From following simple commands to toilet and sleep, you want your Cavapoo to learn the right behaviours from the very start. As a responsible owner, it is your obligation to show and teach your puppy or dog how to live safely and happily through positive training.
But are Cavapoos easy to train? Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles are highly intelligent breeds of dog, making Cavapoos relatively easy to train. When training your Cavapoo, use a combination of treats, toys, play and praise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
If you were to place yourself in the paws of your Cavapoo, what would motivate you to learn best? Below we look at the different ways in which you can effectively reward your dog when teaching them new skills, whilst ensuring that they feel happy, loved and valued, every step of the way.
Advantages and disadvantages of training a Cavapoo
A Cavapoo is a crossbreed of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle and therefore certain aspects of their parentage contribute to their personalities. To find out more on the various generations of Cavapoo dogs and the physical traits that set them apart, read our blog – what is a Cavapoo?
Cavaliers love everyone! Their unassuming yet friendly nature is endearing which means that Cavapoos are generally eager to please. This means that they are fast learners and need little encouragement in order to learn new tricks.
On the flip side, however, Cavaliers have a mind of their own and this can lead to your Cavapoo picking up bad habits such as barking. In order to successfully train your Cavapoo, you will need to implement a range of positive reinforcement techniques to discourage unwanted behavior.
Poodles are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog around, however, this does mean that they require a lot of mental stimulation. This may be evident with your Cavapoo, who may enjoy training, but can quickly become bored. In order to counteract this, you should train little and often using a variety of different methods.
Finally Cavapoos are incredibly fussy eaters, so constantly using treats as a reward for your puppy is unlikely to work all of the time, so try mixing up your training with plenty of praise and play.
How to motivate your Cavapoo
Every dog is different, even if they are the same breed. Therefore you need to spend time getting to know your Cavapoo and understanding what drives them to learn. If your puppy is refusing to do as you have asked it is most likely to be because:
- They do not understand what you are asking them to do,
- they lack the motivation to carry out your commands
Building a strong relationship with your dog will help you to understand exactly what your Cavapoo needs in order to learn and train them.
Do not yell or punish them for failing to follow through with a command, as this will only result in confusion but a lack of trust from your Cavapoo. Instead reinforce and reward the right behaviors from the start, because when your dog feels respected, nurtured and loved it will look for ways to please you more.
Different types of dog training techniques
Dogs and kids are remarkably similar in that they need to be bribed in order to follow the rules.
Bribes are best used to influence behavior and can assist in regaining control of a situation – I.e./if your dog runs off and you need to bribe them to return with a handful of food.
A reward, however, is given when your dog displays good behavior whether asked for or not.
In order to train your Cavapoo, you need to make sure that their reward is given the moment the command has been carried out. And, while you may not need to reward every sit, wait, or recall every time they do it; in the early stages of training, these motivators can help boost learning and will instil a lifelong understanding of specific instructions.
The best types of reward for your Cavapoo are likely to be food-based although toys, playtime, verbal praise, and plenty of cuddles can work well.
Using treats to train your Cavapoo
Treats tend to be the most popular form of reward when it comes to training as they are available in a variety of tastes and textures and can be presented in quick succession. The only issue with food-based treats is that Cavapoos are incredibly fickle and finding a motivating food source for every training situation can feel impossible.
Our Cavapoo Rosie was just not interested in shop-bought treats, and although she would tolerate them for simple commands such as sit and stay, when the situation required a big payout – such as tempting her to come back from playing with other dogs – she needed something more irresistible.
As a Cavapoo owner, you should be aware that it is often the situation that dictates the treat. For example, small rewards are great when you want your Cavapoo to think they have hit the jackpot through their actions. A constant showering of shop-bought treats soon lets them know that their behavior has been good.
But save your high calibre rewards (in our case roast chicken or cheese) for when you need something so desirable that it will lure your dog away from any environmental distractions.
Using toys to train your Cavapoo
Cavapoos are very excitable dogs who are highly motivated by playing with toys.
Like all things, however, you get what you put in. The more energy you can muster during a game of tug of war the happier your Cavapoo will be. Just be careful not to over-excite your dog during training as this can lead to distraction. For inspiration on the best toys for Cavapoos, check out our buyers review guide.
Just recently we have been using a whistle in order to reinforce recall training with Rosie. As a parent, it is a win-win situation, as I send the children off to hide and the dog off to seek. A simple blast on the whistle and a shout of her name sees our Cavapoo flying around the house in order to return to the kids. Only time will tell if this technique works as effectively whilst we are out on our walks!
Using verbal praise to train your Cavapoo
We only have to call our Cavapoos name and her bottom wiggles and her tail waggles in anticipation. Verbal praise is one of the most effective training techniques to master as your dog does not even need to see you in order to understand what is expected of them. This is because the volume and intonation of your communication says it all.
Try speaking in a cheerful, silly, singsong voice and see what response you evoke from your Cavapoo! I can guarantee that their ears will prick up, their head will tilt, and their tail will start to swish. This happy voice signifies to your dog that you are pleased with their behavior and is a great way to encourage your Cavapoo with their training.
Lowering your pitch and talking in a slower voice shows your Cavapoo that you want to command their attention and encourages them to listen, whereas a soothing tone, reassures them that they are doing the right thing. Often situations can be scary for your dog, yet a comforting voice can instantly put them at ease.
Finally, a high volume command can help to alert your dog to something dangerous. Often stopping them in their tracks.
Try not to over-use verbal paise and communication with your Cavapoo as it is most effective when used sparingly but at crucial moments. Always remember to say the same words consistently so that your dog becomes accustomed to them.
Using touch to train your Cavapoo
When we feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or happy, a comforting cuddle and show of affection can instantly make us feel brighter and better. This is exactly the same for your Cavapoo.
An enthusiastic pat on the head, rub on the tummy, scratch behind the ears or cossetting cuddle is often the best way to show your Cavapoo that you care and or that they have done something that is incredibly clever.
How long does it take to train a Cavapoo?
It depends on what you are training your Cavapoo to do, the age of your dog and the methods in which you adopt, which will determine how quickly they are likely to pick up commands and cues.
Simple commands such as sit, stay and even toilet training can take a matter of weeks to master with constant repetition and rewards. When it comes to socialization, recall and lead walking, then practice makes perfect and it depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to training.
Bad habits such as barking and jumping not only requires the unwanted behavior to be ignored, but a new skill to be introduced. For example, if you do not want your Cavapoo to jump up (which for your dog is a natural instinct learnt from their mum), then we need to train them to sit to be greeted instead. This mutually exclusive behavior is not learnt overnight and can take a number of months to perfect. For a full guide on how to stop your Cavapoo jumping, take a look at our top tips.
It is really important that you try and set aside some training time each day – ideally when your Cavapoo is calm and focussed. Remember, that your dog is never too old to learn new tricks and that constant repetition of commands will only help to cement training techniques.
There is no point wasting your voice or energy telling your Cavapoo what not to do (they won’t understand). Instead, you should invest your time in training and teaching them what behaviors you enjoy seeing.
Because of their lineage, Cavapoos are relatively easy dogs to train and once they figure out (with a bit of help and reinforcement from you) that good behavior gets them plenty of rewards, you will soon be paying them dividends.