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Your Shih-Tzu is a switched on little, canine. Although they haven’t been in your life-long, you were quick to start teaching them basic commands. In fact, it wasn’t long before they could ‘sit’, ‘roll over’ and ‘stay’. Naturally, this made them a firm favorite at BBQs and events where you had guests over. A crowd would soon gather round to watch Fizzy perform and her tail would wag from beginning to end. However, now you think it’s time to up the stakes. You want to start teaching Fizzy advanced commands.
Teaching a Shih-Tzu puppy advanced tricks brings with it only positives. Firstly, you’ll have a fantastic way to channel their energy into something productive. Secondly, you’ll have a great way to spend quality time with your favorite canine pal. Finally, you and your Shih-Tzu puppy will become social media famous as news spreads of your capabilities.
Training a Shih-Tzu puppy advanced tricks is, as the name suggests, going to be challenging. However, your Shih-Tzu has already proven himself by mastering the basics so there is no reason he can’t succeed with some more sophisticated tricks too. The challenge comes at the beginning, where you convey what it is you want them to do. Once they understand, you just need to reinforce training with the right incentive. Food and toys often do the job well.
If yours is a responsive puppy with a decent attention span, you could see results in just a matter of days. But if they are easily distracted then it may take a couple of weeks before they master each command. Succeed and you’ll have the perfect way to stimulate your energetic little Shih-Tzu. In addition, this type of obedience training will only increase your control in other areas of their life.
Before you get to work, you will need to check you have everything you need. So stock up on tasty treats or small chunks of your pup's favorite food. You will also need a favorite toy and a clicker for one of the methods below.
Set aside 10 minutes or so each day for training. Practice in a large room or yard, where there isn’t a risk of anything valuable getting broken, or either of you getting distracted.
Once you have the above, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The ‘Jump’ Method
Lead your Shih-Tzu into a quiet room or your yard. Then kneel in front of them and hold up a treat to get their attention. You want all eyes on you. Note you can also use a toy as a lure instead of a treat.
Give the instruction in an up-beat voice. You want them to think this is a big game. Just only give the command once. Also, bear in mind you can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction. In fact, Shih-Tzus can learn hundreds of different commands.
As you give the command, dangle the toy or treat above their head and lift it up and down, like a yo-yo. You can also pat on your knees and chest to encourage them to use you to jump up.
As soon as they display any signs of trying to jump, hand over a tasty reward or play with a toy for a minute or so. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click. You can also give them some verbal praise.
Practice makes perfect
Now you just need to practice several times a day. However, your Shih-Tzu is a puppy so keep training to just a few minutes each day. Once they get the hang of it, you can make them jump higher and higher before you give them a reward. Eventually, you can phase out the treats altogether.
The ‘Play Dead’ Method
Kneel in front of your pup. Hold up a treat or toy to get their attention and then issue a ‘down’ command. The 'play dead' command is great fun and entertaining, but they have to be lying down before they can perform the trick.
Now give the command ‘play dead’. While you can use any instruction you like, make sure you give it in a playful tone. Hold eye contact as you give the command to keep them concentrating.
If they lift their head up, gently place it back down and give the command again. The trick is to be calm yourself and then they will then mirror your behavior.
Only have them lie still for a few seconds to start with. You can then hand over a generous reward. Really make sure they know how happy you are. In fact, the better they feel, the more eager they will be to play again.
Increase the time
Practice with your Shih-Tzu puppy for several minutes each day. However, make the pup lie still for longer each time before you hand over a reward. It won’t be long before they’ve mastered the trick and then you can slowly cut out the treats.
The Figure Eight Method
Call your dog to your feet. Then grab their attention by holding up a delicious treat or one of their favorite toys. You’re going to train them to run in and around your feet. It’s great exercise and entertaining to watch.
Slowly guide them
Now lean down and hold the treat by their nose. Slowly move the treat around the back of your ankle and then in-between your feet towards your other foot. Move slowly so they follow your hand.
As you guide them, you can issue a ‘run’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. Just make sure it isn’t being used in conjunction with any other trick. Also make sure you give it in a high-pitched voice. You really want to get them worked up.
Once the dog has successfully followed your hand around and between your legs, give them the tasty reward. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click to signal to them that they have performed the trick correctly.
Now all you need to do is practice. However, start leading them in and around your ankles in a figure of eight before you give the treat over. Practice every day and they will soon get into the habit of running in the rotation and will recognize the command. You can then just give the instruction and they will sprint around you in hope of a treat.
By James Barra
Published: 04/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021