When deciding what kind of puppy to get, many people wonder whether poodle puppies are an easy breed to teach obedience and tricks. After all, some breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Akitas have a reputation for being intelligent but willful, while other breeds such as some hounds are considered slow on the uptake.
So, are poodle puppies easy to train? Yes, poodle puppies are among the easiest of all dog breeds to train and can be taught from a very young age. Their intelligence, playful personality, and eagerness to please mean Poodle puppies are very eager to learn new commands and tricks.
As long as their owner respects their gentle, playful spirit and smarts, poodle puppies are a delight to educate. Read on to find out more about training poodle puppies and what you should teach them for a strong foundation in obedience.
Traits That Make Poodle Puppies Easy to Train
Several personality traits make poodle puppies especially easy and fun to train in comparison to some other breeds. Here are some of the reasons that poodle puppies are easy to train.
- High intelligence: Poodles are only second to border collies in recorded intelligence among purebred dogs, and they are one of the few dog breeds that are capable of consistently identifying a problem in fieldwork and pursuing a complex solution. This means that as puppies, they are quicker to figure out the objective of a training behavior and repeat it.
- Attention-seeking, playful personality: Poodles are easily motivated by attention from their owners and enjoy games, so any training that incorporates play and bonding activities can keep a poodle puppy engaged for hours. Since poodles have a reputation of being willing comedians, it is easy to exploit this in training to teach them a variety of circus-worthy tricks.
- Eager to please: Both standard and miniature poodles have reputations of being very devoted to their owners, especially if bonding is established early and often. This means that in training, they have a strong drive to make their owner satisfied if their owner can communicate what behavior they want the dog to perform.
- Working dog breed: Poodles have been bred for centuries to perform a variety of complicated tasks alongside humans from wild game retrieval in hunting to herding activities. This means that poodles have been bred with an inclination towards being intelligent and easy to teach complicated tasks.
There are a few downsides to having a poodle puppy, such as the need to maintain their non-shedding coat and a level of intelligence that requires socialization and interaction to avoid behavioral problems. However, with a little bit of training, poodle puppies can be one of the most fun dogs to own.
Why It’s Important to Train Poodle Puppies
It’s essential to train all puppies, but it’s particularly important to train a poodle puppy. Not only does training a poodle puppy take advantage of a poodle’s high intelligence and desire to please, but it also helps you end up with a well-behaved adult poodle.
While training is important just to make a dog more comfortable to live with, poodle puppies, in particular, need training and attention from their owners because their high level of intelligence leaves them prone to boredom if they aren’t provided with enough mental stimulation. A poodle is not the type of breed that is content to be left lying alone on a couch all day.
If a poodle is not engaged by their owner and given some kind of mental enrichment in the form of training or play, their intelligence and ability to problem-solve will often drive them to mischief instead. In other words, if you don’t play games with your poodle and train him, he’ll make up games, and they are often the kind of games that (while sometimes hilarious) introduce chaos to a household.
A foundation in obedience training is vital for all puppies, including poodles, because it teaches dogs a variety of commands that can help keep them safe in dangerous situations. Without proper obedience training, dogs will exhibit antisocial behaviors from bolting out of open doorways and across busy streets to jumping on houseguests.
An untrained dog is often less respectful of its owner and its owner’s guests than a trained dog too, which means that untrained dogs are more likely to resource guard. If a poodle is allowed to growl or snap over its toys as a puppy, this behavior can lead to serious aggression and even bites once the poodle grows larger and bolder.
Training is vital to ensure safety for both the poodle and its owner in a variety of situations both in and out of the house. Since training teaches a poodle puppy boundaries and ways to communicate with its owner, it is more likely to observe situations and wait for its owner’s cue in unfamiliar scenarios, rather than react to them impulsively or aggressively.
Anybody who has ever been around a well-trained dog can attest to the fact that training makes a puppy more enjoyable to be around. Whether it’s from merely training a poodle puppy to not use the restroom in the house to teaching it complicated party tricks to amaze your friends, a poodle puppy’s quick ability to pick up behavioral cues from its owner makes this breed a fantastic one to own.
Nothing sucks the fun out of being a dog owner quite like having a dog that is unruly or untrained as an adult since much more of your energy is spent trying to wrangle the dog or worrying about it doing something antisocial or destructive than just hanging out with it. This also takes joy away from the dog, too, since a dog that continually jumps on houseguests will be disciplined much more frequently.
It is crucial to get these positive training behaviors cemented during puppyhood with poodles, especially since standard poodles can grow pretty large. A behavior like jumping up on people may seem cute from a poodle puppy, but it will be terribly annoying from a seventy-pound adult poodle.
Not only does training your poodle as a puppy make them more enjoyable to be around in the household, but it also just makes your dog a better citizen in general. A well-trained poodle is not going to be the poodle who is biting the groomer, jumping up on your mother-in-law, or knocking over your brother’s kids.
Because a poodle puppy that is trained and well-socialized has a more substantial degree of impulse control than one who isn’t, it is easier to prevent a poodle from getting involved in incidents that endanger the public, such as running out into the road or attacking another dog.
It is essential for any dog regardless of the breed to be socialized and trained to prevent it from being dangerous to people or other animals. Since a dog owner is liable for their dog’s actions, it is also the owner’s responsibility to make sure that this training takes place. Without it, they can’t take proper control of their dog in public or around other people.
Training Your Poodle Puppy can Make Bonding and Communication Easier
Training a poodle puppy is one of the best ways to both bond with your new puppy and establish a common language so that it’s easier to communicate with your puppy. Since humans can’t speak dog and dogs can’t naturally speak human language, it is their owners’ responsibility to teach them enough human words and commands to understand what’s expected of them.
While this might seem like lots of work, this kind of training is readily incorporated into bonding activities that strengthen the friendship between you and your poodle puppy, such as games or tricks. Poodle puppies also pick up these kinds of cue-based behaviors quickly, which means that you don’t have to spend as much time on each behavior before the poodle can pick it up and move on to another.
To anyone who hasn’t tried to train a dog, it might seem like magic how some trainers can get dogs to follow their lead. But it isn’t magic—it’s just consistent training, encouragement, and communication with the dog.
Basic Training Commands to Teach Poodle Puppies
You can teach poodle puppies a dazzling variety of tricks, but there are a few basic training commands that you should teach all poodle puppies (and all puppies in general). Here are the foundational obedience commands that you should teach your new puppy before anything else:
- Sit: Sit is one of the most straightforward obedience commands and is often the first training command that a young puppy is taught. Because the “sit” command is used in conjunction with so many other more complicated training behaviors, it is often used as a control measure to redirect the dog’s attention to a training mindset or draw its attention away from a distraction.
- Stay: Stay is one of the most critical obedience commands for instilling impulse control in a puppy, which is vital for a variety of safety-related training. Stay is also a useful command for training a poodle to be well-behaved around guests since it can be used to teach a dog to go to its home base (such as a crate or dog bed) and rest there rather than getting underfoot.
- Come: Come (or recall) is one of the most challenging behavioral cues to train in any dog consistently, but it is especially crucial for any kind of advanced training that requires off-leash training, such as herding or retrieval. Come is also one of the most important cues for safety since a dog trained to stay close while off-leash is less likely to run off and become lost.
- Down: Like “stay,” “down” is a good obedience command to encourage impulse control and calm a dog that is easily overexcited, especially by greeting rituals or guests.
- Get Off/Out: Teaching a poodle puppy to “get off” or “get out” can be used to establish boundaries across the household. This helps prevent a variety of unwanted behaviors such as lying on a clean bed or entering a busy room where they will be underfoot, such as the kitchen during dinner preparation.
- Heel: The “heel” command teaches a poodle puppy to walk next to its owner at a consistent pace while on a leash, rather than dragging its owner down the block or dragging along behind them. Heeling teaches a dog to be responsive to on-lead commands and to get in a training mindset whenever the lead is on, which makes them more receptive to cues in public.
- Go to Your Crate: Crate training is one of the best ways to housebreak a puppy for life indoors, and when used correctly, it can represent a safe haven for a dog that they enjoy hanging out in even when they aren’t closed up. Teaching a poodle puppy to return to its crate or bed willingly in exchange for praise and a treat can help make the crate a much more positive experience.
If you train your poodle puppy with these seven basic commands, you’ll already be on the road to having a well-behaved adult poodle in the future.
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Safety Training Commands to Teach Poodle Puppies
Along with basic obedience commands, there are also several more advanced commands you can train your poodle puppy to follow that can help keep your puppy safe both at home and in public. Here are some of the safety commands that you can train your poodle puppy in:
- Wait: “Wait” is an excellent command to teach in conjunction with heeling and is a useful behavior not only to prevent a dog from bolting through open doors, but it can also prevent a dog from bolting into traffic. This means teaching “wait” is especially important for owners who intend to train their poodle off-leash.
- Don’t Touch: Teaching a poodle puppy not to touch something can keep poodles from getting into all kinds of trouble. While a dog’s first impulse might be to lunge at something on the ground near them even if it might be dangerous, the cue “Don’t touch!” can often snap them out of reactive behavior and return their attention to their owner for further instruction.
- Leave It: “Leave it” is a useful command for teaching puppies to redirect their attention away from something that has excited them. Not only can this prevent them from negative behaviors such as resource guarding (since a dog trained in “leave it” can be safely ordered away from resources at any time), but it can also be used to deter them from chasing or attacking smaller animals.
- Drop It: “Drop it” is a good command to have on hand for poodle puppies to get them to release anything they might have gotten their mouths on that they aren’t supposed to have, from a guinea pig to a favorite shoe. “Drop it” is also useful in preventing resource guarding since it can be used to train dogs out of possessive behaviors at an early age in a positive way.
- Emergency Recall: While it is one of the most challenging commands to master, emergency recall is a crucial safety skill to teach any dog in case it gets off-leash or escapes the yard. Since being off-leash in public leaves a dog vulnerable to getting lost or being run over by a car, a dog owner must be able to trust their dog to return to them without question with or without a leash on.
Some of these commands are a little more complex than a simple sit or stay. But one of the significant benefits of owning a poodle puppy is their exceptional intelligence, so it should be no trouble for most poodles to pick up all of these obedience cues and many more as long as their owner is willing to put in the effort to train them.
Advanced Training for Poodle Puppies
Along with basic and advanced obedience, there are several other types of training that poodles can get involved in both as puppies and adults. Once poodle puppies have a foundation in obedience, it is much easier to teach them to do other cooperative activities such as working activities or dog sports:
- Agility training: Poodles of all sizes do well in agility training because of their sharp intelligence and enjoyment of showing off. The same tricks that have made poodles popular dogs in the movies and the circus for centuries translate well to competitive agility courses.
- Scent training: Since poodles are originally bred as working dogs, they enjoy more mental stimulation than some breeds. Scent training is perfect for this since it combines multiple senses for a complex intellectual exercise that keeps the dog mentally engaged at a high level. Scent training can be practiced professionally by dogs for everything from cancer detection to search and rescue.
- Conformation training: Because they enjoy hamming it up, poodles that meet the breed standard can often do well in conformation and show. For those dog owners who are interested in furthering the poodle as a breed, conformation can be a way to get more involved in that aspect of dog ownership.
- Dog sports: Poodles are fun-loving dogs, and this makes them an excellent match for high-energy dog sports such as frisbee, fly ball, and dog diving. All these sports take advantage of a poodle’s innate drive to retrieve that was bred into it for centuries as a hunter’s dog.
- Therapy work: Poodles who are well-socialized as puppies end up as friendly adults, and this makes many poodles good candidates for therapy work that allows them to visit the sick or the elderly in hospice, hospitals, and nursing homes. Their iconic appearance, emotional sensitivity, and kindly nature make them particularly good at this kind of advanced training.
- Retrieval: The name poodle comes from the German word pudelhund, or “puddle hound,” which refers to the dog’s history of retrieving ducks and other waterfowl from lakes and ponds that were shot by hunters. Many poodles still much enjoy retrieval tasks and can be taught to carry everything from a duck to the daily newspaper.
- Herding work: While they aren’t as well-known for it as they are for gun dog retrieval, many lines of poodles have a strong herding background. Since their intelligence rivals that of a border collie, this makes them easy to train in herding applications.
One of the major advantages of having a poodle puppy is that its intelligence makes it extremely versatile when it comes to advanced training. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to bond with your dog as a puppy, you can teach a poodle to do anything a working dog is capable of doing.
Tools to Help Train Poodle Puppies
Along with the basic obedience behaviors covered above, several training tools make training a poodle puppy much more manageable. Not only does combining several sensory cues at once make it easier for the puppy to understand the concept you’re trying to get across, but it also means that the puppy is more engaged
- Clickers: Clickers are one of the easiest tools to incorporate into your training regimen when you get a new puppy, and the sound of the clicker combined with praise, treats, and play motivation can help a poodle puppy pinpoint precisely what behaviors you’re trying to get it to replicate. You can see a picture of the clicker I use on Amazon here.
- Bells: Placing a bell at the dog’s height near doorways can be useful in training a poodle puppy to be housebroken. Many poodles can be taught to ring the bell when they need to be let outside, which dramatically decreases the number of housebreaking accidents once it has been implemented since it gives the dog a consistent way to communicate its need to go out. I purchased mine from Amazon and it worked great! Check it out here.
- Long Leads: Long leads are used when training puppies to get ready for off-leash training since long leads to decrease the amount of pressure the dog feels from the owner through the leash while still allowing the owner to control the dog from a further distance. Long leads are especially useful when training commands such as “stay” or an emergency recall.
- Treats: Poodles are very motivated by the attention of their owners, but many dogs are also highly motivated by food rewards such as pieces of cooked chicken or training treats. Treats should be used in moderation to prevent unwanted weight gain, but since they engage both taste and smell, they can be an excellent way to keep a puppy’s attention in training sessions.
- Hand signals: Using hand signals together with verbal commands not only makes it easier for a poodle puppy to understand what you want (since dogs communicate primarily through nonverbal language), but they also encourage a puppy in training to keep its visual attention focused on you rather than becoming distracted by environmental stimuli.
Using training aids doesn’t just make training more manageable, it makes it more effective. Dogs that are engaged in training through treats or sensory cues also learn to pay more attention to their owners and look to them for guidance.
Solving Behavioral Problems in Poodle Puppies
Failing to train a poodle puppy can lead to behavioral problems as they grow older if it isn’t addressed early. Here are some aspects of poodle puppy training that can prevent behavioral problems in adult poodles.
Socialization and Desensitization
Many behavioral problems in adult poodles, such as fear aggression, can be related to a lack of socialization and desensitization to new experiences, people, places, and things when the poodle was young. This leaves adult dogs with neuroses and phobias that they wouldn’t have otherwise if they’d been socialized well when they were young.
The best way to prevent these kinds of issues with fear-based aggression or nervousness in adult poodles is to expose puppies to many different kinds of loud sounds (vacuum cleaners, thunder, etc…) different kinds of people, and experiences such as meeting new dogs, car rides, or vet visits. The more desensitized to these experiences a dog becomes as a puppy, the less reactive they will be as an adult.
One issue that can sometimes crop up in poodle puppies as they become adolescents is resource guarding. This can be seen as growling or snapping over food, toys, or a bed. Some owners inadvertently reinforce this behavior, especially in miniature poodles, as it is seen as “cute” when these little dogs growl as puppies. However, this behavior is both dangerous and annoying in adult poodles.
Some dogs are more prone to resource guarding than others, but this is a behavior that needs to be nipped in the bud early if it does show up. This can be positively corrected through teaching the commands “drop it” and “leave it.”
Training Poodle Puppies is a Snap
As long as you have the motivation to work with your poodle puppy, they are some of the most natural dogs in the world to train. Whether you just want a well-behaved house dog or you want to train a working dog in any number of practical applications, poodles are a perfect choice.