Shih Tzus are a popular breed, known for their small size and playful personality. But as puppies, Shih Tzus can be challenging to train.

As adorable as this breed is, though, it’s important to start training as early as possible. Not only will this give you a break from weeks of cleaning up household accidents and tossing away chewed-up shoes, but it will also give your Shih Tzu the pleasure that comes from having a happy owner.

Here are ten steps to train your Shih Tzu puppy:

  1. Establish Rules
  2. Prepare Treats
  3. Housetrain Your Shih Tzu
  4. Issue Praise
  5. Use Time Outs
  6. Teach Basic Commands
  7. Limit Food Availability
  8. Practice Noise Control
  9. Eliminate Jumping
  10. End Training with Praise

1. Establish Rules

As cute as a new puppy is, it’s important to remember that you’re in charge. Establish rules for the new dog and make sure everyone in your household is on board with enforcing them. Will the puppy be allowed on the furniture? Will he or she sleep in a kennel at night? By first setting these rules, you’ll be better able to create a training plan.

2. Prepare Treats

Once you’re ready to start training, make sure you have a generous helping of bite-size dog treats that you can hand over as praise. You can store these treats in a small plastic bag or invest in a wearable treat bag like this one.

3. Issue Praise

Praise and recognition are especially crucial with Shih Tzus, a breed that thrives on approval. As you follow the steps to train your new puppy, reward good behavior and avoid punishing bad behavior. Never use physical punishment or say the dog’s name while reprimanding. Your dog should associate his or her name with positive things.

4. Housebreak Your Shih Tzu

Small dogs like Shih Tzus have small bladders, which means they need to eliminate frequently. Start every day with a trip outside, then follow up every 30 minutes until bedtime. If your new puppy goes outside, offer praise and a reward. Between outside visits, pay attention to your puppy carefully for signs he or she might need to go, including sniffing, circling, or squatting.

5. Use Time Outs

Shih Tzus are known for their love of companionship, so time-outs can be a very effective form of punishment. It’s important to use this approach sparingly, which means saving it for only the most disruptive behaviors. Use the word time-out before and during the punishment so that the dog will get to know the term.

6. Teach Basic Commands

Once you’ve trained your Shih Tzu on the basics of coexisting with your family, it’s time to work on more advanced tricks. Use treats and plenty of patience to teach your new puppy to sit, stay, and come, along with any other tricks you like.

7. Limit Food Availability

One mistake new pet owners make is leaving dog food down all day. Having designated meal times will keep your dog at a healthy weight while also making housetraining easier. Take your pet’s food up after mealtime if it isn’t eaten and avoid feeding table scraps. Doing so can be dangerous, since there are many foods that can be deadly to a dog.

8. Practice Noise Control

Many dog owners mistakenly believe a pet’s barking is beyond their control. In fact, if you begin from a young age, you can train your dog to be quiet on command. When the barking stops, patiently wait for it to stop and give a reward. Gradually increase the time you wait to give the treat and say a command such as “hush” or “stop” that your Shih Tzu can then associate with your desire for the barking to end.

9. Eliminate Jumping

Guests to your home will appreciate the time you put into training your Shih Tzu not to jump. You can do this by punishing your dog by leaving, waiting 30 seconds, and coming back in. Repeat this until your dog greets you by not jumping. A similar approach can be applied to training your dog not to jump when you’re holding a leash.

10. End Training with Praise

Once each training session is over, take a few minutes to have some fun with your Shih Tzu. This is a time your puppy should associate as a reward for hard work. Offer a treat and plenty of praise, indulging in the playtime you couldn’t have during training.

Training a new puppy can always be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it. Work on one goal at a time, keeping plenty of treats on hand and praising repeatedly. Not only will this create a well-behaved puppy, but it will also serve as a bonding exercise between you and your newest family member.

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