Training your dog is very, very important: just think -- the #1 cause of death for dogs in Canada and the U.S. today is euthanasia. Yup, putting your dog down because you cannot deal with the behavior problems, aggression or destructive patterns.
So, training is not only important - it’s life and death to many dogs.
If you think I’m exaggerating, take a walk through any shelter today: pets have been given up, thrown out on the road and worse, because their behaviour has overwhelmed the owner (and don’t think I’m giving those owners a pass - who raised the dog!?)
To train your dog properly, and for life, you’ve got to understand the canine world order - how dogs react, what motivates them, and how do they see you.
Someone who understands dogs and is willing to put the time and effort into them can take a very, very difficult animal and turn him into a fabulous pet. Without ever laying a hand on him, without cruelty and without drama.
So what do we need to know? Let’s start with:
So what is “training”?
In dog training, the goal is always to change behavior.
For a young puppy there are 5 basic types of training:
house training or as many people say today, potty training...
basic commands sit, stay and come (sometimes call obedience training)
control fears and aggressive behavior
chewing, excessive barking
walking with a leash and collar
Once your Morkie has been house trained or potty trained, obedience training is the next most important step... this is training the dog to obey certain commands such as sit, stay, come and teaching them to heel.
Not only does it make dog ownership more enjoyable, but obedience training can literally save your dog’s life in key situations - think of your Morkie slipping out the door and running into traffic.... if he responds to stop, sit or stay, he’s safe.
Punishment Training Styles
Older training methods include things like choke collars and leashes to control the dog's behavior and provide an uncomfortable stimulus when the dog doesn't comply.
Training techniques following these principles are still used by some trainers, but are largely falling out of favor compared to more humane, modern methods.
Plus, they’re certainly not useful or appropriate for a small dog like a Morkie.
Instead you want to use NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Negative and positive reinforcement: how it works
I found this dog training principle really confusing and it took me a while to get my head around it so I hope this will help you get there faster!
Negative reinforcement means to take something away that is valued by the dog. That could be a toy, a treat or your attention.
Think of the terms mathematically not as values judgements.
To make this work you really need to know what matters to your dog. If you take a biscuit away from a Morkie, no biggie! They generally don't care that much about treats. This is not a lab or golden retriever. On the other hand, take away that very chewed up toy mouse and you just might get your dog’s attention.
Negative reinforcement is NOT punishing, hitting or shouting. It’s TAKING AWAY what your dog values.
Positive reinforcement means to add something that is valued by your dog. Quite often, that ‘something’ is simply your presence or attention. You can offer dog treats, words of praise, and even a pat on the head to convey such a positive message.
Watch carefully and see what really matters to your dog and then try it!
The Big Three: Sit, Stay, Come
The sit command is the most important command your dog can learn - it’s the basis of many other commands and the foundation of training.
Have some small dog treats on hand
Tell your dog to ‘sit’ while you move the treat from in front of his nose and over his head. As you raise the treat up and back, your dog’s head should begin to follow the treat.
As soon as your dog sits, even though it will actually be on accident at this point, praise your dog by saying ‘good dog.’
Give the treat right away.
Practice in small sessions (no more than 5 minutes), 2 or 3 times a day. Continue to reward your dog as he continues to progress, but gradually offer the treats on a more intermittent basis in order to maintain your dog’s attention and interest. Always keep your verbal praise high.
Offering intermittent rewards will help your dog to maintain the behavior you want.
Mastered “sit?” Time to move on to “stay.”
Now it gets more difficult - the key is to take your time and remain patient.
Again, short sessions, more often, works best.
Have your dog to sit at your command - offer praise and a little treat.
Then say “stay” firmly - once - and take a single step backward.
Make sure you do not go any further. Repeat the ‘stay’ command and if your dog does not move, provide him with a reward.
The ‘come’ command is one of the more helpful ones you can teach, and also one of the most difficult for your Morkie to learn.
The come command is vital when your dog veers into danger:
running out of the house
approached by a big dog
getting too near the street
... and dozens of potentially dangerous incidents
Despite these scary situations, you need to stay calm no matter how frightened you might be, when you command come. If you run after him in a panic, he will only run faster and farther away - but with some practice and a calm attitude, it’s more likely your Morkie will return to you.
Every time you use the “come” command there should be a positive reward and lots of praise. He should want to come to you no matter where he is or what he is doing.
The three ways to teach the come command:
Start by standing on the other side of a room from your dog. Say “come” once - firmly and calmly. As soon as he comes all the way up to you, offer lots of praise and a treat.
Repeat this process as often as you can.
Your dog will enjoy the positive response pretty quickly.
Try practicing down a long hallway or by going into another room.
Clicker Training Your Morkie
Clicker training is a positive, reward based training method which relies on co-operation, consistency, repetition and positive reinforcement. The clicker SOUND is paired with positive reinforcement, such as a food treat or pat on the head...until just the click sound is enough to get the behaviour you want.
It’s fairly easy, and lots of fun.
For more information on clicker training, search YouTube (or click here) You’ll find lots of videos on the how-to’s of one of the best training methods around.
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Potty training or housebreaking your Morkie
Everyone’s excited about the new puppy… until those “little accidents” around the home get really frustrating!! That’s when some help with Morkie puppy training might come in real handy
Dog house training is indeed a real test of your patience, but it is one of the first opportunities that you and your puppy will have to bond.
Dog house training is a lot of hard work, but it is necessary. In fact, it’s job one.
You will need to have a lot of patience—and even a sense of humor—as you train your dog. But don’t worry, after all of your hard work, you will have a house-trained Morkie!
Just keep in mind, when it comes to house training, every dog succeeds at a different rate. Morkies – being among the smartest and yes, most mischievous, can be especially challenging.
But with some patience and sense of humour on your part, you WILL survive Morkie puppy training!
No matter the breed, it takes some dogs only a few weeks to learn, where it may take other dogs several months.
Here is perhaps the most important thing to know about Morkie puppy training: the rate at which the puppy succeeds is determined by the amount of consistent training that you as the owner give him.
It’s even harder to train toy dogs
Why is this?
Toy dogs like Morkies are not usually crate-trained. Most often they have the run of the household, so their natural aversion to soiling where they sleep and eat, doesn't come into play. Even if you don't keep your puppy in a crate, you can still contain her in a small area, to take advantage of this natural instinct.
We usually carry small dogs to the door, rather than waiting for a signal from the dog himself. Let your dog get used to feeling he has to go, and then signaling you if you're putting him outside to go.
Toy dogs have very small bladders and can't hold a lot of liquid for long. With so many households where everyone's out working all day this can be a real challenge.
We tend to ignore the small messes they make, until one day we wake up to realize our carpets or flooring has been stained and our home smells!
One "mistake" by a 160 pound Bernese Mountain Dog for example, can hardly compare to a 3 pound Morkie puppy's mistake. That's where owners fall short - consistency in house training techniques.
Small dog breeds can be much more challenging to train because of their intelligence, head-strong nature and mischievous personality.
Small dog breeds often view discipline and training as games and will use the opportunity to test the owner’s patience. It’s not unusual for a toy dog breed to quickly understand the training being taught but still clown around to lighten the mood.
Cold weather! The sudden change from a warm, cozy room to a bitter winter evening is likely to make your little dog run right back inside without doing her business.
We’re inconsistent. We haven't decided whether our pup will be paper or puppy pad trained; or trained to go outside. Mixing the two methods is asking for trouble, since your dog has no consistency pattern of where he's good (outside or inside?) and where you really want him to go.
One theory why it's harder to potty train small dogs
A possible reason toy dogs don't get the idea of house training easily is that they don't consider their house their “den.”
They're so small, the house or apartment is like their whole world. So it is easy for them to simply go to another part of their world (the house), usually out of everyone's sight, and eliminate. Toy breeds think if they've gone off to the far edges of the living room, for example, and peed there, that they've done the right thing.
To the larger dog the house is the den and they instinctively choose to wait to go outside to eliminate.
Deciding which potty training method to use
You’ve got a new puppy coming home: how are you going to approach house training?
There are a number of different approaches to successfully house training a Morkie – the key is – pick one and stay with it.
Changing house training methods will confuse your Morkie and will ultimately lead to accidents.
your Morkie will be very confused and accidents will happen if you train him to go outdoors AND also indoors on papers or training pads…. that’s the reason to choose one method only and then stay with it.
Going outside – “house training” means your Yorkie can never go indoors, even on puppy training pads or “pee pads” as we call them in our household.
From the moment you bring your new Morkie home, take him to the spot outdoors that you want to designate as his “dog potty area.” Use your command phrase “go outside” or “go potty.”
As soon as he goes, woohoo! Give lots of immediate verbal praise, treats and kisses!Consistency (yes, this word again) is very important with dog potty training. Take your Morkie to the same spot in your yard or park every time you take him out to “Go Potty” (or your own phrase). Use the same phrase every time.
If you are not consistent with when you take him out and where you take him out, it will be hard for your dog to know what is right and what is wrong.
If you train your Morkie to go indoors, you have several choices:
This is one of the original ways to train a mostly-indoors dog: paper training. This isn’t a “stage” in house-training - it’s a method of its own.
You simply put several layers of newspaper inside your house (use a boot tray, fits perfectly), where you want your puppy to go potty. Be sure to use the same spot at all times.
Of course, you change the papers after each use, but THE KEY IS that the newspapers are always available for the puppy’s use.
Paper training is separate from house training. It is not a preliminary step to house training. This is a COMMON mistake among people. (The only exception is for very young puppies that are too small to go outside.)
If you decide to teach your puppy paper training, then that’s the method you’ll use for the rest of his life.
Paper training works well for:
elderly or handicapped owners
young puppies with little or no control of their bladder or bowel muscles
Morkies that haven’t had all their immunization shots yet
people who work long hours and have to leave their Morkies home alone
Puppy Training Pads
Very similarly to paper training, puppy training pads are a method of their own, and not a “stage” on the path to being house-trained.
These absorbent pads are specially treated to attract your Morkie to go on it; plus they have a plasticized bottom to prevent leakage onto your floor or carpet.
Use the same steps for the puppy training pads as you do paper training:
puppy pads in the same place every time
change them when your dog goes
Although the cost adds up over time, puppy pads absorb moisture really well and are easy to use. They’re also great for traveling with your Morkie
How to train with a litter pan
Believe it or not, you CAN train a small dog to use a kitty litter pan!
Again, you set it up the same as paper training or puppy pad training:
always available for your Morkie
clean and fresh
in the same place all the time
Use regular kitty litter or shredded newspapers, and the potty mess is all contained.
To get your Morkie started using the litter pan, put a bit of newspaper with his urine on it in the pan. Or, leave a small piece of his poop in the pan. He will be drawn by his scent.
Let him sniff around, place him in the pan, and say an encouraging command such as “go potty” or “use your tray.”
You can also lift your Morkie and set him in the litter box, while encouraging him to use it. When he does go potty, praise him tons.
The five keys to your success
When your Morkie wakes up, take him to the potty place.
Feed your Morkie on a regular schedule which will eventually be three to four times a day. After he eats or drinks anything, take him to the potty place.
After your Morkie plays or exercises, take him to the potty place.
Withhold water for two to three hours before your Morkie goes to bed.