Despite how small they are, Pomeranians can present something of a challenge for new dog parents when it comes to training. What Pomeranians lack in size, they make up for in independence, feistiness, and confidence. These are great traits and are part of what makes the Pomeranian special, but they can turn into willfulness, stubbornness, and a determination to have their own way when it’s time to start training.
For this reason, it’s important to be ready and have your training “toolkit” prepared before you dive in. This post shares some top tips on how to make training a Pomeranian a little bit easier.
The 10 Tips for Training a Pomeranian
1. Find Out What Motivates Your Pom
The key to training any dog is finding out what motivates them. For some dogs, it’s food, whereas, for others, it’s a certain toy or simply lots of praise. Spend some time getting to know your Pom when you first bring them home to find out what you’ll need to use as your “motivator” during training, then stock up on whatever it is (treats, toys, etc.).
2. Use Positive Reinforcement
Pomeranians respond well to positive reinforcement, which means rewarding and praising good behavior when it happens. For example, if you ask your Pom to “sit” and they do so, reward them with whatever is it that motivates them, like a treat.
Positive reinforcement is crucial as it creates positive associations for your Pomeranian around whatever you’re training them to do, and therefore motivates them to learn more.
3. Keep Training Sessions Short
Long-drawn-out training sessions are just as boring for your dog as they are for you, so spare both of you the anguish and keep sessions to 10–15 minute bursts but do them several times a day.
This way, you can keep your Pom focused for just enough time for them to work on a specific command, get their rewards, and take a break before repeating the session later on. Your dog is more likely to learn if they enjoy the sessions.
4. Keep Distractions at Bay
When your Pom is just getting started with training, it’s completely normal for them to get distracted by other objects, animals, people, and sounds in the environment. At first, you’ll want to stick to training in areas where your Pom is less likely to get distracted, like a quiet room at home or your yard.
If you’re training your Pom to walk on a leash, try sticking to quieter streets at first where there aren’t many people, other dogs, or much traffic.
5. Teach Your Pom to Walk on a Loose Leash
One of the most important training steps you’ll want to address early on is getting your Pom to walk on a loose leash at your side. If you allow your Pom to walk ahead of you on the leash, you’re ultimately putting them in the position of pack leader, which is something we want to avoid. Teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash is teaching them to respect you as the pack leader.
There are several different methods for teaching this, but one of the simplest is to carry treats in your hand. Allow your Pom to smell the treats so they know they’re there and give a cue like “with me” or “heel”. Reward your dog for walking beside you.
If your dog starts to move ahead of you when you walk together, stop and call them back to your side with your verbal cue, remember to reward them each time they do as you ask. Your Pom won’t learn this overnight, so be patient and consistent and give them time to get used to it. You can even practice heeling at home before you hit the streets!
6. Be Encouraging
Though it can be frustrating if you feel you and your Pom aren’t getting anywhere with training, try to look at it in another way. The training process is long and challenging, and it can take several months. Instead of feeling disheartened because your Pom didn’t do exactly what you wanted them to, find small things to praise instead.
For example, perhaps your Pom still isn’t coming when you call them, but their sitting game is spot on, heap on the praise. Or, maybe, your Pom managed to pee outside instead of on your rug today—that’s a win, so make a fuss of them for it! Looking at the positives will help you see the progress your Pom is making, even on days when it feels like you’re going nowhere.
7. Sign Up for Obedience Classes
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with recruiting a little help from the pros—in fact, it’s one of the best steps you could take. Obedience classes are great because they provide you with extra support and give your Pom a chance to socialize with other dogs and people, which is a critical part of their development.
8. Start with the Basics
Take some of the pressure off of both you and your Pom by starting with just the very basics. Pick a few very simple but important commands to focus on at first, like “sit”, “stay”, “heel”, and “come”.
Mastering these basic commands will give your dog confidence and give you an opportunity to pile on the praise. You can then progress to other commands like “off”, “watch me”, and “down”.
9. Use the Word “Good” a Lot
For example, when you give your Pomeranian a command like “sit” and they obey you, follow up with the phrase ”good sit”. You can do this with every command, like “good come” or “good stay”. Following up the command in this way is a form of praise and lets your dog know exactly what they’re being praised for.
10. Be Consistent
If you aren’t consistent, you’ll get nowhere fast with training your Pomeranian. It’s important to schedule training sessions every day, always use the same commands, and give the commands in the same tone to avoid confusing your dog.
If you live with other people, you’ll need to work out the commands you will all use to train your Pomeranian and stick to them—if one person gives the command “with me” while another uses the word “heel”, it’s not going to work.
Likewise, if someone in the family is a bit too lax with house rules, for example, they let the Pom on the bed when you never allow them on the bed, this is going to create issues. Everyone needs to follow the same structures, commands, and routines to train the Pom successfully.
Poms are intelligent and plucky dogs that may try to turn on the charm to get their own way, but they ultimately respond very well to positive training methods and consistency. As long as you’re consistent, encouraging, and positive, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to turn your Pom into a model citizen.
If you’re struggling, however (as many of us do—dog training can be really tricky at times!), and feel you would benefit from some support, reach out to a professional behaviorist.