Obedience Training for Small Dogs

Small dog owners often feel less compelled to train their dogs since they are easily controlled, but obedience training is important no matter how big (or small) your dog is. Obedience training is similar for all dogs, but there are certain things to consider when training your small dog.

Fear Behaviors

Many small dogs develop fear behaviors because the world is much bigger than they are and they learn there is much to fear. These behaviors often cause small dogs to bark excessively or even snap at people or other dogs. This should be taken just as seriously as if you had a 100-pound dog. Small dogs can cause injury when biting and should be taught to be calm.

This is done the same way as it is with larger dogs. Find a safe distance from the fearful object and give your dog treats for noticing the object and not reacting. Gradually, move closer being careful not to cause a reaction in your dog. Keep session short. If your dog reacts, you're moving too fast.

No matter what is happening, though, do not pick up your dog. This teaches your fearful dog that if he wants to get bigger, he just needs to react. Ignore reactions by turning and walking the other way.

Jumping and Nipping

Small dogs jump and nip just like big dogs do. Though your Yorkie won't knock over grandma the way a lab would, these behaviors still need to be trained. Not everyone wants dogs jumping on them or nipping them.

When your dog jumps, ignore him completely. Walk right past him and only greet when he has all four feet on the floor. When you have company, keep your dog on a leash. Only allow him access to company when he is calm.

For nipping, yell "ouch" as soon as your dog's teeth come in contact with your skin. Offer a toy. If he takes it, continue playing. If he nips again, repeat the yell and storm out of the room. Return a few minutes later to try again.

Loose-Leash Walking

Pulling is especially dangerous for smaller dogs because any type of tugging on the leash can cause trachea damage, making it harder for your dog to breathe later in life. A harness will help a little, but you also want to train your dog not to pull.

Even though you can physically manipulate your small dog with the leash, avoid doing this. Teach your dog to solve the problem himself. When your dog pulls, stop. When your dog turns to look at you and makes the leash loose without you pulling, praise and continue walking. Don't let him pull you to anything. Make him earn it by walking politely.

Small dogs can be taught how to heel, but it is more difficult because it's physically difficult for dogs and owners. Small dogs will be uncomfortable looking up for a long period of time, and it can be exhausting, bending over to reward.

When training small dogs, consider carrying a long spoon with peanut butter or liver paste smeared on it. Then, you can drop it down without having to constantly bend over.

Small dogs are very intelligent and can learn all the skills big dogs can learn. Just begin to train and you'll be amazed at what your small dog can do.