How to Train a Pug

pug sitting on stairs

Pugs are friendly, outgoing little dogs that make excellent pets for families and individuals. When you adopt a pug puppy, you’ll find they have an easy temperament and generally respond well to dog training.

While this small dog breed is relatively easy to work with, they often have strong personalities and require special training. You’ll find this lap dog enjoyable, and the small size provides significant advantages when you begin training them.

Essential Points to Consider When Training a Pug

Pugs are fun, lovable small dogs, though they can be difficult to train at times when they become distracted or simply want to rest or play. For this reason, there are several essential points to focus on when you begin to train your pug puppy so that they will learn how to listen and follow basic commands.

Attention and Focus

One expected behavior of the pug breed is their challenge with focusing on commands or an issue. They may listen and obey initially, only to be distracted quickly, which means you’ll have to divert their attention away from another dog, toy, or object and bring their focus back to you.

When you touch your pug’s nose with your finger, do this while saying “watch” or “focus” so they understand that you’re about to say a command. As you say this, slowly move your finger from their nose towards your own, so they make the connection to direct their attention to you.

When your little pug looks up at you, give them a treat as positive reinforcement; repeat a few times, so they understand the importance of focus and learn what it means.

Your pug should fix their attention to you only, and if there are distractions in the room or general area, you can either remove them, choose another spot, or continue to train your pug with the “watch” and “focus” commands.

pug lying on dog park

Learning Basic Commands

Training your pug to understand basic commands will help prevent behavioral problems and give your dog clear instructions on how to act. You can start with simple words, such as “sit” and “stay,” then reward your pet with a treat after they perform each command correctly.

When you notice a hesitation during pug training, it’s essential to remain patient and consistent and hold the treat just about your pug’s nose, so they understand that correct behavior or action will be rewarded.

If you’re teaching your pug to remain still during grooming or cleaning their face and wrinkles, you can repeat the word “stay” or say “stay still” or a more specific command. It’s not uncommon for pet owners to notice bad behaviors in pug puppies, such as chewing on an object instead of a toy or trying to tear apart clothing or curtains.

You can train your pug to refrain from this activity by using positive reinforcement and teaching your pet to “leave it” by using these words. It’s crucial to maintain consistency so that your pug understands that certain items are to be ignored or left alone. You’ll find that a collar, leash, or harness can help reinforce your commands and work effectively in many situations.

Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Pugs love socializing and spending time with their human companions. When this dog breed is left alone, even for just an hour or two at a time, they can develop separation anxiety and react destructively while you’re away.

To reduce anxiety and create a comfortable environment for your pet, establish a small, cozy area for your puppy with their pee pad or potty, fresh water, dog food, a crate or a small gated area, and safe toys and items to play with. Securing your pug in a secure area will prevent them from getting into trouble or exhibiting bad behavior while you’re at work or running errands.

Puppy training should also include leaving your dog for small amounts of time until your pug gets used to separation. Once they get accustomed to your schedule, they’ll be less likely to disturb neighbors with excessive barking and feel safe and relaxed. You can reward their good behavior with treats and kind words so that your pet is comforted and understands that you’ll return to socialize with them.

Potty Training and Dog Walking

While pugs tend to be low-activity dogs, they enjoy walking outdoors to socialize and play. If you live in an apartment or a small living space, you can potty train them indoors with a litter box. These flat, square-shaped surfaces are usually covered in artificial grass, or you can easily use disposable puppy pads.

Since pugs have small bladders, they will likely need to use the puppy toilet once every two to four hours. When you notice signs that they need to go, take your pug to the puppy pad or box, and wait until they are finished, then offer a treat to reward them for completing the task.

Crate Training

If you want to keep your pug dog in one area of your home while you’re away, crate training is an excellent way to ensure that your pet won’t enter an inappropriate space or get into trouble. Initially, you may find your pug is resistant to staying in a crate, though you can train your puppy to get used to it with kind, reassuring words and treats as a reward.

If you’re going to be away for several hours, make sure your pug has fresh water, dog food, and a puppy pad. The crate should be large enough to accommodate your pet, so they feel safe and secure while you’re out.

owner playing with black pug


Pugs are wonderful pets that enjoy human companionship and socializing. They are also brachycephalic, meaning they have a shortened muzzle and may be prone to overheating and breathing problems.

As a result, pugs are best suited to moderate climates and should avoid high temperatures. They are best trained in temperature-controlled environments, where they can take frequent breaks and relax.

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