method

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Step
1
Start at home
Begin by choose a quiet room at home. Sprinkle some kibble on the floor.
Step
2
Leash your dog
Put your dog on a leash and walk him into the room.
Step
3
Wait for the desired behavior
Wait until he looks at you. As soon as he makes eye contact tell him "yes" and let him eat some of the kibble. Don't cue or prompt him to do anything else. Just wait for the eye contact and mark that behavior.
Step
4
Sometimes, say "no"
Once your dog begins to consistently look at you to ask permission before eating the kibble, start to say "no" occasionally. You can say "not now" and call him to you for a treat. Practice saying "yes" and saying "no" after he asks permission in the house.
Step
5
Practice in controlled places
Practice this behavior in different rooms of the house, outside in the yard or on quiet sidewalks. Sometimes say "yes" and sometimes say "no" to his requests, but always reward him for asking permission.
Step
6
Up the difficulty
Once he is good at asking permission, you can take this method out to a walk in the woods or with other dogs. When he consistently asks permission and listens to your response, you can try it without the leash.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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