Skip to main content

How to train your poodle so well you’ll both be welcome in public

Poodles are well-known for their elegant coat and detailed grooming styles, but is it a coincidence that their regal behavior is a perfect match? Yes and no — this breed is naturally very smart, friendly, and adaptable, but it also takes patience and consistent training to raise a happy and healthy poodle.

But first, you’ll need to learn how to train a poodle. This won’t be that different from training any other dog, but you will need to take some of their unique characteristics into account. So before we dive into training your precious four-legged friend, let’s learn about their breed and what makes them so uniquely…them!

Related Videos

Are poodles easy to train?

Poodles have beauty and brains — but because of their high intelligence and ability to learn quickly, training can go one of two ways. On the one hand, your dog may pick up on new skills and feel eager to show them off, but on the other hand, your pup could be stubborn and resist training as well (via Canine Perspectives). Or your poodle could even tune into destructive yet enjoyable behaviors you weren’t trying to teach.

Luckily, the American Kennel Club lists all sizes of poodles — standard, miniature, and toy — as incredibly eager to please. Once you find the perfect reward for your dog, you’ll likely have no trouble keeping her attention. Try treats, praise, or even a short game of fetch.

Even though these proud pups are very smart and trainable, they also need a lot of mental stimulation to avoid boredom. It may help to change up your training routine every now and again; even practicing in another room can be enough of a difference to make your poodle think a little harder. Better yet, try moving on to the next step of training if she seems comfortable with what she knows.

A brown miniature poodle stands in front of a white background and eats from someone's hand

At what age you can train a poodle?

The adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been absolutely debunked. Dogs of any breed and any age are capable of expanding their skillset. Although puppies have more of an innate curiosity for the world, that curiosity never completely goes away. “If a dog is awake,” notes VCA Hospitals, “he is learning.”

In fact, despite having less energy than their younger counterparts, many older dogs can focus for a lot longer. Starting habits young is always a great idea, though. Just don’t be frustrated with your puppy if he doesn’t pick up on new skills as quickly as you’d like. Even older dogs can have trouble picking up on training — age isn’t the only factor.

If you have a poodle puppy on your hands, you can start socializing him at around seven or eight weeks of age (once he has had at least one set of vaccines for a week or longer). Socialization is like an early form of training in that it exposes pups to different environments and situations, though they won’t be ready for verbal commands quite yet (via AKC).

A brown standard poodle runs through the grass with their tongue out

How to train a poodle

Training a new furry friend won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. The first things you’ll need to do are teach your dog her name and decide on the house rules. Consistency matters when training a poodle — or any pup — says Pedigree, so make sure everyone at home is on board. If someone lets your buddy on the couch, for example, while everyone else does not, your dog will likely be confused and “break the rules.”

Rewarding good behavior should start right away, no matter your pup’s age. Even if she doesn’t yet recognize the words you’re saying when you praise her, a positive tone of voice goes a long way (as does a treat). This affectionate breed will respond best to positive reinforcement and gentle corrections when needed — just remember to be consistent! It’s important that corrections are never forceful or frightening, as this is the fastest way to lose your dog’s trust.

Whether you’d like to start with loose leash walking or some simple obedience commands, keeping these tips and tricks in mind will give you a solid foundation. That’s one less thing to worry about! Positive reinforcement and consistency will always be key no matter what you’re teaching, so you can take this info with you no matter where life takes you and your best poodle pal.

Editors' Recommendations

5 safe and fun adventures you can plan with your small dog
Your small dog can do just as much as a big one if you follow these tips
Cute small dog stands in front of a blurred background

As a small dog owner, you might gaze longingly at the humans who can play endless games of fetch with their shepherds and go for 5-hour walks accompanied by their collies. But you can have all sorts of good times with your little guy. Don't let their size stop you from planning outings together. While, of course, you'll need to work within your beastie's physical constraints, there are lots of things you can do while accommodating their diminutive size.

Hang at the dog park
This is the pastime of many dogs, both large and small. Don't stay away from the park just because your bud can't race around for hours on end. Many parks now specifically set aside sections for small breeds. Take your pup there to find friends of a similar size. If you want to foray into the big dog section (or there isn't an area available for your pup), you can always ask the group if the dogs in there are friendly to their little cousins.
Go for hikes
While it might take a little preparation (and possibly a dog sling), your tiny Fido can enjoy hiking, too. You should work up to this by doing a little bit more each day or each week until they're ready to strike out for a longer adventure. Also, be sure to prep with necessary accouterments, such as water, treats, possibly a dog carrier, and mushers wax if it's winter.
Travel together
One of the biggest benefits of having a little dog is they can go on planes and trains. If your pooch seems to enjoy exploring new places, take them with you on vacation. The fees to travel by air can be a little high and there are some rules (you need them to lie down quietly under the seat for the duration of the flight). But for many doggies, they prefer the flight to staying behind with a sitter.

Read more
Is a terrier right for you? Here are the 5 things to know before bringing one home
Terriers make great pets. Facts to learn about these pups before adopting one
A Jack Russell terrier lies on their back while the owner rubs their belly and reads a book

We'll cut right to the chase (something terriers love), this dog breed group includes some of the spunkiest buddies in the canine family. The terrier class of dogs represents a wide variety of pups, everything from the small Norfolk terrier at just over 10 pounds to the sturdy bull terrier at 70 pounds.
However, there's something all these guys have in common: They have boundless energy and love to play. While you might not have heard of some of these breeds, a terrier could be the perfect dog for you.

What is a terrier?
Chances are, you know a couple breeds with the word terrier in them, but this is actually a completely separate dog group, like Sporting and Herding. Terriers were predominantly originally bred for vermin hunting, and you'll discover a lot of that in their personalities today. Note some "terriers" belong in the Toy group, namely the Yorkie and the toy fox terrier.
Is a terrier a good dog for me?
There's a good chance that a terrier will fit well into your life, but they're not for everyone. Here's what you need to know before bringing home one of these pups.
They're not tiny apartment dogs
Despite the small size, you can't keep these little buddies in a tiny space. Many terriers require as much exercise as a Lab or golden, despite being a fraction of their stature. Make sure you have a good play area, preferably both inside and outside.
There are lots of different kinds
And each one comes with its own unique set of challenges and personality. Many pit bulls fit into this category along with Jack Russells and miniature schnauzers. Look closely at exactly what type you're getting and if you land on a terrier mix, ask which breed they most emulate.
Some are hypoallergenic
Kerry blue, Scottish, and Westies all have hypoallergenic hair, similar to a poodle. While this coat is great at preventing the sniffles, all dogs with this kind of fur require maintenance, typically including professional grooming and haircuts.
If you don't entertain them, they'll make up their own games
Don't forget, their version of playing probably means destroying your stuff or getting the zoomies. We can't stress this enough: You should only adopt a terrier if you are ready for daily walks and playtime.
Some don't like other dogs or kids
Lots of terriers love people and pets and make great family dogs. But others will only bond with one person. Some are mouthers that will put your hand or their leash in their jaw even into adulthood (this isn't a bite and is usually non-aggressive). You can carefully train this out of them, but it can be scary for small children.

Read more
What to do when dog obedience training stalls
These tips may help you and your pet tackle dog obedience training regression
A woman training a dog

Signing up for dog obedience training is one of the first orders of business after you bring your new addition home. Your pup may have started strong and even graduated with flying colors. They sat, stayed, and came running to you like they were on the fast track for the Westminster Dog Show. Even better, they were housebroken — no more accidents to clean. Having a well-trained dog keeps your pup safe and you less stressed. 
What happens if, all of a sudden, that goes out the window? Perhaps your dog is still in training but suddenly stops following commands or struggles to progress to the latest lessons. Your pet may also have post-dog obedience training regression days or even years after graduating. 
It can be highly troubling for dog parents, who want the best for their pets and kitchen floors. Here’s how to get Fido back on track with training. 

Reasons dog obedience training stalls
Figuring out what triggered the slowdown or regression in training is essential in mapping out appropriate next steps. There are many reasons your dog may not be taking to training anymore.

Read more