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How to Teach Your Min Pin Almost Anything

Updated on August 30, 2017

Min Pin Obedience in 3 Steps

This lens is about training your dog, min pins in particular, but the same strategy can be applied to almost anything with a pulse, e.g., your spouse, children, extended family, friends, or people in general. Three basic principles are key when training a dog: consistency, reinforcement (positive or negative), and repetition. Used correctly, these three principles can get your willful canine under control. On this page you will also find combat-tested training tips and strategies.

Step 1: Consistency

Laying the groundwork

Being consistent teaches your dog what it is that you want it to do. If you're like most dog owners, you want your dog to act appropriately in the house (chewing on only its toys and refraining from pottying in the house, e.g.). You probably also want your dog to interact well with people by not jumping on or barking at visitors. Your dog does not know these things until you teach it how to act.

Dogs are good at putting together (e.g, cause and effect). If you are trying to teach it to not jump on visitors, you might command it to "down" and "stay" every time the doorbell rings. When it does, you give it a treat, as discussed below in reinforcement. Soon, the dog will understand what it is you want it to do. Because min pins are very intelligent, the dog learning what you want it to do happens quickly. In fact, this can occur in as few as 2-3 times. Getting the dog to do the behavior every time just because you command it, however, can be a slower process. That is where the next two sections, reinforcement and repetition, apply.

Miniature Pinscher books - Research is the key

To find a dog that suits your family and lifestyle, you must research the temperament of the dog breed you have in mind. Because min pins can be a high maintenance breed, you'll want to learn as much as possible before you adopt.

Dogs are Great

Do you have a favorite activity to do with your dog? Does your dog have a favorite activity to do with you? What is fun and great about your dog?

What is your favorite activity to do with your dog?

Step 2: Reinforcement

The incentive

Reinforcement teaches your dog what will happen if it does or does not do what you are asking it to do. Reward or punishment is the strongest tool you have to train your dog. The key here is to identify your dog's favorite and least favorite things. Food is an obvious favorite for most dogs. Choosing a food that you can keep close at hand is important. For example, I simply use 2-3 kernels of kibble. It doesn't need to be refrigerated, and thus can be taken on trips, and is always on hand at our house. For some reason, if it comes out of the "treat bowl" instead of out of their feed sack, it is absolutely wonderful. I think it's hilarious to watch them do tricks and go wild for just a piece or two of kibble right after they have eaten a whole bowl of it.

Teach Tricks wth Treats! - Get to your min pin's heart through its tummy.

Dogs need lots of positive reinforcement. Treats, when planned in their daily food allowance, are great rewards.

The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Man's Best Friend
The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Man's Best Friend

With 50 canine-tested, veterinarian-approved recipes,The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook has something to delight every canine connoisseur. Dog lovers can stir up appetizing homemade treats for their beloved pooches using easy-to-find ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. Recipes include Peanut ButterÃHoney Nut Cheerios Balls, Taco Treats, Birthday Blueberry Pupcakes, Halloween Treats, Frozen Magic Meatballs, and more. There are even delicious doggy delicacies for pets with special needs, including Turkey Jerky and Salad Bar Bones. Fun and funky color illustrations plus Nutritional Notes and Treats and Tidbits about cooking and storing the goodies ensure that cooks will enjoy this book as much as their pets enjoy their homemade treats! Hardcover; 128 pages.

R&M International 1906 Dog Bone Cookie Cutters, Assorted Sizes, 4-Piece Set
R&M International 1906 Dog Bone Cookie Cutters, Assorted Sizes, 4-Piece Set

High quality novelty cookie cutter set features great designs that keep their shape through baking.

Grasslands Road Gift Boxed Good Dog Ceramic Treat Jar, 9-Inch
Grasslands Road Gift Boxed Good Dog Ceramic Treat Jar, 9-Inch

A ceramic storage jar for your dogs treats that can be displayed proudly in any kitchen. Dishwasher safe too.


Tip: Teaching "No"

Min pins can be big pretenders when it comes to something they don't want to do. If your dog doesn't "understand" your command after you've worked on it quite awhile, try negative reinforcement to get to the truth.

They're Smarter Than You Think.

Negative reinforcement is sometimes necessary

I must admit that I have been outsmarted by my miniature pinschers. More than once. Here is one story. When I brought Zeus home, he was so little that I thought he was too young to learn commands. I had been trying for months to teach him, "no," but he didn't understand. Since he didn't understand that, I thought there was no use trying to teach him other commands. Then I thought of using a water gun for reinforcement. It only took once, and I found out that he had likely known what "no" meant for quite some time.

Here is one way we have implemented negative reinforcement. Our dogs, like most, would like to bark at other dogs. One of my neighbors has had hunting dogs for years, but my dogs and theirs never paid any attention to each other. However, for some reason unbeknown to me, my dogs started barking at the neighbor's dogsrepeatedly. Every time I let our dogs out, it sounded as if a vicious dog fight had ensued. (The barking was from my two dogs; the neighbor dogs were silent.) I knew it was time to purchase the supersoaker. Now, we can get them to stop barking on command. In fact, they have learned the phrase, "Don't make me get the water gun."

To Punish or Not?

Shredding TP--A most fun game

You should only punish your dog if it knows why it is being punished. The goal of reinforcement (positive or negative) is to change future behavior. If the dog has no idea why it's being punished, it can't change its behavior. The decision of whether or not to punish can be a fine line, though. Don't under-estimate your dog's memory.

A perfect example of this was when we were having trouble with Zeus shredding toilet paper. We had read that if you don't catch your dog doing wrong within 5 minutes of it committing the crime, you shouldn't punish it because it won't remember what it did. So, we didn't punish him unless we knew the shredding was recent. One day, I came home, let Zeus out of his crate, and walked down the hall by the bathroom. Zeus was following. As we approached the bathroom door, he screeched to a halt. I peeked around the corner and sure enough, the floor was littered with shredded toilet paper. By the time I turned around to look at him, he was hiding out in his crate. Zeus had out-smarted me again.

I believe that punishment worked in this case because Zeus already knew that he was not supposed to shred TP. Thus, taking him back to the scene of the crime was the reminder that he had done something wrong. If, however, he hadn't known that shredding TP was wrong, I think he would have had no idea why he was being punished.

Athena running
Athena running

To Punish or Not, Continued

The case of our Houdini dog

Here is an example of when not to punish. Athena is our Houdini dog. I think she can escape from most anywhere. Fortunately for us, she chooses not to run away. One instance of this is when we were taking them to the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve near our home in Oklahoma. I needed to go in the visitor's center to get a trail map, but it was a nice day and so I thought I could leave the dogs in the car with the windows rolled down since they were tucked safely in their car carriers. However, as I found out later, Athena proved that the car carriers were not inescapable. When I came back, she was sitting in the front seat (my seat) happily waiting for my return. She had unzipped her carrier from the inside! I didn't punish her for getting out of her carrier because she would not have connected the scolding with her mischief. She wouldn't have understood why I was mad when she was so happy to see me. As you can see from these two examples, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether or not to punish. Many times it is a judgment call. There is one thing to keep in mind: if what you are doing is not working, you might want to try something else.

Leave It! - Delayed gratification: reaching a milestone

The "leave it" command can be very useful. I am most grateful for it when my dogs find disgusting things on their walks.

Step 3: Repetition

The home stretch

Repetition solidifies a command and demonstrates your authority over the dog. Any dog can learn any trick given enough repetition--if it is physically capable and the trick does not hurt the dog. Min pins, as a rule, have dominant temperaments. At obedience school, Zeus seemed excessively dominant. In fact, the dog trainer said that she had never seen a more stubborn dog. When we asked how to teach a dog to play dead, she told us that Zeus was too stubborn, and it couldn't be done. Then she showed the rest of the class how to teach it. But, we were determined to teach this trick, and we worked on it 5 minutes a day every day. A year later, he would finally do it! I think the trainer was correct in one way--Zeus was very stubborn; however, we just had to be more stubborn than Zeus was.

We did not know how thankful we would be for having taught him this trick. This is because we later learned that Zeus doesn't have dominance issues, but he does have aggression issues, and the "dead dog" trick has been a miracle in dealing with Zeus. It seems that it is impossible for Zeus to be aggressive when he is lying on his back. So, if he is growling, we use the "dead dog" command, and the growling immediately stops as he rolls on his back.

Repetition, continued

Keep your dog safe

Proper training is essential to your pet's safety, and repetition may make the difference between obedience and injury to your min pin. Once, one of our back yard gates had been left open. Zeus was between me and the open gate. I called him, and he started to come, but then, he realized that he had a choice. He looked at me then the gate. He repeated this once or twice. Then he started to trot to the gate. After I muttered a few choice words to myself, I repeated the command firmly, and (thank goodness) he came back. We immediately started remedial sessions on the "come" command. Like the "dead dog" trick, we worked on "come" 5 minutes a day, and after several months of training, he now reacts to it without thinking. I would like to mention that most dogs (even most min pins) are not as stubborn as Zeus, and so it will probably take less repetition (weeks or months instead of months or years) to engrain a desired command. With the core commands, come, sit, stay, heel, and the release command, e.g., whatever length of time it takes to solidify those commands is worth the effort. It will make the difference between having an enjoyable pet or an uncontrollable animal.

Tip: Alpha Roll - Assert your dominance

Min pins have typically dominant temperaments. One way to show your authority is with the alpha roll-demonstrated by Zeus, below. Simply roll your dog over and place your hand on its chest. Look it directly in the eye. It will look away when you have gotten your point across.

Control Your Canine - Keeping dominance under wraps

As I mentioned earlier, min pins tend to have dominant temperaments. This means that you will need to put extra work into asserting yourself as the leader of the pack. A head collar is a gentle way to get your willful canine under control. Unlike pinch and choke collars, which can cause collapsing trachea, the head collar does not put undue pressure on the neck. Be sure to read the instructions to get a proper fit.

Tip: Catching an Escaped Dog

If your min pin ever slips out of its harness, don't panic. Running after it may start a game of "chase."

Min Pin on the Loose!

A dog owner's nightmare

One of my min pins, Athena, is an escape artist. I have learned how to recapture her; however, I learned this through a dangerous route. I hope I can spare you the potential grief.

We were coming home from our walk one day, and I tugged on Athena to "come along." To my surprise, I found myself tugging on an empty harness. I panicked, and started chasing after her. She thought this game of "chase" was the most fun game she had ever played. I tried to keep her off the busy residential street on which we live by standing between her and the street, but she figured this out. She started darting by me and running into the street. I, of course, darted out into traffic right after her (not recommended, by the way). After about an hour of trampling through several neighbors' front and back yards, making many vehicles come to a screeching halt, and my heart stopping at least a dozen times, a friend and some neighbors stopped, and they had treats. We finally caught her and took her to safety.

The lesson in this case: be smarter than the dog. Now, if she escapes, which she occasionally does despite my best efforts, I simply turn my back on her, and she comes back to get me-to play our game of chase, of course. I can then scoop her up and return her to captivity.

Other Discipline Techniques

Redirection and Removal

Redirection is a powerful tool. It teaches your dog what to do, as well as what not to do. The best example of when to use redirection is when your dog is chewing on something inappropriate. Your dog, especially a puppy, will chew. It is a fact of life. Thus, teaching it what to chew is important. In a gruff voice you say "no." Then, in a high-pitched, sweet voice, say "chew this" and give your dog a toy or other appropriate chew. Tone of voice is as important as the words you speak.

Sometimes, it is best to remove the temptation. When we moved to a new house, Zeus started pooping in the spare bedroom. I was bewildered because he hadn't messed in the house in years. When I caught him in the act, I said gruffly, "no." Then I carried him outside and told him to do his business. He watched me suspiciously the entire time. I suspect that he thought I was going to scold him. Then I gave him a treat after he did his business outside, and he was totally bewildered. From his actions, I'm guessing that he didn't see the spare bedroom as part of the house because we rarely went in there. He just thought it was a nice, warm place to do his business. Since he was so bewildered, we just started keeping the door shut.

Amazing Animals - Do they live, laugh, and love, too?

These books reinforce what common sense and observation have told us about animals: they are complex creatures with a wide range of emotions. The Emotional Lives of Animals gives a very scientific view of emotions in a wide range of species whereas A Dog's Purpose is a fictional, but no less plausible, account of canine emotions. One thing is certain: after reading these books, you'll understand your dog better, be better equipped to train it, and get more enjoyment out of your time with it.

A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans
A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans

Follow a dog through several re-incarnations as it discovers a dog's purpose. This book is touching, heart warming, funny, and a great read for any dog owner.

The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter
The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter

This book covers the latest scientific research on social communication on a wide range of species. Spiced with light humor and touching stories, this book covers stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love.


Continuing Education

In the 11 years I've had with Zeus, I'm not sure who has learned more--Zeus or me, but somehow we have learned to live together happily and enjoy each other. In your dog training journey, you will find that there are libraries full of books containing advice about how to train your dog. I hope in your visit here you've learned some common sense approaches to dog training and have gained some insight into doggie psychology. But, also remember one other thing: if you're not enjoying your dog, you're doing something wrong. New content will be added regularly so check back often. Thanks for reading.

Zeus and Jana

All about miniature pinschers - More About Zeus, the Miniature Pinscher

Be sure to check out Zeus's other lenses! You'll find tips, suggestions, and information about miniature pinschers. Also included are personal stories, with which min pin owners might identify.

Min Pin Mania - Miniature Pinscher breed info and other useful links

Below, you will find links to a blog by Alpha Chic, as well as the Miniature Pinscher Club of America, American Kennel Club, and other sites with useful information about the Miniature Pinscher breed, and dogs in general.

Here is a place for all min pin owners, dog owners, wanna-be dog owners, and anyone who drops by to tell us your stories about training a dog, or just leave a note.

Keeping Us on our Toes - What's your pin like?

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Nice hub about dog training. All min pins are stubborn but as you know some more than others. My min pin, Buzz, is five years old and we love him to pieces.

      Our only problem is his barking. I laughed when I read about the air horn. I bought one but haven't used it yet. Guess it's time to use it.

      Voted this hub up, useful, and interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Check this out on Amazon. My Min-Pin is a little larger at 18 lbs and 14 in from ground to shoulder so I got the xl

      Puppia Dog Mesh Harness "Vest Soft" XLarge

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We need help finding the best harness to fit our mini pin....he manages to escape from them all. With his big chest and tiny head, he manages to cross his paws and slip them all right over his head. It's amazing, but I am fearful of the chance that it could be dangerous. Suggestions...

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Aren't min pin antics great? lol. Seriously, we are having the same problem with our newest min pin rescue. He thinks he has choices and decides whether or not to come when called. We are trying to convince him that he has no choices by using repetition. We attach his leash, call him, and if he doesn't come, we pull him to us. No treats are involved--you don't want to have to "bribe" him every time. We are doing this 5-10 min. per day for as many minutes as it takes for him to reliably come. Eventually, he will think that he must come no matter what. It becomes "ingrained." Good luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i have a min pin his name is rusty ive had him since he was born an hes about a year an a half now if you have a treat he will do whatever you want come, leave it.shake paw,sit but if you don't he just stares at you for a minute then walks away any advice on getting him to come without the food? he escapes sometimes an his callback is horrible he doesn't go far as long as u don't chase him lol .oh an i own his father who is great he comes whenever i call him no matter what bugt i can't get rusty to do the same do i just need to stick with giving him a treat every time for longer ? oh an he love shredding tp as well lol

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 5 years ago

      Good information. Very useful for beginners. like this lens so much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My Min Pin use to escape all the time from us when we first got her. We live on a busy street too and ive seen other dogs get hit. I don't think she would survive unlike the pit bulls next door. So my husband trained her by every time he would go to the door to leave and she started to run to the door he turned around and started stomping and chasing her towards the hallway. So eventually she learned. Well actually in like 3 days she learned. So now every time the door opens she jumps on the couch and looks out the window. I think she has learned all around too because twice she has gotten off her leash and I yell don't run Bella. and she stops and looks at me and stays. The only upsetting thing is my dog does not bark when people come to the door nor did she let us know there was a rat running around out house. She tends to bark at ppl across the street but does not hear anyone at the door. we don't get it. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      When my Min Pin somehow escapes from the yard I use an air horn that I bought at the local dollar store to get him to come home. It''s loud and inexpensive and works every time.

      I discovered quite by accident to tell ya the truth. One day he was barking non stop at the neighbors dog and my yelling for him to stop were useless. I happen to have this air horn laying near by from New Years Eve and decided to blast it at him. The noise startled him so much that he ran in the house and I praised him saying good boy and gave him a treat.

      This went on for a few times and now if he barks I just show him the horn and he stops barking.

      One day he found a way out of the yard and I blasted the air horn out front and out back. He obviously heard the horn and came running back to the house. Works like a charm when I need it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It's been several months since I got my minpin puppy. There have been 5 accounts of escapes and as a novice owner myself I tried luring him with food. But he's such a curious dog that he just ignores me. I remember the first time he was only 3 months old when he escaped. My sister and my mother chased him all over the street, until they just gave up calling me instead from the porch. Once he saw that they didn't chase him anymore he ran right into the house, by that time I was already by the door. My dog is really smart so there were several escapes, but he ended coming back to the house. Anyway, to answer your question about how to not let your dog escape...well you just have to remember at all times when you come home that you have an escape artist at home. Whenever I come home I always open the door slowly or stick my foot in between the door. If my dog is there he can't get out because I'm blocking the way.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      but how do u STOP them from excapeing??

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Consistency is key. Go back to step 1. Even in it's for 5 to 10 minutes a day, put like a 8-12 leash on the dog and do come. If the dog comes you praise and give a treat. If the dog doesn't come you do a slight tug to have the dog acknowledge what needs to be done and repeat the command. Every time the dog comes don't give a treat. Dog needs to understand you "come" regardless. I treat is just a special option. After working with the leash, then take it off and work. You might have to have treats to start maybe one or two, but then no treats. You want the dog to respond to you, not the treat. These same tactics, I've used with a Amstaff and a boxer. My children (7,4,2) also work with me and the dogs answer on there commands. It's awesome watching a 2 year old give commands in crowded places (petsmart, petco) where there are other animals and the dogs listen which are bigger then him. And the dogs listen with assertiveness and not frighten. People be amazed. So as the article stated, repetitive and consistency wins every time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Buddy, My minpin/rat terrior mix is such a wonderful dog. I have him trained in the house. However, He is very good at escaping from the back yard, despite my best efforts. Today he escaped again and I was given another citation, which means, I will again have to go to court and pay a fine. After today, I've decided to possibly find him a better home. i don't want to. I love him so much. He's helped me through many things. After having numerous brain surgeries in 2006, I can always count on him to be there for me when I'm feeling down. I don't know if I should just buy a new fence, or if there is a way to teach him not to try to escape. Because, once he's gone..... he's gone. Any help would be appreciated. If I don't figure something out, I'm afraid I will have to take him to one of the no-kill shelters here in Oklahoma.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a 4 month old min pin and love her to pieces. She is the most affectionate and entertaining little creature and the best little companion.

      Only one problem. She won't come when I call her. She was doing fine for a few weeks and then regressed. As long as we play the game and she knows there is a treat in hand she will come. From a distance in the house, no way. Am I expecting too much?

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 6 years ago

      "The same strategy can be applied to almost anything with a pulse..." You had me laughing, with that one! Great article.

    • jennalee1374 profile image

      jennalee1374 6 years ago

      The alpha roll is a bit outdated. New studies done on wolf pack behavior shows that most of our understanding of how wolves behavior in a pack environment is incorrect and that the alpha roll specifically is not used. It is actually aggressive on the part of the handler. Just some food for thought :)

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 6 years ago

      I can relate to the tearing up of paper. Mine likes to get in the bathroom trash and tear things up, and I always know when he's done it because he runs out the dog door when I get near the mess. My dog Gator looks so much like your dog Zeus.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I don't believe that min pins are stubborn!! I believe they are intelligent, feisty and put on this earth to test us. Or teach us patience, persistence and balance.

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 6 years ago

      @anonymous: You never know... In multiple dog families I've seen, the Min Pins is often the boss. It's hilarious to see a huge Rottweiler getting bossed around by a 10 lb Min Pin.

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 6 years ago

      Great lens with excellent pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    • accfuller profile image

      accfuller 6 years ago

      Good work - nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a cool little dog, we have thought about getting a min pin, but with the two big brutes we have we would only worry about it's safety...

    • iWriteaLot profile image

      iWriteaLot 6 years ago

      LOLOL Loved this lens! I just rescued a 1-year old female min pin and she sounds just as stubborn as Zeus. Her name is Lola and I'm training her as a gift for my brother. She is such a little handful but she's one of the most lovable dogs I've ever seem and I'm going to hate handing her over to my brother. Anyway, thanks for this lens. I learned a few more things about Miss Lola and her little attitude LOLOL

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i don't have any............

    • top101 profile image

      top101 6 years ago

      This is a really thorough lens. nice work :)

    • knit1tat2 profile image

      knit1tat2 6 years ago

      onely met one, and he's a nice guy. Training my chihuahau now, something else!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Adorable little dog, and real good advice about training a Min Pin. I had a big pincher at one time and wish I had read about the breed more, it was a bit of a challenge. :)

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 6 years ago

      I would love a min-pin. I'm sure my cats would be adopting him in no time.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      You obviously love your dog so much. Very wise training methods.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks so much for these stories. I rescued a min pin mix about a week ago and am amazed at his willingness to sit when he wants something and his "forgetfulness" about what sit means when there is no visible reason to. We are working on it, and these are a very helpful encouragement to keep trying!!!

    • SpicyCabbage profile image

      SpicyCabbage 7 years ago

      Great common sense approach!

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 7 years ago

      Thanks, everybody. My purpose in writing these lenses is so that others will read them and understand min pins, and dogs in general. I hope that will reduce animal abuse. But I didn't realize how much fun it would be to write this lens (and others). Hearing from readers just increases the fun. You've made my day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is a very strong lens on the subject of Training Miniature Pinscher's. Good job.

    • cinstress profile image

      cinstress 7 years ago

      cute dogs... I'm a cat owner, but I like what you've done!

    • Christine Cameron profile image

      Christine Cameron 7 years ago

      Nice dog training lens! I love min pins, they are one of my favorite breeds. Such big dogs in little packages, lol.