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Of all of the smaller breeds, the Shih Tzu has proven to be one of the more social and outgoing little dogs. They’re less yappy and more likely to enjoy the company of multiple people within the home. But like all small dogs, they can develop some poor manners if left to their own devices. Shih Tzus can be stubborn and easily distracted on top of that, so it’s important to be consistent when it comes time to teach these little dogs how to behave.
Small dogs can get a bad reputation for being excitable, aggressive, or not being housebroken. It can take time to realize that even a Shih Tzu will respond to normal training techniques with enough consistency and patience. Though they may be tougher to break of bad habits, you’ll be surprised as to what some good motivation and rewards will do.
Teaching a dog to behave consists of a few key aspects that work together in tandem to create a well-rounded canine companion to share a home with. First is socialization, to prevent your Shih Tzu from developing fears around other dogs and people. Following that, you’ll need to figure out basic obedience commands and combine these with other activities to build focus and trust. Finally, you’ll need to figure out how to continue to reinforce these manners in your day to day life.
Starting your Shih Tzu with this training as soon as possible is the key to creating good habits to last a lifetime. However, training an adult who has never learned before may present some challenges, but it is not impossible. Either way, you’ll want to be ready to train for two to four months to get down these basics for good behavior.
Shih Tzus, like many other breeds, can easily be motivated by toys or treats. Have these on hand during your training session to act as effective rewards. In public, you’ll want to have a mid-sized leash for appropriate handling during walks or socialization exercises. Besides these two items, you will want to have plenty of patience, especially for adult Shih Tzus who may take longer to pick up on new concepts. Your persistence will be rewarded in the end!
The Socialization Method
Starting socialization during puppyhood is more effective and can help prevent fear and aggression from developing later .
Use positive experiences
Use other dogs and people who are calm and well behaved to act as good role models for your Shih Tzu.
Get friends and family involved, as well as their pets. The more people and animals your dog can be around, the more likely it will be that he can develop good associations with them.
Have a regular routine
Provide an opportunity to socialize at least a few times a week. Dogs that are isolated too often are prone to being fearful of others.
Watch for stress
Never force your dog to be in a situation that makes him stressed or uncomfortable. Always work within his threshold and reward good experiences. Make gradual progression to avoid causing relapses.
The Obedience Method
Establish a schedule
Maintain regular obedience training sessions, preferably multiple times a day.
Work on the basics
Establish the obedience foundations such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’, ‘come’, and ‘heel’. Teach them one at a time and make sure they are mastered.
Give your dog a job
Many dogs thrive on having a job to do. Whether it’s participating in a sport or having him fetch items in your house for you throughout the day, give your Shih Tzu something to work at, which will keep him busy and thinking.
Expect good behavior at all times
Never let your dog get away with poor behavior just because he is small. Remember to reward for good behavior and separate him from situations where he is misbehaving.
Teach complex obedience
Once you get the foundations down, start teaching more complicated things like tricks or things like agility or rally obedience. Challenge your Shih Tzu to perform in a variety of situations around all kinds of distractions.
The Permission Method
Prepare a meal
Fix your dog’s meal as you do every day. Make sure she is nearby so you can be ready to start working on asking for permission.
Ask for obedience
Before you offer her the meal, ask your Shih Tzu to perform an obedience task such as ‘sit’.
Reward with the meal
Wait until she performs the required obedience command before you reward her with the meal.
Repeat for everything
From that point, remember that anything your dog wants should be asked for first in the form of obedience. This can be things like going outside, getting a toy, going for a walk, or getting to sit on furniture.
Involve your household
Allow the rest of your family to reinforce your Shih Tzu’s training by having them maintain the same rules for asking permission.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021