How to Train a Shih Tzu to Behave

How to Train a Shih Tzu to Behave
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

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.

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Defining Tasks

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.

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Getting Started

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!

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The Socialization Method

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1

Start early

Starting socialization during puppyhood is more effective and can help prevent fear and aggression from developing later .

2

Use positive experiences

Use other dogs and people who are calm and well behaved to act as good role models for your Shih Tzu.

3

Involve others

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.

4

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.

5

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

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Establish a schedule

Maintain regular obedience training sessions, preferably multiple times a day.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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

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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.

2

Ask for obedience

Before you offer her the meal, ask your Shih Tzu to perform an obedience task such as ‘sit’.

3

Reward with the meal

Wait until she performs the required obedience command before you reward her with the meal.

4

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.

5

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Halo

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Shih Tzu

Dog age icon

One Year

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Question

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My dog is becoming impossibly aggressive. His trainer asked me to be nervous and stern with him but I get scared very easily, especially after he bit me. Could you help me by telling how can I treat his aggressiveness?

Aug. 3, 2022

Halo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Could you include more information about his aggression please? Like when is he acting aggressive? What tends to trigger his aggression? Is he aggressive toward only you or toward other people in the home, strangers, other dogs, ect...? Is he aggressive toward the trainer also? What's his general temperament and personality like? To be of much help advising you I would need to know a lot more about the behavior and your situation. Since you are nervous around him I would start by desensitizing him to wearing a basket muzzle so you can feel safe interacting with him again and be able to train without risking a bite. The muzzle won't train him for you, but when working with aggression, a muzzle can sometimes be a good tool for keeping someone safe enough for them to be able to interact with the dog again to work on training, so that the training can help with the aggression. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqM2_vLcQ2Y https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw If you are still working with your trainer, have them show you how to introduce the muzzle using counter conditioning. Choose a muzzle that allows pup to open their mouth enough to take a treat through the muzzle hole while wearing, preventing a bite but letting pup still open their mouth some to drink and be rewarded by you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 4, 2022

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Polo

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Shizu

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9 Weeks

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Question

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How to when discipline him when he misbehavs

June 9, 2022

Polo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shirley, At this age, work on communication and commands that can be used to address unwanted behavior, then following through with things you ask pup to do. For example, when pup does something you don't want them to do, calmly tell pup "Ah Ah" then follow through with addressing the behavior. When pup does something you do want them to do, praise pup with something consistent, such as "Yes!" or "Good!" then reward pup by giving them something they want, like petting when they sit after you get home, putting their food down when they are waiting patiently, or giving a treat or toy. With consistency Ah Ah and praise become words pup understands. There are a lot of commands that can address unwanted behavior, teaching pup what to do instead of the unwanted behavior, so pup doesn't just make up something else you don't want instead. For example, when pup is jumping, ask pup to Sit, then reward the sitting. If you correct the jumping without teaching pup what to do instead, pup might just try barking for your attention instead. Teach what you want. Out - which means leave the area, Leave It, Heel, Sit, Down, Place, Quiet, Come, and Drop It are all super useful for addressing pushiness and begging, biting and chewing, leash pulling, over-excited or rude behavior, barking, running off, and taking your things - all common dog behaviors that could use training. When pup doesn't stop when you say "Ah Ah" or obey your follow up command, like Sit or Come, then you need to follow through with what you asked so pup learns to respect your word. This doesn't require a lot of harshness if you start early and proactively. Harsher punishments are generally only needed when you have a more extreme behavior going on that wasn't prevented through earlier, gentler training. With a puppy you have a clean slate. For example, is pup is stealing things or running away when you call them, keep a drag leash on pup when you are home to supervise, to ensure it doesn't get caught on anything. When pup tries to snatch something and run away, calmly tell pup "Ah Ah....Drop It". If pup does, reward or don't make a big deal of the incident. If pup runs away with it, calmly step on the end of their drag leash, reel pup in, then repeat your command and wait pup out. Calmly praise when pup finally drops it. You also would need to practice drop it proactively with treats in this case to build trust about pup giving you items and you rewarding that, so it's not always an experience of you just taking things from pup, as well as giving pup dog food stuffed chew toys regularly to teach pup to chew their own things instead of yours. If in this same situation you instead ran after pup, tackled them or dragged them out from under a bed and forced the item from pup's mouth while giving them a pop, you run the risk of pup getting defensive and beginning to resource guard also because they don't trust how you will react anything they have something they want in their mouth. Below you can download a free PDF e-book, After You Get Your Puppy, that covers more general puppy raising. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 10, 2022


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