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How to Train Your Shih Tzu (and How to Succeed With It)?

Good Shih Tzu training requires gentleness and consistency in your approach. You should also be adept at your dog's behaviors. Proper training will lead to them listening better and taking your lead.
How to Train Your Shih Tzu

Table of Contents

Your Shih Tzu needs to spend a lot of time with you. They can be pretty stubborn. It is crucial to give them adequate attention and tough love. They can be a calm, friendly, and disciplined companion in no time.

How Smart Are Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is an intelligent dog. They can be taught to do a lot of things. Playing fetch, jumping through hoops, and contending in agility contests are all doable. They love learning tricks and showing them off.

Based on a study, Shih Tzu has the lowest degree of obedience and working intelligence. Nonetheless, their ability to adapt and understand human emotions is excellent. These are what make them truly smart.

Why Is My Shih Tzu So Dumb?

Labeling a Shih Tzu dumb must have been based on their responses to obedience training. Your dog simply likes to do things their way. Their stubbornness can be mistaken for being dumb.

Are Shih Tzu Disobedient?

The Shih Tzu were bred to be a cuddly small indoors canine companion. As a result, most of them develop stubborn behavior. Obedience, needed for working in the field, was not included in their inherent traits.

How Stubborn Are Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu can be quite stubborn. This behavior is partly attributed to their innate qualities. Unlike other dog breeds, Shih Tzu was not raised to be working dogs, guard dogs, herding dogs, or hunting dogs.

Shih Tzu were made to be lapdogs. They think they could do whatever they pleased.

How Do You Train a Stubborn Shih Tzu?

How you bring up your Shih Tzu affects the levels of its stubbornness. As a fur parent, you must establish a clear hierarchy. Set rules and expectations clearly.

Your pet should understand that you are in authority. You have to be followed and listened to. All these should be done with loving intentions. Do the following steps:

  • Establish the Proper Hierarchy: As canines see it, in the den (house) lives the pack (family). The pack is made up of an alpha who watches over the betas. The alpha is the leader of the pack. It has to be you. Otherwise, your Shih Tzu will be hesitant to listen and obey.
  • Take Baby Steps: You need to ease into things. Especially when introducing new activities, do them gradually within short sessions. Then, you can slowly work your way up in the subsequent sessions. Always reward them at the end.
  • Teach All Basic Commands: Your Shih Tzu should heed words like “sit,” “come,” “down,” and “stay.” Further, “heel” can be helpful when taking your pup for a stroll.
  • Give It a Breathing Space: Before having your Shih Tzu do something for you, ensure it is ready. Offer a buffer zone by conditioning it for what is coming next. For example, you can play fetch for a few minutes before calling your dog over to be brushed.
  • Always Act Like the Alpha: Keep standing your ground. Never let your dog’s stubbornness get in the way. If it senses any sign of weakness from you, problems will arise.
  • Remember to Give a Gratifying Reward: As the alpha, you watch over your pack’s interest. Keep your dog motivated. Praise or reward good behaviors immediately. Doing this sends your Shih Tzu a clear signal that being nice is a way to get tasty treats.

Is a Shih Tzu Easy or Hard to Train?

The Shih Tzu breed is intelligent. Their love for attention sparks their curiosity. They are fond of learning new things. If done correctly, they can be highly trainable.

Are Male Shih Tzu Hard to Train?

Some believe that male Shih Tzu are difficult to train and females are easier to teach. However, these have not been proven to be true. The truth is, both male and female Shih Tzu have issues with training.

As with male Shih Tzu, most owners agree that they can get easily distracted. It can be a cause of disruption in the training sessions.

Why Is My Shih Tzu So Hard to Train?

Don’t let anyone fool you that your dog is impossible to train. Your Shih Tzu is bright and friendly. It can be stubborn, easily distracted, and disobedient. But it is not because they are any less intelligent than other dogs.

When you decide to train your pet, commit to it. Develop a strong bond with your Shih Tzu. Shower it with praises and be patient.

Be consistent in your training approaches. Use the same commands and give rewards accordingly. All these will eventually pay off.

What Is the Best Way to Train a Shih Tzu?

Reward-based training is a practical approach. It uses a training clicker and treats to teach your Shih Tzu various commands to follow. When your pup does the target behavior, click the clicker and give a treat.

Your pet can be stubborn. They are also sensitive to punishment and yelling. These can get them to be frightened and misbehave.

Practice new commands several times each day. Continue working on its obedience throughout its life. Couple your training with positive reinforcements.

How Do You Train a Male Shih Tzu?

Some male Shih Tzu were reported to be easily distracted. You have to keep them highly motivated. Positive reinforcement techniques, like treats and praises, will increase your chances of success.

This breed has a reputation for being stubborn and disobedient. Ensure that your rewards are highly enticing. It has to convince them that it’s wiser to respond than to refuse and forego their treats.

How to Train an Older Shih Tzu

Don’t believe the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” No matter how old, your pet can still learn something.

However, don’t try to force the training. Neither should you go fast. Your senior dog will thank you if you go slow with it.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Shih Tzu?

The length of time depends on how much effort you put into the training. Do it more consistently. Follow the steps closely. Your Shih Tzu can learn a skill or trick within two to four months.

Some pups will learn fast, while others will go at a slow pace. Just keep at your training. Eventually, your Shih Tzu will understand and obey the rules.

How to Train Shih Tzu Puppies

From three weeks to three months, your Shih Tzu puppy needs to be trained in the following areas:

  • Socialization: Help them to get accustomed to different sounds, including voices and music. They can grow to be friendly and outgoing if they are exposed to people. They should feel comfortable around children, adults, and bigger dogs by five weeks.
  • Teething: Train them from unwanted chewing. Eliminate inappropriate objects for chewing and give them age-appropriate teethers and chew toys.

Within three to five months, focus on the following developmental aspects:

  • House-Training: Establish a routine. Put your puppy on consistent eating, sleeping, and playing schedule. Teach one simple command at a time. Reinforce desired behaviors with praise or treats. When your puppy misbehaves, ignore them until the behavior stops.
  • Grooming: Familiarizing your Shih Tzu with grooming tasks is an excellent investment. Their long, double coat requires regular tending. It needs constant brushing, washing, and drying.
  • Puppy Classes: See to it that your young canine’s vaccination is up to date. Then you can begin obedience classes as early as eight weeks.

From six to eight months, aim for proper nutrition and adequate exercise:

  • Food Transition: Around seven months, you can switch from puppy food to an adult diet. Ensure that its feeding schedule is on the dot.
  • Walking on a Leash: Start teaching your Shih Tzu leash manners at eight weeks. Do your best to make their first walking session fun. It will be encouraged to do well in the next outings.

When Should I Start Training My Shih Tzu?

Your Shih Tzu puppy training needs to begin as soon as you take it home.

Training is an ongoing process. It includes teaching manners, social skills, basic commands, and housebreaking. Teaching the fundamental skills will lead to a happy, well-adjusted dog.

How Do You Train a Shih Tzu to Listen?

Teaching your dog to obey verbal commands reliably can be difficult. Do it with patience and positive reinforcement. Training your Shih Tzu to listen is a valuable skill that can keep it engaged when at home and safe when you are outdoors.

Ensure that your dog is aware of the proper hierarchy. Expecting your Shih Tzu to obey a ‘sit’ before any meal or toy is given reminds it that you are alpha. Eating meals and walking ahead are other signs that your dog recognizes you as its leader.

Coming to you when they are called is another perfect drill to test your dog’s listening skills. When training, you must call it for a purpose. It can be a treat, toy, or belly rub. Never call its name for the sake of calling its name. If it doesn’t have a business coming to you, it won’t budge the next time.

How Do You Discipline a Shih Tzu Puppy?

Your Shih Tzu puppy can be highly energetic and playful. Consistently reward its good behaviors. It will motivate them to keep at it instead of developing inappropriate habits.

Be mindful that they love to get attention. Ignore all unwanted actions. Doing this will send a powerful message to your dog about which behaviors to continue and avoid.

Prevent yourself from picking your dog up or looking at them whenever they do something wrong. Since they get what they want, they might misinterpret these actions as good.

Never yell or hit your Shih Tzu. These are sensitive companion dogs that love and adore you. Doing this will risk damaging your relationship with them. Plus, they might act up and misbehave all the more if they were physically or emotionally hurt.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Not Listen?

One reason your Shih Tzu does not listen or follow is that they don’t see you as a strong alpha.

Achieve proper hierarchy by teaching your pet to obey a ‘sit’ command before giving it its meal. Entering and exiting the building ahead of your pup is another way of leading it as an alpha.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Not Come When Called?

Your canine buddy is less likely to come to you if you are calling it away from something fun. Practice in a distraction-free area where your Shih Tzu can focus on you. Reward it with small treats to give when it comes to you.

How Do I Get My Shih Tzu to Come When Called?

Several methods are used to train your Shih Tzu to come when called. You can give two of these methods a try. See below:

The Leash Method

  1. Put a long leash on your Shih Tzu. Call their name, then say “come.” Gestures are okay. You can clap or tap your knees repeatedly to get their attention. Also, tug at the leash.
  2. If your pet comes at once, praise and reward them. Otherwise, give the leash a pull. Reel your dog in. Ensure that they are moving in the right direction. Offer praises.
  3. When your dog successfully comes to you, praise them and give rewards.
  4. If you notice your dog consistently coming to you, try to do the process off-leash. Keep the leash on but let go of it. Repeat the process. Hold the leash again if your canine does not do it. Perhaps, they need more practice.

The Lure Method

  1. Create a lure by filling a small bag with your pet’s favorite treats. Show it to your dog and allow them to smell it.
  2. Distract your Shih Tzu. Let them loiter around before calling them. If your dog hovers, you may need to hide the treats first.
  3. Call your dog when they are paying attention to other things. Give the command “come.” Reward them with a treat if they obey right away. Otherwise, show your lure bag and shake it.
  4. Repeat the process. Distract your pet, then call them. Reward if they come, lure them again if not.
  5. Eventually, fade the lure bag cue. You can still reward your Shih Tzu coming after being called, but they should respond to the command.
  6. When the response is consistent, level up by adding distractions or changing locations.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Jump So Much?

Its need for attention can be the culprit when your Shih Tzu seems to be jumping so much.

They also do it when they’re excited. When they get so eager to see someone, they tend to jump up towards and against people. It usually happens to their owners, visitors, and other unfamiliar people outside.

How to Stop Shih Tzu From Jumping

Giving it ample attention, exercise, and conditioning can help reduce jumping bouts:

  • Spending Quality Time: Other than your usual walks, play with your pet. Play a tug of war or game of fetch. Lounge around the house quietly. Let it sleep on your lap while watching TV or reading a book. This way, your dog feels satisfied. It will no longer make efforts to seek your attention.
  • Adequate Exercise: Your Shih Tzu is an energetic breed. They will need to release this excess energy. Ensure to walk with it at least twice daily for 20 minutes each outing. Give them around 15 minutes of fun and active games. If these seem insufficient, add another 10 minutes on top of their activities.
  • Avoiding Surprises and Making Relevant Preparations: Keep your canine buddy’s expectations clear. Ease them into activities, especially events outside of their routine. Surprises tend to trigger overreactions, such as jumping.

How to Stimulate a Shih Tzu?

There are numerous ways to stimulate your Shih Tzu. The key is to keep it active, physically and mentally. Stay on top of its exercises.

Going for a couple of walks daily and playing games is a good start. Find out which games and activities your Shih Tzu enjoys.

Teaching your pup new tricks while practicing old ones keeps them sharp and engaged. It is also a means to give them the attention they deserve. This is especially true when they begin to show off what they have learned.

How Do You Keep a Shih Tzu Puppy Entertained?

Your Shih Tzu will undoubtedly love being with you indoors or out. Give various indoor games a try.

Taking your pet with you will be appreciated when you go out. Whether you take it in the woods or the mall, your toy breed will enjoy the sights and sounds!

Do Shih Tzu Get Bored Easily?

Similar to humans and other dog breeds, Shih Tzu can get bored. They need something out of the ordinary to liven up their senses. Their routine does them a lot of good. But sometimes, it will feel dull.

What Does a Shih Tzu Like to Do?

Your Shih Tzu will need a ton of personal attention daily. They were bred to be companion dogs, so they thrive on human company. Following their humans from room to room is their favorite pastime when indoors.

Outdoors, they fancy a stroll, a game of fetch, and the feel of the wind softly blowing on their faces. They relish training, learning tricks, and playing with children. Their goal is to be the center of attention.

Are Shih Tzu Playful?

Shih Tzu are highly spirited and playful dogs. They seek the attention of their people. Walking keeps them satisfied, but playing will give them an absolute delight. They do well with young children. This breed is a great family pet.

What Kind of Games Do Shih Tzu Like to Play?

Throw a ball or any other toy. Like many dogs, your canine must be fond of playing fetch. They will surely be on their feet to retrieve the ball.

A game of tug with your Shih Tzu can be challenging but fun. Flirt poles will get your pup to jump while reaching for the toy at the end of the pole.

Bred solely to be companion dogs, your Shih Tzu wants nothing more than to be with its fur parents. These games will burn some of their excess energy. You will also develop a special bond, which will make your pet’s heart full.

Can Shih Tzu Play Fetch?

Playing fetch is a fantastic means to build a relationship with your Shih Tzu. It can stimulate your pup in many ways. It is a physical as well as a brain exercise.

Your Shih Tzu does not have the endurance to run a marathon. Neither are they natural retrievers. But a small squeaky ball can make chasing, fetching, and carrying it so much fun for your dog.

How Do You Teach a Shih Tzu to Play Fetch?

Since they are not natural retrievers, you may need to teach your Shih Tzu how to fetch. Start by introducing the thing that you will use for fetching – a ball or any retrieval toy. Ensure that it has an appropriate size for your pet’s mouth.

Sit on the ground with your buddy in a place with minimal distractions. Put a treat on the ball or toy used for fetching. When your Shih Tzu takes the treat, label the object. Say it repeatedly.

Then, get your pup’s attention by pretending to put the treat on the toy. Once your Shih Tzu touches it, label the toy again. This time, reward your dog by having it take the treat from your hand. Keep doing this until your Shih Tzu nudges the toy and asks you for a treat.

Now you can place the toy a bit far from your Shih Tzu. Say the name of the toy and allow your dog to run back and touch it. When your pet does, label it again and reward them.

Repeat the process until you are sure that your Shih Tzu knows the item’s name. Gradually fade giving treats until such time that your dog starts to pick up the toy in its mouth. Then you can start giving them treats again. You may need to use an approach called shaping.

Shaping rewards small steps of a task to lead your dog toward a significant result. This means you need to reward your pet’s small efforts towards picking up the item. Even if they did not pick it up but opened their mouth, give them a treat.

The key is to reward your Shih Tzu every time they can do even a tiny part of something close to picking the toy up. Do this until they actually pick up the toy. Then continue shaping to teach your pup to bring it back to you.

Remember to keep your training sessions under ten minutes. Else, your Shih Tzu might lose interest.

Do Shih Tzu Like Tug of War?

Tug of war is one of the best games that your Shih Tzu enjoys. Besides spending time playing with you, it is a challenging game that they can use to shed some excess energy.

Is Tug of War Bad for Shih Tzu?

As long as you make sure you are not playing too rough or too long, tug of war can be great exercise for your pet. It is not only a great bonding time with you. It also helps your puppy learn to play with toys rather than mouth or bite at people’s hands.

Is It Normal for Shih Tzu to Play Fight?

Dog play fighting is one of the natural ways for dogs to play. They also communicate, socialize, and burn pent-up energy. Watching two dogs play fight may seem intense, but it is a fun game for your Shih Tzu.

How Much Playtime Does a Shih Tzu Need?

Your Shih Tzu requires around 70 minutes of daily exercise. Since they are small, their walks are best split up into two or three sessions. Active play can also be considered exercise, so count that in. Schedule breaks in between. Your Shih Tzu will need it to avoid being too tired.

How to Play With a Shih Tzu Puppy

Shih Tzu puppies tend to be more energetic and playful than their adult counterparts. The more active the game is, the more fun they will have.

Since they are still growing and developing, be gentle in handling them. Keep them off from too high and too narrow places to avoid injuries.

How Long Should I Play With My Shih Tzu Puppy?

Your Shih Tzu puppy can tolerate five minutes of exercise for every month of their age. It means you can play actively with a three-month-old for 15 minutes and 20 minutes with a four-month-old. Don’t forget to divide their activities so they don’t get overstimulated.

How Do You Teach a Shih Tzu Trick?

Positive reward training is the best way to teach your Shih Tzu some tricks. This type of training is effective. This is because rewards are highly motivating for your dog. Keep your treats enticing enough. Otherwise, level them up if needed.

To keep your Shih Tzu engaged, you also need to put redirection approaches. Show your dog the opposite consequence if they don’t make an effort to learn the lesson.

Begin the training plan with key commands. What is the use of being able to do high fives if they don’t know how to respond to name-calling?

Hold training in quiet places, free of distractions. Keep your sessions short to sustain your canine’s attention and engagement. You may use a leash to have better control over your pet. Give your dog the space to have fun while learning tricks and building skills.

How to Train a Shih Tzu Puppy Tricks

Easy tricks mark the best place to start with your puppy training. Initiate lessons with the basic command such as “sit” and “come.” Start them young. Begin simple trick training as early as possible.

When you teach one trick, repeat it until it is mastered. Then, you can move on to the next trick. This could take weeks. Keep your training sessions short. Ensure that your puppy has fun learning.

What Tricks Can Shih Tzu Do?

It is highly recommended to teach your Shih Tzu the basic obedience commands first. These are “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “come,” and basic leash training. Use effective training methods to teach these tricks. Examples are positive rewards with treats or clicker rewards.

Depending on your Shih Tzu’s response to training, you can teach more tricks to it. Some more complex ones are roll over, bark or speak, play dead, spin, stand tall, sit pretty, etc.

How Many Commands Can a Shih Tzu Learn?

Learning words or commands is a significant part of your dog’s life. Generally, they can recognize an average of 160 words. When you start training, you will find that some words are easier to learn than others.

Your Shih Tzu will associate the word “walk” with a preferred task, making it easier to learn. On the other hand, the command “sit” can be more challenging. It is something that they are not excited to do with the energy level that they have.

How to Train a Shih Tzu to Sit

The “sit” command is a helpful command to teach your pet.

  1. Start by standing to face your Shih Tzu.
  2. Hover a treat on its nose. Gradually move the treat back behind its head.
  3. When your buddy looks to follow the treat with its nose, it will likely sit. When it does, say “sit.”
  4. Praise it and give the treat when it does.

How to Teach a Shih Tzu to Lay Down

Being able to command your Shih Tzu to lie down is worthwhile. You can give the command if you want it to rest or if you want to sit quietly with it.

  1. Have your Shih Tzu sit.
  2. Encourage it to lie down. Do this by putting a treat down on the ground. Then, pull it away as your pup’s mouth and nose follow.
  3. As your dog tries to reach the treat, it will end up lying down. It will stretch its front paws forward. Its belly and chest will cover the ground.
  4. As your dog successfully lies down, say “down.” Reward it with the treat.

How Do I Get My Shih Tzu to Roll Over?

Rolling over is a trick that your Shih Tzu can show off.

  1. Say “roll over” and rotate a toy over its head. Do it slowly.
  2. As your pup tries to stay near the toy, it pushes him to roll over. You may gently nudge your pet to help them roll over in the first few tries.

Is It Bad for Shih Tzu to Roll Over?

Inadvertently, rolling over can be done incorrectly. In another instance, your dog is not used to the movement. In these cases, rolling over can cause stress on your dog’s lumbar spine. It is vital to gently assist your Shih Tzu when teaching it to roll over.

Once they know how to do it safely, dogs will roll onto their back while seeking your attention or approval.

How Can I Make My Shih Tzu Happy?

Giving your Shih Tzu the utmost care gives you happiness. Doing it will also keep your pet happy. The three things that will undoubtedly make your Shih Tzu’s heart smile are:

  1. Keeping it well-groomed
  2. Feeding it well
  3. Spending time with it

How Can I Make My Shih Tzu Puppy Happy?

Take care of your Shih Tzu puppy as you would if it is older. However, puppies are packed with a higher energy level. You have to raise it a notch to keep it busy.

Answering its nutrition and grooming needs is a given. Exercise and playtime should be your top priority.

Your Shih Tzu puppy loves learning and showing off! Always have time to play with it. Take it with you on your outings. When they are ready, train and teach them new tricks.

How Do You Know if Your Shih Tzu Is Happy?

A host of signs can tell if your Shih Tzu is happy. Some of them are:

  • They wear a smile on their face. Sometimes, their tongue is sticking out.
  • They meaningfully look at you with their big puppy eyes.
  • Your Shih Tzu has a calm and relaxed body.
  • Their tail is wagging. Sometimes, even their whole bottom is wiggling.
  • They are actively playing, jumping, and rolling over. They will even bring you their toys.
  • Your pup has a good appetite.
  • They follow you, cling on to you, and kiss you often.
  • Your Shih Tzu has no signs of aggressive or destructive behavior.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Look Sad?

Dogs don’t cry as humans do. But they have their way of expressing their feelings. Your Shih Tzu might be sad if you notice the following signs:

  • Vocalizations such as whimpering and whining
  • Low energy level
  • Ignoring activities they usually enjoy
  • Poor appetite and refusing even treats
  • Small and squinty eyes
  • Sleep and behavior disturbances

Identify the reasons why your Shih Tzu is sad. It can be sickness, injury, boredom, routine changes, separation anxiety, and mistreatment. Call your vet to rule out possible medical issues.