13 Aug

4 Top Shih Tzu Training Myths

Shih Tzu TrainingWhat is the secret to training a Shih Tzu puppy? So many people manage to get it wrong that we thought it was about time to note down some accurate information for you to read and reference next time you do some Shih Tzu Training.

Dog training has a lot of different angles, some are great whilst others are not so good.

At Shih Tzu Web we only work with the best so let’s take a look at the five top dog training myths to avoid. Let’s shape that perfect Shih Tzu!

Shih Tzu Training Myth 1

Your dog is a wolf. If you have been searching in certain circles for your Shih Tzu training tips that you may have been informed that your best friend is a wolf in Shih Tzu clothing. Do not be dismayed if you have, it’s a common myth.

Your Shih Tzu is 100% dog. The only link that he has to the grey wolf of today is DNA, of which he shares nearly 98%. So he is a wolf then? No, not at all, DNA does not dictate behavior it simply tells us that we all have a common ancestor.

Shih Tzu Training Myth 2

Your dog has an agenda of his own and he wants to be the boss.

This myth is based upon the misconception that a dog behaves like a wolf and the double misconception that all wolves want to be the boss.

Your Shih Tzu does not want to rule the home. He may seem like he does if you reinforce certain behaviors but that is more a reaction to your behavior than a specific desire to keep the entire family at a lower rank than himself.

When a dog pushes any boundaries that you may have in place it is purely because he is working out how you will react to his cheekiness and often because he has got away with it before.

Shih Tzu Training Myth 3

A dog should act nicely out of respect.

This is simply untrue, the Shih Tzu is not instilled with an innate respect that he naturally wheels out for the person that feeds him. This myth is a human projection which almost attempts to put a human thought process into the dog’s mind.

The dog’s mind is a wonderfully complex machine but it is not the same as yours or mine. The only way that you can expect your dog to act nicely is if you teach him to. In fact to your dog there is no right or wrong at all, nor does he attach a label to the way that he acts. In exactly the same way that a human does, the dog will only truly respect the people that earn it.

Shih Tzu Training Myth 4

The dog does not need a reward because a pat on the head will do.

The Shih Tzu is not a working dog, he is a companion breed, therefore unless you motivate this dog to learn he will not be the slightest bit interested in Shih Tzu training sessions.

A bright and intelligent little dog like this one will most certainly show little interest in training unless you make it worth his while. It’s important too that you do because you wouldn’t work for free so why should your clever little dog? Motivation creates wondrous results!

I have only touched on the basics of Shih Tzu training here and there is much more available in our various articles so why not stick around and explore?

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05 Mar

The Ultimate Guide to Shih Tzu Potty Training

Are you looking for the definitive guide to Shih Tzu potty training? We know that the web is full of potty training guides, we know also that dog training is often contradictory and confusing. Which is exactly why we have created the beginners guide to Shih Tzu potty training.

shih tzu potty training small dogFirst of all let’s talk about Shih Tzu training for a minute. By definition the word means teaching something, which is great because that’s what we are doing. We are teaching your Shih Tzu the right place to potty, which is crucial for a good mutual relationship between the two of you.

Shih Tzu Potty Training – A Mutual Goal

Before we go on I would like you to know, for sure, that dogs are not wolves and that they do not work against us to try and achieve a certain role within the home, this theory has been disproven and is therefore a dog training myth.

Interestingly the dog, by nature, is a co-operator. Which means he is happy to live in harmony with you and more than happy to work with you towards a mutual goal. Which is the canine thought process that we will tune into here, in order to make Shih Tzu potty training so easy.

Think of it this way, the dogs we care for love us, our dogs want to be with us and they want to please us. They are keen to live in domestic harmony and want nothing more than some simple things in life;

  • Comfort
  • Warmth
  • Security
  • Understanding
  • Exercise and the chance for a good run and sniff
  • Food
  • A genuine bond with their family (whatever the species)

Because we are responsible and caring dog lovers we give them more than that, we give them devotion, their own cozy beds, great healthcare and lots of love. The thing that we do struggle with though is understanding our dogs.

A Communication Gap

Dog training is as easy or difficult as you make it. Some dog trainers make things difficult to understand and many even still work on dog training myths. Sadly this has moved us further from understanding our dogs than we ever have before, but why am I telling you this? We are talking about Shih Tzu potty training for beginners’ right?

I’m telling you this because all great dog training is first based in understanding. It’s important to get things straight in your mind and learn to communicate with your dog. It’s important not to go wading in to potty train your Shih Tzu with patchy understanding and flawed human to canine communication.

Shih Tzu Potty Training – Essential Understanding

So what do you need to know in order to be successful with your Shih Tzu potty training? Well first of all it’s important that you learn a few things about how your dog learns.

It’s virtually impossible to know exactly what goes on in a dog’s brain. We simply do not have the scientific knowledge to know precisely what our dogs are thinking. We do know a lot more than we did twenty years ago though and over the last two decades that dog’s mind has become far less of a mystery to us.

So what do we know and how does this knowledge fit in with Shih Tzu potty training?

We know that our dogs co-operate with us to solve problems and we also know the following;

  • Dogs repeat anything that benefits them so if we reward an act the dog will repeat it.
  • Punishing dogs does not work to get rid of a behavior it only serves to make the dog anxious and stressed (which leads to potty accidents)
  • Dogs learn in stages and learn quickly if our communication during the lesson is flawless.
  • Dogs, as far as we know at this point, do not experience complex emotions such as guilt. So when people state that the dog who has a toileting accident look “guilty” they are actually seeing anxiety by association. The dog sees a displeased owner and his body language changes into that of appeasement or fear, not guilt.
  • Setting a dog up to succeed as often as possible will build his self-confidence and result in perfect potty performance very quickly.

Before we move onto the stages of Shih Tzu potty training it is important that you understand one more thing. This is a vitally important part of communication with your Shih Tzu and is something that will completely improve your lives together. I would like you to understand your dog’s basic communication attempts.

The act of understanding and responding to the natural language of your dog is the greatest compliment you can pay him, who said dogs should speak English anyway? If you don’t know what he is saying how are you to know when he wants to go outside? He will easily feel ignored every time he asks, leading to accidents indoors and poor potty training regardless of how hard the dog has tried.

Shih Tzu Potty Training with two dogsShih Tzu Potty Training Signals – What is Your Dog Saying?

The Shih Tzu that is trying to talk to you will display a few basic signals. If you were another dog then you would ‘get it’ immediately.

In the picture the Shih Tzu is using a very clear signal to the other dog, He’s saying “I’m not entirely relaxed here” This is a signal your dog may show if he needs to pee but can’t get outside.

As humans though, wrapped up in our own world we miss these subtle Shih Tzu signals and end up cleaning up then addressing the dog with the words “Why didn’t you ask to go out?”

Eventually, pretty quickly in fact, during potty training the dog learns one of two things;

  1. If his confidence is high, and he is completely potty trained, he learns to ask louder until you understand.
  2. If he is not potty trained and he has low confidence the dog learns not to bother asking at all, for the efforts are fruitless, and any fragile training fails.

So what are these signals, I hear you ask? Well read on and I’ll tell you.

When a dog is not completely happy, such as when he needs to go outside to potty yet only has a vague idea that this is what you want from him, he will start to become a little anxious. This anxiety will show in your Shih Tzu’s subtle behavior in the following ways;

  • He will lick his lips – you may have seen this many times but not make the connection with anxiety. It is actually a stress lick and another dog will see the appearance of the dog’s tongue as a sign that all is not well. If your Shih Tzu licks his lips he may want to toilet but be unable to get outside to do it.
  • The dog will look at you and glance away, than look again. Glancing away is another calming signal that is easily missed. During potty training the dog may simply look towards the door, very briefly, as he is learning. Your job is to grab that look and get him outside quickly.
  • Sniffing the ground or the carpet, in a seemingly random way, is a sure fire sign that a Shih Tzu is about to squat and your cue to get him out quickly.
  • The Shih Tzu that yawns is also often showing a sign of anxiety. A stress yawn is one of the more obvious behaviors and not all yawing dogs are tired.

During Shih Tzu potty training your dog may use very brief attempts at communication. Just the briefest look and then a squat, this is a mixture of lack of established learning and lack of confidence because the dog’s requests have been previously missed.

Sadly this is where a lot of potty training goes awry. We are here to prevent that though because now you know what your dog will do when he needs to toilet and the more often you respond to his subtle signs the less subtle they will become.

Let’s move on then to the five steps of potty training your Shih Tzu. When you know the communication, learning and basic behaviors this part should be easy!

Shih Tzu Potty Training for Beginners – Stepping up to Success

The idea with Shih Tzu potty training is to always set him up for success and never allow him to fail. By following these steps you can easily, perfectly and successfully potty train your dog in a language that he truly understands. The first thing to do is embrace your role as a temporary toilet taxi.

This is a fine art to perfect, particularly if you live with a puppy, you need hawk like eyes and quick legs because a puppy pee happens very quickly in the beginning.

So watch the dog carefully and certainly do not allow him unlimited access around your house as this is just asking for trouble. When your Shih Tzu looks like he will squat then quickly taxi him to the toileting area and reward as we describe below.

Shih Tzu Potty Training with crateProvide a Nest and a Toilet Area

A dog needs a nest area that you can leave him in when you are out or when he is alone. Crate training is an integral part of housebreaking. A dog will rarely toilet in his own nest area. So a crate will encourage him to hold on to his pee until he is able to go outside of his sleeping area.

Introduce your Shih Tzu carefully to the crate though and make it comfortable with a cozy bed and toys, as this is his safe place and relaxing bedroom. It should certainly never be used for punishment.

A specific potty area, preferably outdoors, will build habit and its specific scent will encourage your puppy to return there each time he needs to ‘go’. Plan a feeding and toileting schedule and really stick to it at least until your dog is potty trained.

Ensure that you have a good odor eliminator in your potty training kit. Unless an odor is completely eliminated puppy will return to the accidental pee point again and again. Just masking the scent will not work, your dog’s super strong nose will soon sniff through that detergent and find the scent of his indoor toilet. An odor eliminator will grab hold of the pee particles and literally destroy them, which is a far more useful result.

Be a Good Shih Tzu Parent

This is an important part of potty training. If you are living with a new puppy do not expect too much from your new baby. He will need to toilet frequently in the beginning, as much as every half hour to hour. As a general idea a Shih Tzu puppy can generally hold onto his pee for one hour for every month of his life.

If you live with an older dog do not despair, although in many ways potty training a Shih Tzu puppy is easier than training an older dog that has never been housebroken, all is not lost if you have a piddling older pooch. These simple steps taken as though every single dog is a new puppy will help.

Puppy steps take every dog, whatever his age, right back to the foundations of learning. When the foundations of learning are changed so are the thought processes. This is applicable whatever your dog’s age. You can teach an old dog new tricks after all.

Rewarded Acts Are Repeated

You need to offer your Shih Tzu the chance to go to the toilet, in exactly the place you want him to, as often as you can. Always take your dog outdoors after eating, when he wakes and after playing because these are times he will most likely need to toilet, with added between times.

Never leave your Shih Tzu alone to toilet. He will, by nature, need to be with you, he is a companion dog breed after all. If you shut him out alone to toilet he will panic, then come back indoors and promptly pee at your feet. This is particularly relevant to young and clingy puppies.

From this very moment begin to reinforce the behavior that you would like your Shih Tzu to repeat. At the same time ignore any behavior which you would like to become non-existent. Your Shih Tzu will only repeat a behavior which he finds rewarding. Dogs learn by reinforcement and attention. So if you give your Shih Tzu a lot of positive attention when he or she toilets in the right spot, the one that you want him to, he will remember that and soon learn that this is the best place to go.

Avoid attention for toileting anywhere else – remember attention reinforces a behavior so if you shout or punish an episode of toileting indoors then you are actually teaching your dog to repeat that behavior too. To a Shih Tzu all attention is rewarding.

Command, Reward to Reinforce

Teaching your Shih Tzu to potty outdoors can easily become the act of toileting on command, by using the process of positive reinforcement of a natural act. You can start practicing this straightaway, it’s easy;

When your dog starts toileting add a command word to it such as ‘get busy’. Say the command two or three times and give the puppy a physical reward like a tiny treat. Over the next few days tell your Shih Tzu to ‘get busy’ at potty time then, as toileting occurs, give the treat alongside the command. Bring the command word gradually forward and your dog will soon learn the meaning of ‘get busy’ and toilet on command for that much appreciated reward.

Command, reinforce and reward can be used to train your dog to do anything at all because it caters to the fastest canine learning process. The dog learns to repeat any act that brings him a favorable result – in this case toileting in the right place for a nice reward.

Read Your Puppy’s Signs

We have already talked about this, but let’s recap quickly, missing the dog’s early requests is the most common reason that Shih Tzu potty training will fail.

If you have followed the early steps perfectly, within a few days your dog will begin to give you signs that he needs to go out. These signs are obvious when you know what to look for but easy to miss if you don’t. So when your dog is still learning watch out for him sniffing the ground, licking his lips, glancing towards you and/or approaching the door to his potty area

They may be brief efforts at communication but they will appear very quickly when your dog is learning to toilet outdoors. So watch out for them and when your Shih Tzu gives a sign get him to the toileting area, before it’s too late.

Remember – Never punish an accident, this will cause anxiety and anxiety makes a dog pee. Instead focus your attention on times of success in potty training, this will make the successful times stronger. It’s exactly how your puppy learns.

There will be accidents this is definite but with careful training they will be minimal and short lived.

Shih Tzu Potty Training – What Can Go Wrong?

Shih Tzu Potty Training Black DogAlthough we have covered everything that will result in a well potty trained pooch it is important that I cover some other things with you.

Sometimes potty training with dogs is more complicated. Housebreaking can go awry for a few reasons other than lack of suitable training and there are some things to look out for with your own Shih Tzu.

Health problems, hormones and psychological issues can cause a breakdown in even the most carefully applied potty training, so let us take a quick look at them here.

Health Problems

Old age, illness and infection can cause potty problems.

Old age causes the muscles to become weak and the older dog may not be able to hold on like he once could, this is something to keep in mind if housebreaking suddenly breaks down.

Illness can be the reason for poor potty habits. If your dog is suddenly needing to pee a lot more than usual then he or she could be suffering with a urine infection. It is vital that a urine infection is treated with antibiotics or it can spread towards the kidneys and become a severe illness.

Hormones have an effect on the behavior of dogs. Scent marking is one of nature’s gifts that does not really fit into domestic life. Scent marking is usually carried out by a male, unneutered dog as a way of showing other dogs that he claims a certain territory. Female dogs scent mark too, but this is not so common.

If your male dog is unneutered then you may want to speak to the vet about getting this done. There are mixed views on neutering so it is vital that the vet looks at your dog’s individual case because some, worried dogs, need all the testosterone they can get.

Psychological Issues

When a dog is stressed, anxious or nervous then his potty training may fail. Common reasons for anxiety are;

  • Separation anxiety
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Lack of effective socialization during the critical social learning periods (the first few months of a Shih Tzu’s life)
  • Fear behaviors

If your Shih Tzu is struggling with potty training because he is anxious or worried there will be other behaviors too. For instance with separation anxiety he may bark or become destructive when he is left. With low confidence he may growl or bark in new situation and will display the same behaviors if he missed out on socialization.

Dogs are all individual with their own habits, fears, agendas and preferences. No two are really the same and your Shih Tzu’s behavior is a result of his learning, his genes and his environment. As we can’t go into that here, this is a potty training article after all, I urge you to really watch your dog and you will soon learn what it is that makes him act like he does.

So, we hope that you have benefited greatly from The Beginners Guide to Potty Training a Shih Tzu puppy. We would love to hear what you have learned and how the steps work for you, do let us know and good luck!

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04 Feb

The Beginners Guide to Shih Tzu Training

Shih Tzu Training How To Lay DownAre you looking for a comprehensive Shih Tzu training guide? Perhaps you are tired of poking around the internet and only finding conflicting advice?

Well you need look no more because we have everything that you need, in the beginners guide to Shih Tzu training, right here.

We will talk about how your dog learns, what the term reinforcement means and even how you can clicker train your Shih Tzu and have some great, fun dog training sessions.

The Shih Tzu is one of the wonders of the world. Bred initially to be a companion dog this role is his for the keeping now. He is a friendly, proud and bright little beast that needs the right motivation to learn.

Shih Tzu Training Types

If you have looked towards the mainstream dog training methods then you will have encountered two main types of Shih Tzu training;

1. The first is the training that assumes your dog is a wolf and that you must act like a wolf too. This is a type of training which promises wonderful results by establishing a type of dominance over your dog. Please don’t follow this advice, there is a far better way to train your dog.

2. The second training type caters to exactly the way your Shih Tzu learns and is called positive reinforcement. This training type is the one which will bring you to the best possible Shih Tzu communication ever. Scientists and kind experimentation has shown that a dog will always repeat something that he thinks provokes a favorable result for himself. If you keep this in mind your Shih Tzu training will indeed be perfect.

So let’s go through the basics of great Shih Tzu training right here.

Shih Tzu Training Motivation for Great Results

First of all though it’s important to work out exactly what it is that motivates your dog for successful Shih Tzu training sessions. When you achieve the best motivation your Shih Tzu will fly through training sessions like the cleverest dog alive.

Try food, toys and physical praise then ask yourself what your dog likes most of all. It will probably be food, the Shih Tzu tends to like the finer things in life and small tasty treats are no exception. The treats must be small or your dog will soon get satiated and motivation will wane quicker for the satisfied dog.

You can tell what motivates your Shih Tzu the most by his reaction to whatever you are holding or offering at the time. The keener he is to obtain the treats, food, toys or physical touch the harder he will try to learn the lesson.

Shih Tzu Training – It’s all about Reinforcement

When you apply the universal process of reinforcement, which brings the best Shih Tzu training results, you will be able to use it when you teach your dog anything at all. From a basic sit position right through to impressive tricks, it’s all simply a matter of well-timed reinforcement.

Remember I said that your dog will repeat anything at all that brings him a favorable result? Well this is fact, it’s the way his brain is wired and there is nothing we could ever do to change this, so we might as well use it, wouldn’t you say?

Now we have the theory of reinforcement in your mind let’s get on and train your Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu Training – Focus

The first thing to teach your Shih Tzu is to focus on you. Too many people forget this and try so hard to get a dog to sit, or not pull on the leash, whilst the dog is looking somewhere else entirely.

Easy steps to teaching focus are;
1. Start in a place with no distractions and show your dog a tiny treat.
2. Bring the treat from the end of your dog’s nose, up over your head and at the moment your dog looks into your eyes simply say ‘focus’ and give him the treat.
3. Practice a few times and finish the session on a good note.
4. Gradually teach your Shih Tzu to focus on you in areas with more distractions.

Teach your Shih Tzu to Sit

This is one of the easiest commands to teach your Shih Tzu with reinforcement. He will often sit naturally and all you need to do is reinforce the act and add a command word to it.

1. Once again begin in an area with no distractions.

2. If your Shih Tzu sits naturally that’s great simply mark the behavior with a word sit and hand over a treat.
Shih Tzu Training How To Use Treats

3. If he needs help to sit you can put the treat on the end of your Shih Tzu’s nose and gently bring it up over his head so that his rear touches the ground. At that point say the word sit and give him the treat. This is a method called Lure and Capture.

4. Increase distractions gradually.

Shih Tzu Training – Down

In the same way as teaching the sit command you can lure the dog into a down position and capture the behavior with a ‘down’ command. Remember to begin with no distractions and build up into busier areas.

This may take a bit longer but when your Shih Tzu gets the idea there will be no stopping him. It’s a good idea to start teaching this command on soft ground such as a rug, The Shih Tzu likes his comfort after all.

You can even use your foot as a secret weapon and hide a treat underneath it. Your Shih Tzu will lie down at some point, as long as he knows the treat is there, and you can quickly add the command word for down lift your foot and practice.

Pavlov’s Dog and your Shih Tzu

Although the above methods will work and are based in positive reinforcement you can make training your dog even easier by adding something else to the mix. A reinforcement tool or in more common terms a clicker.

A clicker is a dog training tool that works perfectly to reinforce a dog’s behavior.

The behavior that we base clicker training around is a process that Ivan Pavlov discovered way back in the 1890’s. Pavlov was a scientist that was studying the digestive system of dogs in a laboratory environment. He learned something that we use today in everyday behavior modification. Pavlov discovered classical conditioning.

The scientist noticed that his dogs were beginning to drool at the sight of the laboratory assistants that fed them and drool even more when their food bowls rattled. So he worked out that the dogs knew that they were going to be fed from the change in their environment. It’s pretty obvious to us now isn’t it?

Next he introduced a bell before feeding time and soon the dogs, even when no other clues were visible, drooled at the sound of the bell. This part is not such an everyday occurrence in our lives today.

Now, after many years and further discoveries by a whole array of different scientists Pavlov’s feeding time bell has become our training clicker.

The clicker is what we call a secondary reinforcer. It tells the dog that something else is going to happen after the sound of the click. Something that fulfills one of his primary needs and in this case the primary need is eating.

So in very basic terms the clicker tells your dog that he is going to get food.
Now add this to the dog that will repeat anything at all which he thinks brings him a favorable result and you will see that the clicker is a very powerful tool indeed.

Shih Tzu Training – Clicker Use

So you have the knowledge which makes you aware of how and why the clicker works. It’s time to do some clicker training with your Shih Tzu.

First of all you need a clicker. This is easy enough, they sell them on Ebay, in most pet stores and online shops. A clicker is very cheap costing only a couple of dollars. Then you need an abundance of small clicker training treats.

It is vital that the treats you use for clicker training are small. Think of yourself when you eat treats. A small amount of candy is far more interesting than a whole block or box isn’t it? Treats will keep your dog motivated only for as long as he is interested in them and the more he has the less interested he will be.

Making the Clicker Training Connection

The first thing to do is show your Shih Tzu the connection between the food and the click. This is a process that is called tuning in. It’s easy enough and your dog should get the idea quickly, in as few as five or six quick sessions.

Each session should be only a few minutes long, it should certainly be short enough to keep your dog’s interest and attention. Simply show your dog that a click leads directly to a treat around ten times during the session. You can do this by feeding him a treat from your hand when you click, throwing one into the room or doing a mixture of the two. The rule though is one click leads to one treat every single time.

Never click without giving a treat because this will ensure that the click becomes less effective as your reinforcer. This is a good habit to establish right at the beginning and never change.

Then after five or six sessions, of the tuning in process, your Shih Tzu should be ready for clicker training. Make a final check that the connection is established before moving on by clicking when your dog is doing something completely different. If his head shoots up and he comes straight to you for a treat then that’s great, your Shih Tzu is tuned into the clicker.

Clicker Training Conditions

Whilst there are not too many rules with clicker training there are some things to keep in mind if you want your Shih Tzu clicker training to succeed. As we have covered the roots of your dog’s learning based around the clicker these should make sense.

The first mistake not to make is calling your dog back with a click. Remember that the sound is a secondary reinforcer and will teach your dog to repeat exactly what he is doing at the time. So if your Shih Tzu is running in the other direction, sniffing a tuft of grass or simply meandering around and ignoring your voice the click will make sure that you are teaching him to repeat that behavior alone.

Shih-Tzu-Training-How-To-Stay-CommandEven if the click gets the attention of your dog at the time, which it probably will, his natural learning ability will send him right back to the behavior he was carrying out when he heard it. You would literally be teaching your dog to run away, sniff grass or ignore you and I’m certain that’s not why we are here.

You can however use your clicker for recall but to reinforce the dog when he is already either looking towards you or on his way back.
Let’s look at that now shall we?

Teach Your Shih Tzu to Come Back

One of the questions that dog trainers and behaviorists are asked, time and time again, is “how do I get my dog to come when called?” Recall training with dogs is actually very easy when you know the rules of reinforcement and can apply them naturally.

Making sure that the most rewarding thing to your dog, when he is off leash, wherever you are is the fundamental rule of good Shih Tzu recall training. To ensure success you can also follow up with stages of general recall training that train your dog’s mind in smaller more digestible steps.

Your dog’s age when you teach recall really does not matter. The steps that you use to achieve great results are exactly the same whether he is eight weeks or eight years old. The idea is to condition his mind in small progressive chunks in order to achieve a great response every time you recall your Shih Tzu.

If you are training a Shih Tzu puppy or retraining an older dog with unhelpful habits the same approach will work. This is because it takes place over a number of steps and each step is learned to perfection, in a number of various areas, before you move on to the next one.

Progressive Distraction

Distractions when teaching recall should start very low, at every described training stage, then increase until your dog responds in the most distracting area possible then, and only then do you move on to the next training stage.

Dog training does not cut corners or rush things. Think of it like a house build from the ground up, foundations first then each floor. If the foundations or any of the floors are unstable the whole thing will come crashing down and your dog’s learning is exactly the same.

Shih Tzu Recall Training – The Stages

1. Start by having your dog on the leash and calling him back, taking his collar or harness and giving him a treat then releasing him again to carry on with what he was doing. Increase distractions gradually until you can get your dog’s attention and return in every possible circumstance.

2. Progress to having your dog on a longer leash and repeating stage one.

3. Then progress further by having your dog on a light leash but dropping the leash on the ground so that your dog has slightly more choice and freedom, then repeat the previous stages.

4. You can use the clicker to reinforce the act of coming back. Always click when your dog is on his way to you though, not before.

5. Then, as a final stage of recall training, begin to call your dog back when he is not wearing a leash at all. Remember the rules of distraction, start low and move into areas of higher distraction as your dog learns to cope.

The idea here is to take things slowly enough that your dog does not see running away as a viable option, for if he does it may become a habit. This rebuilding of learning foundations will also work for eradication of the running away behavior if it is already established.

Shih Tzu Training for Fantastic Recall

There are also some tricks that you can do in order to sharpen your dog’s recall. For instance you can ask a helper to hold your Shih Tzu and show him a treat before running away. As you call your dog signal to the helper to release him and he will come racing back because the treat will be fresh in his mind.

You can also hide on walks and watch carefully as your dog realizes that you are gone, this will teach him to keep a sharp eye on you at all times in case you vanish. He should be able to find you with his nose but you can help by giving him vocal clues as to your position.

If you have access to a helper with a dog even better for you can set the two dogs against each other in a race, giving them the impression that the first one to get to you gets the treat, then have them released in the same way. This recall game will give your dog extra conviction when he hears your call.

How-to-Shih-Tzu-Training-On-LeashShih Tzu Training – Walking Nicely on the Leash

The Shih Tzu that pulls on the leash can be taught to maintain a slack leash with the clicker and this is a pretty easy lesson for him to learn. Remember when I told you that a dog will always repeat exactly what he finds advantageous to him? Your job is to simply make a slack leash more rewarding to your dog than a tight leash.

You can do this by bringing your click and tiny treats into action. Practice in an area of low distractions initially, as with all types of dog training, and increase distractions as your dog gets the idea.

By standing still, changing direction and increasing or decreasing your pace as you walk you will be automatically creating a slack leash. You can then click and treat your dog and he will soon associate the lack of leash pressure with the reward. Before you even realize it is happening your dog will start creating a slack leash all on his own to try and solicit that click. Then if you want to teach a smart heel position only click when your dog is walking at your heel.

Variable Reward & Shih Tzu Training

Variable reward is a wonderful tool to use when your dog is getting the idea of something but doesn’t quite grasp it completely. The idea is that you start off teaching something by using a lot of reward.

Then as the dog learns you begin to reward on an intermittent basis, being completely random with your treat delivery brings the best results, because it keeps the dog trying his hardest every time.

Finally you start to reward an almost learned act less and less, with training treats, because by this point your dog should know what he is doing and will need less motivation. You can then use frequent treats to reward the next thing you want to teach.

Understanding Attention

Before we go I want to make something else clear. I would like you to know that your Shih Tzu probably sees your attention as a huge reward. So if you are telling him off, or telling him that he’s the best well-trained Shih Tzu in the world, attention will usually make your dog repeat whatever he was doing that the time you gave it.

This is where a lot of communication problems occur because people tend to believe that telling the dog off is enough to make him realize not to repeat a behavior. Dogs don’t understand our language though and anything that he gets attention for, in your Shih Tzu’s eyes, is well worth repeating. Which is exactly why the dog that is pushed away keeps jumping up and the one that is shouted at keeps on barking.

Which brings us neatly to the end, so happy dog training and we hope you have learned, the basics of how your dog thinks, from the beginners guide to training a Shih Tzu. The dog’s mind is fascinating, enjoy it!

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16 Oct

How to Train a Shih Tzu

How to train a shih tzuAre you wondering how to train a Shih Tzu but need something that maintains his interest throughout? Perhaps your dog gets bored of the session very quickly and simply wanders away into the distance? Because this little dog has a general attitude of ‘what’s in it for me’ it’s important to overlook advice on general dog training and go directly for advice that shows you exactly how to train a Shih Tzu.

If lack of concentration and motivation is the case with your own Shih Tzu then there is something you can do about it. You can embrace a positive treat training method called variable reward.

How to Train a Shih Tzu using Variable Reward
Now this type of training will cater to your dog’s natural way of thinking. It will keep his interest and focus directly on you and motivate him to try that little bit harder for longer. Variable reward works perfectly with the Shih Tzu because he needs that extra motivation to put effort into learning.

The learning theory behind variable reward is much the same as human learning when playing on a slot machine; which is why variable reward is also known as the slot machine method. When we play slot machines we are always compelled to throw in one more coin. We do this in the hope that our extra effort will bring forth a jackpot. The hope and expectation is exactly what gets us hooked.

The same hope and expectation works perfectly on your dog after you have learned how to train a Shih Tzu with variable reward.

Shih Tzu Training – Intermittent Treat Time
How do you make it work for you? This is the fun bit. Take a look at the stages below when working out how to train a Shih Tzu to do anything at all. These stages should be followed with everything that you teach and remember variable reward needs to be just that, to work best. No time patterns, no habitual interval treats, it works because it keeps your dog guessing.

1. Teach the dog to follow a command in an area of low distraction

2. When the dog has learned the command and responds 90% of the time start to miss out the treat sometimes when you give him the command. It is best to do this on the times that he hesitates or thinks about not following your request

3. Practice rewarding and not rewarding your dog for following the command at variable intervals

4. When your dog responds 100% of the time begin to move into areas of higher distractions and up the reward ratio to keep his attention

5. If your dog responds particularly well to the command then give him a few rewards at once and finish the session on this good note – this is known as a Jackpot and will have a great effect on the motivation of your Shih Tzu

6. Gradually increase the distractions whilst still giving random rewards to your dog by following stages two to four until your dog will respond to the command every time that he is asked

This is a wonderful method of training for this little dog and, even if you have been working out how to train a Shih Tzu for some time now, we can guarantee that you will see a difference by using variable reward.

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