How to Train a Bolognese

how to train a bolognese

Introduction: Understanding the Bolognese Personality

The Bolognese, with their fluffy white coat and endearing eyes, holds a special charm that captures many hearts. Originating from Italy, these small canines are the epitome of a companion dog. Known for their affectionate nature, Bologneses are gentle, responsive, and very attached to their owners. Their attentive demeanor makes them incredibly attuned to their human’s emotions. While they can be somewhat reserved with strangers, they tend to warm up quickly when given a little time. Intelligence is a hallmark of the breed, but so is a slight independent streak. Being aware of these traits is fundamental in tailoring the right training approach for your Bolognese.

The Importance of Early Socialization

Socializing a Bolognese is essential, given their sometimes reserved nature with unfamiliar faces and places. To mold them into sociable and confident adults, exposing them to diverse experiences during their early life is key.

Begin by letting your Bolognese meet various people, animals, and surroundings in a controlled environment. Encounters with different sounds, textures, and sights can be immensely beneficial in shaping a well-rounded temperament. Puppy classes offer a dual advantage: they give your Bolognese the chance to learn basic commands while simultaneously interacting with other pups and humans.

Regular outings, such as neighborhood strolls or visits to pet-friendly cafes, can be invaluable in their social development. During these outings, always ensure their experiences are positive, rewarding calm behavior with treats and praises.

Basic Command Training

The foundation of training a Bolognese lies in positive reinforcement. Being a breed that thrives on human affection, they respond exceptionally well to rewards, be they treats, verbal praises, or a quick play session.

  • Sit: Using a treat, guide your Bolognese’s gaze upwards. As they tilt their head back, their rear should naturally touch the ground. Once seated, say “Sit,” reward, and praise.
  • Stay: After getting your Bolognese to sit, signal with an open palm and say “Stay.” Take a step back. If they remain, reward and praise. Over time, increase the distance.
  • Come: With a leash attached, get down to their level and gently pull the leash while saying “Come.” When they approach, reward generously.
  • Heel: During walks, if your Bolognese strays or pulls, halt. Only proceed when they’re by your side. They’ll soon understand that walking calmly ensures continued exploration.

Maintain a positive demeanor during sessions, and always conclude on a good note to keep them eager for the next lesson.

Potty Training Tips for Bologneses

Bologneses, given their keen-to-please attitude, can be relatively easier to potty train when compared to some breeds. However, consistency remains crucial.

  • Establish a Routine: Regular feeding times will lead to predictable potty times. It’s often best after meals, post-play, and before bedtime.
  • Designated Spot: Whether an indoor pad or a garden corner, consistently taking them to the same spot helps them associate the location with potty time.
  • React with Patience: Mishaps will occur. If you catch them midway, a gentle “Oops” and guiding them to the designated spot is sufficient. Avoid scolding.
  • Celebrate: Whenever they use the designated spot, celebrate with treats and praises.

Addressing Common Behavioral Issues

Being a naturally well-mannered breed, Bologneses don’t typically exhibit severe behavioral issues. However, a few concerns can arise:

  • Barking: Bologneses can occasionally be vocal. This might be due to boredom, alerting to a presence, or seeking attention. Ensuring they’re mentally stimulated and teaching a “Quiet” command can help manage excessive barking.
  • Separation Anxiety: Being closely bonded with their humans, Bologneses can experience separation anxiety. Structured routines, leaving them with a familiar item, and providing ample exercise before you leave can alleviate this stress.
  • Timidity: Due to their reserved nature, they may display shyness. Consistent socialization and positive reinforcement can help bolster their confidence.

Harness and Leash Training

Owing to the Bolognese’s petite frame, a harness is preferred over a collar, offering better support and minimizing risks of injuries.

  • Harness Introduction: Let them first familiarize with the harness, rewarding any positive interactions they have with it.
  • Gradual Wearing: Begin with short durations indoors. Praise and reward them for maintaining calmness.
  • Leash Attachment: Once at ease with the harness, introduce the leash, letting them wander indoors.
  • Guided Walks: Start with brief, controlled walks, ensuring they walk beside you. Stop if they pull, resuming only when they’re calm.

A consistent approach will soon make them view their harness and leash as exciting precursors to outdoor adventures.

Enrichment and Mental Stimulation

Despite their calm disposition, Bologneses require mental challenges to remain content.

  • Interactive Toys: Toys that encourage them to think, like puzzle toys, can be great for mental stimulation.
  • Training: Beyond the basics, teaching them new tricks or commands can be both fun and mentally enriching.
  • New Environments: Regularly exposing them to new environments ensures they have fresh experiences to process.

Establishing and Maintaining Boundaries

It’s vital for Bologneses, like all dogs, to understand their boundaries within the home.

  • Stay Consistent: If a behavior is disallowed, this rule should always apply.
  • Regular Reinforcement: Occasionally revisiting training sessions can be beneficial to reinforce desired behaviors.
  • Reward-Based Discipline: Focus on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than punishing undesired ones.


Training a Bolognese, with their affectionate nature and eagerness to please, can be a deeply rewarding journey. Their combination of intelligence and loyalty ensures that, with patience and love, you’ll have a well-adjusted and loving companion by your side.

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