Happy-go-lucky and full of energy, the Pug is a vivacious, fun-loving breed, with loads of personality packed into a small package. Pugs are often called “shadows,” as they love to glue themselves to their owners’ sides and stay close to the action. While they do have a stubborn streak, they are generally not aggressive, and despite their small frames, they are stout little dogs, making them great pets for families with children. When they are not napping (which happens frequently), Pugs are almost always charming, animated and ready to play (or eat). Pugs do best in homes where they receive plenty of attention and are treated like members of the family, and in turn, they offer heaps of devotion and affection.
Due to their small size and rather lazy nature, Pugs do not require a lot of physical activity to stay healthy and in-shape. A daily walk around the neighborhood or a romp in the backyard should easily meet these dogs’ exercise requirements; in fact, too much exercise can exacerbate Pugs’ tendency to wheeze. While Pugs do love to play, especially with children, it is important to prevent them from jumping off high surfaces like sofas or other furniture, since doing so can cause joint damage.
Since they do not require much exercise, Pugs make great companions for those who live in apartments or homes without large backyards, including the elderly.
Since Pugs are stubborn, independent and smart enough to get bored quickly with repetitive exercises, they are not always easy to train. With their silly, distracting antics added to the mix, training a Pug may seem downright impossible at times. Thankfully, Pugs are exceptionally eager to please their owners, and owners who are consistent and patient can usually train their Pugs to exhibit the desired response to his or her prompts. Heaping praise upon them can also help tremendously, since they thrive on attention from their owners. It is also very important that owners do not inadvertently praise behaviors that, while cute, are not the point of the training exercise. This breed is very fond of food and treats, so using treats as rewards may provide some additional motivation for dogs that are especially strong-willed. Working with Pugs during the first six months of their lives is crucial where training is concerned, as it is much more difficult to change dogs’ behaviors after this point.
Some owners express concern about how long it takes to house-train Pugs, but puppies of this breed do not develop the muscle strength to control their bowels and bladder completely until they are around 6 months old. As with other commands and skills, Pugs learn to house-train with plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise.
Some Pugs have a tendency to make noise, whether barking, yapping, snorting, grunting or otherwise. Owners can discourage excessive “yappiness” with early training, and some Pugs actually make excellent watch dogs, so long as they are trained properly about when barking is appropriate.
Pugs love food, and begging can easily get out of hand if family members are in the habit of feeding their dog from the table or offering scraps from plates. It is important that owners only offer treats (especially “people” food) after the dog performs a specified action, like sitting. They can also feed the Pug before the rest of the family eats, which makes the dog less likely to beg. Given Pugs’ short statures and tendency to do cute things, it is important that their owners do not inadvertently encourage undesirable behaviors by laughing or giving in to their Pugs’ demands.