Poodles are incredibly intelligent dogs that are loving and loyal with a mischievous side. They love to play and are eager to please their owners because they are fond of people. There are three different sizes of poodle – standard, miniature, and toy – but they are all very similar in temperament and disposition. As with any dog, poodles do need to be trained.
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So, are poodles easy to train? Yes! Their intelligence and natural athleticism, coupled with their loyalty and commitment to their owners, make them very easy to train. In fact, training is necessary for a poodle. Because they are highly intelligent, poodles thrive on training and learning.
A Step by Step Guide to Training Your Poodle
Training a poodle means more than having him or her come to you when you call. In this guide, we will discuss crate training, house training, obedience training, and leash training with your pup. While it is true that it is typically easier to train puppies than older dogs, poodles are easy to train at any age. So, no matter the age of your poodle, make sure to train your poodle in all four of these areas.
Crate training is very helpful for housetraining, but some dog owners do not crate train because they feel like confining their dog in a crate is cruel. However, proper crate training allows your dog to have their own safe place to go when they are tired or nervous – it’s like having a bedroom. Crate training should be the first thing you focus on when you get your poodle.
To crate train in a way that makes the crate feel like a safe place for your poodle, follow these steps:
|Steps||How to Train||Tips for Training|
|Step 1: Introduce your poodle to their crate.||Put the crate in a part of your home where the family hangs out often. -Put something soft, like a blanket or towel, on the bottom of the crate. -Leave the door open so your dog can explore in and out of the crate.||If your poodle doesn’t immediately take to the crate, you can try: -Walking over to the crate with your dog and talking to them with a happy tone of voice. -Use a trail of treats going from the outside of the crate to the inside of it. -Try placing one of your dog’s favorite toys inside the crate.|
|Step 2: Feed your poodle meals inside their crate.||If your dog is not entering the crate eagerly yet, you can place their food right outside the crate. -If they are entering the crate fully and happily, place their food at the back of their crate. -When your poodle has started enjoying their meals completely inside of their crate, start closing the door while they eat.||The first time you close the crate door while feeding, open it immediately when they finish their meal. -Slowly increase the time you keep the door closed until you’ve reached about 10 minutes of staying in the crate after eating. -If your poodle whines to get out, you may be adding time too quickly. -Do not let your pup out until they stop whining. If you let them out when they whine, they will think that whining is a way to get out.|
|Step 3: Begin practicing with longer crating periods.||Call your poodle to the crate and give them a treat. -Say a command for them to enter, like “Enter” or “Kennel” while pointing inside their crate. -Give praise and a treat to your poodle when they get into their crate and close the door. -Sit next to the crate for 5 to 10 minutes. -Go into another room for a few minutes. -Return to the crate, sit for about 5 minutes, and then let your dog out of the crate. -Repeat several times a day, gradually increasing the time you spend away from the crate.||Once you have reached a point where your poodle will sit in their crates for at least 30 minutes without you being in their sight, you can start leaving them in their crates for short periods and even letting them sleep in their crates at night. -Be aware that this process can take several days and even weeks to complete.|
|Step 4: Crate your poodle when you leave your home.||Guide your poodle to their crate, give the regular command to enter, and give them a treat. -You can crate your dog between 5 and 20 minutes before leaving. -Make sure you continue to crate your dog while you are still at home, so they don’t start associating being crated with being left alone.||Only try this step once your poodle can spend 30 minutes or more alone in their crate without becoming anxious, getting scared, or whining to get out. -Don’t make your leaving an emotional process. Once your pup is in their crate, leave quietly. -Do not get overexcited with your dog when you get home. Keep arrivals low-key in order to lessen your dog having anxiety over when you will come back home.|
|Step 5: Crate your poodle overnight.||In the beginning, place their crate in your bedroom or in a hallway next to your bedroom, so they know you are close. -Put them in their crate with the regular command and treat. -Once they are sleeping through the night in their crate, you can slowly start moving the crate to the place you prefer it to be.||Remember that, if you have a puppy, they have to go to the bathroom more often. Their crate should be close enough that you can hear them whine about being let out to use the bathroom during the night.|
A great behavioral training course can really help when Crate training your dog. I found a fantastic training system called Brain Training for Dogs. I really liked the private member’s area where I was able to connect with other dog owners to get solutions to issues I had with his training. If you need any behavioral training at all for your dog, I would highly recommend this course!
House training is less about steps and more about establishing routines with your poodle. It requires patience and commitment. Consistency is key when house training, and you should expect accidents during the process. Basically, house training teaches your puppy that:
“there are times to eat, times to play, and times to do their business”
When establishing a routine with your puppy, you should do the following:
- Bring your poodle outside often. Puppies can usually hold their bladder one hour for every month of age. So, if you are training a two-month-old puppy, they can only hold their bladder for about two hours. Bring them outside as soon as they wake up, during and after playtime, and after they eat or drink.
- Choose one spot outside as a bathroom spot and bring your puppy there every single time (preferably on a leash). It is a good idea to repeatedly use a word or phrase while they are using the bathroom that you can use in the future to remind them that they need to go. Don’t reward them unless they relieve themselves.
- Praise your puppy or give them treats as soon as they use the bathroom outside successfully. Don’t wait until you go back inside because you want them to associate getting the reward with eliminating in the proper spot. Make sure your puppy is completely finished using before you give the treat.
- Feed your puppy on a regular schedule. When dogs are fed on a schedule, they will begin to go to the bathroom on a schedule. This makes house training much easier.
- At night, about two hours before bedtime, pick up your puppy’s water dish. This helps to lessen the likelihood that they will need to go potty throughout the night. If your puppy does wake you up to go at night, make sure to be very calm so they do not think it is playtime. Most puppies can go about 7 hours overnight without needing to use the bathroom, though.
Always make sure to supervise your dog when they are indoors to ensure they are not going in the house. If you are busy around the house and not training or playing with your puppy, you can use a long leash to tether them to a piece of furniture in the house. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs that they need to go to the bathroom.
Some of the things a puppy will do when they need to go out include:
- Scratching at the door
- Sniffing around
- Walking in circles
To prevent your puppy from going to the bathroom in the house, make sure to confine them to their crate if you cannot actively supervise them. They are less likely to go potty in a small space, and they will let you know when they need to go out. If you’ve left your puppy in their crate while you were not at home, you will want to bring them outside as soon as you get home.
Of course, your poodle will have accidents. If they have an accident, follow these rules:
- If you catch your puppy in the act of going potty in your home, always interrupt them.
- Say something like “Outside!” or make a startling noise, but do not scare them. Take them immediately to their bathroom spot, and be sure to give them a treat if they finish in the spot.
- Do not punish your puppy if they go to the bathroom in your home. It often makes them scared to go potty when you are around and can do more harm than good.
- Always clean the soiled area thoroughly because puppies are more likely to go again on an area that smells like urine or feces.
Obedience training is the term used to describe the training of a dog to listen to commands. Commands can range from very basic, like “Sit” or “Stay,” to more advanced commands used in competitions. Often, obedience training is actually a course or a class that the owner and poodle take for a predetermined number of weeks. The more advanced the training, the longer the course is.
Basic obedience commands that can be taught to poodles are:
- “Down” – commands a dog to get completely down onto the floor with elbows and hocks touching the ground
- “Sit” – commands a dog to a sitting position
- “Come” or “Here” – commands a dog to go to their handler, also called the recall
- “Stay” – commands a dog to stay in the position they are in
- “Heel” – commands a dog to place their head or shoulder parallel to its handler’s leg on the left side of the handler
- “Stand” – commands a dog to stand up from whichever position they are in
More advanced commands that can be taught to poodles include:
|“Stop”||Commands a dog to stop what they are doing and lie down|
|“Shake”||Commands a dog to shake their entire body|
|“Drop” or “Drop It”||Commands a dog to drop whatever they have in their mouth|
|“Give”||Commands a dog to give whatever they have to their handler|
|“Speak”||Commands a dog to bark|
|“Roll Over”||Commands a dog to lie down, roll over, and stand back up|
|“With Me”||Commands a dog to stay at their handler’s side and at their handler’s pace|
Poodles are very easily trained in obedience. There are a few different methods that can be utilized to train their commands.
- The Lure to Obedience Method uses treats to guide your poodle to the position they need to be in for the command. Hold the treat in your hand while guiding them to the position and give them the treat when the command is done successfully.
- The Capture and Shape Method involves teaching one command at a time by using a clicker when they do the command and giving a treat once the command is done successfully.
- The Hand Signal Method utilizes your hands to make signals to guide the dog into position for the command you are teaching. Give a treat when your poodle completes the command.
As your pup begins to do the commands more regularly, give fewer treats and more praise and encouragement when they successfully perform a command.
Leash training focuses on training your dog to behave properly when on a leash. First, you need to introduce your puppy to a collar. Make sure that you can fit two fingers beneath the collar while it is on your puppy to make sure it fits properly. Once your poodle is used to their collar, you should do the following:
- If your dog tends to pull while you are walking them, get a harness for them. This is especially important for older, more stubborn dogs. The harness helps to train the dog not to pull.
- Before attaching any leash or harness onto your poodle, let them smell it to get used to what it is. Don’t allow the dog to play with them, though, because they are not toys.
- Make sure to buy the right-sized leash. The size of your poodle will dictate this. Since there are three different sizes of poodles, the right leash differs between them. Lighter weight leashes made from nylon are fine for smaller dogs, but larger dogs need heavier leashes. Most people choose a length of 6 feet to give their dogs sufficient room.
- Always reward good behavior. When your dog listens to you while outside on the leash, you can reward them with a treat.
- Practice walking for long periods of time. After letting your poodle get used to their leash during walks within your yard, you can take them on long walks and let them get used to how to behave.
Why are Poodles so Easy to Train?
It is no secret that certain dog breeds are very stubborn and hard to train, but the poodle is the polar opposite of such breeds. Poodles were bred specifically for retrieving game through water, which means that the dogs chosen to breed together to result in the poodle were all easily able to train to help hunters. Retrievers are notably eager to please their owners.
Of all the breeds that were developed for hunting game in water, the poodle is one of the oldest. There are different hypotheses about exactly where the poodle originated, though. Some believe they were originally bred in Germany and developed into what they are now in France. Others believe they are the descendants of Asian herding dogs. Still, some others believe they come from dogs taken from the Asian steppes and brought to Portugal.
In the beginning, there were only Standard Poodles. Eventually, through the breeding of smaller poodles together, Miniature and Toy Poodles arose. Standard Poodles were mainly used for duck hunting, and Miniature Poodles were used to sniff out smaller game within the woods. However, Toy Poodles were mostly companions for noble classes and the wealthy.
Clearly, training your dog involves an incredible amount of patience and can definitely be a headache at times. But having a poodle makes it a much easier process! Your poodle will always be willing to make you happy, and their intelligence makes them catch on to routines very quickly. Training a poodle is something that even a first-time dog owner can do!