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Your Shih Tzu may be small, but that doesn’t mean he’s not playful. He seems to have a tremendous amount of energy for a little dog. He’s always jumping up at you when you walk through the door. Not to mention, he still seems to have energy left when you return from your daily walk. He’s also intelligent. Your little Shih Tzu is not to be underestimated, he’s a switched-on little canine companion. That is why you want to find an effective way to channel his energy into something productive.
Training him to roll over is a good example of a straightforward trick you can teach him. Not only will it mentally stimulate him, but it also makes for fantastic bonding time. In addition, this simple trick can help lay the foundations for a range of other commands too.
Training your Shih Tzu to roll over is actually much easier than you probably realize. Because they are playful and often eager to please, training is relatively straightforward. The biggest hurdle is initially conveying to him what it is you want him to do. Once he understands that, you just need the right motivator to reinforce the training.
If he’s a puppy, he should be at his most receptive. This means you could see results in a matter of days. However, if he’s older and not so interested in learning anymore, then you may need a while longer. Training could take up to 10 days. Get this right and you’ll have an entertaining trick to show family and friends. On top of that, this type of training emphasizes your position as pack leader. It’s also a great way for your little Shih Tzu to show you how much he wants to please you.
Before you get to work, you will need to gather a few things. Stock up on tasty treats or break his favorite food into small pieces. You will also need a toy and a clicker.
Set aside just a few minutes each day for training. However, training needs to take place in a spacious room, where there is less chance of anything getting broken. Also, try to train when there aren’t noisy kids charging around the house getting ready for school.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Treat Lure Method
The first thing you need to do is instruct him to lie ‘down’. You may want to hold out a treat to capture his attention at this point. Also, try and hold eye contact, this will further let him know that you expect something of him.
Now kneel in front of him and then rotate your treat hand slowly across his head. Try to lead him by the nose almost with the treat. This should naturally force him to roll over as he tries to keep up with the treat.
At the same time as the action, give a ‘roll over’ instruction. You can use any word or phrase you like. Shih Tzus can learn hundreds of different commands. Just make sure the instruction isn’t being used in conjunction with any other tricks.
As soon as he does successfully roll over, hand over a tasty treat. Also, give him some verbal praise to further let him know he has performed correctly. The happier he feels afterwards, the more eager he will be to repeat the behavior again.
Lose the treats
Practice this for several minutes each day. Once he gets the hang of it, you can then slowly cut out the treats. At this point, the verbal command alone should be enough to get him rolling over.
The Click & Reward Method
A clicker is an effective way to communicate with your Shih Tzu. It lets him know when he has performed a behavior correctly. So, start using a clicker whenever he follows an instruction.
Sit in front of him, then take out a treat and instruct him to lie ‘down’. Don’t click once he is lying down, this will let him know there is more he still needs to do.
Now hold the treat close to his nose and slowly rotate it across his head. This should naturally lead him to turn over onto one side and eventually roll over. For the first few times you may want to gently help roll him over with your spare hand.
Click & reward
Once he does indeed roll over, swiftly click to let him know he performed the trick correctly. You can then hand over a tasty treat or some of his favorite food. However, make sure he gets the food within three seconds of rolling over, otherwise he may not associate the action with the reward.
Cut out the treats
Practice each day until he gets the hang of it. Once he is comfortable rolling over, you can slowly phase out the treats. You can then just use the clicker to let him know when he has done a good job.
The Toy Temptation Method
Spend a few minutes each day playing with a particular toy. Play tug of war and fetch and leave it in his bed all night. Also, make sure you are animated when you do play with the toy. This will all ensure he jumps up and is willing to do anything for it as soon as he sees it.
Now take him to a quiet room and hold the toy above him to capture his attention. Instruct him to lay down and then ‘roll over’. Give the instruction in an upbeat high-pitched voice. Shih Tzus learn best when they think they are playing a big game.
Rotate the toy
As you give the command, rotate the toy over his head. Do this slowly and it should naturally force him to roll over as he tries to stay close to his toy. You can also use your spare hand to gently roll him over the first couple of times.
Once he has completed the roll, spend a minute or so playing with the toy. Make sure he gets plenty of attention and that the roll was worth the playing around with the toy. This will all make him eager to play again.
Practice makes perfect
You now need to practice this trick for a few minutes each day. As he gets the hang of it, you can just stand up when you give the instruction and stop guiding him with the toy. Simply hand over the toy at the end when he has successfully rolled over.
By James Barra
Published: 02/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021