How to Train a Shih Tzu to Come when Called

Medium
3-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

You are out on a walk with your Shih Tzu when something gets their attention. They take off running and their leash slips through your fingers. Now your little pup is off like a shot, way out of reach, and they are not responding to their name. You feel panicked and frantically run after your dog, but being chased only spurs them to run faster. At any point, something terrible could happen. 

Training your Shih Tzu to come when called is an effective way to avoid a situation such as this and keep your furry friend safe, even when they are off-leash.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to reliably come on command can be difficult. However, with a little patience, any pup can learn to respond to the 'come' command. It is important to be very patient with your Shih Tzu. This breed of dog tends to be stubborn. Luckily, they often have a "what's in it for me" attitude, which responds well to positive reinforcement. 

While you are training the 'come' command, there are a few things to keep in mind. Never ask your pup to come for something they dislike, such as a bath or having their nails clipped. You want the word "come" to be associated with positive things so your dog is more likely to respond. Also, if your Shih Tzu doesn't come right away, don't chase after them. Most dogs love to play chase and you running after them will only encourage them to keep running.

Getting Started

In general, dogs are less likely to come if they are being called away from something fun. Choose a distraction-free area where your Shih Tzu can focus on you without a lot of interesting things to pull their attention. To practice this command, you will also need some small treats. It is also a good idea to put your pup on a leash in the beginning as well. If you practice on a leash, it is best to put your Shih Tzu in a harness to avoid pulling on their neck.

The Look What I Got Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Create a lure
Fill a small bag up with treats you know your pup likes. Show them the bag and let them smell it so your Shih Tzu knows there is good stuff in there.
Step
2
Let your dog get distracted
Give your Shih Tzu some time to wander around before calling them. They may hover around you for a bit, hoping to get a treat out of your lure bag. You may need to hide the bag for a while.
Step
3
Call your dog
Once your Shih Tzu stops paying attention to you, say their name and then give the command "come." If they obey right away, they get a treat. If they don't, get out your lure bag and shake it. Only say the command word or their name once more when you shake the bag.
Step
4
Reward them for coming to you
Since your dog knows what is in the bag, they should come to you right away. Give them lots of praise and a treat as a reward for coming. Then repeat the process of letting them get distracted and calling them to you.
Step
5
Phase out the lure
As soon as possible, you want to stop using the lure bag to make your Shih Tzu come to you. You should still reward the dog for coming, but you want them to respond to the command word alone. Once your dog is coming to you consistently, try adding in other distractions and changing locations until you are sure their grasp of the 'come' command is reliable.
Recommend training method?

The Reel Them In Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start with your Shih Tzu on a leash
With your pup on a long leash, say their name and then give the command "come" in a happy, enthusiastic voice. You can clap or pat your knees at the same time if you want.
Step
2
Tug on the leash
If your Shih Tzu comes right away, give a reward and praise. If not, pull gently on the leash without repeating the command.
Step
3
Reel in the leash
As your dog starts to move toward you, reel in the leash to keep them moving in the right direction. You can give praise as they do so if your Shih Tzu seems reluctant about coming. However, the pressure on the leash should be enough to keep the dog moving in the right direction.
Step
4
Celebrate their success
When your Shih Tzu makes it all the way to you, give them treats and make a big fuss about how great they were for coming. You want your dog to always associate coming to you with great stuff so they want to keep doing it.
Step
5
Try going off-leash
Once your dog is consistently coming to you while on the leash, you can take them to an enclosed area to practice. Leave the leash attached but let go of it and then say "come". If they do, they get a treat. If not, go up to your pup, step on the leash, and reel them in. Practice a few more times while holding onto the leash before attempting "off-leash" again.
Recommend training method?

The Run Away Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Put a lightweight leash on your pup
Attach a leash to your Shih Tzu's harness and let it drag as they explore the area around them. Don't leave your dog unsupervised while the leash is attached as it could become tangled in something.
Step
2
Call your pup
Say your Shih Tzu's name and the command word, "come." If your dog responds right away and comes to you, give a treat and some praise. If not, avoid repeating the word over and over again, as this simply teaches your pup that they can ignore commands.
Step
3
Run for it
If your Shih Tzu doesn't respond right away, grab their leash and run in the opposite direction while saying the word "come" once more. Dogs like to chase and your pup will have trouble resisting the instinct to come after you.
Step
4
Wait until they get close to you
When you are sure your pup is chasing you, stop and use the leash to bring them all the way to within arm's reach. A reliable 'come' means your Shih Tzu is near enough you can grab their collar or pick them up. Once your dog is near enough, praise them and give them a treat. Then let them go back to wandering.
Step
5
Keep practicing
Repetition is the best way to ensure your Shih Tzu has the hang of the 'come' command. Practice until your dog is coming reliably without you needing to run away. Add in more distraction. You may eventually want to practice with your pup off-leash. Just make sure you are in a safe, enclosed area when you do so.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Christina Gunning

Published: 04/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Skillet
Shih Tzu
1 Year
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Skillet
Shih Tzu
1 Year

Skillet is 1 and does not come on command and only comes when you say her name over and over and shake a snack bag and when she sees it and here’s it she eventually comes help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lily, It sounds like Skillet thinks coming is optional and only comes when she wants to. You need to teach her to come regardless of whether or not she wants to and you need to only say the command only one time, loud enough for her to hear you, and then enforce it and make her come. Follow the "Reel Them In" method from the article "How to Train a Shit tzu to Come When Called" above. Regularly practice the come command on a long, thirty or fifty foot leash. Take her to a variety of places with distractions and practice telling her to come one time in an excited tone of voice, reeling her in with the leash right away if she does not come, and then having her sit before you tell her "Okay" and let her go explore again. If she comes willingly the first time, then reward her with a treat and release her again quickly to go play. If you have to reel her in to get her to come, then after you release her again, call her back as soon as she is distracted again and repeat the whole thing. Repeat the training several times in a row until she comes willingly five times in a row after any time that she ignores your come command. You are teaching her through your own consistency that you are going to backup what you say and the sooner she comes, the sooner she can go back to what she was doing before. Around the house, when you are there to supervise her, keep a six foot leash without a handle attached to a harness on her. Practice randomly calling her to yourself. If she comes, reward her, and then let her go right back to what she was doing before. If she does not come, then quietly but quickly go up to her and step on the end of the leash that is attached to her, and run her back over to the spot that you were originally standing in when you first called her. Have her sit there, and then release her. Repeat this until she comes willingly five times in a row while inside. When she comes five times in a row, then take a break and let her go back to what she was doing for a while. Surprise her by calling her again later. Practice in real life and around distractions, and consistency are how you teach a dog to come when they do not want to. First you must teach a dog the meaning of a command, which it sounds like you have done, but then you have to teach the dog how to do that command at all times, and that requires work. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Skillet's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Kacie
Shih Tzu
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Kacie
Shih Tzu
8 Months

My pup does not come when called and completely ignores our calls unless he wants to come. We call it “selective hearing”. What do we do to get his attention without giving him too many treats, which is the only thing that reels him in occasionally

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nariya, Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Also, check out the Reel In method and the PreMack Principle from this article linked below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Around the house, in addition to intentionally practicing the Reel In and Premack methods outside and inside, I suggest keeping a drag leash on pup while you are there to supervise. If you call pup and he doesn't come inside, calmly walk over to the end of the 6 foot leash, pick up the end and lead him back to where you called him from, have him Sit, then release him. After you release him, repeat calling him, bringing him over there with the leash if he ignores you, having him sit, then releasing him with "Okay!". Practice this over and over until you get three voluntary comes in a row, then let pup go back to what they were doing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Kacie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Molly
Shitzu
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Molly
Shitzu
4 Months

Molly comes consistently when she is on the leash but off the leash does not come. HELP

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you information on how to teach recall. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

Add a comment to Molly's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Training Success Stories

Success
Sophie
Shih Tzu
13 Months

Sophie very stubborn she don’t listen when I call her when I do let her out inside I have to chase her around the house to get her listen even when I let her outside she takes off running where we have to chase or follow her for hrs it’s bad real bad to where I Search for places to put her if she listen and obey she will be a very good pup I been having her since she was 8wks and she really have gotten bad

1 year, 3 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd