5 Obedience Training Tips For The Mischievous Shih Tzu


Effective dog obedience training takes a bit of work, but with consistency and patience, you can train any dog breed—even the strong-willed Shih Tzu breed that has a reputation for being very difficult to train.

Shih Tzu relaxing on bench looking into cameraRocky our well mannered Shih Tzu chillin' out while on vacation

“Sit. Sit. Sit. SIT. Siiiiiitttt. SIT. Sit! Good boy!”

We've all been next to that person (or worse, have been that person) at the dog park. You can hear the frustration in their voice as they tug gently on their dogs' leash in an attempt to make their dog's bottom hit the ground.

Basic dog obedience training is relatively straightforward on paper or even when you take a group obedience class. But sometimes, applying what you've learned to your strong-willed Shih Tzu is an entirely different story.

While they are nowhere near impossible to train, when their stubborn agendas don’t match your own, it doesn’t feel that way.

But there is hope!

With some knowledge and a little bit of patience of your own, you can get your obstinate pup to do basic obedience commands in no time.

5 Keys to Effective Dog Obedience Training

While these tips will help for any breed or skill level, they are extra important when working with Shih Tzu and their determined temperament.

Before you know it, you’ll be working with their strong will, instead of against it.


Positive training is based on the concept of reinforcing or rewarding the behaviors you want your dog to do in hopes that they will do it again.

Some people believe that their fur baby isn’t food motivated. However, it is more likely that they just haven't found the particular treat that motivates their dog.

Experiment with several treats to see what really puts the WOW in their bow wow.

Store bought training treats, freeze-dried beef chips, cooked shredded chicken, cheese, peanut butter, or even baby food are all excellent places to start.

We typically use small pieces of roast beef lunch meat or grilled chicken which seems to work better than standard store-bought treats.

Practice obedience before your dog has eaten their meals to ensure they are extra motivated.


Often, people will introduce the word for a command like “Sit” too soon or too frequently.

Instead, start by teaching hand signals whenever possible, and wait to use the verbal cue until you’re sure he understands the behavior.

Once you introduce the vocal command, don’t say the particular command word twice.  Use the hand signal or a treat to remind your dog what it is you are asking.


It's essential to be consistent when you train your dog, as this will build confidence and be less confusing for them.

When it comes to Shih Tzu training, being consistent is the key to reminding them of the rules of the game you’re playing. Namely, “if you do the behavior I ask, you’ll get your favorite treat.”

Whether your use a clicker or a marker word, you want to find a consistent marker to inform him of the exact moment he has done what you ask.

It is a good idea to invest in a treat pouch so that during walks and other training times, treats are always easily accessible.  So when you give your dog a command, and they do it, they get promptly rewarded every time you ask for them.


Training should be broken up into small chunks throughout the day.

Work with your dog when you are already interacting with them. Like before feeding, before and during walks, and throughout playtime.

It will help make basic obedience a more natural habit.


One of the biggest challenges in basic dog obedience training is that you and he are not working at the same pace.

How do you know if your Shih Tzu understands?

The easiest way is to ask your dog to do a command ten times.

If they respond correctly 8-10 times, it's pretty clear they get it.  You can then move on and make it more challenging.

If they respond correctly 4-7 times, they kind of get it. Work with them at this level a while longer until they get better at it.

If they are only able to perform the task 0-3 times, they probably don’t understand and you'll have to take it down a notch and make it a little easier, and try again.

Remember to be patient with your dog as they are learning what you want from them.

Shih Tzu, although they may seem stubborn at times, they do want to make you happy.  Find their motivation and be consistent, and you may find yourself with a very well-behaved dog.

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