As a long term dog trainer working with many breeds I have seen many pet personalities. One of the smallest dogs that I have worked with is the Shih Tzu. There is much more to this breed than hair and cuteness though, the little Shih Tzu is a super character filled to the brim with personality. Read on to see what Shih Tzu information I have to share.
As a dog trainer gaining expert knowledge about Shih Tzu dogs for me was a sharp learning curve. After many years of teaching German shepherd dogs to guard places and Labradors to sniff things out, both a case of finely tuning natural and already genetic behaviors, I found myself in the position of needing to show a little bundle of determination that I wanted him to do anything at all. This was my first experience of the Shih Tzu dog breed.
Progressing into my new role as a hearing dog trainer I needed to learn, very quickly, about Shih Tzu dogs. More precisely I needed to know how the charming little companion can be motivated to learn and act as a working dog.
Yes indeed, the first thing that I learned about Shih Tzu dogs is that they were actually bred to be a humble companion, not a working dog, and not even particularly humble. Bred as a gift for royalty with no particular task in mind means that training the Shih Tzu dog is not only a case of showing him what you would like from him. The thing about Shih Tzu dogs that they need motivation if they are going to fulfill a specific role, or even change their behavior to suit the human family.
So why expect the Shih Tzu to work at all? When you know about Shih Tzu dogs and that they are perfect companions why not allow them to be just that and leave the working roles to the working dogs?
Well, you see the thing is, the motivated Shih Tzu is actually a perfect little hearing dog. He is settled in the home, when he is well socialized he is calm and happy whilst out and about. The little Shih Tzu can happily tootle around shops, proudly, in his hearing dog jacket which is perfect for breaking down social barriers that an isolated deaf person can easily encounter. The breed is, when raised carefully, socially solid and pretty much bomb proof making him a wonderfully socially capable little assistance dog.
Another thing about Shih Tzu dogs is that they are usually motivated by treats and reward based training. Which is exactly how hearing dogs are trained and they also work for reward throughout their career. So by careful training of the Shih Tzu, with rewards that he sees suitable, then careful maintenance of his training this little dog can fulfill a perfectly catered working dog role as well as any aforementioned working breed.
When learning about Shih Tzu training I discovered that he can be lazy if unmotivated, that he will be stubborn if not trained with only the kindest and most dog friendly methods and yet if he meets with suitable reward, great motivation and unflinching trainer enthusiasm the little Shih Tzu will shine as a fantastic working hearing dog.
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