How to train your Poodle

Poodles are smart, headstrong, and full of energy—I should know; I share my life with a now-senior Poodle and a five-month-old puppy. According to a study, The Intelligence of Dogs, Poodles are the second smartest dog breed. In general, Poodles understand and learn a new command with fewer than five repetitions (which is great if you’re trick or agility training or simply training your puppy to basic commands).

Understanding the Poodle

Many Poodle parents think it’s going to be easier to train a smart dog like a Poodle, but sometimes their intelligence makes it a challenge. Poodle puppies are cute, energetic, and eager to please; however, due to their higher intelligence, they may get bored quickly. So, find a good way to keep her engaged while you’re training. The Poodle puppy will pay attention to everything that is going on around her and will be learning—both good and bad—from what happens within the household.

Poodle Training Tips

Teach your puppy his name. This should be a no-brainer. If you refer to your Poodle by calling it puppy or simply saying come here, you’re not effectively training. Teaching his name is the first thing you should do. When you say your puppy’s name, look at him and motion him toward you. Say your puppy’s name in a calm, welcoming tone of voice and reward him with a treat and praise when he coms to you without hesitation.

Teach your Poodle puppy to sit. Once he’s mastered acknowledging his name when called, train your puppy to sit. If you have smaller breed Poodle, it is best if you’re at her level when training. To teach your Poodle puppy to sit, place a small treat in your hand, say the word “sit.” Put the treat by her nose and lift it slowly above her head. Her bum will naturally go to the ground. Once her bum is on the ground, say the word “sit,” give her the treat and praise her. Continue practicing this until she sits without needing the treat moved above her head. Tip: Many Poodle parents use a hand signal along with the verbal cue.

Next, teach your Poodle puppy to stay. You can get him to sit, then say the word “stay.” Consider adding a hand signal such as holding your hand toward your puppy, palm up and repeating the word “stay.” Once he will stay, you will want to move further and further away from him until he will stay even when you are out of sight. Then, teach him a release word, such as “come,” once you want him out of the stay.

Then, teach your Poodle puppy to lie down. You will get her to sit, then holding a treat in your fingers, move your hand toward the ground and out in front of the puppy. She will naturally move forward and her belly will touch the ground. Once this happens say the words “lie down.” After she does that when you ask, you can add the command for “stay” into the training. Then she will stay in a down position until you use the release command (“come”).

Housetraining your Poodle puppy. Housetraining a puppy is best done as early as possible. A dog or puppy can be housetrained, but the older your Poodle is, the longer it may take. To begin to housetrain a Poodle puppy, you need to have a set schedule for going outdoors. This way he can do his business regularly. Also, pay attention to your puppy’s cues: If he starts circling, you need to take him out (as this is usually a sign he needs to go to the bathroom).

Use positive reinforcement when housetraining your Poodle. When she successfully goes to the bathroom outdoors, reward her with a treat and praise. Having accidents in the house is part of having a puppy in the house. When you see your puppy has gone to the bathroom indoors, but you didn’t actually see him go, calmly pick up the mess and throw it away. If you holler at your puppy for a mess he made when he was out of your sight, he won’t quite know why you’re angry. You do not want him to connect going to the bathroom with your anger or he will simply go in a place you can’t see.

When housebreaking your Poodle puppy, keep these things in mind:

  • Take him out regularly and frequently: when he wakes up, before his meals, and after his meals.
  • A puppy can “hold it” for about an hour for each month of his age. For example, a five-month old puppy should be able to go five hours without having to do his business. We urge you to take your puppy our more frequently though.
  • Keep your puppy with you when you’re housetraining. If you allow your puppy to wander the house, you won’t be able to see him circling or asking to go out.

If you’re not certain how to train your new Poodle puppy, call a local positive reinforcement trainer and sign up for a class. A puppy class can be a great first step in training your Poodle. These classes are ideal for basic training and for introducing your puppy to others and helping socialize him.

Training a Poodle puppy, or any puppy, takes patience, kindness and positive reinforcement. It is also a way to build your bond with your puppy—so enjoy the time you spend together, and your puppy will happily learn to do as you ask.


Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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