How to Train a Shih Tzu

Introduction: Understanding the Shih Tzu Personality

Shih Tzus, with their distinct flowing coats and charming face, have been adored by many for centuries. Originally bred for Chinese royalty, these small dogs are known for their affectionate, outgoing, and playful demeanor. Their alert and friendly nature often makes them excellent companions for families and singles alike. While they might look like lap dogs, Shih Tzus are known for their sturdy and lively character. Although they are generally willing to please, their regal background sometimes shines through in the form of a stubborn streak. Recognizing and embracing these unique personality traits is the foundation for effectively training your Shih Tzu.

The Importance of Early Socialization

Socialization is crucial for all dog breeds, and Shih Tzus are no exception. Given their history as palace pets, they can sometimes be wary of unfamiliar situations or strangers. Exposing them to various environments, animals, and people during their formative months can help in shaping their adult personalities.

Introduce your Shih Tzu puppy to a range of friendly individuals and pets, ensuring each experience is positive. Different sounds, sights, and smells play a vital role in their early development. Puppy classes can serve as a controlled environment for this essential exposure, teaching them foundational commands while also letting them interact with other pups and humans.

Regular visits to parks, short car rides, or trips to pet-friendly locales can further hone their social skills. Always reward calm behavior with treats and praise, and be prepared to remove them from overly stressful situations.

Basic Command Training

For a Shih Tzu, consistent training with an emphasis on positive reinforcement is key. This breed is more motivated by praise and rewards than anything else.

  • Sit: Using a treat as a lure, guide your Shih Tzu’s nose upward. As they tilt their head back, they’ll naturally sit. Once seated, say “Sit,” and give them their treat along with verbal praise.
  • Stay: After mastering “Sit,” extend your hand palm-out in front of their face, saying “Stay.” Step back and if they hold position, reward with praise and a treat.
  • Come: With a leash attached, gently pull them towards you while saying “Come.” Reward their approach with a treat.
  • Heel: Start walking with your Shih Tzu on a leash. Whenever they pull or stray, stop moving. They’ll soon understand that staying close ensures the walk continues.

Remember, Shih Tzus thrive on positive feedback. Ending training sessions on a high note keeps them eager and excited for the next one.

Potty Training Tips for Shih Tzus

Patience is the key when potty training a Shih Tzu. Their small size means they might need more frequent bathroom breaks.

  • Establish a Routine: Consistency helps Shih Tzus understand what’s expected. Regular feeding times can predict when they’ll need to go. Typically, after eating, waking up, and before bedtime are prime potty times.
  • Designated Potty Area: Whether you’re using pee pads indoors or a specific outdoor spot, always take your Shih Tzu to the same area for potty breaks. They’ll begin to associate this spot with doing their business.
  • Handle Accidents Calmly: Mishaps are part of the training process. If you spot them mid-act, a gentle “Oops” and leading them to the potty area will suffice. Avoid harsh punishments, as they can lead to anxiety.
  • Reward Success: Whenever they use the designated area, shower them with praise or offer a small treat.

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