Your Shih Tzu wants to make you happy. When you are training him or her for anything from housebreaking to command training, whenever they do something correctly, it is important to act as if you are extremely happy....as if they just did the best thing in the entire world. They not only listen to your voice, but pick up on your tone and even read your body language. Therefore, smile, give praise with a tone that shows you are very pleased, get down to their level and pat them with love.
One of the Shih Tzu training tips is understanding how often to bring your little one outside. Housebreaking your Shih Tzu may begin as early as 8 to 10 weeks. A dog can only physically hold their elimination for a certain amount of time. A 3 month old puppy can last for about 3 hours, a 4 month old puppy about 4 hours and so on. To ensure that your Shih Tzu understands that eliminating outside is the only acceptable area, you must take the lead. A dog must be brought outside:
- When they first wake up
- Every hour that relates to their age, i.e. every 2 hours for a 2 month old
- 20 minutes after each meal
- In the evening before bedtime
It is suggested to use the tether method to train your Shih Tzu. This simply involves attaching the lease to your dog and the other end to you, thus allowing you to be able to keep an eye on your dog at all times. Each time they make a motion to eliminate, you will bring them to the designated area to do so.
When you bring your Shih Tzu outside, be sure to have them on a leash. You may choose the larger area of where you wish for them to eliminate; however your dog must be given the freedom of choosing the exact location. Your leash should extend out approximately 6 feet and within this radius your dog should be allowed to sniff, smell and take their time to find the perfect spot. By the time your dog is 7 months old, they should be fully housebroken.
For command training:
Training for basic commands is vitally important; as your dog will need to understand certain words that you say; this will eliminate potential stress. If your Shih Tzu does not know what you want, he is not able to please you. At first, dogs will learn commands to receive something... this will be your praise and treats. But after a certain amount of time, following a command becomes an automated response.
Beginning at 8 weeks old and up to any age, you should teach your dog to:
By the time your Shih Tzu is 1 year old, he or she should have a clear understanding of basic commands. Adding on some advance commands may be taught after the basic ones are learned. Training should always be done is in a calm environment with patience and love.
For detailed step-by-step instructions for teaching this important element, see our Heeling page.
Again, at the 1 year mark, your dog will be ready to learn some tricks if you wish. Learning to perform amusing tricks is optional; as the above elements will help your dog to grow up emotionally healthy, tricks are simply something you may teach if you wish to. Some dogs love to perform for their owners, as the praise, smiles, laughs and treats make the dog happy in return.
Shih Tzu Training Tip # 2
It is 100% true that positive reinforcement works and that punishing a dog for doing something wrong works 0% of the time. While you may feel frustrated on certain days, it will do neither of you any good to yell or act upset. Remember, you WANTED to have a puppy....This means that you take on the responsibility of training them. Remember as well that pups are NOT born knowing what to do in regard to housebreaking or listening to commands. Therefore, make it clear to them that you are pleased when they do things correct and simple ignore things done wrong. This is the fastest route to success.