Small dogs often have a lot of personality. Despite their tiny stature, they can get into big trouble without some guidance and training. The good news is that training your small dog basic commands only requires a little bit of know-how and some consistency.
The best way to teach your small dog any new behavior is to learn the power of positive reinforcement as a tool to shape behavior. The three simple commands, 'stay', 'come', and 'spin' that we will show you in the guide will get you well on your way to understanding the foundations of dog training.
Once you and your small dog master these behaviors, you will be able to move on to more complex behaviors and tricks in no time. In addition to bringing your small dog under control, spending time training her will also improve your bond. It is an all-around win!
In addition to giving you step-by-step instructions, this guide will give you some pro tips on training in general so that even if you are new to training your dog, you will hit the ground running.
Before starting in on any of the specific behaviors you want to teach, look over this checklist for some general guidelines to make sure you are getting the most out of your training sessions:
Focus on rewarding success and ignoring failure.
When training your small dog basic commands, you will have the fastest results if your training sessions are positive. This keeps your pup engaged and focused. Think of it like your training session is a game that you are trying to let your dog win.
Keep sessions short.
If your canine gets bored, you have already let the session go on too long. The goal is to stop before she is ready to quit so that she will be left wanting more and look forward to her next session.
Have fun training.
If you find yourself getting impatient or frustrated, rest assured your furry friend knows it, and will be anxious as a result.
Our training methods will use food to motivate your dog. Professional dog trainers use food because it is easy to repeat the reward rapidly during training, without distracting from the lesson at hand. Keep in mind that each time you reinforce behavior with a reward, learning is happening.
To choose the right food for the job, consider using some of your dog's regular kibble, supplemented with a few tiny bits of cheese or cold cuts to keep him guessing. A single pea-sized bit is enough for each reward. When you use your dog’s breakfast or dinner rations to train, you don’t have to worry about adding a ton of calories for the training program.
Food is only used to teach new behaviors. Once learned, you can start to diminish the rate of reward gradually. By starting to use praise instead of food after a behavior is right where you want it, you will eventually fade food rewards. Another trick is to start asking for more than one known behavior before rewarding. Food is a training tool, but you don’t have to be stuck with it forever.
Finally, the basic structure of training includes “marking” then “rewarding.” The “mark” is an audible sound that you will use in training sessions the instant you get what you want, whether that is a step towards final behavior or the behavior itself. You will always say the mark the instant you get the behavior, followed immediately by a food reward.
Let’s take a look at how this works when training your small dog basic commands: