How to Obedience Train a Shih Tzu Puppy

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

The Shih Tzu is a friendly, little house dog that loves people and is usually good with other pets. They love attention, and this can be used to help obedience train your loving Shih Tzu pup. 

Because they are small and can be picked up and handled easily, some owners, unfortunately, neglect obedience training their Shih Tzu pups. Don't make the same mistake--not only is obedience training important for your dog's safety, as he may not always be in reach when you need to direct him, obedience training is good for keeping his mind active, focused on you, and developing your role as his pack leader. You don’t want to be that dog owner at the dog park or doggy playground repeatedly yelling commands at your Shih Tzu with no response! Even house dogs should have a good grasp on obedience command, as they are a stepping stone to other behaviors and tricks and can give you important control when you need it.

Defining Tasks

To train your Shih Tzu puppy obedience commands, you need to find the right motivation for him. What will he work for? Treats, a toy, attention? Spend some time figuring out what your Shih Tzu really loves the most and incorporate it as positive reinforcement into obedience training. Also, avoid overusing an obedience command without getting a response; never “spoil” the command by yelling it repeatedly and allowing your Shih Tzu to ignore it, as this develops a bad habit. You can incorporate hand signals or use another verbal command, if a verbal command has become “spoiled”, and start over, ensuring that commands are adhered to in the future. Consistency and patience will be key to teach your Shih Tzu the basic obedience commands, 'come', 'sit', 'down', 'stay', and 'heel'.

Getting Started

Remember to work at your Shih Tzu puppy’s pace and work in multiple short sessions rather than a few long ones. A puppy can easily become bored, frustrated or confused. Take breaks and end on a positive note. A good general rule is that once your Shih Tzu has repeated a command successfully 8-10 times in a row,  he understands it and is ready to move on. If your dog is only performing the command correctly a few times in a row, do not push him, keep working at this level until your Shih Tzu has grasped the concept and is ready to move on. Try not to overwhelm your pup.  

You will need treats, toys, patience, and consistency to motivate and guide your Shih Tzu to perform obedience commands. Remember that your attention-loving Shih Tzu may be happy to work for affection. Teach your Shih Tzu “good boy”  or “good girl” and associate this with a reward so that your Shih Tzu recognizes when he or she has pleased you. You can use these verbal rewards during obedience training.

The Shape Basic Obedience Method

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Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Shape 'come'
Use a clicker and treats. Start with the command 'come'. Place your Shih Tzu on the floor, and walk away a few steps and wait. When your Shih Tzu comes over to you, click and treat, say “come”. Repeat frequently until your Shih Tzu responds to the command “come”. Gradually remove clicker and treat.
Step
2
Shape 'sit'
Wait with a clicker in your hand and your dog standing in front of you. When your dog eventually sits down, say “sit”, click and treat. Practice frequently.
Step
3
Shape 'down'
Once your Shih Tzu understands the 'sit' command, ask him to sit. While he is in the sitting position, wait for him to lie down, click and treat. Add the “down” command and practice.
Step
4
Shape 'stay'
Teach the 'stay' command by saying “stay”. Wait a few seconds while your Shih Tzu is in place, then click and treat. If your dog moves, do not click and treat but position your dog again, and repeat the 'stay' command until your dog is successful at staying in place. Gradually increase the length of time required for your dog to stay in place before clicking and treating is provided.
Step
5
Shape 'heel'
Hold a clicker and treats while you walk your Shih Tzu. When your pup trots along at your left leg, click and treat. Do not reinforce if he lags behind or pulls in front.
Recommend training method?

The Pair Hand Signals Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Pair hand signal for 'sit'
Hold a treat in your hand, palm up, with your Shih Tzu in front of you. Move your palm up to your chest, and as your dog tracks your movement his bottom will go down to the floor. Say “sit” and provide the treat when he is successful. Eventually you can stop using the treat and just say “sit” and use the hand signal.
Step
2
Pair 'down' hand signal
Hold a treat between your fingers with your palm facing down and your Shih Tzu in front of you. Move your palm down to the floor and say “down”. Your Shih Tzu will follow your hand and lie down on the floor, provide the treat. Repeat, alternating verbal and hand signals until established.
Step
3
Motion to 'come'
Place your Shih Tzu a few feet away from you. Hold your hands out parallel to the ground, straight out from your sides with a treat in one hand. Call your pup to 'come' and bring both your hands together at your chest. When your dog runs over, provide the treat. Practice increasing distance as the hand signal and verbal commands become well established.
Step
4
Hand signal 'stay'
To teach your Shih Tzu the hand signal for stay, hold your palm out toward your dog while he is sitting and say “stay”. Provide a treat when your dog stays for a few seconds, gradually increase time, continue pairing hand signal and verbal command.
Step
5
Tap hip for 'heel'
Tap your hip with your hand while asking your Shih Tzu to heel. Reinforce heeling with treats, praise and affection.
Recommend training method?

The Lure Basic Obedience Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Lure to 'come'
Hold a treat out and call your dog by commanding “come”. When your Shih Tzu runs over to you, provide the treat, praise and affection. Repeat often.
Step
2
Lure to 'sit'
Stand in front of your Shih Tzu and hold a treat slightly above and behind his head. Your dog will usually sit in order to continue focusing on the treat. When he sits on his bottom, say “sit” and provide the treat. Practice frequently.
Step
3
Lure 'down'
Ask your dog to sit, then hold a treat down on the ground in front of your Shih Tzu. When your dog lies down on the floor to reach the treat, say “down” and provide the treat.
Step
4
Reward 'stay'
While lying down or sitting ask your dog to 'stay'. Hold a treat but do not provide it yet. Wait a few seconds, if your Shih Tzu remains in place then reward with the treat. If your dog moves, re-position and repeat until he is successful. Gradually increase the time your dog needs to stay in place to get his treat.
Step
5
Lure to 'heel'
Hold a treat or a toy in a closed hand at your side and walk with your Shih Tzu on your left side. Lure your pup to stay at your left side by letting him smell the treat in your closed hand. Periodically provide the treat or play with the toy as your Shih Tzu walks beside you. Replace with another treat as needed, hold and continue.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Creed
Shihpoo
13 Weeks
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Question
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Creed
Shihpoo
13 Weeks

Really and truly, I don't have a question I just need help. I really love this puppy and I want the best for him and I know that being properly disciplined and trained is the best for him. He is very "chill" and laid back and I love him for that. (That's my temperament). However, that makes it difficult to train. He is so laid back that that training can be kinda like "yeah whatever".lol. He is not a fan of toys and he only eats in spurts. (He has a clean bill of health so no problem there.)

The problem I have is because of his lack of interest that can make it a little difficult to train him. So what should I do?

By the way, I am pleased to say that he sleeps all night long so that is perfect, but then he constantly sleeps so..... well nevermind.😏

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Porschea, When you have a puppy who lacks motivation, I usually recommend trying different training methods than ones that depend on luring with toys and treats. For example, check out the Pressure and capture methods from the article I have linked below, or the Reel In method from the Come article below. I would also pay attention to when pup does want something throughout the day - like to go for a walk, be petted, chew a bone, ect...And ask pup to do a command you have already taught to earn what they want in the moment, like tell pup to Sit when they want you to open the door to go outside, then wait. Once pup finally sits, praise and open the door right away (having already leashed pup of course). Pressure and Capture methods for teaching Sit: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit Leash Pressure or Capture method for teaching Down: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-lay-down Reel In method for Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Turns method for Heel - if pup won't take the treats you can still use your movements and praise to train this method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Fluffy
Imperial shih tzu
3 Months
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Fluffy
Imperial shih tzu
3 Months

We have just bought Fluffy recently but are finding it very hard to train him to pee outside or even on peeing pads. We have tried using peeing spray but it hasn’t worked and last night he peed on his bed and we’re unsure how we should handle his peeing training.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Manpreet, Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The crate training method utilizes the crate to help get pup to go potty outside by preventing accidents inside until pup needs to go badly enough they go outside when you take them. After you reward pup for going potty outside for a few days, most pups will start to go potty more quickly when taken outside as they learn "Go Potty" and associate going potty with being outside. You will need to follow the method strictly at first for it to work though, returning pup to the crate between potty trips and taking back outside again soon if pup until pup goes potty outside and can be given some freedom in the home. The crate will need to be set up like the method describes, without anything absorbent in the crate, including a soft bed or towel, something like www.primopads.com can be used instead, and the crate sized small enough. You want him to get into the habit of holder his bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever he feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dior
Shih Tzu
2 Months
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Dior
Shih Tzu
2 Months

How to train her

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janae, For potty training, check out the Tethering and Crate Training methods from this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Next, check out these videos of a puppy class. Follow along with your puppy at home and practice the exercises to help with general basic obedience: Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 Over the next six months, these commands can also be useful to teach. Socialization, potty training, crate training, and teaching bite inhibition will be the most time sensitive things to prioritize with a young puppy though. Although helpful to teach early, obedience commands can also be taught when older if you have to choose what to work on with the time you have. 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 Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that teaching socialization, potty training, and bite control are the most important things to teach at this age. Obedience early is wonderful, but you can also teach obedience once older if needed. Socialization, bite control, and potty training are the most time sensitive at first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zoe
Shih Tzu
5 Months
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Question
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Zoe
Shih Tzu
5 Months

She is terrified of any loud noise... doorbell , echo , vessels clanging , people talking in the background. She also shivers uncontrollably when in any outside public environment. She's very scared.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amit, For this level of fearfulness I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in things like counter conditioning and desensitizing. Check out this article below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ I also recommend checking out this youtube channel and her videos that work on desensitizing and counter conditioning to things pup is fearful or reactive toward. Fearfulness playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXtcKXk-QWoivpkvXgqhAC44tlofiw-CS Reactivity playlist - although pup isn't barking, the videos on barking at sounds, other dogs, new objects ect...Found in this playlist show how to desensitize to those stimuli, which your dog would likely benefit from doing. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rocy
Shih Tzu
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocy
Shih Tzu
1 Year

What dog treats to give him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Adam, Without knowing pup's health history and whether he has any special dietary needs I can't say for sure, but I personally prefer freeze dried real meat or liver in my training practice because it's healthier than many of the treats on market, easy to eat while moving for heel and recall training, can be broken up into tiny pieces for training purposes, and most dogs really love the taste. Stella and Chewy and Nature's Variety are a couple of brands that make them. Just make sure any brand you choose doesn't have any recalls happening on food or treats. Petful.com is a good place to check for recall information. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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