How to train your cavapoo

Is your cavapoo displaying certain behaviours that you’d like to discourage or perhaps is generally disobedient? Even owners who invest lots of time and money (training classes aren’t cheap) training their cavapoo can sometimes feel Fido needs work in certain areas. Training your dog is a marathon not a sprint, and should be seen as a continuous process that will require upkeep throughout your pooch’s life.

Cavapoo puppy sitting

Cavapoo’s capacity for training

Cavapoo owners need to set realistic expectations for what their cavapoo is capable of when it comes to training. The cavapoo is not a working dog and doesn’t have the same level of intelligence, nor the strong instinct to obey and please its owner, as breeds like the Border Collie do.

That said, as any professional dog trainer will gleefully tell you, any dog can be trained. And the cavapoo is far from an unintelligent breed. In my experience, cavapoos are intelligent but rather it is there somewhat stubborn temperament that can render training this breed difficult at times.

Dog training treats

Not all dogs are food motivated- in which case a toy might work better- but most are, and this is why when training your dog, training treats are really useful. This was certainly true for me when training my cavapoo!

Treats act as a means of rewarding your dog when they do what you ask. This positive reinforcement is powerful and helps cement in your dog’s mind what various commands mean. Your dog starts to understand that when they listen and act correctly, good things happen!

Make sure to use a “high currency” treat. That is essentially anything that your cavapoo really loves to eat. In my dog’s case, that’s roast chicken. Various dog treats are available for sales but be careful not to give your dog too many as they can be quite unhealthy.

Training your cavapoo puppy the basics

Like any dog, it is best to start training your cavapoo from a puppy and this starts with some basic commands. A simple one to start with is the classic “sit” and a cavapoo puppy can learn this from the age of 8 weeks.

An important command to teach from an early age is “leave it”. Puppies like to explore the world around them by picking up all sorts of objects that are unusual to them with their mouth. Occasionally, your pup might pick up something potentially harmful like a dropped tablet or something sharp like a beer bottle cap. This is why it’s vital your pup understands the “leave it” command. Here‘s a fantastic video on how to teach “leave it”.

If useful, I previously wrote about toilet training your cavapoo puppy.

Cavapoo puppy sitting

Recall training your cavapoo

In my experience, recall is one of the hardest things to train your cavapoo but, for obvious reasons, it’s also one of the most useful and frequently used commands. You can train your dog a verbal command like “come” or you can train using a whistle. The latter can be useful if your dog is a long way away as it’s pretty loud. I enjoy walking my dog, Alfie, off the lead (he has lots of energy and loves to run around). His recall is not perfect but it’s getting better.

Alfie is obsessed with other dogs and will run over 100 yards to greet another dog in the park. As all dog owners know, such interactions can either be heart-warming experiences or deeply stressful e.g. when the other dog isn’t friendly / doesn’t want to play. A good rule is that if the other dog is on a lead, it should be assumed that the dog shouldn’t be approached and you should call your approaching dog back. A dog with good recall would immediately come back to its owner upon being called.

Recall can take many weeks to teach and requires upkeep. Frequently providing praise and treats each time your cavapoo listens and returns is highly recommended., A long lead can be used to help train your dog in a safe way i.e. ensuring your dog doesn’t run up to other dogs, run into roads etc.

Here is a good video on how to train your dog recall.

Teaching your cavapoo tricks

Some commands are more for vanity / fun than practicality and fall under the category of tricks. We were able to teach the following list of commands to our cavapoo puppy by the time he reached 6 months old.

  • sit
  • lie down
  • paw
  • stay
  • come
  • speak
  • look

“Look” was taught initially as a trick but nowadays I use it a lot whilst out walking because it makes my dog focus on me, which helps when giving further commands thereafter.

Conclusion

Cavapoos are not the easiest breed of dog to train but they are somewhat intelligent albeit a little stubborn at times. Training should start whilst they are still a puppy with recall and commands like “leave it” being top priorities to keep you cavapoo safe. A cavapoo can be taught a range of tricks and treats are crucial when it comes to all types of dog training. Be patient and don’t become complacent since your cavapoo can and will “forget” commands if you stop rewarding them.