Let’s face it, trying to train any kind of dog can be a challenge. And puggats are no different. They come with challenges of their own. But after having our puggat for four months, we are pleased to look back and see how much he has progressed. You may think your puggat has a stubborn streak, or that you don’t have the time, but don’t give up! You may be surprised what your puggat picks up on a daily basis.
One of the first things most people work on when they bring their new dog home is housetraining. This is probably the hardest part in training a puggat. In our experience with our puggat, it took about a month before Roogy would walk himself to the sliding door to let us know he needed outside. This may seem like a long time to be totally trained, but he was constantly making small steps from the start. The first week is really the hardest. First, your puppy has to adjust to a new environment. They don’t know where they are supposed to go to the bathroom. On top of that, you need to learn to watch for the signs that you need to take your pup outside. When we thought that Roogy needed to go out, we would say “outside” while taking him out the door, set him on the ground, and give him the command to go. Treats and lots of praise when he was done helped with conditioning his behavior. So stick at it, and use commands so your dog knows what is expected. We can now ask out dog if he wants to go outside, and he knows exactly what we mean and heads straight for the sliding door. Keep at it!
Another useful command in housetraining is “kennel up”. We were surprised at how fast Roogy picked up on this one. Starting the first day we got him, we would use the command each time we placed him in his kennel. As he got older, we would randomly try saying it without actually picking him up and placing him inside. It never seemed to work, and I was giving up hope on him actually listening to that command. What dog wants to get locked up anyways? But to my surprise, he started listening. It is important to add at this point that dogs respond differently to different people. M can tell Roogy to kennel up and he will trot directly into the kennel without hesitation. When I tell him to kennel up, he will pause and look at me for a couple seconds, then slowly, and almost painfully, walk towards his kennel, with his head held low, giving me the saddest looking face ever. He must know I am a woman! Puggats are good at reading people, and they know who is in charge. Make it a point from day one to show you are in charge.
Now to the fun stuff! Tricks! There is something everyone loves when a dog sits on command. Our puggat would do just about anything for a Tiny T-bone or Beggin’Strip, so this was an easy one to teach. Training with treats your dog is crazy for will make them much more willing to learn. We really didn’t start teaching Roogy to sit until he was about four months old, and he caught on very quickly. Now, at six months old, he is able to sit, lay down, stay, and fetch, and we are working on more. Of course, fetching was really a natural thing for our puggat. He would fetch and return a frisbee the first week we had him.
Remember how I mentioned puggats can be stubborn? Roogy definitely one command he only obeys when he wants to; come. Sometimes when I let him outside, he decides to start roaming to the neighbors lawn. No matter how much I call for him, he totally ignores me. But I also mentioned how much he likes his treats. I don’t know where or how he learned this, but when I ask “want a treat,” he books it from wherever he’s at. I know I’m just rewarding his behavior, but it works. Just give me a break on that one.
I feel better about giving Roogy a treat when he has to work for it. He learned in two tries that he doesn’t eat his treat until I tell him to “get it”. I have gotten to the point that I set the treat in front of him, walk around the kitchen, and then finally tell him to get it. And he waits patiently for his reward. Puggats will pick up quick when there is a reward involved!
Another thing I have learned about our puggat is that he loves going for rides! He goes absolutely crazy when we ask him if he wants to go for a ride. I never thought a dog would pick up on stuff like that, but Roogy did. And it wouldn’t surprise me if your puggat will do the same.
The latest trick I have been working on with Roogy is rolling over. He has not accomplished it on his own yet, but he is trying. In just a few minutes of working with him and pushing him over, he would start digging his shoulder into the carpet as if he wanted to roll over, but didn’t know how. I was surprised that in just one lesson he was showing that he was trying.
The most fun thing we have ever done with Roogy was take him pheasant hunting. We were a little hesistant about taking him at first. He had never been exposed to gun shots, or to running around in a huge open field full of thick grass. The grass in the field was about three feet tall, well over our puggats head. I thought I would have to carry him the whole time. To our surprise, Roogy probably had the most fun of his life. His head was constantly springing up above the grass as he jumped along as we hunted. He even ended up scaring up a pheasant. We were amazed and laughing the whole time. He was a natural! It must be the rat terrier in him. So don’t be afraid to let your dog try out different things. You may find it to be a good time!
It’s a lot of fun to see how fast our dog picks up on things. Puggats are smart, and they are excited to learn new things. So keep those treats handy and go at it. It’s really rewarding when you see your dog learning and obeying you. And it’s fun for them too! Happy training!