It seems to me that a lot of people don’t put a high priority On obedience training a Bichon, Havanese, Maltese or any small dog. During the last 25 years that I have been breeding and selling small dogs, I have rarely met any people who have Obedience trained their Bichon or Havanese or Toy Poodle. I guess classic obedience training, including Heal, sit, stay, down and come may not be very important when you have a 10 pound dog. If he’s doing something you don’t like you can simply pick him up under your arm and remove him from what he is doing. There is one command, however that is a MUST to teach any dog, regardless of size. His life may depend on it one day. That command is COME!
In an emergency, it is dire that your dog stop what he is doing and come to you when called. You are out in your front yard and your dog spots a person walking a dog across the street, a car is coming, you scream “Fido, COME!!” He darn well better come if he wants to live. See my point? You take him to the pet store with you, he slips out of his collar, you yell “Fido, Come,” he best come to you and not run off through the parking lot. if you ever want to see him again. Am I making my point?
The problem is most people unwittingly teach their dog -NOT TO COME- from The moment they bring him home. The first thing we do wrong is call him to you, when he comes you pick him up and put him in his crate. Right? Yes we all do it. Do you think he will come to you next time if he knows he is going to get locked up?
Next, my favorite, you find a puddle on the floor, you scream “Fido come over here” and then proceed to pommel his butt for messing on the floor. Now, if you were Fido in his new home, would you come when called?
Come is an obedience command and is one of a series of commands that are taught to a dog in a specific order. However, if you don’t think the other commands are necessary at least teach come so you and he can have a wonderful relationship. Classic obedience training is best if stared at 5 to 6 months when Fido has a better attention span and has calmed down enough to absorb the lessons. For now, we need to work on come inside the house and in your yard. This teaching begins the moment you bring him home.
Go to the pet store and get small, soft training treats. Little pieces of chicken or cheese, or hotdog also work well. Put your new baby on the floor in the kitchen, let him investigate and play around for several minutes then you get down on the floor, call him to you using his name and any kissy or squeaky sounds that will attract him. When he comes running over to you, give him pats and kisses and hand him a treat. While he is eating his treat get up and walk away. Do this at random intervals. You don’t have to get down on the floor after the first few times. Just call him, give a pat and treat, speak lovingly to him, then turn your attention else ware. Get the concept? Coming when called is a good thing and gets a pleasant reward.
When you are ready to put him in his crate for whatever reason, walk over and pick him up. Don’t call him to get locked up. When you place him in his crate, say “Kennel Up” (or any phrase) and give him a treat. You are laying the ground work for him to understand going into his crate gets a treat and happy words from you. You may decide that after 15 minutes to let him out again. And in ½ hour or so do it again. Don’t forget, go pick him up (don’t call him), say 'Kennel up' as you place him in the crate and give a treat as soon as he is in. Close the door while he is eating his treat. It’s also good to say in a melodious voice, “Good Boy” several times while he is chewing his treat. Then leave the room or go out as you had planned.
Lesson 1: Never call your puppy to lock him up or punish him. Always make coming to you a pleasant experience with lovin, kisses, petting and a treat, if you have one handy. The coddling and lovin is just as important as the treat. It’s never too late to start this training. Even if you think you blew it and he runs away from you every time you call him, start now. I will address steps to overcome “he won’t come” in another post, but basically, call him, hold out your hand with treat, when he takes it tell him “Good Boy” and walk away. Do it often it will start working.
Good Luck and remember - BE PATIENT! Remember how long it takes to raise a child.