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Heeling - (& Dealing with Hiccups Such as Trying to Run Away) 


This section will discuss training for heeling, and will be particularly helpful for Tzu that do not listen, that try and stop every few minutes or pull you along instead of you choosing the way.

Before we dive into the training, we would like to address the issue that so many owners have written to us about: The urge to run away...

Trying to Run Away: When your dog tries to run away, it is not a reflection of their feelings toward you or your home. Canines have an inbred desire to hunt and explore.

They have a natural curiosity to see what is making those noises that they hear and to learn what it is that their amazing senses are detecting. Just hearing a bird or seeing a butterfly can make a dog forget about what they should be doing and they want to be off like the wind!

A male dog can smell a female in heat from miles away, which can send him racing off....And both male and female dogs may simply want to run with abandonment to their heart's content. Your Shih Tzu may want to run when you are walking them and pull on the leash until your arm hurts.

Obviously, in most situations, you cannot allow you dog to simply run free for safety reasons. 
Therefore, with some training, you can teach your dog to walk nicely with you and that running off is negative behavior.

In regard to a dog actually running away free, always keep him or her on a leash and beware of fences: just about any dog will dig under or jump over if motivated enough. Be careful when you open your house door, it only takes a moment for a dog to dart off. 

Owners should give some though in regard to microchipping. It is relatively painless and you will be so happy that you did so, if your dog ever runs away. The procedure of microchipping a dog is painless and well worth the fee.
Okay, Let's Now Dive into Training to Heel

Heeling is when your Shih Tzu walks on your left with his head next to your left foot. Heeling also means when your dog follows along at your pace. 

When your Shih Tzu is fully trained to heel to you, your dog will properly follow along whether you are walking, jogging or suddenly stop. A dog that heels always walks beside you and does not run ahead or stop to investigate things along the way.

There will be plenty of times that you do not mind when your Shih Tzu takes his time to explore the world. However, training a dog to heel is one of the most frustrating training for dog owners. The reason may be that owners expect the dog to naturally walk beside them. A Shih Tzu has absolutely no idea that he is expected to do that.

When first brought out on a leash, dogs will naturally try and do as they wish. They will chase a butterfly, stop to smell flowers, try to run ahead and explore the world before them. 

It is the owner that must show the puppy what is expected.

Age to Begin

Your Shih Tzu should be 4 months old before you begin any outside training. Once your puppy is up-to-date on all vaccinations, you may then feel free to go ahead and venture outside.


1.To begin, you will want to put a harness on your Shih Tzu. Walking your untrained Tzu on a leash and collar can be very dangerous. If your dog lunges forward or if you pull too hard on the leash, the fragile trachea can collapse; this is a very serious injury.

In addition, you will find that you have more control over your Shih Tzu when training your dog to heel.

2.You will want to give your dog a few minutes to get used to the harness that you put onto him. Before you know it, your Tzu will accept the harness and put up any fuss.

3. You will now begin to walk. Have your dog on your left side.

4. Any time that your dog tries to walk ahead of you, stand in place and do not move. Using a harness, this will not cause injury. Your Shih Tzu may try several times to keep walking. Do not pull on the leash. Simply remain standing and do not move. While you are remaining standing in 1 spot, any time that your Tzu comes very close to you, talk to your dog and pat him. This shows that staying near you = the leash will not frustrate him or her.

5. As soon as your Shih Tzu stops trying to walk ahead by themselves and is remaining near you, give the leash a quick, moderate tug, continue walking and make sure to say “Good Boy!” or “Good Girl !”

6. Hold the leash with 2 hands. With your Shih Tzu on your left, you should be holding the leash very tightly with your right hand and very loosely with your left hand.

7. Anytime that your Shih Tzu walks beside you, keep repeating the command word of “Heel” in a happy yet firm tone of voice. Also, offer words of praise as you go along.

8. Change your pace; take turns walking slower and then faster. Do not just walk in a straight path; make this fun and challenging for your dog by zigzagging around signs, making turns, etc. 

9. You may need to tug and then say “Heel” over and over; however at any time that your Tzu is doing well, offer great words of praise. Do not stop to pat or hug your dog; but keep saying “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” in a very happy tone to show how proud you are of him or her.

10. The first time that you take a turn and he does not, he will quickly realize that he must heel to you. Of course, be very careful, as stepping on your Shih Tzu can cause extreme injuries or worse. But, walk confidently and show your dog that you are in control.

11. These training sessions should be done each day, for 20 minutes. If you do not give up and you do this each and every day, your Shih Tzu will learn what they must do to hear your happy “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” remarks. When the walk is finished, be sure to give tons of hugs, kisses, praise, attention and a small doggie treat.

It usually takes about 2 weeks for your Tzu to be successful at this. Even when it seems that they are well trained, do keep offering the words of praise as you walk along. Eventually, whenever you give the command word, your Tzu will immediately go over to your left side and stay beside you.
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