Obedience and House Training for Your Pug

Obedience and House Training for Your Pug

Pugs are little dogs with great big personalities. It's important to know that they have special training needs. Learn more here.

Pugs are outgoing, friendly little dogs with clownish personalities. This low-activity toy breed prefers the indoors, where they can usually be found curled up next to their owners. With their even temperaments, pugs respond well to positive training methods and can learn a variety of basic obedience commands. Because of their small size, they can be litter-box trained. Treats provide the proper training motivation for these perpetually hungry little couch potatoes.


Pugs have a reputation for being harder to train than other breeds, but this may be because they often are easily distracted. To deal with this issue, use the prospect of a reward to teach your Pug to focus on you. Touch your Pug's nose with the tip of your index finger, say a key word such as "Focus" or "Watch," and bring the finger up to your own nose. When your dog looks up at you, give an immediate treat and praise. Do a number of repetitions per day of this procedure, with the goal of lengthening the time your Pug remains focused. Eventually, when given the verbal command to focus, your Pug should concentrate on only you. Use this command during training sessions any time your Pug's attention wanders. Never give treats without requiring an action from your Pug first.

Basic Obedience

Basic obedience commands allow you to keep track of your Pug, prevent some behavioral issues, and help with grooming. Teach your Pug to "Sit" by saying the word and holding a treat out of reach above the dog's nose until the Pug sits. Reward the dog immediately with the treat and praise. Once your pug knows this command well and responds very quickly, the time the dog holds the sit can be lengthened to teach your dog the "Stay" command. These commands can be used to keep your Pug still when you clean the dog's facial wrinkles daily, which is necessary to prevent skin infections and staining of the face. You can use the same reward principle to teach your little dog the "Down-stay" and "Stand-stay," which also are useful commands.

'Leave It!'

Pugs love to chew, and may end up chewing a prized possession or piece of clothing. Train your Pug to "Leave it" by placing a wanted object such as a favorite toy in front of your pug and rewarding the dog for ignoring the object. This command, useful in a wide variety of situations, is best taught using a leash and harness to keep your Pug from accessing the item. Harnesses work better with this breed than a collar, which can injure the dog's trachea.

Potty Training

Pugs have small bladders, so they need opportunities to relieve themselves, sometimes as often as every hour or two. For this reason, litter box training works well with Pugs, giving the little dog a place to use when you can't be available to go outside. Dog litter boxes usually have a square, flat surface, covered with artificial grass. You can also use disposable puppy pads during housebreaking, replacing them as needed.

Bring your Pug to the litter box every one to two hours, or whenever you see signals that your pet needs to go there. Keep the dog there until the task is completed, then treat and praise your Pug. Between such breaks, keep a close eye on your Pug to ensure the dog doesn't use an inappropriate area. Put your Pug in a dog crate when you are unable to keep an eye on activities around the house.

Separation Anxiety

Pugs are social little dogs that want human company. Left alone, this breed may have separation anxiety and become destructive. To avoid this issue, train your dog to stay in a comfortable small area when you aren't home. The area should contain the dog's potty place, safe play objects and water, and should be secured by a pet gate or a door. You can also crate train your pug, but that won't allow the dog access to the potty area. Reward your dog in the designated area, so that this is an area where the Pug feels comfortable. Practice staying away from your dog for a few minutes at a time, lengthening the time gradually to accustom your dog to the separation. Provide your dog safe, treat-filled puzzle toys. These will keep your pug occupied when you aren't present to prevent barking and destructive behaviors.


The Pug is a brachycephalic breed, meaning these dogs have a shortened muzzle. They are subject to breathing and overheating problems, and they should not be trained in hot, humid weather. The breed is prone to heat stroke, and extremely cold temperatures also adversely affect this breed's ability to breathe properly. Keep your Pug in a climate-controlled environment indoors when teaching obedience commands during summer and winter months.

When teaching your Pug tricks and commands, feed treats only for training purposes and avoid them at other times. Pugs are a low-activity breed and may become obese with excessive treats, which can worsen breathing problems.

Pugs older than 6 months may take longer to train, especially potty train, than younger dogs.

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