Training Tips and Techniques
The dark ages of dog training had people swatting their dogs with newspapers or rubbing their noses in the mess from an accident. Trainers and dog people alike now know that positive reinforcement and prevention are the best ways to teach a dog — especially a pug — what he needs to know.
As a new pug owner, you'll find that praise, rewards, and a clicker to signal correct behavior are your most effective tools during training sessions. All of them help to motivate your pug to perform the behaviors you want. The idea is to communicate with your dog rather than force him.
Remember how good you'd feel when your teacher or parent praised the way you solved a problem or performed a task? Just like people, pugs respond better to praise than to criticism. Saying “Good dog!” in a happy, high-pitched tone of voice lets Pugsley know that you like what he's done.
Praise isn't limited to formal training sessions. Use it any time you catch your pug doing something right. Is he playing with a toy? Say “Good toy!” or “Good play!” Is he in a down position? “Good down!” Every time you see him doing something you like, give it a name and praise it. This is much better than the old method of scolding him every time he does something you don't like.
Praise is good, and pugs love it because it means they're getting attention, but they'll work even harder if food is involved. A reward can be anything your pug likes, from a special toy to a favorite game, but most of them prefer food, glorious food. Rewards can take two forms: instant gratification (you give your pug a bit of cheese when he sits on command) and delayed gratification (you give him a bite of hot dog or pull out a favorite toy after he finishes a fabulous freestyle routine). Both types of rewards work, and both should be used so your pug doesn't learn to expect only one thing from you.
Types of Treats
Training treats have specific characteristics. First, use something that your pug doesn't get every day. You want the reward to be special, something he'll really want to work for. Choose a treat that has a strong aroma and is easily swallowed. You don't want to stand there all day while he chews it up. So rawhides and jerky are out; cut-up hot dogs, small cubes of cheese, dried liver, and cat treats such as Pounce are in.