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How to Handle Training a Small Dog

They are sometimes called "toy" breeds, but a small dog is still an animal and should be trained to obey and respect the home. Learn how to handle the chore and enjoy your little friend.


  • Step 1: Communicate how unacceptable it is to jump by walking away and shunning the pooch. Touching them to move them away will instead only encourage them through gentle touching attention. Ask others not to indulge the jumping either.
  • TIP: Pick your small dog up if a big dog threatens.
  • Step 2: Communicate that the little dog doesn't have the right to crawl in your lap any time they want by abruptly putting them back down on the floor. Point, scowl, and order them away. You're the alpha dog in this house.
  • FACT: Yorkies, crossbred from two other terrier breeds in 19th-century England, were trained to catch rats in the clothing mills. They were first called Yorkshire terriers in 1870.
  • TIP: Rewarding correct behavior works better than punishing for something not yet learned. The puppy won't know what it did wrong.
  • Step 3: Reward with a treat once in while, but only for behaving consistently or performing tricks. If they get a treat for coming back into the house after a potty break, they will learn to bark to go out and return seconds later expecting food. Then you'll have a bad habit to break.
  • Step 4: Walk the small dog on a leash, and don't pick them up all the time. They look and listen for hints about what to do to please you, so let them figure you out and follow your lead. Be the boss -- not their buddy -- when it comes to training.
  • TIP: Small dogs often think they're bigger, especially dominant ones, and may bite or attack unless they learn early you're in control.
  • Step 5: Practice with one-word commands, like sit, stay, and go. Gently push its butt down and make them wait before you let them move. Repetition will lock the behaviors you want into habit.
  • Step 6: Let them inspect the yard, but only the area you have approved for their urinating and defecating. Use brisk verbal cues to direct them away from spots you want to keep clean. Submissive dogs, however, will respond better to soft tones and compliments.

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