Pug Training 101: Teaching your Pug to Drop
Welcome to my first pug training post here on The Pug Diary. If you missed the post on getting to know me, be sure to check it out here so you can find out about my background as a dog trainer. Now let’s get straight into it. I teach the command “drop” in week 2 of puppy school because it’s much easier to teach after your puppy has a solid sit command.
I like to teach puppies to drop and hold position until the handler gives a release command such as the word “Free”. When trained well our puppies will be very good at holding their commanded positions, waiting for another command or the release cue, “Free”
To start off make sure your puppy is hungry…. usually never an issue with pugs! Have a good couple of handfuls of your pugs favourite food treat. The treats need to be cut up really small so we don’t fill the puppy up too fast! I suggest the size of a garden pea per treat.
Get your puppy to start working and focussing on you with a sit. Ask for the sit, when the puppy’s bottom hits the ground say the word “yes” and give one treat. Say yes again while the puppy is holding the sit and reward again. The word yes is just a conditioned reinforcer and tells the pup “yes you did it correct, here comes the reward”. The word yes is always followed by the reward. Timing is important.
Once your puppy is working well, you can commence the drop training. To start this ask your pug to sit first. Take a piece of food between your thumb and finger and put it to your pugs nose. Slowly move the treat down from the pugs nose towards his front feet toes. The line you move the treat must be straight down the chest to the toes. There is no command given at this point.
Continue the lure of the food treat slowly away from the pugs toes making a perfect “L” shape. If the pugs bottom comes out of the sit you need to start again. Be patient, it can be hard to get dogs to do this especially when they are little and so close to the ground!
Continue to slowly move the treat away from the toes until the pug flops down into the drop. Once the two front elbows have hit the ground you say “Yes” and give the treat. Repeat the word “Yes” quickly and reward again, “yes” again and reward. Each time you mark with the word “Yes” and give the treat you need to take your hand away and quickly return after your next yes. End the exercise with the word “free” and encourage the puppy to hop up. A training session for the drop should only be a couple of minutes long and always finish on a high note.
Check out Ernest learning to drop in this video:
Common handler issues are:
Moving the lure too fast causing the pug to stand up and walk after the lure.
Moving the lure in a “C” shape rather than an “L” shape and the same problem above will often happen.
If you find the L shape lure isn’t working for you, you can try to slightly cross the front feet over with a zig zag lure so the pug almost cross steps into the drop.
Don’t add a command yet. When I say that I mean don’t say the word “DROP” or “DOWN” to the pug until the pug has learnt to respond well to the food lure. This can take a few training sessions. Pugs don’t speak English and humans will often repeat commands at their dogs in the early stages of training. This won’t help your pug to drop faster, but it will teach him to potentially ignore your command.
That wraps up our first pug training 101 post on how to teach your pug to drop. Stay tuned for my next pug training 101 post next month. Happy pugs everyone!
Content by Amy Smith
Video by Amy Smith
Photography by Kristy Beck
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