Leash Training for Your Shih Tzu
A Shih Tzu is a small dog breed known for its lovable nature and it is a wonderful companion to have around. Once you decide to adopt one, an essential component of training that must be given emphasis is walking with a leash…especially if you want to bring your companion wherever you go.
If you have a Shih Tzu puppy, loose leash training is an important skill to master. Walking on a leash simply means that your dog can walk with you on a normal stride without any resistance such as pulling or creating erratic motions.
Many owners of small dog breeds do not often consider leash training after getting a new puppy. Most think that the puppy will not wander very far, and some will resort to picking up the dog if it gets into trouble. This will very likely lead to your dog getting into trouble as it grows up. Remember that leash training is vital for small dogs, including Shih Tzu.
Puppies are not born to know how to walk with a leash. New puppy owners might be surprised at the resistance of their new puppy when trying out a new leash for the first time as most puppies will resist at first or dash ahead of you.
Leash training is a useful tool that can establish your dominance with your Shih Tzu. Before starting the training sessions, make sure that your dog is well-acquainted with a collar or harness by putting them on at home. Avoid walking your dog in unfamiliar areas or those that have a lot of distractions.
Issues with Leash Training a Shih Tzu
A common issue during leash training that Shih Tzu owners encounter is their puppy pulling on the leash. There are various reasons why this occurs and most often, it is simply the excitement and exuberance of the dog. In such cases, allowing the dog to calm down for a few minutes before taking it for a walk can often tone down the behavior.
In some cases though, the pack mentality of the Shih Tzu might play a role where the dog tries to assume leadership over its owner as the leader of the pack. This goes back to the basics of training where the Shih Tzu must be aware of who the master is and why you want to start leash training at an early age.
If this is left unchecked, it can result in issues especially when starting to walk with a leash. If there are other dogs around and even young children, this issue can become noticeable.
As part of the fundamentals of training, the owner needs to establish that they are in control otherwise leash training is either not going to be successful or prove to be difficult. When this is established, start to walk your Shih Tzu calmly beside you with or without the leash. This process can start only if you can get your dog to sit peacefully while putting the leash around its neck.
When you succeed with this task, you can proceed to the next step where you get your Shih Tzu to walk beside you without a leash and trained to not run away. From this point, you are now ready to take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood.
What Do I Need for Leash Training?
It is important to make the training an enjoyable time. You should help your puppy learn how to walk with a leash by getting a harness or collar, a leash and treats.
The treats should be small and soft so that the puppy can digest them quickly without stopping for too long and possibly distracting him. The training usually lasts for a few minutes (5-10 for puppies 3 months old or younger and 15 minutes for 4 months and older puppies). It’s a good idea to have a variety of treats on hand. Your puppy may grow tired of one and might stop working unless another appealing treat is provided.
Depending on your choice, you can use either a collar or harness. Having both is a good idea though. Several small dog breeds might do better with a harness and it is a safer option if the dog tends to pull. If you decide to use a harness, you will still need a collar to hang the identification tags.
It is recommended to choose lightweight leashes with a length of four to six feet.
Objectives of Leash Training
Before starting with the training, there are three main objectives that you want to achieve with your Shih Tzu puppy:
- Your companion starts in a sitting position on your left side
- He then walks comfortably at your side
- He stops and sits when you stop
Once all of these are accomplished on a regular basis you will no longer have any issues when walking your dog around.
Useful Techniques During Leash Training
The initial step is to attach the collar and position your dog on the left side. If your Shih Tzu sits calmly, provide a treat. The next step is to say, “Let’s go”. You can choose the words that you want to use but remember that you should use it in a consistent manner.
Gently tug on the leash as you take a few steps. There are certain things that might happen once leash training is started:
- Dog rushes out in front, pulling on the leash
- Dog resists, fixed on his heels and refuses to move
- Dog starts to walk comfortably at your side
It is recommended to reward proper behavior with an enthusiast remark such as “Yes, Good Girl! or Good Job!”. Give emphasis to the word “Yes”
Dog Pulls on the Leash
Walking is a great way for both adult dogs and puppies to explore. Highly spirited puppies might become so excited that they pull and move in erratic motions…which can make walking difficult. If the dog pulls, stop and change direction.
Once the dog calms down, start again by repeating “Let’s Go.” Continue to walk in one direction if he is not tugging on the leash. Stop and provide a treat and a marker word such as “Good Boy!” or “Yes!”.
This might require several attempts to achieve what you expect your dog to do. Make sure that the training classes are brief and positive. It is best to work with your dog several times in a day for a few minutes at a time. The attention span of puppies is short just like a human toddler.
Dog Resists During Training
The ideal approach to gain the attention of your dog is to get down low, call your dog and when he comes to you say “Yes!” and provide a treat. Get up and start the walk again. This might have to be repeated several times.
In case the dog refuses after several attempts, stop the activity and move on to a different one. Always make sure that leash training is a positive experience for you and your dog.
Some measures to aid with the training is to enlist the help of another dog and allowing the puppy to get used to wearing a collar and leash. Allow the dog to keep the leash attached as it drags it around. You should monitor the activity to make sure your puppy doesn’t get tangled up in the leash.
Try to do this in a familiar area to eliminate any distractions that might be present outdoors. Another alternative is to train with a dog who already knows how to walk on a leash. Many dogs will learn via observation and mimicking the actions of other dogs they are socializing with.
Dog Comfortably Walks by Your Side
This milestone should be rewarded with the usual verbal marker such as “Yes!” and an attractive treat. Encourage the dog to sit once you stop and provide a reward.
Over time, you will begin to stop giving treats as reinforcement and replace them with verbal praise. Make sure that your dog fully understands what is expected before steadily weaning him off the treats.
As your Shih Tzu gets better at walking by your side and sits every time you stop start to provide treats as a reward in a random manner. This will reinforce the positive behavior while also getting your pup to no longer anticipate that a treat will be provided.
Should I Use a Clicker?
Clickers work by marking the point when a correct behavior is performed. The dog does what is expected, you click and provide a reward. While some people prefer this method verbal praise is likely better and provides superior bonding with your little bundle of fur.
Remember that your Shih Tzu will not complete leash training in just a single session. The process will take some time, consistency and patience on your part. Always provide encouragement to your dog during each training session.
When getting a new Shih Tzu puppy, leash training is one of the essentials that needs to be given due importance. Positive, steady and consistent training will pay off in the long run.
You will end up with a happy, dependable and well-balanced dog who will always be by your side every time both of you go for a walk.
We hope you find this information helpful. We’d love to hear your tips and experiences with your Shih Tzu Dog. Let us know in the comments below.
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