Jump to section
You loved your previous dog to bits, but there was one big problem....he growled, snapped, and lunged at visitors to the house. Oh yes, neither was his recall good, to the point that he always had to be walked on an extending lead. In fact, truth be but told, he rather ruled the roost.
This time, with a new puppy, you're determined to do things differently. However, when that dog is teeny tiny you are worried that he either won't listen or you are going to hurt him. In truth, neither of these eventualities has to be the case when you know how to train a small dog.
Indeed, training makes for a dog that feels more secure because he knows you are in charge. Plus, he'll adore all that one-to-one attention that training involves. So don't be hesitant about expecting the same standards of obedience from a Mini-Pom as you would from a German Shepherd!
Just because a dog is small, doesn't excuse them from being well-trained. Unfortunately, what often happens is the owner uses their superior size to control a small dog, rather than relying on the four-legger being obedient.
However, training a dog doesn't have to be hard work, and when you do it correctly it can actually strengthen the bond between you. In addition, training provides vital mental stimulation and reduce the risk of bad behaviors that are the result of boredom.
In short, approach training a Mini-Pom in much the same way you would a big dog, ...but with a few considerations for his smaller size.
Training a miniature Pomeranian takes a little bit more thought and planning than for a larger dog. However, there's no reason why he can't be trained and become an obedient and responsible canine.
To do this you will need:
- Bite-sized treats: Nice and small so the dog doesn't interrupt training to sit down and chew for 10 minutes.
- A bag or pouch: This keeps the treats handy and makes training easier.
- A table: To raise the dog up off the floor so he can watch you more easily.
- A towel: To provide a non-slip surface.
- A clicker: Optional, but this is a great way of marking the exact moment the dog does as asked.
- A favorite toy: This can be used as an incentive for Mini-Poms that aren't food motivated
The Reward-Based Training Method
Why Reward-based training?
You want your mini Pom to love and trust you, and yet be obedient? Then reward-based training is the way ahead. This training method encourages the dog to behave by rewarding good behavior and ignoring or distracting him from bad. The dog then has a strong motivation for doing what he's told, since good things happen when he does and there's no incentive to misbehave.
Find your Mini-Pom's motivator
If your Mini-Pom is food motivated then training is easy. Simply use tiny tasty treats as his rewards. Use something super-interesting like tiny cubes of cheese or chicken. Remember, keep the rewards small as you don't want him to spend ages chewing. If your Mini-Pom isn't bothered about food, then use a favorite toy to motivate him. When he does as asked give him lots of praise and attention, and when he completes a particularly tricky command give him a game with that beloved toy.
Understand the importance of timing
It's crucial that somehow you let the dog know what the reward is for. If the two actions (obeying and getting a reward) are distant from each other, the dog won't realize how he earned the goodies. One option is to simply say "Yes" in an excited voice, when the dog obeys, and then give the treat within 2 - 3 seconds. If you delay beyond this there's a risk the dog won't make the link.
An example of a simple command
Let's look at reward-based training in action with teaching 'sit'. Hold a treat between your finger and thumb so the dog can sniff it but not eat it. Raise the treat slowly in an arc over and behind the Mini-Pom's head. To follow the treat his bottom will automatically sink to the ground. Immediately as this happens and he's sitting, say "Yes" then give the treat. Keep repeating.
Add in a cue word
Once the dog starts to anticipate what's expected when you move the treat, and offering a sit, you can start to label the action and put it on command. Simply say "Sit" as his bottom sinks down. The dog will soon learn what's expected when he hears the words "Sit" and offer this behavior on cue.
The Think Like a Mini-Pom Method
Why 'Think like a Mini-Pom'?
When you're teeny tiny the world looks a big intimidating place. Your owner is like a giant towering over you and it can be difficult to see or hear what's going on. In addition, you may be more concerned with not getting trodden on than listening to commands. When you take these factors into account and adapt training accordingly, things will go more smoothly.
Train on a table
Raise the Mini-Pom up to a level where you can better make eye contact and the dog can hear you easily. If you don't want to raise the dog up, then sit down on the floor and work on his level. Just be careful not to leave the dog unattended in case he falls off. Also, place a towel or something to make the surface non-slip so that he feels more secure.
Work with the dog
A dog that's full of energy will be more interested in play than in paying attention. It's a good idea to give him a short walk or a game of tug, to burn of excess energy ahead of expecting him to concentrate.
Plan for bad behavior
Your Mini-Pom is likely to misbehave, be that barking, chewing, or toileting where he shouldn't. Plan ahead and know how you will respond. If you catch him in 'the act' then a short sharp "No!" is sufficient, then distract him and ask him to perform a command you know he can do (such as 'sit') so that you can reward good behavior.
Build his self-confidence
Your Mini-Pom will learn more quickly if he regards training as fun or even a game. During training keep the mood light and happy, and go over the top with praise when he does well. Also, end each training session with a command the dog knows and can do, so that things end on a positive note.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Overtire the Mini-Pom
Your mini-pom may have a short attention span, so work with this rather than against it. If necessary, go for several shorter sessions spaced over the day, rather than one long session.
Do: Work on basic commands
Great commands to teach that will put you in control in the majority of circumstances include 'Sit', 'Stay', 'Down', 'Look', and 'Come'.
Do: Expect your Mini-Pom to be obedient
Have you heard of Small Dog Syndrome? This is when a small dog gets above himself and will often growl or snap in order to keep his owner in line. This happens because the owner allowed their dog to behave badly simply because he is small. Instead, you should expect the same level of obedience from a Mini-Pom as you should from a Rottweiler - accept nothing less!
Don't: Punish the dog
Physical or verbal punishment of any dog is unacceptable. With a miniature dog there's the additional risk of causing actual physical harm. Indeed, shouting at the dog can raise his anxiety levels and make him more likley to become aggressive - as a means of sticking up for himself.
Don't: Accidentally reward bad behavior
Be careful not to make a fuss when the dog misbehaves, such as barking. In a dog's mind your attention is valuable, even when the attention comes in the form of telling him off.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 04/10/2018, edited: 01/08/2021