The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Pomeranians" by Vanessa Richie. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Vanessa RichieOnce you finish that first week, you will have a fairly good idea of what your pup’s personality is, and you will have a rough idea of what kind of routine will work with your puppy. You are probably feeling a bit tired as you have been sleeping a bit less than you need to, and because of the amount of effort needed to establish the foundation of training. One thing is certain, your life will be very different than it was before that first week.
Fortunately, this is where things start to gel and life will get easier. You have an idea of what kinds of tactics work best to motivate your Pomeranian. Praise probably is working pretty well since your puppy is starting to bond with you and will love that happy look on your face. Knowing this is going to make the rest of the month a lot easier to manage. By the time the month is out, you will almost certainly see some progress.
The biggest issue you will probably encounter over the coming weeks is how adorable your puppy is. It will be easy to feel that something is close enough, or that there will be time later to train. These are both understandable, but detrimental to your puppy’s place in the pack and intellect. Don’t be fooled by those puppy dog eyes – your Pomeranian can learn and will be much happier if you are firm (not mean) and consistent in your approach to training. Training should also be done daily, if only for short periods of time, to get your pup used to the idea of training. You should see some results of the training by the end of the month, although the results may not seem very big. Small steps must be taken to get your puppy to be the perfect companion
Not up to Full Strength – Don’t overdo it in the First Month
Pomeranian puppies may seem like boundless furballs of energy, but they tire much faster than their adult counterparts. Their energy is limited, which means that you can tire them out quickly. This can be incredibly helpful in getting rid of all the energy, but you also have to be careful that you aren’t pushing the training past the puppy’s concentration threshold.
You won’t be able to do nearly as much with your puppy over that first month because of their limited energy levels. Walks will be incredibly short. Tailor your activities to your puppy’s current energy levels, mostly staying at home as much as possible so that your puppy can sleep once that energy is expended.
There will be walks on leashes, but that is still largely a learning experience. If you have a yard, that can also be a great place to play. Still, most of your trips will be within a block or two of home. Typically, these excursions will end with a nice puppy nap, meaning you won’t be overly tired but will have time to do things you need to do without feeling like your puppy misses you. The puppy will still need to sleep in the designated puppy area because when that little pup wakes up, you may not be in the room. This is why it is important to pretty much stay home and not take your puppy out exploring in that first month. They simply don’t have the energy and will feel more comfortable sleeping in the established space.
Don’t worry – by the month’s end, your puppy will have a lot more stamina so you can enjoy longer walks and short trips away from home if needed. You will need to start changing those exercise sessions to be longer so that your puppy can continue to build stamina and work on training a little further from home. Pomeranians will never really be the kind of dog to take on long walks or hikes, but at their best a couple of 30-minute walks a day will help keep your puppy healthy, and give you a bit more daily exercise.
For now, monitor your Pom’s energy levels so that you aren’t pushing for too long a walk or play session. Even if your Pomeranian can’t handle a long walk, you still need to make sure that the puppy gets adequate activity every day. Remember, they are an intelligent breed, which means they will get in trouble when they get bored. Staying active will help them to not only be healthy, but keep them mentally stimulated so that they are less likely to get in trouble around the home. You will quickly realize just how sedentary you have been if you did not have a dog before because you will be on the move almost all of the time the puppy is awake.
Setting the Rules and Sticking to Them
Pomeranians are notoriously headstrong, though they will be far less so when they are puppies. This is why it is essential for you to fight that urge to dote on them and let them get away with things when they are young. If you allow exceptions for the puppy, that puppy is going to grow into an adult that expects you to constantly allow exceptions. All puppies (regardless of breed) need a firm approach to training and the house rules, perhaps even more than adult dogs because they need a baseline of understanding. Never make exceptions in the early days to ensure the training sticks.
If you don’t remain consistent, you are setting yourself and your Pom up for a lot of contention since it will be difficult to convince your dog that you are serious. You have already proved to your puppy that listening to you is optional. With the right look or action, the puppy can get you to lose focus, and will use this constantly in the future, and expect the same results. You will already be in the habit of giving in, making it that much harder to train both of you in the right way to behave.
Remember, they are stubborn, so training is important to get them to listen to you and to understand that you are in charge.
A firm, consistent approach is best for both of you. You want to have fun together, but that also means making sure your Pom knows that there are some things that are required, especially listening to you. Once your canine learns to listen to you, training your Pom to do tricks can be a enjoyable. It just takes some time to get there in the early days.
If you can manage to be firm and consistent over that first month, things could get a bit easier in the subsequent months. Keeping a level head and applying the rules without any exceptions paves the way for easier training. There will be a trust and respect that is built up from being a great trainer who keeps all of the lines clear, making the rest of your time with your Pom so much more enjoyable.
Treats and Rewards vs. Punishments
Training and treats are so closely thought of together that it can be difficult to consider anything else as an effective means of training your dog. Second to treats, people think of punishment as a way of dissuading dogs from undesirable behavior. Although these have been the typical methods used in training, there are serious problems with both. Teaching a puppy proper behavior is a balancing act to make sure that you are firm, but not cruel, so you should provide rewards, but use something better than food.
Positive reinforcement can be an effective way to train Poms if you have established yourself as the pack leader. Food is an obvious choice, but you have to be very careful not to overfeed your puppy. You don’t want the little pup to get accustomed to eating too much, especially as they become adults and no longer have a rapid metabolism. Starting with small treats is best, but you should quickly begin using praise and extra petting as the primary form of positive reinforcement. You could even add some extra playtime after a training session if your puppy does very well.
Having your puppy’s respect is also essential for successful training. If your Pom respects you, it will be much easier for them to accept positive attention instead of treats because they know you are in charge.
You may occasionally need to resort to punishment, particularly if they nip or chew on furniture. However, you have to be careful not to train them to believe in things or actions that will make your life more difficult. Never use the crate as a place to punish your Pomeranian – it should be a safe haven when your puppy wants to be alone or sleep. It is not a jail and you should not treat it as one. You can use time out instead to get your point (and disappointment) across to the puppy. It should be somewhere that the puppy cannot interact with you, no matter how much the pup barks, whines, or whimpers, but you should still be visible to your puppy. You don’t want to scare the puppy. The point is to let them know that you are still there but intentionally not interacting because of the puppy’s actions. By denying them access to you without you disappearing, you are reminding them just why they need to behave.
Pomeranians can get really attached to their people, which can lead to separation anxiety. This can be particularly true during the first month when your puppy is missing mommy and the first home. As prolific barkers who are not quite trained, puppies can literally bark for hours, which is really bad if your live in an apartment or with just walls separating you from your neighbors. The anxiety can also lead to destructive behaviors.
In the beginning, keep the puppy’s time alone to a minimum. If you can work from home for the first month or two, or if you can constantly have a family member at home, this will help the puppy get acclimated. Alone time can involve being alone in the room. The sounds of people around the house will help your Pom understand that the separation is not permanent. After the first week or so, the alone time can involve you going out to get the mail, leaving the puppy inside alone for just a few minutes. You can then lengthen the amount of time over a few days until the puppy is alone for 30 minutes or so.
Here are some basic guidelines when you start to leave your puppy alone.
- Take the puppy out about 30 minutes before you leave.
- Tire the puppy out so that your leaving is not such a big deal.
- Place the puppy in the puppy area well ahead of when you go out to avoid associating the space with something bad happening.
- Don’t give your puppy extra attention right before you leave because that reinforces the idea that you give attention before something bad happens.
- Avoid reprimanding your Pom for any behavior while you are away. This teaches them to be more stressed because it seems like you come home angry.
If your Pom exhibits signs of separation anxiety, there are several things you can do to help make the puppy comfortable during your absence.
- Chew toys can give your puppy something acceptable to gnaw on while you are away.
- A blanket or shirt that smells like you or other family members can help provide comfort too. Just make sure you don’t give your puppy dirty clothing while you are away.
- Leave the area well lit, even if it is during the day. Should something happen and you get home later than intended, you don’t want your Pomeranian to be in the dark.
- Turn on a stereo (classical music is best) or television (old-timey shows that don’t have loud noises, like Ed or I Love Lucy) so that the home isn’t completely quiet and unfamiliar noises are less obvious.
Since they are smart, it is not going to take your Pom long to notice the kind of behaviors that indicate you are leaving. Grabbing your keys, purse, wallet, and other indications will quickly become triggers that can make your Pom anxious. Don’t make a big deal out of it. If you act normal, over time this will help your Pom to understand that your leaving is fine and that everything will be all right.
Training Areas to Start during the First Month
Training is covered in a later chapters, but there are several critical aspects that you will need to start during the first month:
- Crate training
You need to find out how much the breeder did in housetraining and other areas. The best trainers may even have puppies listening to one or two commands
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Pomeranians" by Vanessa Richie, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: