How to Leash Train a Shih Tzu Puppy

Medium
4-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your Shih Tzu puppy might be small and easily managed on a leash, but leash training him will keep you both safe and give you a lifetime of stress-free leash walks. Even a small dog who pulls on a leash can injure their larynx and throat. 

When you train your Shih Tzu puppy to walk on a leash with leash manners with you, he won't pull on the leash tugging your arm, potentially cause an injury to his neck, or chase after dogs, bunnies, or butterflies. Your Shih Tzu puppy comes with an incredible personality. He is a spunky little fella who is happy to please you. Your pup will be a loyal, playful companion. He is outgoing and friendly to people he meets along your walks. When you are walking your Shih Tzu puppy on a leash, he should be able to portray all of his great traits without being rude or pulling on his leash.

Defining Tasks

Starting fairly early with your Shih Tzu puppy teaching him leash manners will help with additional training as well. You might want to make sure your Shih Tzu puppy is at least eight weeks old before you introduce a leash. If your Shih Tzu puppy pulls at all on a leash, consider a harness and attach the leash to the harness rather than his collar. This will always keep his neck protected and give you better control should he pull and run after something while on your walk together. Leash training your Shih Tzu puppy will also give him lots of exercise, so avoid putting your Shih Tzu puppy in a doggy stroller or carrying him around. 

Getting Started

Training your Shih Tzu to walk on a leash will require some repetitive actions and lots of tasty treats. You will, of course, need a leash appropriate for your Shih Tzu’s size and weight as an adult as well as a harness, should you choose to use one. Schedule leash training sessions with your Shih Tzu puppy and stick to your training schedules. Anytime you take your adorable Shih Tzu puppy out for a walk, people are going to want to stop and pet him. It's pretty hard to train any puppy who is distracted by affection so at first, it might be helpful to leash train your Shih Tzu puppy in your house or even in your backyard away from the distractions of the outside world. 

The Command Word Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Let’s go
Train your Shih Tzu to know a command when you two walk together. This command can be something as simple as 'let's go for a walk' or 'let's go.' Whichever command you use, be sure it's the same command you use each time you take your puppy for a walk on a leash.
Step
2
Attach the leash
Attach your Shih Tzu puppy's leash to his collar or to a harness. Let him walk around the house with the leash on getting used to how it feels, the weight of it, the sound it makes. As soon as you attach the leash, give your pup a treat and the command 'let's go' letting him know it's time to go for a walk using his leash.
Step
3
Begin walking
Start walking with your Shih Tzu next to you on a fairly tight leash. You don't want to pull your puppy and you don't want him pulling you, so make sure the leash is loose enough that's not happening but not so loose that your puppy can get away from you, pull on you, or get wrapped around your feet.
Step
4
Treat and praise
As you and your Shih Tzu puppy walk together, every now and then offer him a treat and tell him what a good boy he is. Try to use the same words each time you offer him verbal praise such as "yes" or "good boy".
Step
5
Pulling
If your Shih Tzu puppy pulls on the leash, stop walking and wait for him to stop as well. When he stops, give the command 'let's go' again and begin walking.
Step
6
Continue
Continue your walks together using this method of walking and treating for good behavior and stopping when your Shih Tzu pulls or uses poor leash manners. As long as your pup is doing well on the leash you can slowly loosen the leash a bit more, giving him more space for loose leash walking.
Step
7
Rewards
Be sure you are rewarding your puppy along the way as well as at the end of your walk together. As soon as you return home and take off his leash, give him a treat and let him know What a good boy he is.
Step
8
Schedule walks
Once you have practiced short walks rewarding good behavior with treats and praise, begin to schedule longer walks together. Try to take at least one walk a day with your Shih Tzu puppy.
Recommend training method?

The Change Direction Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Collar and leash
Attach a collar and a leash to your Shih Tzu puppy before leaving the house. You may want to practice on the leash inside your house until your puppy gets used to how the collar or even a harness feels around his neck or body. Some little dogs have no idea what to do with the leash and could use some indoor practice before they go out into the world.
Step
2
Treat
As your Shih Tzu is getting used to his leash and collar or harness and collar, give him a treat. Set your training up to reward your puppy for positive behaviors.
Step
3
Walk
Start a short walk together with your puppy on the leash. As you are walking, say the word "yes" often as your Shih Tzu walks with you. As you say the word "yes", also give him a treat. This will condition him to understand the word "yes" is positive and positive means he gets a treat.
Step
4
Redirect
Anytime your Shih Tzu pulls on his leash, stop walking, turn around, and start walking in the opposite direction. At some point, he will be tugged on by your walking in the opposite direction and he will have to stop or catch up.
Step
5
Practice
You want your puppy to learn to walk next to you on a fairly loose leash. Leash manners will include not pulling on the leash, not walking in front of you or behind you or crossing your path, and certainly not chasing after anything along your walk. Anytime your Shih Tzu is practicing leash manners, say the word "yes" and give him a treat.
Step
6
Poor manners
Anytime your Shih Tzu chooses poor leash manners and does not do as you are practicing together, stop and walk in the opposite direction. Only reward your puppy with a treat and the word "yes" in the form of verbal praise when he is doing well.
Recommend training method?

The Click to Heel Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Leash
Place your Shih Tzu on a leash. You may consider a harness as well, but as long as neither you nor your puppy are pulling on the leash, a leash and collar should be fine. Click and treat once the leash is on. This sets your puppy up for training mode.
Step
2
Left side
Position your Shih Tzu on your left side and ask him to sit. Once he sits, click and treat for a job well done.
Step
3
Go for a walk
Take your Shih Tzu puppy for a walk. If this is your first time putting a leash on your Shih Tzu, give him a few minutes to get used to the feel and weight of it before walking with him. If he needs to get used to a leash, you can stay in the house and practice walking together for the first few training sessions.
Step
4
Treat in hand
Place a treat in your left hand and start walking forward. While walking, use the command ‘heel.’
Step
5
Click and treat
Every few yards, click and treat as long as he is walking with you and staying by your side. You will want your Shih Tzu to stay next to you on your left side, not pulling on the leash and not going too far ahead or lagging behind.
Step
6
Redirect
If your Shih Tzu is no longer staying with you on your left side, stop walking and wait for him to stop as well. Once he has stopped walking, start your training session again. Do not click and treat until you have walked a few yards.
Step
7
Rewards
Be sure to reward your puppy along the walk as long as he is doing well. Also, reward him with a tasty treat once you are finished walking and the leash is off.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 02/14/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Frankie
Shih Tzu
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Frankie
Shih Tzu
8 Months

Nipping at children and nipping at ankles, pulling on leash. We have started the leave it command and he has mastered it. This is helping with the nipping we walk everyday. He pull so hard on his harness he is worn out by half a block. He also begs loudly for food from the table at dinner time. I have tried a kong with peanut butter and a chew toy to distract. We also have trouble with him not going potty unless someone is outside at all times with him. this is understandable at this age but would like to move to him being more independant at potty time.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Katie, For the potty training, I would take pup potty outside on a leash. Tell pup Go Potty and walk around slowly on the leash for 10-15 minute until pup goes. When pup goes potty, give a treat. Once pup has gotten to the point where he will go quickly when told Go Potty, then take pup outside off the leash if you have a fenced yard. Tell pup to Go Potty, staying with pup, and give the treat after. After pup gets good at that, do the same thing but this time stand about a foot away from pup after instructing pup to go potty, rewarding when he goes. As pup improves and is quick at going even with you further away, add distance between you and pup, standing one foot further away than before as pup improves, until you can stand all the way at the door entrance, tell pup from there to go potty, then reward pup after he goes out into the yard, goes potty, then returns to you for his treat, without you having to go with him. Expect this to take a few weeks to train with consistency, not a couple days. For the begging, I would start by crating pup during meals in the next room. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below with pup in the next room while you are eating. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. Once pup can stay quiet in the crate during the entire meal, I would also practice Place. Once pup is good at Place, you can put the Place bed where the crate was instead, sending pup to place whenever you eat, then reward pup for staying quietly on Place, correct for barking, and returning pup to Place if they try to get off it. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden When pup cries in the crate for food, I would correct. I would also

Add a comment to Frankie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bailey
ShihTzu
15 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bailey
ShihTzu
15 Weeks

He continues to eat everything of the ground, he has even choked several times. He continues to jump & bite on leash. Put him in the small backyard eats everything again, many accidents inside house even though I have had him out for. an hour. He is in the crate more now yet still the same problem. I have tried leashing him in the back yard with me, still biting on leash even I ignored him while this behavior lasted an hour. I must add he was with a another family who’s children abused him, he is also afraid when he hears other dogs bark in the neighborhood. I am certainly drained & at times frustrated every second I have him outside he eats everything. I have had 6 dogs in my life yet never have I come across a puppy like this….Can you help possibly with tips…Thank You

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Denise, Is pup having accidents in the crate? What is pup's crate schedule? Often people will put a puppy in a crate after they have an accident as a punishment. Not saying that's what you are doing, but if so that could be why potty training with a crate isn't improving. The crate needs to be used to prevent accidents in the first place, not once pup has had one. Check out the Crate Training method I have linked below either way. That article will include several tips for trouble shooting potty training with a crate. See if you can spot things you aren't already doing and implement them too. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are doing all of the things the crate training method mentions and pup is having accidents in the crate anyway, that could be due to pup being left in a crate too long in their former home and being forced to have accidents in there constantly. You can try feeding pup his meals in there to discourage it but most of the time you simply have to switch potty training methods until he is fully potty trained - at which point you might be able to use a crate for travel again later in life. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home, use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or master closet with good ventilation are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen if you have other options. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside!). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup will hold his bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so he won't go into there looking to pee, and take him potty outside only. Since he may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave him alone, be sure to leave him in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until he is out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. For the chewing, check out the article I have linked below. I would start practicing Leave It and Out like the article covers. This is going to take some time for pup to develop the self-control to obey though. I would provide pup with dog food stuffed chew toys, like kongs, to make chewing their own toys more enticing, and when pup is in an area where you know they constantly chew, keep pup on a hands free leash so you can enforce Leave It and use the leash to move pup away to interrupt the behavior, then reward when you catch pup obeying calmly, even if that calmness only last a couple of seconds at first. As pup improves and can stay calm a bit longer, gradually space out the rewards so pup is learning how to stay calm. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For the jumping and biting, check out the Step Toward and Leash method from the article I have linked below, especially the Step Toward. Since pup is so small I would be very careful not to step on them. You may even have better luck shuffling your feet when you move toward them. The goal is just to move a bit into them instead of away when they jump, so you are making the jumping less fun for pup with the interruption, and using your body language to calmly communicate that you want them to respect that space in front of you. Keep as calm and business-like as you can when you do this. Step Toward method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump When pup bites the leash, calmly take the end of the leash hanging right out of his mouth and pull it toward the back of the corner of his mouth, where his jaws meet, and hold it there until pup tries to spit it out on their own. Pup will likely let go, then go right back to attacking the leash, calmly repeat this when pup attacks again. After doing this a few times in a row calmly, most puppies will be less interested in biting the leash right then. Repeat this whenever pup bites the leash and pay attention to whether the leash biting is decreasing over a two week period. If it is, continue practicing it when pup bites the leash. If not, focus more on commands like Leave It and spraying the leash with bitter apple to deter biting. The following commands can be good for building respect, trust, and self-control in pup too. These will take time for pup to work up to at this age though, and that's normal. You should see gradual progress, instead of instant results, but still definitely progress; otherwise a different method may be needed. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bailey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Buddy
Shih Tzu
14 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Buddy
Shih Tzu
14 Weeks

Buddy gets really excited when I put his harness and lead on and can't wait to get going but as soon as we set off to walk he just sits down and refuses to walk, he runs and plays in the house just fine so it's not a physical problem

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Start with having some really tasty treats or favorite toys handy. Show your pup a treat while the dog sits or stands at your side. If you plan to eventually compete in obedience trials or other dog sports, it’s traditional to have the dog walk on your left side. But if you don’t care about competition, it doesn’t matter which side as long as you’re consistent. Wait until the puppy focuses on the reward. Then say, “Let’s go!” or another verbal cue that you use consistently. You must know how to talk to a puppy in a manner it understands. Hold the treat right in front of its nose as you begin to walk, luring the dog to keep pace. Practice Walking After the puppy understands the concept of loose-leash walking and sitting on command, you might want to change up the speeds. You will want your dog to maintain the pace you're going and stay at your side, whether you walk, trot, or run. Also, practice changing directions. When your pup walks on the left, a turn to your right or an about-face to the right should be pretty easy for the dog to follow. Turning to the left may require luring with the reward at least initially. Turn it into a game so that once the pup understands, you can give praise extravagantly. Problems and Proofing Behavior "Proofing" a behavior means ensuring that your dog will stick with the behavior even in challenging situations. To proof your dog's ability to walk well on a leash, move the practice times to areas that have more distractions. After all, leaving your backyard or living room will be necessary when you go to the park, or take a car ride to visit friends and family, and you want loose leash walking to be a default behavior wherever you go. For instance, you should practice in the front yard during morning rush hour or when your spouse tosses a ball on the other side of the room. As your dog develops more skills, you can start to teach it to "heel." The “heel” position is walking alongside you on your left side at knee-level while stopping and starting when you do, and sitting when you stop. Once your pup pays attention to the "let's go" command and anticipates the “sit" command when you stop, you might want to try getting your dog to heel around the entire perimeter of the yard or do laps outside the house. Even the smartest dogs can have trouble sticking with a behavior, and you will probably need to reinforce some of the training you've done, helping your pet to learn behaviors and overcome common challenges without immediate rewards. Jumping up for a reward. Your puppy should not be jumping up for the treat or toy, so lower the position if the puppy is trying to jump up. You can also use a long wooden spoon with a sticky treat or a commercial “treat stick” designed for that purpose so you don’t have to bend over. After a few steps, stop and tell your puppy to "sit." Reward the pup with the treat. Rushing ahead or tugging at the leash. Repeat the leash walk exercise with the lure. Stop every few steps, place your pup in a sit or down position, and reward it. The pup quickly should understand that “let’s go” (or other consistent commands) means to walk at your side—and you will pay with a reward when the dog sits as you stop. Behaving properly only when a reward is given. When the pup has performed several exercises, it won’t need to be lured but will want to know you have rewards handy. Increase the pup’s attention span by eventually offering the reward intermittently—rather than every time, reward every second, third, or fourth time. This teaches your dog to always obey since it is unclear when a reward is coming.

Add a comment to Buddy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Jack
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jack
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks

I have same problem as Cloe’s owner. I’ve tried tossing treats ahead of him maybe good for 3 tosses. Then he flattens like a pancake! And that is how he stays unless I pull him up by his harness. The only time he really runs (and I mean fast!) is when I turn around and say “go home.” He knows exactly what that means and knows how to go home! So this appears to me to Possibly be stubbornness? I’ve thought about throwing treats in driveway as I say “let’s go” and then turn around with “go home”, and maybe work just on driveway walks to and from the house? I’m at a loss! I’m also going to try indoor play and practice with harness and leash. Take the walking experience back a few notches.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! Unfortunately this is just something that takes a little time. I know time isn't always the best answer, but it is with young puppies on the leash. One thing you can do to speed things along a little is put some treats in a straight line. Maybe a foot or so apart and let Jack stop and eat each treat as you go along on leash. After a few tries at that, space the treats out a bit. Continue until he just starts walking nicely on the leash.

Add a comment to Jack's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Chloe
Shih Tzu
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chloe
Shih Tzu
12 Weeks

My puppy just lays down and doesn’t want to walk with the leash. What do I do?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Very cute!! There are several good methods here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-beagle-puppy-to-walk-on-a-leash/. Use treats to lure Chloe along. Similar ideas are presented here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-dachshund-to-walk-on-leash/. It's practice makes perfect. Be patient and keep trying! The Treat Lure Method is explained here:https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-boxer-puppy-to-walk-on-a-leash/. The best thing to do is to practice with her every day, use an encouraging and happy voice as you walk along, and praise her constantly as she walks. Good luck!

Add a comment to Chloe's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd