Are Pugs Easy to Train?

Are you considering adopting a pug as the newest member of your family? Adopting any dog is a big change, and pugs bring their own specific problems to the table, just like any other family member. How difficult are these issues to rectify? How easy is it to train your pug?

Are Pugs Easy to Train?

Pugs are not easy to train. They are easily distractable, have a nasty rebellious streak, and are easily bored with repetitious tasks. Training a pug can be done, but it takes hard work, consistency, and lots of praise.

Let’s talk about how to go about training a pug. We’ll look at their temperament, what to do to show that you’re in charge and the spirit of training your pug. We’ll also take a look at some things you should train your pug to do, and how to do it.


Pugs tend to be described as “fun, energetic, and vivacious” by those who interact with them. When you talk to a pug owner, the first thing they’ll tell you about their dog is how happy-go-lucky their dog always seems. This is a good quality to have in a dog. They’ve got a lot of personality packed into their tiny pudgy bodies.

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Pugs have a stubborn streak, in them, but are typically not aggressive, and because they are so small, they make great pets for small children. Being a little stout dog like a pug is great for both the dog and the child, as neither can really rough up the other too badly.

Pugs are often referred to as “shadows”. This is because they love to shadow their owners and stay as close to them and whatever their owners are doing as possible.

They nap very frequently, but when they are awake they are very much charming, incredibly animated in what they want to express, and ready to play. Just as often as they want to play though, they also want to eat. Pugs are lazy dogs by nature.

Pugs are the kind of dog to do well in homes where they can and will get an abundance of attention and are treated like a part of the family. In situations like this, the pug will offer heaps of devotion, affection, and a listening ear back.

Be the Alpha Dog

Pugs love it when their owners are pleased with them. Knowing this is the key to training your pug. There are two parts to training a pug:

  1. Establishing yourself as the master
  2. Establishing the situations in which you are pleased as a master with your pug’s actions.

Let’s focus on the first step. How can you establish yourself as the Alpha? How can you assert your dominance over your dog, and show him that that rebellious side of him has no place in your home?

It’s a common thing for most first-time pug owners to be frustrated at their pug not listening to them. It can be irritating, and owners find themselves resorting to cookies, collars, head halters, and clickers to make sure they get their pugs compliance.

It’s ideal that a pug should always come to you, and sit on command anytime, anywhere you want him to. If you’ve struggled with your pug in the past with he/she not listening to your promptings, then chances are, you had not established yourself as head of the pack.

Before you can get any training done, you must establish yourself as the Alpha dog in the family. You pug needs to know that it’s you who’s in charge and leader of this pack.

Pugs respect their leader with a sacred kind of love, and you need to be able to put yourself in that position in the pug’s eyes. How do you do this though? How do you establish yourself as the Alpha dog?

Do’s and Don’ts of being the Alpha


  • Make sure you always come in or go out the door first. This shows the pug that you are the leader. It provides a visual for the pug to understand that you lead others where they need to go.
  • Eat first. Always. Only give your Pug something to eat after you’ve finished eating yourself. This shows the pug that you are more important, and that the pug’s happiness depends on yours.


  • Circle around your pug when he is lying on the floor. Make your pug move out of your way instead. You are the Alpha, and you need to be respected.
  • Let your Pug set the precedents in the household. Only pay attention to him/her when you want to, and not whenever he/she demands it.
  • Let your pug sleep with you in your own bed. You need to establish that you are more important, and that means that your pug sleeps in his own sleeping area (which is of lesser quality than yours).
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This part of training is difficult for many pug owners. They feel as though they are being mean, and cruel to their pug. This is not the case though.

The cruelest thing you can do is to break midway through setting yourself up as the Alpha. It will cause the rebellious streak to come up, and your pug will think he has the right to challenge you on some things.

Rule with an iron fist. This is how you train a pug. Don’t rule cruelly with an iron fist, but set yourself up as the ultimate enforcer of the rules. Decide on what rules you will set, and enforce them no matter what.

Make sure the rules are not cruel towards the dog, but also make sure that you have rules that set you up as the master and “in charge”.

Be sure that you consistently enforce the rules. This means that you do not reward bad behavior, but it also means that you do reward good behavior.

What’s In a Name?

So you’ve set yourself up as the Alpha, and “In Charge”. What now? It’s time to begin training.

And the first step to training is to make sure your pug knows his own name.

Pugs are smart creatures and can make connections more quickly than many dogs out there. They have high emotional and social intelligence and can learn their name quickly.

What you need then, from your pug, is for him to know and recognize his own name as the first step of training. This should be his first trick, to hear his name, and look towards you as an acknowledgment. In order for your pug to listen, he must know that you are addressing him.

If he can’t listen because he doesn’t know his own name, your efforts in setting yourself up as the Alpha have gone to waste.

To make sure that your pug recognizes his own name, you can do the following steps:

  1. Take a Treat in your hand and hold it away from your body.
  2. Call your Pug’s name.
  3. After he turns to look at the treat in your hand, continue calling his name until he turns and looks into your eyes.
  4. Give him the treat immediately.
  5. Repeat the exercise, this time holding the treat in the other hand.
  6. After making sure that your pug will turn and look at you in response to his name, you can reward him with petting or other forms of expressing affection.

Now that your pet knows his name, it’s time to do more training! Teaching tricks to your pug should be easy as pie now that he respects you as the Alpha, and can take rudimentary commands.

A Pug’s Love of the Master: The Spirit of Training

In order to train a dog, you must first find out what that dog wants more than anything in the world. It’ll warm your heart to know that the thing that your pug wants more than anything in the world is to make you happy.

Pugs want to make their masters pleased, and will do almost anything to do it. They have a stubborn streak, but it’s not as powerful as this drive to please. Because this is what your dog wants the most, it can be very difficult to train your pug.

It feels very much like manipulation to train a dog, and it can feel wrong to many people to use your dogs love for you to get what you want. It can make you feel gross, or wrong.

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Perhaps if you are feeling these things, you are too caught up in the fantasy of the “perfect family” where fathers and mothers can spoil their children, and yet the children still somehow wind up to be productive members of society. That’s not how it works.

Your pug, if spoiled and not disciplined properly will go through its life believing that he does not need to listen to anyone.

By establishing yourself as the Alpha, you help your pug to gain a sense of loyalty to you, and you help yourself develop necessary leadership skills that can help you in your life.

There is a fine line between discipline where your dog is being trained to follow rules that will help both your pug and you, and cruelty where your dog is being forced to follow rules that only hurt your pug. It’s up for you to decide what rules you will enforce, but the rules that you decide to enforce will need to be constantly upheld.

Don’t be afraid to punish your pug, but don’t hold back on love either when they do something good.

Praise your pugs often whenever they do something right. Give the love and adoration that your pug deserves when he does something to please you. Don’t give in when he’s being naughty, but don’t hold back when he’s being the good boy he’s meant to be.

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Trainability of Pugs: The Power of Praise

These strong-willed pugs need to be trained early on, especially during the first six months of their lives. This time period is crucial as far as training is concerned. It’s much more difficult to change dogs’ behaviors after the six-month mark.

Pugs are stubborn, independent, and are smart enough to very quickly tired of repetitive exercises. They are very much not easy to train, and with their crazy, hilariously silly, and distracting antics added in, your pug may seem downright impossible to train at times.

Fortunately, pugs have the strange and exceptional eagerness to please their owners. When owners are consistent and patient, they can train their pugs to do either tricks from prompts, or train behaviors into the pugs.

Praise is the name of the game when training pugs. Because they want it so badly, it is one of your greatest tools. Heap praise on them when they do good things. They thrive off this attention from their owners, and you can teach your pug patterns of behavior that you want from using this tactic.

Perhaps the most important thing to do when training your pug is to not inadvertently praise behaviors that, while cute, are not the point of the training exercises you are conducting.

Using treats as rewards at the beginning of training exercises is a strong way to start, as pugs are very fond of treats.

Things Pugs Can/Should be Trained to Do/Not Do


Pugs are very distractable, and because of this have gained a reputation for being harder to train than other breeds of dogs. To deal with this, use the prospect of rewards to teach your pug to focus on you.

One way that you can train your pug to do this is to touch your pugs nose with the tip of your index finger, say a keyword like “Focus” or “Watch”, and then bring the finger up to your own nose.

When your dog follows your finger with their eyes all the way to your face, give a treat right away, and lots and lots of praise. Do this a number of times a day with the end goal of lengthening the time your pug follows your finger.

Remember to not give our treats unless your pug does exactly what is needed from them. For this exercise, that means to not look away from your finger or you until you feel enough time has passed.

Basic Obedience

Teaching your pug to “sit”, and “stay” are basics in the dog world. You can teach the sit command by holding a treat out of reach until your dog listens and sits. Teaching the stay commands is a bit tougher though.

To teach your pug to stay:

  1. Take a treat and hold it out in front of you at arm’s length.
  2. Tell your pug to sit. As soon as his tush hits the ground, tell him to stay.
  3. Begin walking backward, facing your pug until you come to a corner or wall that you can hide behind.
  4. Go behind the wall for a brief moment, then come back out and go to your pug,
  5. Give your pug the treat, and lots of belly rubs.
  6. Repeat these steps, lengthening out the amount of time you hide behind the wall each time.
  7. After you’ve got a solid base amount of time (30 seconds to a minute hiding behind the wall), make your walk more casual. Don’t engage the pug the whole journey to the wall.
  8. Rinse and repeat until your pug can sit for as long as you’d like him to.

Teaching your pug the basics is vital to being able to train your pug further.

Leave It

That rebellious streak I keep talking about? It can express itself in many ways. One of these ways is that pugs love to chew things up, and may wind up chewing up something valuable.

Train your pug to “leave it” by placing an object your pug chews on normally (like a favorite toy) in front of your pug. When your dog begins chewing on the toy, tell them to “leave it”, and then reward them for backing off and not touching it until you can go and pick it up.

Teaching this with a leash or a collar may be necessary, as the pug may not ever ignore the object to learn that there is a reward for doing so. Pull the dog away from the toy, and then give them a reward, to begin with.

After some success with the leash, still have the leash equipped, but try only using verbal commands. Only give treats when your dog immediately obeys.

Potty Training

It can take a long time to potty train pugs. It takes puppies of the pug breed until they are around 6 months old to sufficiently develop the muscle strength to control their urge to pee and poop.

Pugs will learn how to do this eventually with plenty of positive reinforcement such as treats and tummy rubs.

Pugs tend to have smaller bladders than most other dogs, so they’ll need more frequent opportunities to relieve themselves. Sometimes, this might be very often (every 1-2 hours).

Because of this, litter box training works well with pugs. This gives your tiny dog a place to use when you aren’t home, or can’t take him/her outside.

To train your pug to use the litter box, bring your pug to the litter box every one to two hours, or whenever you see signals that your pug needs to go.

Keep the pug at the litter box until they pee, then give your pug a treat, and praise him/her with pets and loves.

Also, be sure to watch your pug carefully, and keep a close eye on your pug to make sure they don’t use an inappropriate area.

Training your Pug

As you go on training your pug, remember to set rules and boundaries that are fair, and that you can enforce. Be the Alpha, and let your dog know that you are in charge.

Be kind in your leadership, chastising, but expressing love equal to your chastisement. Though difficult, your pug is trainable and loves you very much.

Related Questions:

Are pugs good family dogs?

Pugs are great with kids. Though they are small, pugs are not delicate like some toy breeds. They are a good breed choice for families with children. When properly trained and socialized, pugs can enjoy the company of other dogs and can be trusted with cats, rabbits, and other animals.

How much does a pug cost?

Buying a purebred pug from registered parents can cost you about $250 for a puppy. It can cost you up to about $1,500-$2,000 for a well-bred potential show champion pug though. Prices when buying pugs (and any dog for that matter) are usually negotiable.