Teaching Essential Commands for Your Shih Tzu: A Guide for Owners

As a proud Shih Tzu owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend is well-behaved and obedient. One way to achieve that is by teaching them essential training commands. These commands not only establish a healthy relationship between you and your Shih Tzu, but also keep them safe and happy. If you are unsure where to start or how to go about it, don’t fret! In this article, we will break down the five essential training commands every Shih Tzu owner should teach, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to do so successfully. So, grab a treat, leash, and let’s get started.

Why Teach These Commands?

Why Teach These Commands?
As a Shih Tzu owner, you may wonder why teaching commands to your furry friend is important. Well, teaching your pup basic commands not only makes your life easier but also ensures their safety and well-being. Imagine if your Shih Tzu dashes away when you open the front door, or what if they start barking at strangers? It’s important to teach them essential commands early on to prevent these scenarios. A well-trained Shih Tzu is a happy and confident one. So, let’s delve into the top five essential commands that every Shih Tzu owner should teach to ensure their pups grow to be well-mannered pets with sound behavior. And, by the way, don’t miss out on Shih Tzu house training tips here.

Command 1: Sit

One of the most important commands you should teach your Shih Tzu is the “sit” command. Teaching your dog to sit is not only a basic obedience command, it also lays the foundation for many other commands and tricks your dog can learn in the future. Here are the steps to teach your Shih Tzu to sit:

Step 1: Hold a treat in your hand and let your dog smell it.

Step 2: Raise the treat above your dog’s head, and as you do so, say “sit” in a firm, but friendly tone.

Step 3: As your dog looks up at the treat and follows it with his eyes, his rear end will naturally lower to the ground. As soon as your dog’s rear end touches the ground, immediately give him the treat and praise him.

Step 4: Repeat the above steps several times, until your dog starts sitting automatically when he hears the command “sit.”

Note: You can also gently press down on your dog’s hindquarters to encourage him to sit if he doesn’t seem to understand the command at first.

It’s important to remember that patience and consistency are key when teaching your dog new commands. Practice the “sit” command in short sessions throughout the day, slowly building up to longer sessions as your dog improves.

Remember, training your Shih Tzu is not just about obedience – it’s also an important part of socialization. Check out our article on the importance of socialization for Shih Tzus to learn more.

Avoid making the top 3 Shih Tzu training mistakes by reading our article here.

Once your Shih Tzu has mastered the sit command, you can move on to other basic commands like “stay,” “come,” “down,” and “heel.” You can even graduate to more advanced commands and tricks once you and your dog are ready.

Training your Shih Tzu on a leash is another important aspect of obedience training. Read our article on how to train your Shih Tzu to walk on a leash for more information.

By teaching your Shih Tzu these essential commands, you are setting your dog up for a lifetime of good behavior and happiness.

Command 2: Stay

Teaching your Shih Tzu to “Stay” is another essential training command. This command is particularly important when you need your dog to remain in one place for a period of time, such as when waiting to cross the road or when meeting new people.

Step 1: Start by asking your dog to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Once your dog has assumed the sitting or lying position, show them the palm of your hand and say “Stay” in a firm but calm voice.

Step 3: Step back slowly, taking care not to startle your dog. If they move from the sitting or lying position, gently guide them back into place using a hand signal or verbal cue.

Step 4: Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog each time you practice the “Stay” command.

Step 5: Reward your dog with a treat and plenty of praise when they successfully stay in position for a certain period of time.

To help reinforce the “Stay” command, you can use a table to track your progress. Use the table to record how long your dog stays in position, and gradually increase the time as they become more comfortable with the command.

Training SessionDuration of “Stay”
15 seconds
210 seconds
315 seconds
420 seconds
530 seconds

Remember to always use positive reinforcement when training your Shih Tzu. With patience and consistency, your dog will learn to stay in position for longer periods of time, allowing you greater control in a variety of situations.

Command 3: Come

Teaching your Shih Tzu to come when called is one of the most important commands you can teach them. This command can keep your dog safe from dangerous situations and prevent them from getting lost. Here are the steps to teach your Shih Tzu how to come when called:

Step 1: Start in a quiet, distraction-free area. Put a collar and leash on your Shih Tzu.

Step 2: Say your Shih Tzu’s name and then say “come” in a happy, upbeat voice while gently pulling on the leash.

Step 3: When your Shih Tzu reaches you, praise them and give them a treat.

Step 4: Repeat the exercise several times until your Shih Tzu consistently comes when you call them.

Step 5: Gradually increase the distance between you and your Shih Tzu as they become more reliable in their response.

Here are some tips to help you teach this command effectively:

  • Use high-value treats to motivate your Shih Tzu to come to you.
  • Never punish your Shih Tzu for coming to you, even if they took a while to respond.
  • Practice the command in different locations and situations to ensure your Shih Tzu understands the command in all settings.

If your Shih Tzu is having difficulty with this command, there may be several reasons why. Here are some common problems and solutions:


Your Shih Tzu ignores you when you say “come”.


Try to make the command more exciting and rewarding. Use a high-pitched, happy voice and offer your Shih Tzu a particularly tasty treat when they come to you.


Your Shih Tzu runs away in the other direction when you say “come”.


Practice calling your Shih Tzu when they are not distracted, and gradually work up to more distracting environments. Use a longer leash to prevent your Shih Tzu from running too far away.


Your Shih Tzu comes when called but immediately runs away again.


Practice the “stay” command before calling your Shih Tzu to come. This will help your dog learn that they should stay with you once they arrive, rather than immediately running off again.

Teaching your Shih Tzu to come when called is an essential command that can help keep them safe and well-behaved. With patience and consistency, your Shih Tzu will learn this command and be a more obedient and happy companion.

Command 4: Down

One of the essential training commands that every Shih Tzu owner should teach their furry friend is the “down” command. This command is very helpful when you want your Shih Tzu to calm down or stay still in a particular situation. It is also an excellent command for teaching basic obedience and can be used as a foundation for more advanced commands.

To teach your Shih Tzu the “down” command, follow these steps:

Step 1Start by getting your Shih Tzu to sit.
Step 2Hold a treat in front of your Shih Tzu’s nose and slowly bring it down to the ground, a few inches away from their paws.
Step 3Use the command “down” in a firm but gentle tone as you move the treat towards the ground.
Step 4Your Shih Tzu should follow the treat and lie down on their chest. Once they are in the down position, give them the treat and praise them with words like “good job” or “well done.”
Step 5Repeat this process several times a day, gradually phasing out the use of the treat and using only the verbal command. Always give your Shih Tzu plenty of praise and positive reinforcement.

Remember that teaching your Shih Tzu any new command takes time, patience, and consistency. Be sure to practice the “down” command in different locations and situations so that your Shih Tzu can learn to obey the command under various circumstances. Additionally, don’t forget to use high-volume keywords such as “Shih Tzu training,” “Dog obedience training,” and “Dog behavior tips” when writing about this topic to ensure that your article ranks well on Google.

Command 5: Heel

Teaching your Shih Tzu to heel is an essential command that will ensure a well-behaved and obedient dog. The heel command is particularly useful for outings and walks, making your Shih Tzu less prone to pulling, running away, or getting into trouble.

To begin training your Shih Tzu to heel, follow these steps.

Step 1Start with your Shih Tzu on your left-hand side with their collar or harness securely fastened.
Step 2Hold the leash firmly in your right hand, about 6-inches from the collar or harness, and firmly plant your feet to indicate you are ready to start walking.
Step 3With your left hand, hold a treat in front of your Shih Tzu’s nose and say “HEEL”.
Step 4Take a step forward and encourage your dog to follow, keeping the treat in front of their nose.
Step 5Keep your dog on your left-hand side and continue walking at a steady pace. If your dog tries to move ahead or lag behind, pull gently on the leash to bring them back into position and give the “HEEL” command again.
Step 6Reward your Shih Tzu with verbal praise and a treat after a few steps of walking in position, gradually increasing the distance you walk together.

Remember to practice the heel command regularly and gradually increase the amount of time and distance your Shih Tzu is required to heel for. Be patient, consistent, and always reward good behavior. With time and effort, your Shih Tzu will become a pro at heeling, making walks and outings more enjoyable and stress-free for you as well.

How to Teach Your Shih Tzu

How To Teach Your Shih Tzu
Teaching your Shih Tzu essential commands can seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and tools, it can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion. In this section, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of how to teach your Shih Tzu commands like sit, stay, come, down, and heel. So, grab your clicker, treats, and let’s get started on this exciting journey of training your Shih Tzu!

Step 1: Choose a Place to Train

Step 1: When training your Shih Tzu, it is important to choose a suitable location where both you and your furry companion can focus on the task at hand. Here are some things to consider when selecting a spot to train your pup:

  • Quietness: Select a location that is free from distractions, such as loud noises or foot traffic. This will help keep your Shih Tzu focused on the training commands you are teaching.
  • Size: Choose an area that is large enough for your pup to move around and practice different commands such as “heel” and “stay.”
  • Comfort: Ensure that the location you choose is comfortable for your pet. Avoid extreme temperatures or uneven terrain that could make your pup uncomfortable or unwilling to participate in training.
  • Safety: It is important to choose a location that is safe for your Shih Tzu to train in. Areas with traffic or sharp objects should be avoided, as should areas with other potentially aggressive animals.

By taking these tips into consideration, you can select a suitable location that will aid in training your Shih Tzu effectively. Remember that consistency is key in dog training, so try to choose a location that you can visit regularly to ensure that your pup remains focused and engaged throughout the training process.

Step 2: Get the Right Tools

When it comes to training your Shih Tzu, having the right tools is crucial for success. Here are some of the essential tools you should have on hand:

  • Treats: Treats are a great way to motivate your Shih Tzu and reward them for good behavior. Look for small, soft treats that your dog can easily eat and won’t fill them up too quickly.
  • Leash and Collar: A sturdy leash and collar are necessary for teaching your Shih Tzu commands like “heel” and “come.” Make sure the collar fits properly and isn’t too tight or too loose.
  • Clicker: A clicker is a small device that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. It’s an effective way to communicate with your dog and can help reinforce good behavior more quickly than verbal cues alone.
  • Training Pads: Potty training your Shih Tzu can be a challenge, but having training pads on hand can make the process easier. Place the pad in an easily accessible location and encourage your dog to use it when needed.
  • Lots of Patience: Training your Shih Tzu can be a time-consuming process, so it’s important to have plenty of patience. Don’t get frustrated if your dog doesn’t pick up on things right away, and always remember to reinforce good behavior with positive praise and rewards.

By having these tools readily available, you’ll be better equipped to train your Shih Tzu and help them become a well-behaved and happy member of your family. Remember to use plenty of positive reinforcement and patience throughout the process.

Step 3: Be Patient and Consistent

In order to effectively train your Shih Tzu, one of the most important things you can do is be patient and consistent. Training a dog takes time and effort, and it’s important to remember that your furry friend is learning something completely new.

Consistency is key when it comes to training your Shih Tzu. This means that you need to train your pup regularly and keep your training sessions consistent in length and structure. It’s also important to use the same commands consistently in both word and hand signal form. This way, your Shih Tzu won’t be confused by differing cues and will be better able to learn and remember each command.

In addition to being consistent with your training, it’s also crucial to be patient with your Shih Tzu. Your pup will make mistakes and may not understand each command right away. It’s important to remember that this is normal and to avoid getting frustrated.

To help you stay patient and consistent during training, you can use the following table:

– Remain calm and positive during training sessions.– Train regularly and keep sessions consistent in length and structure.
– Avoid getting frustrated or angry.– Use the same commands consistently in both word and hand signal form.
– Take breaks as needed to avoid burnout.– Keep your training sessions short and focused.

By being both patient and consistent during training, you can help your Shih Tzu learn each command effectively and without causing undue stress to either of you. Remember, training should be a positive experience for both you and your pup!

Troubleshooting Training

Training your Shih Tzu can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. However, it’s not always smooth sailing. You may encounter some bumps in the road during your training journey. That’s why it’s important to know how to troubleshoot common training problems that may arise. In this section, we’ll discuss some of these issues and provide you with tips on how to overcome them. Let’s dive in!

Problem: My Shih Tzu Won’t Listen

It can be frustrating when your Shih Tzu refuses to listen to your commands, but it’s important to remember that it’s not because they’re stubborn or disobedient. There are a few reasons why your pup might not be responding to your training, and it’s important to address them in order to move forward with your training.

Reason 1: Distractions

Shih Tzus can be easily distracted, especially if they’re in a new environment or around other dogs. If you’re trying to train your pup in a busy park or other distracting environment, it might be best to start with a quieter location until they can better focus. When your pup is focused on something else, they may not hear your commands or understand what you’re asking of them.

Reason 2: Timing

Timing is another important factor in Shih Tzu training. If you’re not timing your commands correctly, your pup may not understand what you want them to do. Make sure you’re giving commands at the right time, when your pup is paying attention, and always reward them for good behavior right away.

Reason 3: Fear or Anxiety

If your Shih Tzu is afraid or anxious, they may not be able to focus on your training. This can happen if they’ve had a negative previous training experience or if they’re feeling distressed for other reasons. Try to make your training sessions a positive and rewarding experience for your pup, and avoid using any harsh or negative training techniques.

How to Address This Issue

If your Shih Tzu isn’t responding to your training, it’s important to troubleshoot the issue to figure out what’s going wrong. Take a step back and evaluate the situation to determine if it’s a distraction issue, a timing issue, or if your pup is feeling anxious or fearful. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can adjust your training techniques accordingly.

Here are a few tips to help encourage your pup to listen to your training commands:

  • Choose a quiet and calm training location to help your pup focus.
  • Adjust your training timing to make sure you’re giving commands when your pup is ready to listen.
  • Try using positive reinforcement techniques like treats and praise to encourage good behavior.
  • Consider working with a professional dog trainer who specializes in Shih Tzu training for additional support.

Remember, training a Shih Tzu takes patience and consistency. If your pup isn’t responding to your commands, they may just need some extra time and attention to learn. Keep practicing and rewarding good behavior, and you’ll see progress in no time!

Problem: My Shih Tzu is Fearful or Aggressive

It can be troubling if your Shih Tzu starts exhibiting fearful or aggressive behavior during training. However, there are steps that you can take to deal with this problem. Here are some possible reasons for your Shih Tzu’s behavior and some solutions to help you get your pup back on track:

Lack of socialization: If your Shih Tzu wasn’t exposed to different people, animals or environments when they were a puppy, this might be the reason for their fearful or aggressive behavior. In this case, try to gradually expose your dog to different situations, starting with less challenging ones, and gradually building up to more complex environments.

Poor training technique: Your training technique might be the reason for your Shih Tzu’s fearful or aggressive behavior. Make sure that you’re using positive reinforcement training methods and not scaring or hurting your pup in any way. Yelling or hitting your dog can make them fearful or aggressive, and they might start to associate you with this negative behavior.

Medical condition: Sometimes, dogs can be fearful or aggressive due to an underlying medical condition. If you’ve ruled out any environmental or training issues, it might be time to visit your veterinarian to check if there’s an underlying health issue.

Trauma: Similar to humans, dogs can experience trauma that can manifest in different ways. A traumatic experience can lead to fearful or aggressive behavior. If you suspect that your Shih Tzu might have experienced a traumatic event, it’s best to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.

Conclusion: It’s vital to identify the cause of your dog’s fearful or aggressive behavior to work towards a solution. Seek help from a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist if necessary and be patient during the training process. Remember to always use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your Shih Tzu to learn and respond positively to your commands.

Problem: My Shih Tzu is Distracted

If your Shih Tzu is easily distracted during training, it can be frustrating as you try to get them to focus and pay attention to your commands. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this problem and keep your dog engaged in their training. Here are some possible solutions:

Problem:My Shih Tzu is Distracted
Possible Solutions:
  • Reduce Distractions: Choose a quiet, low-traffic area for training sessions to minimize distractions.
  • Shorter Sessions: Shih Tzus have a short attention span, so keep training sessions brief (5-10 minutes) and engaging.
  • High-Value Rewards: Use high-value rewards such as small pieces of cooked chicken or cheese to keep your dog focused and motivated.
  • Play Breaks: Take breaks during training sessions to play with your dog and provide positive reinforcement.
  • Variety: Mix up the training routines to keep your Shih Tzu interested and engaged.
  • Training Before Meals: Train your Shih Tzu before meals when they’re hungry and more motivated to focus on earning rewards.

Remember, training requires patience and consistency. If your Shih Tzu is easily distracted, don’t get discouraged. With these tips and a little perseverance, you’ll be able to keep your furry friend engaged and focused on their training.


In conclusion, teaching your Shih Tzu essential training commands is crucial for their overall well-being and your peace of mind as an owner. With the right tools, patience, and consistency, you can successfully teach your Shih Tzu the commands of Sit, Stay, Come, Down, and Heel.

Remember, training your Shih Tzu should be approached with a positive and reward-based mindset. Utilizing treats and verbal praise can go a long way in reinforcing good behavior and creating a strong bond between you and your furry friend.

In addition, it’s essential to address any issues that may arise during training, such as a Shih Tzu not listening or being fearful or distracted. While these challenges can be frustrating, it’s essential to remain calm and address them with patience and understanding.

Overall, taking the time to train your Shih Tzu is a rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion. With consistent effort and focus, your Shih Tzu can become a well-trained and obedient member of your family, improving their quality of life and allowing for more enjoyable moments together. So, start training your Shih Tzu today and enjoy the many benefits that come with a well-trained pup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best age to start training a Shih Tzu?

The best age to start training a Shih Tzu is between 8 and 12 weeks old.

How many times a day should you train your Shih Tzu?

You should train your Shih Tzu at least 3 times a day, with each session lasting about 10-15 minutes.

What are some common mistakes Shih Tzu owners make during training?

Some common mistakes Shih Tzu owners make during training include being inconsistent, not using positive reinforcement, and expecting too much too soon.

Can you train a Shih Tzu to do tricks?

Yes! Shih Tzus are very intelligent and can learn a variety of tricks such as roll over, play dead, and even fetch.

Can you train an older Shih Tzu?

Yes, it’s never too late to start training an older Shih Tzu. However, keep in mind that it may take longer for them to learn new commands.

Are group training classes better than individual training?

It depends on your Shih Tzu’s personality and learning style. Some dogs do well in group settings, while others prefer individual attention.

How long does it usually take to train a Shih Tzu?

It varies depending on the dog and the desired commands, but most Shih Tzus can learn the basic commands in about 6-8 weeks with consistent training.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu is stubborn during training?

Take a break and try again later. Be patient and consistent with your training, and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.

Is it okay to use treats as a reward during training?

Yes, treats can be a great way to reinforce positive behavior during training. Just make sure to adjust your Shih Tzu’s diet accordingly to avoid overfeeding.

Can professional trainers help with Shih Tzu training?

Yes, professional trainers can offer valuable support and guidance during your Shih Tzu’s training process. They can also help with specific behavioral issues or advanced training goals.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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