Jump to section
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.
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'.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pair Hand Signals Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tap hip for 'heel'
Tap your hip with your hand while asking your Shih Tzu to heel. Reinforce heeling with treats, praise and affection.
The Lure Basic Obedience Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Laurie Haggart
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021