How do wild, rowdy puppies grow into good, well-mannered dogs? By training that starts early – before you even get a dog!
Prior to bringing home an adorable Pom, owners first need to research and understand the traits and temperament of the breed, and study dog behaviour so that those bewildering puppy mannerisms are more easily understood. If you understand general dog behaviour, it is less likely that your puppy will become a problem dog in the future. Training your dog will also be easier if you understand how Poms tend to behave.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Training is important
- 2 Training for manners & more
- 3 Crate training
- 4 House training
- 5 Lead training
- 6 Time to get formal
- 7 Basic Obedience
- 8 Consistently clear
Training is important
Being able to turn a Pomeranian into a well-behaved member of your family or a model of canine good citizenship begins the moment you walk through the door and establish the ton for acceptable behaviour. The earlier you begin, the easier it is to shape your dog’s manners.
Teaching a puppy how to live with you in your home goes far beyond feeding and house training. It requires a daily endeavour that establishes the ground rules for your Pom and forms the basis for a lifetime of good behaviour.
Dogs are quick studies and can learn new behaviour almost every day – even if its only learning how not to get caught when they break a house training rule. It’s easier to train as you go than to untrain a dog’s bad habits. you teach your dog bad habits if you ignore a problem when it arises. Don’t encourage behaviour in a pup that you will not tolerate for his entire life. Don’t confuse your dog by accepting a behaviour one day, then changing the rules tomorrow. In other words, don’t permit your Pom to engage in behaviour which he will later have to unlearn, then relearn the correct behaviour.
Since dogs don’t come pre-trained and knowing exactly what is expected of them in your home, it’s up to you to teach them in a loving manner which behaviours are correct and which are not. In the first days after his homecoming, while the relationship between you and your Porn is just being forged, you may be surprised-but delighted-to discover that one of the most important reasons to train your dog is because the interaction that comes through training will bond you and your dog closely to each other.
Training for manners & more
We live with dogs because they’re beautiful to behold, fun to play with, and mostly because we love them and they love us. They’re a joy to be around…if they are good dogs. Dogs that behave badly are not so much a pleasure as they are a pain. Even the extra-adorable Pom needs to be well-mannered in order to be a joy with which to live.
To your dog, your home is his den and your family is his pack. Just like in a pack, there are rules for acceptable behaviour which he must learn. He must also learn to fit into his place in the family structure, with you as the head of the pack. This is pack hierarchy, a ”pecking order” which dogs understand and respect.
Good doggy manners can compare to well-behaved children who act appropriately in any home or public place. Of course this means house training, but it also means abiding by house rules, being polite with company, good table manners, and getting along with others – of multiple species.
Specifically, you will need to determine what the rules are going to be for your dog in your home. Will he be allowed on the furniture? When guests arrive, do you want to him lie down calmly until you give a signal that he may greet them? Is he supposed to stay out of the trash? Should he to remain quiet when he rides in the car? Some owners may not mind if their dogs bark their heads off when on an outing, or if they jump up on them when they return home, but if this is unacceptable behaviour for your Pomeranian, either in private or in public, then you will need to teach him how to act.
Even though Poms like to be in charge, your dog will look to you first for clues on how to behave, and for you to be the leader. Don’t disappoint him. Set the rules and abide by them. Just make certain they are reasonable and fair. Be consistent in when and where you enforce the rules. Don’t let a cute look and wagging tail con you into accepting bad behaviour.
Remember, if you don’t take the lead and give your Pom guidance, he will assume command and make up his own rules as he goes along. If he decides to grab a morsel from your breakfast plate and you laugh at how precious he looks eating your buttered toast in the middle of your sofa, you have conveyed to him that it’s acceptable to do this. In his mind he will see this as meaning that he’s now in charge and can do as he pleases, and have what he wants, when and where he wants. You’ve reinforced bad manners and placed his pack status above your own.
As incredible as dogs are, they are not capable of running a household. Your Pomeranian’s confidence and security, and his ability to be a well-behaved companion, all hinge upon your ability to be a strong leader and good teacher. Dogs who believe that they are in charge, and are allowed to behave as they please are not just problem dogs-they are under stress and stressed dogs are not happy dogs. Heading up your pack is a lot of pressure to put on such a small creature.
Despite a streak of wilfulness and a penchant to persist in obtaining his own way, the Pom usually prefers to receive his owner’s hearty approval. By telling him precisely what you expect, showing him how to do (or not do) what you want and then lavishing him with praise when he obeys, your dog will blossom into a well-mannered companion.
It’s also important to remember that since your dog is part of the family, it is essential that every member of your household understand and abide by the’ pack” rules. Although one individual should be primarily responsible for determining these rules, everyone else needs to agree with them and support your dog’s learning process.
Before your new Pom comes through your door for the first time, you should have his own space ready and waiting for him. A crate is a “room” for your dog, just like a bedroom is for a Child. Crates are not little prisons for dogs. They are a safe and secure, personal haven where your dog can eat, retreat, rest, recover, and even play in peace. Selecting the proper crate should be near the top of your list of things to do before bringing your new dog home.
Position your Pom’s crate in a location that is dry, warm, and free from drafts in the winter, but equally pleasant in the summer months. Your dog should be able to see, or at least hear and smell you from his crate.
It should be in a room where you spend much of your time, such as your bedroom. With a young puppy, it is best to set up the crate near your bed at night. Other possible locations are the kitchen or a family room, places that are central to household activities, conveniently close to feeding and a door to the dog yard, but not in the way of traffic from people entering or leaving the house. Folding crates, such as those made by Nylabone, have the added value and convenience of being easy to store away when not in use.
Once you have placed the crate and prepared it (see Chapter 3), you will need to teach your dog that this is his own, special place. Show him that it is a space he can enjoy just for himself. Entice him into the crate for the first time by putting a few treats in the back. Allow him. to wander in on his own, sniff the space and wander back out. Don’t shove him in and shut the door.
A couple of safe toys will make the crate a place where he wants to stay. Feeding him his meals in the crate will also help your Pom realize that his crate is a good place to be.
How long it takes your dog to accept the crate as his personal space varies. Some dogs become attached to their crates immediately, particularly if their breeder used crates with her dogs. Others may take a few days to get used to the concept, and a few may resist, pawing at the door and barking to get out every time you latch the door.
This isn’t because your dog is claustrophobic. Claustrophobia can occur in dogs, but it is extremely rare. Most dogs just want to get out to be with you, to explore or play somewhere else, or to engage in another activity. Because crate-training is a cornerstone to good behaviour, including house training, it’s important that you continue to work with your Pom in order to teach him to accept his crate. Don’t give in to your dog’s efforts to convince you that being in his crate is a terrible torture which he cannot survive. Gently tap your finger against the front-top of the crate and tell him, ”settle” or ”quiet.” When he calms down, even if it’s only for a short while, you can praise him and let him out. Continue working with him to accept his crate by placing him back into it again with a few treats.
As your dog adapts to the routine and enters his crate on his own, praise him. When you first begin crate training use a phrase like, ”get in your crate” or ”go to bed,” while gently directing him into the crate where a few treats await him. Soon he will begin to associate your request with being crated, as well enjoy being there. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog rests in his crate, until he is used to being crated quietly for at least an hour or two.
Crates are not a substitute for supervising your dog or taking care of him. Puppies need a potty break about every two hours; adult dogs should not be crated more than fours hours at a time without a break. Even with outdoor breaks, your dog should not be crated longer than a total of eight to nine hours a day, except for during the night beside your bed, when he is very young. Even then, it is likely he will need a mid-night trip outdoors to relieve himself.
Besides serving as your dog’s den, a crate will help keep him safe and out of trouble when you can’t watch him, A crate also provides him a space where he can get away from activity when the household is busy, and keep him from escaping or getting stepped on when company visits. The crate is not only your Pom’s home in miniature, it is an excellent training tool which should soon become one of your dog’s favourite places.
Puppies are little urine and faeces factories. Put even a little food or water in the front end and in a short while far less pleasant substances are guaranteed to come out the back-preferably not inside on your floors. There’s nothing quite as inconvenient, embarrassing, and destructive about a puppy as finding one of their piddle puddles soaked into the carpet.
Reliable house training is one of the most important lessons an owner can teach a dog. Although it is probably the most time-consuming and tedious training job that you tackle, it is critical that you don’t take any short-cuts, overlook mishaps, or accept failure in the early stages. To do so practically ensures a lifetime of wet, smelly stains on your carpet.
House-training a Puppy
Before you bring your puppy home, designate an outdoor area for him to use as his ”toilet.” Access from indoors should be convenient to reaching the spot in all types weather. If you use a different door other than the one he exits for play, walks or rides, it may help your dog understand that this means it’s time for him to do his business. Ideally, your dog’s potty area will also be located close to where you can efficiently dispose of faeces when you clean the yard.
Right from the first moment you bring your new dog home, take him directly to his spot and allow him to investigate and smell it thoroughly. Give him a sufficient chance to relieve himself on his own, but don’t stay so long he becomes confused as to why he’s there. Encourage him to ”go potty.” If he does, praise him exuberantly as if he has achieved something amazing and wonderful-which he has. Just don’t be so enthusiastic that you scare him. If your dog doesn’t potty after awhile, take him inside and crate him.
Crates serve as excellent house-training tools by teaching your puppy bladder and bowel control. Dogs are born with a natural instinct to keep their dens clean. When your puppy is confined in his crate he will avoid eliminating in order not to soil himself or his sleeping area. However, keep in mind that a puppy has limited control and storage capacity and needs to be taken out frequently, which means a young Pom will usually need to urinate at least every two hours, and after he eats, after he has a treat, after playing, after napping, in the morning when he wakes up, and at night before he goes to bed.
Whenever you let your puppy out of his crate, take him straight to his toilet area. You can’t just put him outside and hope he goes; you have to go with him to make certain that he does. It is absolutely essential that you praise, praise, praise him when he does potty. Praise him so much that you sound silly and your neighbours think you are crazy. Your puppy must clearly realize that his relieving himself outdoors makes him a good dog and you an ecstatic owner. A little treat offered as reward may help reinforce the behaviour with some Pomeranians.
Don’t play with your puppy or allow him to wander around exploring while you are waiting for him to empty his bladder. He needs to understand the difference between play time and potty time. If he doesn’t go when you take him out and give him the command, ”go potty,” return him to his crate and try again in 30 minutes or so. Your puppy must earn the privilege of staying out of his crate by eliminating outside.
Once he has toileted, he can remain outside his crate for exercise, play, and snuggling. But you must not let him out of your sight, as he needs to be observed every single second for any indication that he’s about to empty his bladder. Puppies often realize quite suddenly that they need to urinate without giving you much warning. But if you are watching, you should notice at least some subtle signs such as a rapid Shift in attention, sniffing, circling, running back and forth, a sudden burst of frantic activity, or an awkward movement that looks as if he’s trying to decide if he wants to sit down. Rush him to his toilet spot and instruct him to ”go potty” if you see any of these or other signals. Fortunately, the signs that your puppy is about to evacuate his bowels occur on a more regular basis, usually within a few minutes to an hour after eating, and are more easily detected. Dogs about to defecate usually walk in a pattern, such as a circle, and hunch their back up while bending into a partial squat. When you see your puppy start to do this, get him outside quickly. Or better yet, take him out after he finishes eating. Even though it may be time for your dog to go back into his crate, if he has just toileted, allow him a few more minutes of freedom so he learns that toileting outdoors means he gets more time out of his crate with you and his toys.
Confinement is a key element in teaching your Pom where it is acceptable for him to eliminate and where it is not. Start with his crate, then a room, and eventually the rest of the house. As your puppy gets the idea that your entire home is also his den and must be kept free of his waste, you can gradually expand the areas where he is allowed as long as he remains under your watchful supervision. Do not permit him into more space than you can watch until he is reliably potty trained.
One way to insure constant supervision is the ”umbilical” method. Put a puppy harness on your Porn and clip it to a long lead which is tethered to your belt, belt loop, waist, or wrist. Your dog will be where you can always see him yet able to play as he likes while you are likewise able to engage in other activities. When he moves, you can tell if he is just playing or about to relieve himself, and react by promptly taking him out.
Despite your vigilance, there will be times when your puppy Will have an accident in the house. You can catch him in the act if you are supervising him. First, interrupt him by startling him. Use a phrase like, “not inside” or ”outside,” and immediately scoop him up even if he is still going. Set him down in his toilet spot where he can finish the job he started and urge him to ”go toilet outside.”
Back indoors at the accident site, do not ever, under any circumstances, scold your puppy, hit him, or rub his nose in the mess. This is punishment, not training, and he will learn nothing from your reaction. Instead, return him to his crate as soon as you bring him back inside, then thoroughly clean the spot. It is important that your dog understands that it is not his elimination which is the problem, rather the location indoors of the elimination that is inappropriate.
The papers or rag with which you blot up the urine can be placed in his outdoor toilet area so he understands that this is where he is supposed to eliminate. Smelling his urine in his potty area and telling him, ”good spot,” can help reinforce the idea that emptying his bladder outside is good behaviour which earns him rewards.
With his keen canine nose, your Pom may be able to detect a lingering odour of urine even though you have cleaned the spot where he eliminated. Smelling this odour may cause him to think he should urinate there again. It may be possible to teach your dog that this is not correct behaviour by telling him, ”bad spot,” and moving him away from the area and into another activity. Regardless, clean the spot again with a product that eliminates the odour of urine, and keep pursuing your dog’s house-training.
On occasion, uncontrollable events like severe weather, illness, or injury may interrupt your dog’s routine. For example, some Pomeranians will refuse to go out to potty if it’s raining. Or some owners may live in high rise buildings, and taking a puppy or dog out at frequent intervals may be difficult, time-consuming, or inconvenient. Because of their small size, it is possible in these circumstances to provide your Pomeranian with alternate potty options. High-rise dwellers can place a sod box on a balcony or patio. Poms can also be taught to use a litter box. And puppy pads or newspapers can be laid on the bathroom, basement, or garage floor for special circumstances. Teach your dog to use these alternate facilities using the same techniques as for outdoor potty training.
House-training an Adult
When adopting an adult dog who has come from a shelter or rescue group, it is likely that he might not be house-trained or may have forgotten his house-training. With these dogs, it is necessary to go back to the beginning and start with step one, exactly as you would with a puppy. Although adult dogs are usually capable of holding their urine longer than a puppy, there may be concurrent health problems which will necessitate going out just as often.
Keep in mind that small dogs in general and Pomeranians in particular may present more of a challenge to house-train to total reliability. Breeders and rescue volunteers rate them as moderately difficult to house-train.
”As puppies, they are usually easy to house-train, or if you just have one [adult] dog,” note Mary Jane and Dan Coss, rescue volunteers and Pomeranian owners from Ohio. ”But with some rescues, older dogs, or multiple Poms at the same time, it may be almost impossible to house-train them completely.”
Intact males, particularly those who have been used for breeding, have a strong urge to mark by urinating on items in their territory. Indoors this includes furniture and carpeting. Unspayed females may also have a greater inclination to urinate indoors. The Cosses try to impress the importance of spaying and neutering, partly as an aid to house-training. ”Males should be neutered as soon as they start lifting their leg to urinate,” they suggest, ”By then, they want to mark and are nearly impossible to house-train if they are not neutered.”
Regardless of the circumstances, remember that faithful adherence to house-training routines are essential if your dog is going to become-and remain-the clean, well-behaved, indoor companion he was bred to be.
Walking with your dog should be a pleasure. But as soon as some puppies feel that first tug from a leash, they resist. A few may even lay down or make sounds that closely resemble a ”scream.” However your pup reacts, before you and he can go for a walk together, he needs to be leash trained.
Since Poms may be prone to tracheal (throat) problems, hooking a leash to a neck collar may not be the best option. A harness that is loose enough not to tangle fur but tight enough that your dog can’t slip out of it is a good choice.
Poms who are larger than average in size may do all right with a flat, nylon collar that has a break-away buckle, but ask your veterinarian’s advice about which is best for your dog. Select a size that is slightly larger than your puppy’s neck and adjust it so that you can easily slip two to three fingers beneath it when fastened. Make certain to adjust it as your puppy grows.
A few dogs will scratch or attempt to bite at a harness or collar when you first put it on them, but most adapt to it. Because many owners do not keep a collar or harness on their Pom all the time to prevent the fur from becoming matted, it may take a little training to get your dog to accept having something around his chest or neck. When he learns that the harness is associated with the pleasure of going for a walk, he should quickly get used to wearing it.
Choose a leash that is long enough to easily reach your Pom’s short level without forcing him to stretch or pull. The material should be durable without too much weight, and the handle should be comfortable for you to hold.
To get your puppy used to being on lead, work with him indoors first. Let him smell the leash before clipping it to his harness. Then let him drag the leash around behind him, while you supervise to make certain it does not get caught on the furniture. As he gets used to the presence of the leash, pick up the end and entice him with a treat to come while gently reeling him towards you.
Another technique teaches the puppy that you are connected to each other through the leash. Put his harness on him, then clip the leash to it. While holding the end, let your dog walk around and you follow him. Most dogs will respond with curiosity. Once you have his attention, show him a treat, then walk away from him while retaining hold of the leash. Use the treat to entice him to follow you. Praise him and offer treats as he follows you around.
Once your puppy is comfortable with the leash and harness, take him outside and repeat the process. If he is resistant, let him first wander to objects he wants to investigate, then teach him to go where you want him to go by coaxing him with a reward. Remember to praise him when he walks on lead under your control. Your Pom will learn that his leash is usually associated with pleasant activities.
Time to get formal
There is probably no better learning experience for your dog than that of a formal training class. It exposes him to a large variety of new dogs, people, sounds, smells, sights, and interesting situations. It stimulates his mind and intrigues his natural curiosity. By providing him with a framework that can show him how best to respond to these positive challenges, you are providing him with a guideline on how to cope with future challenges.
Obedience training is not a series of lessons that teach your dog to assume meaningless positions that you or he may never use in ”real life.” Formal training is an organized system that teaches your dog to respect your leadership and be obedient to your directions and commands.
Another important aspect of formal training is owner education. In class you can learn to better understand how your dog thinks. You’ll learn how to set clear training goals for your dog and have him understand what you want. Class teaches you how to teach him, and how to effectively communicate with him and he with you.
Outside of class, you and your dog will have a ready-made means for working on manners and proper behaviour, both at home and in public. After you and he have attended classes, everything else you teach, whether it’s just to be a good companion, or advanced training for competition or therapy work, will be built on the solid foundation you have laid.
Like dog breeds, dog training comes in many styles, from individual instructors teaching small groups, private trainers working with a single dog per lesson, to obedience training clubs that have several instructors on staff directing various sizes and levels of classes. Research your options to decide which type will work best for you and your Pom.
How to Find a Trainer
A good place to start searching for the right trainer is to ask dog-owning friends or neighbours with well-behaved dogs where they went for training. Were they happy with the instructor and the instruction methods? If not, why?
Ask your groomer and veterinarian for referrals. Look on bulletin boards in veterinary hospitals or pet supply stores for flyers and business cards posted by training clubs and private instructors. Check to see if your pet supply store, animal clinic, or even the local humane society offer training as part of their services. Watch for advertisements in the newspaper. Look in the yellow pages of the phonebook under, ”Pet,” or “Dog Training.”
Find out if a local social club, or a community centre schedules obedience classes. Query a search engine on the internet for training resources in your area. Once you have found a training group, interview any potential instructors. Professional trainers do not have to be certified, but are the trainers in the group you’re considering approved by any organization or board? If so, what requirements did they have to meet to become certified? How does their certification relate to their experience in training dogs? Other important questions to ask include:
- What type of experience does a trainer have?
- How many years have they been involved in obedience with their own dog?
- How many years have they taught professionally?
- Are the instructors knowledgeable about dogs, and do they understand canine behavior?
- Are they up-to-date on recent developments in different training methods and techniques?
- Have any of the trainers ever worked with Pomeranians?
- Are they willing to assist you and your dog with your specific concerns?
- Are they willing to use the best training methods for your dog and not just a single style they have always used? If the instructor uses force-into-position techniques and punishment style corrections, it is probably not the best class for a Pomeranian.
- Can you schedule a time to observe a class? If an instructor is reluctant to grant permission, take this as a possible warning sign that something may be amiss and look for another resource.
- Is there a plan for the session and a goal for the course?
- Are the instructions focused and understandable?
- Do the trainers like the dogs and people with whom they are working?
- Are their methods positive and correct actions rewarded with praise?
- Are the dogs happy and relaxed or they apprehensive and confused?
- Are the people and dogs learning?
- Are the fees reasonable or worth the cost?
- Bottom line, can you and your dog train-and learn-with these instructors in the offered environment?
Types of Training
Which training methods an instructor uses is another, major criterion when selecting an obedience class; will the techniques work for your Pom? With so many different ways to train, the average owner can become confused trying to understand how each method works when making a decision.
Understanding what type of training and outcome you seek, and how far you want to go with the training is the first step. Manners, or behaviour training, makes your dog an obedient companion at home or in public. Activity training is geared towards teaching your dog how to compete in specific events or work such as conformation, therapy, agility, dance, flyball, or to perform a specific service, and so forth.
Basic obedience is nearly always a prerequisite before enrolment in training classes for any specific activity.
Obedience training begins the use of more formal commands such as ”sit” and “stay.” It serves many purposes, including facilitating manners training, and offers varying levels of difficulty, but the focus is on the dog’s response-how quickly and how well he responds to the commands. Classes teach standard commands that have been around for decades.
Many teaching techniques have been developed over the years. These training methods can be divided into two categories: compulsive, where the dog is forced to learn behaviour; and conducive, where the dog is persuaded to learn the behaviour.
Older methods tend to use force and punishment, and can include heavy-handed correction, coercion, discipline, stern tones, and harsh handling. These methods are currently out of favour except with the most difficult or aggressive of dogs. Considered inhumane by some instructors, they are not the method of choice for the tiny, soft-spirited Pomeranian.
This is a method where an object favoured by the dog, such as a toy or treat, is used to coax him into performing the desired behaviour. The dog is taught to watch and follow the object, is told what to do, then rewarded and praised when the requested response is received. The lure is phased out as training progresses, and praise becomes the reward. However, the toy or treat can then be given after the training session.
A variation on lure training, the theory to this method proposes that before a dog will work for his person, dog and human must be able to play together. The dog learns to relax and play in settings other than his home or yard. Training moves forward to the standard commands working with a toy used in the play sessions as the lure.
This focuses on the instinctual behaviours that drive a dog, as well as on his emotions It is a technique that believes the use of treats, toys, compulsion, or punishment are all the wrong ways to teach a dog. ”Correct” training, to get the dog to respond to commands, is based on comprehending the innate nature of canines by learning how to communicate and work with them in a way which they truly understand. Praise and correction are given by vocal instruction, touch, and body language. The development of a cooperative human-animal relationship is central to this type training.
This is reward-based training that uses neither compulsion nor punishment. Corrections are only given in a positive, instructive manner so that the dog knows what you expect. Incorrect responses are ignored, and the dog is redirected toward the correct behaviour with no emotional reaction. When he responds correctly, he is rewarded with treats. To strongly reinforce a correct response, the dog is often given a ”jackpot” of treats-several tasty titbits which communicates to him in an obvious manner that he has done very well.
Owners are taught to “build a history” of positive reinforcement with their Pom at home by rewarding him lavishly for good behaviour. Bad behaviour is thwarted by prevention. For example, don’t give your Pom an old pair of socks to play with if you don’t want him to chew up your good ones. In class, dogs are trained on flat collars only (a must for Pomeranians anyway), using a regular versus special lead, and are given a surplus of praise, petting, toys, food, and play. Lures or clickers are often employed with positive motivation training.
This is a more involved form of training that was originally used to teach large marine animals performance tricks. In recent years it has been utilized to train dogs, and this now very popular method has had quite a bit of success.
Traditional training methods use verbal praise as both a reward and a motivational reinforcer of correct responses. Clicker training breaks this tool into two components so that the click clarifies for the dog exactly which behaviour earned him a reward, thus allowing him to understand precisely what response is expected from him when the command is given again in the future. This is known as “shaping behaviour” and is a relatively new technique in the psychology tool box of training.
The click is the distinct sign that indicates to the dog the precise moment he responded correctly. If your dog is across the room from you and you can’t give him a treat when he responds correctly to a command, he can still learn that the click means he will soon get a reward, thus motivating him to respond while also enforcing the likelihood of correct performance down the road.
Clickers can also be used with dogs who can’t work for food rewards because they become overly excited, or for those few Poms who may not be motivated by food. The dog will still learn that the click is identified as a positive response.
Clickers work as a ”secondary reinforcer.” A ”primary reinforcer” is the reward-a treat, a toy, or being petted-for which a dog is motivated to work. A secondary reinforcer becomes associated in your dog’s mind with these rewards. An example of primary and secondary reinforcer’s in real life, would be picking up your car keys and jangling them where your dog can hear the noise.
Your dog, in anticipation of a car ride, happily runs for the door. In this situation, the primary reinforcer is the ride and the pleasure it brings, and the keys, which are associated with the car outing, are the secondary reinforcer.
A clicker isn’t the only means of attaining the advantages of behaviour-shaping training methods. Any unusual, distinct sound your dog does not hear in other situations, such as a tongue Cluck, trill, or pop, will work. A special reinforcer word may also be substituted for the click. The key to success is that the signal must come quickly and at the precise moment your dog responds correctly. For many trainers, however, the clicker tool is still considered easier to use.
Clicker training is a more involved technique than what many novices are ready to use. If you want to give it a try with your dog, it’s wise to register for a training class where the instructor can teach you the proper use of the clicker. The advantages of clicker training are many-immediate feedback, clear identification of proper behaviours, association of the training work with rewards, and positive motivation.
Whichever type of training you choose as best for your Pom, faithfully commit to the endeavour. Your dog’s behaviour and emotional well-being depends a great deal upon a foundation of good training. Whether it’s household manners or formal training, remember that dogs are constantly learning. Talk to them. Explain to them, without droning on and on, what you expect of them. By communicating to your dog, you will learn to understand him and he will learn to listen to and respect you, and will look to you for guidance in other matters of behaviour. Teach him well, teach him throughout his lifetime.
A good place to start with formal teaching is with basic obedience. Basic obedience is a series of six commands commonly taught in the majority of formal training classes. These commands-sit, down, come, stand, stay, and heel-are the foundation for not only all sporting or competitive canine activities, but also the platform for good behaviour overall.
Pomeranians tend to be independent, free-spirited little dogs who like to make their own decisions about what they want to do and when they want to do it. Some people may believe this means Poms are stubborn and hard to train. Despite this attitude, most Poms prefer to please their people and can be trained to respond to basic obedience commands. However, training should not comprise harsh or punitive measures that can easily crush the sensitive Pom’s feelings, or even injure their small bodies.
Which training techniques works best with Poms? ”Food!,” says McClatchey. ”It’s very seldom you’ll find one that is not food motivated. Poms can work for praise if food comes reasonably soon after the praise.”
What doesn’t work is physical force and harshness. ”Coercion style training works less with Pomeranians than with some other breeds,” McClatchey explains. ”If you have to correct a Pom, it shouldn’t be an in-your-face kind of correction that will turn the dog off to training for weeks.” Instead, she suggests getting the dog’s attention in a firm-but not harsh-manner. Tell him that what he did was not the correct response. McClatchey also advises against using a ”choke” or chain-linked type training collar because of the breed’s possible problems with collapsing trachea’s.
If your Porn is resistant to learning the basic commands, analyse the situation and figure out how to get his attention. Maybe he needs more praise or a method of learning that intrigues his bright and curious mind. ”Many dogs learn best if you use both a verbal and hand signal right from the beginning,” says McClatchey, ”Since Poms are sensitive to body language, this gives them an additional clue. Just be consistent in the way you use your hand and body each time you give the signal.”
If you are about to embark on a formal training adventure, these guidelines can prove useful for teaching your Pomeranian. Regardless of the method, teach yourself, the owner, first how to train your dog. Ask your instructor to show you the best way to accomplish this task, through modelling, rewards, praise, and the correct use of tools and signals.
Hold a treat just above your dog’s head and slowly move it backwards and slightly downwards. As his eyes follow the treat, he will usually sit. If he backs up instead, you may need to guide him by either gently using your other hand to slide down his derrière or to curve under his back legs and place him into a sitting position. Sitting on the floor with your dog may also help him to get the idea more quickly the first couple of times you try this.
When he sits, say, ”good boy, good sit” with enthusiasm and give him the treat. Practice this until he understands that ”sit” equals a reward, and he can respond without you on the floor or with a treat over his head. As training progresses, you will eventually teach your dog to learn to sit beside you when you come to a stop during a walk.
You can begin training this command from a successful sit since your dog will already be halfway in position. A dominant dog may not like being in a down posture as he can interpret it as a signal of submission. But with enough positive reinforcement, he will learn it is an acceptable and praised response. Later in training he will also learn to assume ”down” from a standing position.
With your Pom in a ”sit,” take a treat and slowly lower it to the ground in front of his feet while saying, ”down.” If your dog doesn’t drop to the floor to get the treat, lay your other hand, without applying pressure, on his mid-back to indicate that he should not rise or stand. As he starts to crouch, move the treat forward and lower where he will need to slide into a full down position to reach it. It may help to bend over beside or kneel next to your dog to accomplish this.
When he is down, say ”good boy, good down” and give him the treat. While he is first learning the command, do not ask him to remain in the position very long. As he gets used to being in a “down,” he can be released after a longer hold, and eventually he will learn to execute a “down” as you stand beside him while he lies on the floor or ground.
When you want your dog to lie quietly for an extended period of time, such as at the vet’s or while you are completing a task, ”down” can be a useful command, as well as a more comfortable position for your Pom than ”sit.”
This is the one command that might prevent damage to your dog’s neck and your hand, and make daily walks more pleasurable for both you and your dog. To teach your dog to heel, start by having him sit at your left side. Take a step, always starting with your left foot, which is a signal to your dog that you are going to walk and he should come with you. Say ”heel” and begin walking. If your Pom isn’t curious enough to get up and get going with you, or if he lags behind, coax him along by holding a treat near the position where you want him to walk beside you. If he tugs on the leash or rushes in front of you, don’t let him drag you along. Gently shorten the hold you have on his leash as you keep walking. Repeat the heel command and slip the leash behind your waist so that it is impossible for him to forge ahead. Be careful not to get the leash so close that you cause strain on your dog’s neck, or that you risk stepping on him.
Tell your Pom, ”good heel,” as he walks by your side in proper position. With practice you will be able to reduce your repetition of the verbal command and to allow the leash to hang loosely in it’s proper position at your side.
Although it is easy to carry your Pomeranian, it is nevertheless important that he learn to walk in harmony with you. Despite his small stature, your Pom is still a dog and needs to walk for his own well-being. For your well-being, he needs to learn to walk beside you in heel.
The “stay” command is nearly always used with ”sit” or ”down,” and sometimes the ”stand” command. Early in training, your dog may be learning to stay more readily from the sit position, particularly if ”down” is not his best command. Begin with your dog sitting at your left side. In a firm, voice, that goes down in pitch (think of the sound that a motor makes as it winds down and stops), while saying the word ”stay,” move your arm with open hand, palm towards dog, from your left leg outwards about 45 degrees. Step deliberately but slowly away from your dog starting with your right foot, instead of the left used to begin heel. Using the opposite foot becomes a cue to your dog that he should remain where he is while you leave. Take a couple steps, then turn and stand in front of your dog. After a very few seconds, return to your dog’s side and praise him, ”good stay, good boy.”
If your dog gets up, get his attention with a sound like ”eh, eh” ”no” or ”bad” are too strong) and guide him back into position. When first training, you can repeat the command and hand signal until he understands what you want. You may also try standing on his leash with your left foot but be very careful not to apply any pressure to his harness or collar. Gradually reduce, then eliminate constant or multiple use of the command and hand signal as he learns to stay.
As your dog gains acceptance, increase the distance you walk away from him as well as the time you ask him to remain in his position. Stay should be taught in small increments, only moving to greater times and distances away, after your dog responds correctly to smaller demands. For competition, the goal in training stay is for you to be able to leave the room for two or three minutes while your dog waits for you either in a sit or down. In normal, daily life stay can be used to get your dog to hold a position as long as is needed, for example, when he’s being groomed or receiving veterinary attention.
Possibly the most important command your dog can learn is to come to you when you call. Should he ever get away from you, it is a command that may save his life. The key to success is to make your Pom want to come to you all the time. To achieve this, never call him to come, then correct him, punish him, reprimand him, or do something to him that he doesn’t like. If you do, he will learn to always associate coming with being angry, fearful, or in discomfort, and he will more likely learn to run in the opposite direction. Instead, when he does come to you always offer praise.
Begin teaching ”come” with your dog on leash. As you are walking, reel a long leash out until it is loose, then reverse your direction (without turning around) by moving briskly backwards. As you walk, call him to ”come, come, come” in a happy, high pitched, excited voice. As your dog comes toward you, gather the leash into your hand so that he can’t run on past. Praise him, ”good come,” and give him a favourite treat.
Add the ”sit” command to your routine, having him sit in front of you, then ask him to ”come” as he gains more understanding of what you want and responds correctly. When you are unable to enforce the command, avoid calling your dog, especially while he is still learning. A good way to reinforce the come command and associate it with a positive event, is to use it when you call your dog for a meal, ”Pom, puppy, come get your dinner.”
Place your Pom in a sit-stay to start teaching the stand command, then turn and face his right side. With your right hand, hold a treat close to his nose, and while saying ”stand,” move the treat slightly up and away from his face. As he gets up and begins to lean towards the treat, but before he can take a step, slide your left hand under his belly towards his back legs and say ”good stand, good boy.” Do not use your arm to force him into a stand, just as a guide to help your dog find the position you want him to assume. Work towards teaching your Pom to stand and stay. This command is also useful for Veterinary exams or grooming sessions.
Once your dog has learned the basic obedience commands, training does not have to stop. You and he can consider going on as a team to participate in various activities or competitions (more in Chapter 7). You can also use your training foundation to teach your Pom to perform tricks he enjoys that may amuse Visitors to your home, or patients in a nursing home. Pomeranians love being the star of any show, and this is one way to provide your dog with an outlet for his natural talents.
Whatever command or trick you teach, remember to break it down into small increments, teaching him one step at a time. Always, always praise your dog when he responds correctly. Set specific and clear training goals, and plan how you are going to achieve them.
Involve the whole family, both in class and at home when practising. Show each member of your household the commands your dog is being taught and which methods you are using to teach them. Be consistent in your approach, and be patient. Learning takes time. Precisely communicate what it is you want your dog to do. Do not mix commands. For example, asking your dog to ”come on and sit down,” will only prevent him from understanding what you want him to do.
Are you telling him to come, sit, or lie down? Use the correct command for each situation. Telling your Pom ”down” when you really mean ”of ” will confuse him so that he does not know which response you want when. Select specific words or phrases to use when praising, correcting, or training and always use them. And when asking your dog to do something, remember that commands are statements, not questions, and are not optional requests but required responses. Be firm but not harsh.
Never yell at or smack your Pomeranian as part of training, and don’t train when you are frustrated or angry. ”It’s important to never train when you’re feeling grumpy. If you’re tense or unhappy, your dog won’t learn anything,” recommends McClatchey, ”If you feel yourself getting tense, give your dog a command to which he responds perfectly, then give him plenty of food and praise and quit for the day. Always quit training while you are ahead.”
Whether it’s training for competition or fun, the relationship that develops through training will provide you and your dog the opportunity to spend quality time together and allow the two of you to work together as a team in most any situation.