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

ribbon-method-1
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
Dice
Shih Tzu
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Dice
Shih Tzu
2 Months

can’t get him to pee and poop on pad

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janessa, Check out the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below. I would start by lining the entire floor of the exercise pen with pads, rewarding pup whenever they go potty on one, then gradually remove the extra ones, one at a time, until you have just one left in the pen. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy You may also need to switch from pee pads, which are made out of fabric and confusing for some puppies, to disposable real grass pads or a doggie litter box with dog litter (different than cat litter). The disposable real grass pads are what I most recommend though. Disposable real grass pad brands - found on Amazon also: www.freshpatch.com (what I would start with) www.porchpotty.com (more expensive long term option) www.doggielawn.com (or start with this one) You will notice they cost more, but they are supposed to be replaced every couple of weeks, instead of daily like pee pads. Bagging up poop. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Fluffy
Shih Tzu
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Fluffy
Shih Tzu
2 Months

I need my dog to be perfect and ready for anything so it will take a long while to train it I guess...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ruwan, How long the training takes depends a lot on how often you practice and pup's ability to learn quickly or more gradually. Various dogs need various amounts of repetition before something is learned. Generally basic obedience is at least 6 weeks, Intermediate obedience at least 6 more weeks, but I would expect to work at that for at least three months before its consistent even once the initial training is learned, then off leash another 6 weeks to be learned but with at least 3-6 months of practice to be reliable. Most people who have jobs and other things going on, who commit to training for at least 30 minutes 6 days a week could have a dog fully off leash trained in 6-12 months. Even though that can seem like a long time, if you commit to the training in that first year, you could then be looking at 12+ years with pup being fully off leash trained, only needing occasional refreshers. Behavior issues tend to take the longest to address, so I would be proactive about preventing them in the first place. Check out the free PDF e-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy, and basic obedience training videos I have linked below to get you started. 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 Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Luigi
Shih Tzu
4 Months
0 found helpful
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0 found helpful
Luigi
Shih Tzu
4 Months

To come and stay
Stop barking in the crate
no bitting

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

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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Question
Jake
Shih Tzu
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jake
Shih Tzu
2 Months

He’s biting all the time nipping your feet n angles when he’s going to bed we put in cage he howls n barks for awhile n wakes up about 4 n 5 every morning

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

Hello! Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Black Pearl Eusebio
Shih Tzu
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Black Pearl Eusebio
Shih Tzu
8 Months

how to stop my shih tzu to bite my hands

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marian, When is pup biting your hands? Is pup biting them when touched, when they have an object or food, when they want you to play, ect? How this is addressed depends a lot on whether pup is biting due to fear, puppy mouthing and wanting to play, resource guarding, or touch sensitivity. If pup is biting due to normal puppy mouthing, I would work on teaching the Leave It command to increase self-control. Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite If pup is biting for another reason, the underlying sensitivity, fear, or aggression also needs to be carefully addressed, possibly taking precautions like a basket muzzle depending on the severity of it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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