3 Tried & Tested Training Tips For Your Small Dog

Your small dog has specific training requirements that can help him become a happy and healthy companion. From choosing the right leash, dog collar and even considering a muzzle, there are many ways to ensure you meet the training needs of your small dog.

#1: Choosing the Right Leash

dog on lead

In many cities, there are hefty fines if you are found out of doors with even the smallest breed of dog, not on a leash. It is a bit amusing to imagine a tiny teacup Yorkie on a lead, but to keep your pet safe and your pocketbook intact it is a good idea to have a small dog leash on hand. In fact, having several different kinds of leashes ensures that no matter the situation you and your pet can walk or ride comfortably and legally. There are many types of small dog leash from the flexible and retractable, to the high-end leather fashion statement.

What you need in the way of a leash depends on your dog’s breed, his temperament and what the pair of you will be doing while you’re both out and about. You will also need to measure your dog to see what length is best. People sometimes forget when leash shopping that their very small dog will be closer to the ground and the leash will need to be long enough to accommodate the space between your handheld up to elbow level down to your little guy’s neck at his standing height. To think of it in simple terms you will need a longer leash for a smaller dog.


The sturdiness you need depends on the breed and strength of your pet. A small Toy Fox terrier might need a little correction every so often, but a firmly held lightweight leash will usually do. When walking a determined Westie, or even a larger size small dog like a Sheltie you will need a thick flexible leash that can withstand the occasional heavy tug one of these dogs might suddenly give a leash no matter how well they are trained. Even the best dog will sometimes have an instinctive reaction to a pesky squirrel, or a cat darting away in a matter that just triggers all his primal energies so be prepared.

This is one of the reasons to be careful if you use a retractable leash. These leashes that work like fishing line to give your dog length on to roam are great for the park where your dog has a lot of room to run around, but the trouble can come with the problems you don’t see coming until your dog is at the end of 9 or 10 feet of leash cord. Pulling him back can be difficult and if the danger is a car or larger dog this might take time you don’t have. When using a retractable leash it is frequently a good idea to have a standard leash ready just in case you need to switch, or for walking home through areas where there is traffic.

Chain length leash used to be very popular, but most dog trainers now discourage them for a number of safety reasons. If you don’t want to use leather you probably will have no trouble finding a small dog leash made of a thick durable fabric or flexible plastic. If you can take your pet with you when shopping for the leash to make getting the right size and length much easier.

#2: Different Types of Training Collars

dog in collar

Some dog owners have trouble with the idea of a small dog training collar. This type of collar can look more intimating to the dog owner than to the dog. Your small dog needs you for many important things in his life. A dog needs food, exercise, companionship, security and yes, a certain amount of discipline. Your dog doesn’t understand physics, society or laws. He doesn’t know a speeding car can round the corner and hurt him, or that biting an unfamiliar hand will get him in trouble. He needs you to protect him from making mistakes and training is the best way for you communicate with him. Using a training collar for your small dog is really a way of keeping him safe.

There are two types of collars often referred to as training collars for these being chain link collars that can be pulled tightly and electronic training shock collars used to keep an unleashed dog in a yard. This type of correction is usually needed for larger dogs that might physically resist training, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for small dog training collars too. Small dogs with a nervous or hyper temperament might need this type of adjustment to help them settle down long enough to be trained.

A chain link collar looks like a simple chain with two metal hoops at each end. By holding one loop above the other, letting the links thread themselves through as you lower the loop, the collar is formed. The collar can then be looped over the dog’s head. There should be enough length to the collar so that it hangs down to just below the dog’s collarbone. Looking at the two metal loops you need to note that one is above the other. The upper loop is the one that should be clipped to the end of the leash.

As soon as you attach the leash you must be very aware of the training collar and your own movements. The training collar should never be even with the dog’s larynx as this can obstruct his breathing and even cause permanent damage if you accidentally pull too hard. If your dog tends to jump and pull when the leash is first put on, then start out in a small space where he has no way to run to the end of the leash or pull too hard on the collar which can cause him to choke.

When working with a small dog training collar, stop immediately whenever your dog might seem in distress and rearrange the collar. Try to keep the chain as loose as possible when you’re not making a correction and don’t pull too hard when you are making a correction. For most dogs, three short, light tugs will work to correct problem behavior. The idea is not to hurt the dog but to firmly correct problem behavior.

Used correctly for the small dog with dangerous behaviors like snapping or darting toward traffic, this device, far from being cruel can be a lifesaver. When the behavior has ceased for at least six with no corrections having to be made than working the dog back to a normal collar is possible.

#3: Using a Muzzle to Stop Aggression

You might have heard using a muzzle is cruel. The truth is letting your dog be in situations where from his own fear or instinct, he harms himself, a person or another animal when you could have prevented these circumstances from happening. The unfortunate part of a dog biting incident is the pet is often the one authorities place in quarantine or under observation as a possibly dangerous dog. Even small dogs can wind up in very hot water for biting and despite the fact the owners will pay fines and medical bills it is the dog that will pay in isolation, or possibly even removal from his home. A muzzle that fits comfortably and is used carefully prevents what might be a nightmare scenario for your little friend.

When Cesar Millan the famous dog trainer used a muzzle on a beagle during an episode of his well-known show “The Dog Whisperer” it opened the eyes of many owners to the possibilities of using a small dog muzzle to help their pets overcome aggression. He showed the dog was perfectly comfortable while wearing the muzzle and how he was able to better work with the little beagle without having to worry about those tiny sharp teeth. Even a very small dog can give a nasty bite when he feels under threat and even Toy breeds can cause wounds deep enough to require stitches.

You are no doubt aware of those situations that trigger your dog’s aggression. A visit to the vet or being around larger dogs or certain loud noises can make your dog snarl and snap far out of your voice or physical control. These are times you need to be prepared with the sort of small dog muzzle that would work best for your little friend in these situations.

The two most common types of muzzle are the nylon mesh and the basket muzzle. With mesh nylon, the dog’s mouth is held completely closed. The dog can breathe easily, but he can’t pant nor can he drink or eat. For these reasons, it is best to only use the nylon type for short intervals. Nylon mesh is the best to use when you are taking the dog to the vet or to the groomers if he typically snaps or bites during these times. The basket type allows your dog enough space to pant or drinks water. The basket muzzles work well when you need to keep the dog from biting or snapping for long periods of time such as when you are traveling.

The basics of using the muzzle are very straightforward. Don’t wait for the confrontational moment to try to put the muzzle on, and instead gently introduce your dog to the muzzle before he has to face the troublesome situation. Praise the dog once you have the muzzle on and keep talking to him in gentle friendly tones throughout the situation that triggers the aggression. Used correctly for short periods of time, small dog muzzles will not harm or even disturb your dog. Trainers often joke muzzles are more traumatic for the owners than they are for the pets who need them. If you are nervous regarding how you are using the muzzle, check with the vet, dog trainer, or other trusted expert.

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3 tried and tested training tips for your small dog

About the Author Andy

When not writing about himself in the third person, Andy spends many an hour walking his mischievous, mixed breed rescue dog Mr Wox, aka Soxy Woxy. A leading authority on dog-related topics, Andy is highly respected, deeply appreciated and widely admired.

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