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Shih Tzus are gorgeous, fluffy and cute. They are a great addition to any family home, but are perfect for first-time dog owners or those with a young family. They require less exercise than some breeds, and in general are pretty obedient companions. But you already know this, because you’ve got yourself a new Shih Tzu friend, and now you’re looking to get some awesome training under your belt.
Whether its control of behavior before mealtime, or to help you out when you’re scrambling with the leash trying to get that harness on, you need a command that will grab their attention. ‘Sit’ is every dog owner's best friend – it’s the perfect way to get your canine buddy to respect you’re the Alpha, and to gain control in the relationship. So get yourself ready, you and your Shih Tzu pal are about to get ahold of the basics.
‘Sit’ is the most basic command out there – it does what it says on the tin. It’s often the first lesson pups have to learn. It is a quick and easy little trick that even the most inexperienced dog owners are more than capable of achieving. In puppies, ‘sit’ may only take a couple of days to learn, and anywhere up to two weeks to reinforce. In older Shih Tzus, it could take a little longer to get the hang of it.
Puppies’ brains are like sponges, they can suck in information and learn from it super fast. But you’ve heard the expression ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ and while not completely truthful, there is good reasoning behind it. Sometimes adult dogs can be easier to train because they can be a little more focused, but in general, it will probably take a little longer. But don’t worry, with a little perseverance you’ll definitely be able to teach your adult dog to sit. Just bring a little patience and a lot of love!
In order to get started with these methods, you’ll need to use a reward. Treats are a great option because, like most breeds, Shih Tzus love food! However, in general, they aren’t so enthused about exercise, so it’s important to control how much food they are receiving and try to wean them off treat training as soon as possible.
Other options for rewards are toys they love, verbal and physical praise, or get them used to a clicker. A clicker acts as a signal that the behavior has been successfully completed. It’s not a reward in itself, so you’ll still need to give them lots of love and start by initially using other rewards to reinforce it.
The Treat Method
Grab your treats
Shih Tzus are small dogs with huge appetites, so make sure you grab some biscuits that you can break up into smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can buy bite sized treats for small dogs, and use them sparingly.
Capture their attention
Hold the treat in your hand and call the dog's name to grab their attention. Once they are looking, the training begins!
Issue the command
Say the word ‘sit’ firmly. Don’t be too light and fluffy in your intonation, it needs to be clear you are requesting something of them. But equally, don’t be aggressive in your tone.
Coax them into position
Roll the treat over the back of their head and at the same time gently push their rear end down to the floor so they are in the sitting position.
As soon as their rear hits the floor, instantly reward them with the treat. This helps them make the connection between sitting and positive emotions.
Repeat the process until the dog no longer needs coaxing to follow out the command.
The Toy Method
Grab their favorite toy
Toys are often not as captivating as a treat can be. Most of the time they can have a toy without having to perform. However, it’s a good idea to steer them away from needing treats in all areas of their lives. Police dogs use a tennis ball as a reward for their work, so give this method a try.
Issue the command
Grab their attention with the toy, and issue the command ‘sit’.
Coax into position
This can sometimes be tricky as many dogs like to jump up to get their toys. They think it is a game – something you’ll need to avoid in this situation. Do not let them have the toy until the behavior is completed. Roll the toy over the back of their head and coax them into position.
Instantly reward the dog with the toy once they are sitting. They may get up from the position straight away, but this is okay, it’s all part of the learning process.
Keep repeating the process until the dog sits without needing coaxing into position.
The Clicker Method
Grab a reward
A clicker is not a reward per se, it’s actually an indication to the dog that they have performed correctly. So for this method you’ll still need something to praise your dog with. This process should help you to stop needing as many treats with future training.
Issue the command
Holding the clicker in one hand and the reward in the other, issue the command ‘sit’.
Coax into position
This method is easiest when performed against a wall so that the dog cannot back up. Because you do not have a free hand, you cannot push their rear end down, and therefore the wall becomes a handy tool. Roll the reward over the back of the pup's head until they are sitting.
Click and reward
As soon as their butt hits the floor, instantly click the clicker to indicate good behavior. Then let them have that tasty treat or toy.
Make sure to give lots of verbal and physical praise, then repeat the process over and over.
By Olivia Draper
Published: 04/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021