Imagine that you have just brought home a tiny, adorable bundle of fur that barks. Yes, I am talking about your new Bichon Shih Tzu puppy. She might be small and cute, but she has a lot of personality. She exhibits loyalty and a bit of stubbornness while she tries to keep up with you as you move throughout your home, attacking your shoelaces whenever you stop for a moment. Your new pup is eager to learn and looking to you for direction. You try to be consistent but sometimes it's hard not to give into her bad behavior when she is just so cute.
Your Bichon Shih Tzu may look small and cute, but she needs to learn how to behave, just like all dogs do. Most small dogs do not perceive themselves as small, they are just dogs with instincts, temperaments, mental and physical needs, and a need to be social. Your pup is very capable of learning obedience commands, manners, fun tricks, and games. When taught how to behave properly, your puppy will not only look cute but will be a pleasure to be around as well, and who doesn't love an adorable, well-behaved dog?
Training is not only vital in order for your puppy to learn good behavior, but it can also benefit her mentally, emotionally, and physically. Training is a great way to stimulate your puppy's mind, to teach her self-control, get out her excess energy, to give her a sense of purpose, and to increase her learning capacity. It also provides wonderful opportunities for bonding for you and her. By spending time with your pup in training, you will be building her respect for you, her trust in you, and her desire to please you. You will also be giving her a source of confidence and security since she will learn to depend on your leadership and protection. If you make training fun, then you will also increase her desire to learn even more. Because training stimulates her emotionally, mentally, and physically, training is great for her overall health and well-being. Most dogs are happier overall when they are regularly being trained in a consistent, communicative, and non-threatening way.
When training Fifi, remember to be patient. She is young and it will probably take a lot of repetition before she learns the new command. Just remember to have fun and to keep in mind all of the positive benefits of training. Not only the end goal of her learning a new command, although that is important, but also the bond that is created when you train, and the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of training regularly.
You might find that your pup is a bit stubborn. This could be due to her temperament or simply a lack of understanding about what she is supposed to do. Try seeing things from her point of view, to make sure that communication is not the issue. If communication is the issue, then focus on that part of the training, to help her understand how to do the command that is being taught. If she simply is being stubborn, then rather than getting angry, view it as a fun challenge. Your goal is simply to be consistent and a bit more stubborn than she is about the training. Gently and patiently insist that she does the command until she gets tired of refusing and complies. There is no need to be harsh or intimidating, with a bit of perseverance, gentleness, and patience, you will get there with her, and you might even have a lot of fun in the process.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. Ideally, the treats should be easy for your puppy to eat. You will need a calm location to practice the command in at first. You will need a resource for how to train your puppy to do certain commands. Wag! Walking's Training Resources page is a great resource for learning how to train specific commands and tricks. Another option is to locate a class in your area that teaches the behavior that you would like to train your pup how to do.
If you are using the 'Lure' then you will also need good timing, a positive attitude, and patience. If you are using the 'Capture' method, you will also need a small Ziploc bag or treat pouch, attentiveness, and patience. If you are using the 'Position' method then you will need a gentle touch and calm persistence. With all of the methods, depending on which command or trick you choose to train, you might need an assistant, a leash, collar, or harness, props, or a specific location.