It would be fantastic if we could just snap our fingers to train our small dogs, but until that magical day happens, let’s get the inside scoop on the easiest small dog breeds to train.
The Papillon takes its name from its uniquely shaped ears, which resemble butterfly wings. This pretty, petite pooch once graced the laps of European royalty. Fable has it that Marie Antoinette even held her Papillon as she approached the guillotine on the day of her execution. The dog survived, but Marie Antoinette…well, you know …
We can safely assume that the Papillon was the darling of duchesses, dukes, queens, kings, and dauphines because of its “frou-frou” looks, charm, and most of all, its exceptional intelligence. The breed ranks at number eight on the list of most intelligent dogs, according to canine psychologist Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs.”
It’s a given that to be accepted in certain circles, one has to behave a certain way. So, the aristocracy no doubt valued the breed’s intelligence because a smart dog is typically easy to train.
Although not above using their charm to manipulate their human pets, Papillons learn quickly, and most respond well to training, especially if there is praise or food involved.
The Miniature Schnauzer is bold, spunky, and playful. Their energy is boundless, they get bored quickly, and their prey drive is off the charts. So proper training at an early age is a must.
One of the smartest dogs around, they are highly alert and eager to please— characteristics that make training a bit easier.
That said, they can also be stubborn and independent and will even ignore you if they don’t want to do something. But, what do you expect from a dog with a mustache?
To train your buddy, you’ll have to firmly establish yourself as the authority figure and nip bad behavior in the bud. Be firm, but never harsh. If they see that they can get away with something, they’ll do it habitually. It’s best to begin training any dog as early as possible, before they get “set in their ways,” so start training when your dog is a puppy.
Named after the island of Malta, where the breed is fabled to have originated, the Maltese is not only beautiful with its long white flowing coat, but it’s also a real people pleaser.
A companion breed, the Maltese, not only excels at learning tricks but quickly learns to be well-behaved by following household rules and routines. This little dog, once cherished by the nobility, strives to fit in.
However, It can be a little more challenging to teach a Maltese to be quiet. All toy breeds are noisy – it’s a defense mechanism given their vulnerable size.
Nonetheless, barking can quickly get out of control. You must teach your Maltese not to bark excessively and to stop barking when you tell him or her to. The work you put in on this will more than pay for itself.
7 Havanese – Easiest Small Dogs to Train
Like the Maltese, the Havanese is a Bichon breed, a distinct type of toy companion dog that dates back to the 11th-century. The Havanese also originated on an island, this time the island nation of Cuba, more specifically Havanna, hence the name.
Like its other Bichon breed cousins, the Havanese is a companion dog, which means that pleasing people is one of its specialties.
Because Havanese dogs are people pleasers and quite intelligent, you are going to have an easy time training your pup by showing gratitude when the Havanese responds positively to what you ask of it.
There are not many Spaniels that are toy breeds. There are two. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and its parent breed the English Toy Spaniel, once known as King Charles Spaniel.
Like their other Spaniel kin, such as the Cocker Spaniel and English Springer Spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles is intelligent and full of energy.
And like other companion dogs on this list, the Cavalier is eager to please and responds well to positive reinforcement, although they have a stubborn streak. Sometimes you just have to convince them that training was their idea. Keep training short and entertaining.
There’s a reason that the Boston Terrier shows up on almost every list we do about small dog breeds. Boston Terriers are easy to train because they are an intelligent breed that enjoys mental stimulation and a strong desire to please their owners.
Few dogs display the disposition of the Boston Terrier. Their kind and gentle temperament have won them the name of the American Gentleman, a name rightfully given, and as companions or house pets, they have few equals, earning the Boston a solid spot on our list of easiest small dogs to train.
4 Border Terrier – Easiest Small Dogs to Train
The Border Terrier is not a companion dog like the dogs so far on this list. Like most terriers, it is energetic, athletic, and intelligent.
Because it is not a companion dog, the Border Terrier doesn’t possess the people-pleasing nature we’ve seen so far, but it more than makes up for it in intelligence and food motivation. There’s not much a Border won’t do for a treat, if not sometimes a bit overenthusiastically.
Border Terriers don’t respond well to punishment or scolding and can be a bit stubborn, especially if they feel disrespected.
Unlike most terriers, the Border is usually friendly with other dogs and not given to fiery posturing.
The Bichon breeds’ poster child, the Bichon Frise, has many of the Maltese and Havanese characteristics, along with the Coton de Tulear, Bolognese, Bolonka, and Low Chen in that they are all eager-to-please dogs bred to be intelligent, loving companions.
With a combination of consistency, dedication, and positive reinforcement, you Bichon will ace obedience training, along with any tricks or competitions you throw at it.
Start with something easy like “shake hands” or play hide and seek. These interactions with you will set you two on a course of fun and engaging training.
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2. Fox Terrier – Easiest Small Dogs to Train
The Fox Terrier, whether wire, smooth, or toy, combines the energy and independence of terriers with an affectionate, upbeat personality that makes them ideal family dogs.
Like all terriers, however, Fox Terriers have a mind of their own but take well to training and hold their own in dog sports such as obedience training, agility, and earthdog trials, as well as tricks.
They can be stubborn, so firm and consistent leadership is a must. But, like the Border Terrier, scolding will likely be met negatively, causing you both frustration.
Because Rat Terriers are people-oriented, eager to please, and very intelligent, they are generally easy to train and quite well-mannered, especially when compared to feistier terriers like the Jack Russell.
Their little bodies tend to make them great competitors at Agility or Flyball, as well as other canine sports.
Peppy and nimble, Rat Terriers do best in households with confident, positive, consistent human leadership. Their intelligence and playfulness, combined with their innate caution, can sometimes lead to overprotecting their people or their territory if they learn to think that such behavior is their “job.”
Rat Terriers can benefit greatly from obedience training classes to help them bond with and communicate with their families and early socialization to help them let their guard down.
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