When you set out to train a poodle, you already have an advantage that someone trying to train another breed of dog might not. The poodle is very intelligent, and it thrives on your love and praise.
Whether you are trying to potty train your poodle or teach it a few basic obedience commands, there are a few principles you should always follow.
Use the Pack Hierarchy
Poodles may look cute and sophisticated, but they still carry the blood of the wolf in their veins. They are pack animals. In the wild, a pack is led by an “alpha,” usually a male, who sets the standards for the other animals until he is successfully challenged by another animal. Your family and other pets have now become your poodle’s pack, and it is important that the poodle know you are the alpha, the one to be obeyed. This does not require brutality on your part–quite the opposite. A calm but firm tone of voice, along with immediate correction for misdeeds and immediate praise for obedience is all that is needed.
If you yell at your poodle the first time it jumps on the couch, laugh at it the second time, and ignore it the third, your poodle won’t know what to think. Is the couch forbidden or not? Consistency requires that you correct your poodle every time it does something wrong and praise it every time it does something right. Only in this way will the poodle come to understand what you want and what you don’t want.
Set Aside Regular Time for Training
Try to conduct training sessions around the same time every day. This time should be clearly distinct from playtime, family time, cuddle time, and any other time you spend with your poodle. Speak to your poodle in a calm, firm voice, and only praise desired behavior.
Teach One New Command at a Time
Poodles are smart, but they may become frustrated if you try to teach them too much at once. Work on one command until the poodle has learned it, then move on to the next command.
Over-training on one command should also be avoided, lest the poodle become bored with the whole thing. Once it has obeyed a command several times in a row without mistakes, it’s time to move on to something else.
Use Praise as a Reward
Many trainers advocate using treats to reward desired behavior. What your dog really craves, however, is your affection and approval. Besides, you may not always have treats with you when you want your dog to obey, but you can always give your dog lots of praise for good behavior.
Never Use Physical Punishment
This should go without saying, but never, ever strike your dog no matter what it does or doesn’t do. Physical violence teaches your poodle nothing but fear and hatred.
To correct your dog, all you have to do is say, “No,” in a firm voice. The poodle will easily hear your disapproval.
Now that you have the general poodle training principles mastered, it’s time to learn some techniques of poodle obedience training.