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Your little Shih Tzu puppy is a gorgeous fluffy ball of love. She’s cute, kind, and doesn’t require a 10-mile walk every day – she’s perfect. But while Bella may be small, she still needs to learn how to sit on request. This is a basic command every dog, large or tiny, needs to know how to fulfill. It will help you control her behavior in all situations throughout her life.
If she is getting too excited about a walk and jumping up, you need to be able to ask her to sit. If you’ve got new guests in the house and they aren’t used to having dogs around them – she needs to be able to sit on request. Every pup needs to learn, and with a little bit of practice, they all get the hang of it. So, get ready for puppy school – this is her first lesson!
The command ‘sit’ is the most basic of all training. It’s great for controlling all types of behavior. The word itself is short and sharp, making it the perfect intonation for dogs to understand. It is easily recognizable to their ears.
Puppies' brains are like little sponges, they soak up information about sights, smells and sounds around them constantly. Therefore, this is the perfect time to get training them as they will learn in no time at all. The process could take anywhere from a couple of days to around a week and a half. You can use these methods to train adult dogs as well, but just be aware that it may take a little more time and patience.
Shih Tzus are generally easy enough to train, especially while they are puppies. But one thing to note is that they love food - and aren’t always so enthusiastic about exercise. Their potential for weight gain, therefore, is rather high, so the sooner you can stop the training with treats, the better.
Dog training is all about rewarding good behavior in order to reinforce it and encourage it. For this reason, all the methods will be focused around praising good behavior rather than punishing the bad. A negative training process can have incredibly bad consequences, causing anxiety and aggressive behavior in our canine friends. The trick is to stay light-hearted and positive at all times, with lots of verbal and physical praise for correct behavior.
As always, treats are one of the first things you’ll need to make sure you have to hand. They will provide a great reward incentive for Bella to complete the task. But as we mentioned, this should not be the only form of reward for Shih Tzus, who can easily become overweight. There are methods you can try without using treats, or just aim to wean them off them quickly using a clicker.
Let’s give it a try!
The Treat Method
Grab your treats
Puppies are very easily distracted, so you may find it easiest to start training using yummy treats that will hold their attention. Grab your biscuits and hold them in your puppy's view so she’s captivated by the smell!
Issue the command
Once she’s listening and is ready to work out how she can get her paws on the prize, issue the command ‘sit’ firmly but not aggressively.
Over the head
Hold a treat and roll it over the pup's head, causing her to look upwards.
Park her butt
At the same time, gently guide her rear end down to the ground so that she naturally moves into a sitting position.
As soon her rear touches the ground, immediately reward her with the treat she’s been looking forward to. This will help her make a connection between the sitting position and the reward. Repeat this process regularly. Very soon you won’t need to coax her into position.
The Toy Method
Grab her favorite toy
This is a great option if you’re trying to avoid using treats. You’ll need to make sure it’s a toy she’s truly interested in-- toys aren’t always quite as attractive as food is because there is always so much to play with. Clear all other toy options out of the way, and make sure there’s no one around to distract her.
Issue the command
Once you’ve got her attention. Say "sit" clearly and firmly. Try not to say any other words that may muddle the command in her mind. Have a break between the command word, and any other language you may be using. For example, rather than "That’s a good girl, sit Bella", just say "sit".
Coax her into position
Roll the toy over the back of her head, being sure not to let her have it. Do not let her jump up to grab it. If she does, you must start the process over again with no verbal or physical praise. Gently push her rear down to the ground to coax her into the sitting position.
As soon as she’s in position, let her have it! This is about letting her make the connection in her mind between the word ‘sit’, the action of sitting, and a positive reward.
Repeat the process regularly until she no longer needs coaxing into position. Train her in short bursts, just like children, puppies can lose focus quickly.
The Clicker Method
Grab a treat
This is a great method if you’ve started using treats but want to quickly wean her off. It’s also a good idea to start using the clicker on simple lessons because it will speed up the process when teaching her other tricks. First, you’ll need to start the association between a click and reward, so grab your treat as normal, and get ready to go.
Issue the command
Hold that treat up to grab her attention and then issue the command ‘sit’.
Coax her into position
Roll the treat over the back of the head to coax her into a sitting position. For this method, it is a good idea to perform the task with her back to a wall. This is because you do not have a free hand to push her rear to the floor, you’re holding the clicker in your spare hand. The wall ensures she cannot back away but instead, moves naturally into a 'sit' position.
Click for correct behavior
As soon as she is in the sitting position, click the clicker to indicate the correct behavior has been performed.
Immediately give her a treat as a reward. The click acts as a signal so that in the future she is aware she has performed correctly, even without a treat. However, in the initial stages you will still need to reward the behavior in order to positively reinforce it. Remember to give her lots of verbal and physical praise as well.
By Olivia Draper
Published: 04/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021