If you’ve decided you want a trainable dog, you’re in luck! The Papillon is known to be an intelligent and obedient dog, and well suited to training. In fact, with their liveliness, intelligence, and affinity for training, they do quite well in agility contests. Papillons are also the number one ranked toy breed in obedience competitions. Even if that’s not for you, they are still very able to pick up tricks. These small dogs, named for the butterfly-wing shape of their ears may struggle in a few areas, but are an agreeable delight! (1, 2)
Papillons are a highly energetic breed of dogs, who love to always be doing. But, just like how you wouldn’t load a toddler up on sugar then expect them to behave, if your Papillon isn’t getting proper amounts of exercise, they can become restless. If you’re a couch potato, the Papillon is not the dog for you.
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Papillons are also the “mountain goats” of dogs, who enjoy climbing and leaping–probably because of their huge energy reserves. But Papillons are little dogs, standing approximately 8-11 inches and weighing in at only 4-9 lbs. Because of this, they can hurt themselves by not looking before they leap–and that’s not strictly a metaphor. It’s important to make sure they are trained to keep themselves safe! (2)
The easiest way to make sure that your Papillon is being properly trained and cared for is to get them plenty of supervised exercise. This way, you can make sure that stamina is getting run off a little, making them easier to keep under control.
Additionally, you should be training your Papillon to wait for assistance to get up onto and down off of furniture. Just because they can be little mountain goats, doesn’t mean they should. It’s recommended that you either use doggy stairs or teach them to wait for you to lift them up and down. Because they do need to be supervised as much as possible, neither of these options is inherently preferable over the other–you’ll have to be there anyway. (2)
The American Kennel Association notes that smaller dogs are often a little harder to housebreak than big dogs. While the Papillon certainly won’t be the most difficult dog to housetrain, it’s always best to be prepared.
Make sure to keep a schedule for your Papillon to follow, taking them out a few times a day to relieve themselves. You’ll need to start out with more frequent visits to the great outdoors when they’re young, gradually tapering off as the puppy grows up and has a better grasp on their training.
Although crate training is a sometimes controversial method, its main appeal is that it teaches your Papillon to let you know if they need to be let out. Although Papillons are assertive, they’re not known for being excessively vocal, so it’s not a given that your Papillon will bark to alert you of a needed potty break. Additionally, Papillons cannot really be left unsupervised, because of their fragility and their need for human interaction, so a crate may also not be a bad idea for the (hopefully rare) occasions when you need to leave them by themselves. (2, 3)
The Papillon’s attitude isn’t a problem, per se, in much the same way their energy level isn’t. But it is an area that, if left unchecked, can develop into a problem. Papillons are described as a “take-charge” dog, and that can manifest itself in two main types of interactions: with other animals and with very young children. (2)
Papillons are very social creatures, so the answer to this is absolutely not to deprive them of contact. Instead, it’s best to expose them to a variety of animals and people often–with one important caveat, which we’ll get to in a moment.
There are many different ways to socialize your Papillon. Doggie daycares, dog parks, and playdates are popular ways for your sweet pup to meet other animals in an interactive, playtime environment. You may, if you have the time and resources, want to get a second pet, so the Papillon can grow up learning to share their space. Even cats are alright–provided they are introduced when the Papillon is young enough (and the cat has no objections). Taking your dog for walks in peopled (and animaled) areas is also a good idea, so he can learn to get used to having others around him. Even obedience classes can be a good idea–not only are you getting professional help and advice in training your dog, but they are also learning to obey commands while around all these new and exciting faces! (2)
Now, for the exception. Papillons will not be shy about letting your child know when they don’t like how they’re being treated, either by defending themselves or trying to make an escape. Because a Papillon is so little and delicate, a child who is unable to properly interact with a dog could hurt them. This could be a fear response to an unhappy dog, or in an effort to prevent the Papillon from leaving, which a young child might interpret as a reaction. Even more innocent play could seriously hurt the dog if the child is not aware of the need to be very gentle. Therefore, please keep your Papillon away from children too young to understand the importance of good dog etiquette, and always make sure children are supervised around the Papillon. (2)
Just Remember . . .
Just like all dogs, Papillons have their pros and cons–and what may be a con to one person could be a pro to another! Though the Papillon is very easy to train because of their intellect and desire to please, that loving nature does mean that you will need to keep them near you. They’re not the sort of dog to choose if you’re constantly out and about. On the other hand, if you’re never willing to leave your house, your Papillon will be woefully understimulated. But if the two of you can find a balance, you have a friend for life