Basic Agility Training for Shih Tzu

Is your adorable Shih Tzu feeling a bit lethargic lately? Do you want to add more excitement and physical activity to their daily routine? Agility training might be the solution you’re looking for! This type of training involves navigating obstacle courses, jumping, weaving, and running. Not only is it a fun way to bond with your furry friend, but it also has numerous physical and mental benefits for them. Let’s explore in more detail what agility training is, how to prepare for it, and how to introduce it to your Shih Tzu. Get ready for some exciting tail-wagging adventures!

What is Agility Training?

What Is Agility Training?
Agility training is a fun and exhilarating activity for both dogs and owners alike. It involves a variety of obstacles, such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, which dogs must navigate through as quickly and accurately as possible. Not only is agility training a fantastic way to bond with your Shih Tzu, but it also offers a range of benefits for their physical and mental well-being. Before getting started with agility training, it’s important to understand what it involves, how to prepare, and what equipment you’ll need. If you want to know more about agility equipment for Shih Tzus, click here.

Benefits of Agility Training for Shih Tzu

Agility training is an excellent way to provide mental and physical stimulation for Shih Tzu dogs. This type of training can offer several benefits for your furry friend, making it an excellent addition to their routine. Some of the most significant benefits of agility training for Shih Tzu include:

Improved Physical FitnessAgility training involves running, jumping, and climbing exercises that can help improve your Shih Tzu’s overall physical fitness. It helps increase muscle strength, promotes balance, and improves stamina.
Mental StimulationAgility training requires problem-solving skills, focus, concentration, and quick decision-making. It allows your Shih Tzu to take on new challenges that can improve their cognitive ability and mental sharpness.
Bonding and SocializationAgility training provides an excellent opportunity to bond with your Shih Tzu. It helps build a stronger relationship by encouraging teamwork and trust between you and your dog. Additionally, agility training creates a chance for your Shih Tzu to socialize with other dogs and their owners.
Reduced AnxietyAgility training can help alleviate your Shih Tzu’s anxiety by providing them with an outlet to release their energy. The training can distract them from stressful situations and create a calming effect on their mind and body.
Weight ManagementAgility training requires a lot of physical movement, which can help with weight management. Challenging exercises and obstacle courses can help burn calories, leading to a healthier weight for your Shih Tzu.

These benefits make agility training a valuable investment for your Shih Tzu’s overall wellbeing. However, it’s important to note that agility training is not without its challenges. To ensure that your Shih Tzu receives these benefits safely and effectively, it’s essential to prepare appropriately, introduce training gradually, and avoid common mistakes. Click here to read more about how to prepare your Shih Tzu for agility training.

Preparing for Agility Training

Preparing For Agility Training
Getting ready for agility training with your Shih Tzu can seem overwhelming at first, but with some preparation, it can also be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog. Physical Readiness and Equipment are two crucial components to consider before starting agility training. While it’s important to ensure your Shih Tzu is in optimal physical condition to prevent injuries, it’s also necessary to have the right equipment on hand for the training to be successful. Let’s take a closer look at these two aspects of preparation for agility training.

Physical Readiness

Before starting agility training with your Shih Tzu, you need to make sure they are physically ready for the activity. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Age: Shih Tzus can start agility training at around one year old, although it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to confirm your pup’s readiness.
  • Weight: Your Shih Tzu needs to be at a healthy weight – not too thin and not overweight – to participate in agility training. Obesity can put additional stress on their joints, potentially leading to injury.
  • Joint Health: Agility training puts a lot of strain on a dog’s joints, particularly those in their legs and hips. You should ensure that your Shih Tzu has strong joints and bones before you start agility training. Consider speaking to your veterinarian about adding joint supplements to your Shih Tzu’s diet to help prevent injury.
  • Overall Health: It’s essential to make sure your Shih Tzu is in good overall health before starting agility training. If they have any medical conditions, consult with your veterinarian to assess whether agility training is appropriate for your pup.

By taking the time to ensure that your Shih Tzu is physically ready for agility training, you can help prevent injury and ensure a positive experience for both you and your pup. Remember to consult with your veterinarian if you have any doubts.


As with any physical activity, having the right equipment is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your Shih Tzu. Here are some examples of equipment you will need to introduce agility training to your furry friend:

  • Collar or Harness: Your Shih Tzu will need a properly fitted collar or harness to ensure that they are secure and comfortable. A flat buckle collar is a good option for most dogs, while a body harness may be necessary for those who tend to pull or have respiratory issues.
  • Leash: A six-foot leash is typically recommended for agility training sessions. A retractable leash may be used for safety reasons during outdoor training, but be sure to switch back to a regular leash during actual agility practice.
  • Treats: Treats are an essential part of training, and using high-value treats such as small pieces of cooked chicken or cheese can help motivate your dog during agility exercises. Be sure to have plenty of treats on hand.
  • Jump: A basic jump is a common obstacle in agility course and can be easily created using PVC pipes or adjustable jump bars. Start with a low height and gradually increase as your Shih Tzu gets more comfortable.
  • Tunnel: A collapsible tunnel is a popular obstacle in agility courses. You can easily purchase one online or make one yourself using PVC pipes and a tarp.
  • Weave Poles: Weave poles are typically used for advanced agility training and require a longer practice period. However, if you want to introduce your Shih Tzu to these poles, you can make a set out of PVC pipes and set them up in a straight line with enough spacing for your dog to weave through.

Remember, it’s important that you introduce each piece of equipment slowly and allow your Shih Tzu to get comfortable with each one before moving on to the next. This will help avoid any anxieties that may arise from unfamiliar equipment. Additionally, always supervise your Shih Tzu when they are using any agility equipment to prevent any possible injury.

If you’re interested in learning more about agility training for Shih Tzus and avoiding common mistakes, be sure to check out our article on Shih Tzu Agility Mistakes. If you’re ready to take your Shih Tzu’s agility training to the next level, check out our guide on Advanced Agility Training for Shih Tzu.

Introducing your Shih Tzu to Agility Training

Introducing Your Shih Tzu To Agility Training
As you begin to introduce your furry friend to agility training, it’s important to have the right approach that will help your Shih Tzu feel comfortable and confident. Agility training is a great way to bond with your pet and provide them with mental and physical stimulation, all while having fun together. However, starting out can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure where to begin. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to show you how to introduce your Shih Tzu to agility training in a way that is both effective and enjoyable. But before we get into it, if you haven’t yet read our guide on preparing for agility training (which you can find here), we highly recommend giving it a read first to ensure you and your pup are ready for this new adventure.


When it comes to introducing your Shih Tzu to agility training, using the right commands can make all the difference. Here are some essential commands to teach your dog:

  • Start line: This command tells your Shih Tzu to get into position at the start line of an agility course.
  • Tunnel: This command is used when your dog needs to go through a tunnel obstacle. You can encourage your Shih Tzu to go through the tunnel by standing at the other end with a treat.
  • Weave poles: This command instructs your dog to weave between a series of poles. You can start by using a simpler “in” and “out” command to begin teaching your dog how to weave.
  • A-frame: This command refers to the A-frame obstacle, which requires your dog to climb up one side and down the other. Make sure your Shih Tzu is physically ready for this obstacle.
  • Pause table: This command tells your dog to jump up onto the pause table, which is a flat surface used to give your dog a break in between obstacles.
  • Finish: This command is used to signal the end of an agility run.

Keep in mind that it may take some time for your Shih Tzu to learn these commands and associate them with specific obstacles. You can also use hand signals along with your verbal commands to reinforce the desired behavior. It’s important to be patient and positive during the training process to ensure your Shih Tzu enjoys agility training and continues to learn and improve.


When it comes to agility training for Shih Tzu, there are a variety of exercises that can be incorporated into your pup’s routine. These exercises are designed to improve their physical abilities, focus, flexibility, and coordination. Let’s take a look at some exercises that you can try with your Shih Tzu:

  • Hurdles: Hurdles are a classic agility training exercise that you can set up in your backyard. You can use anything from PVC pipes to collapsible hurdles. Start with the hurdle at the lowest height possible and gradually increase the height as your Shih Tzu gets better at jumping over them.
  • Tire jumps: Set up a tire so that your Shih Tzu can jump through it. You can use an old car tire or purchase a specific tire jump. Like with hurdles, start with it at a lower height and increase it over time.
  • Weave poles: Weave poles are a series of poles set up in a straight line that your Shih Tzu must weave in and out of. This exercise helps to improve their flexibility and coordination. Start with just a few poles and gradually increase the number as your pup gets better.
  • Tunnels: Tunnels are another classic agility training exercise that can be set up in your backyard. These can be made of fabric or plastic and come in a variety of lengths and shapes. Start with a straight tunnel and gradually move on to curved or bent tunnels.
  • Balancing exercises: Agility training is not all about running and jumping. Balance exercises are also important for your Shih Tzu. You can set up a balance board or balance cushions for them to stand on and improve their core strength and balance.

Remember, it’s important to start out slowly and not overwhelm your Shih Tzu with too many exercises at once. Every dog is different, so take the time to find out what exercises your pup enjoys and excels at. By incorporating these exercises into your pup’s routine, you’ll be on your way to improving their physical abilities and having fun at the same time!

Treats and Praise

It is important to use treats and praise as positive reinforcement during agility training with your Shih Tzu. This will encourage your furry friend to participate in the exercises and will make the training more enjoyable overall. However, it is essential to use the right type of treats and the right amount of praise to ensure that your Shih Tzu responds positively.

Treats: When choosing treats for agility training, it is important to pick small, healthy and tasty treats that your Shih Tzu enjoys. Good options include small pieces of cooked chicken or beef, pieces of cheese or small pieces of hot dogs. Avoid treats that are too hard or too large to swallow quickly. Also, make sure not to use treats that your dog is allergic to.

Praise: Along with treats, praise is a crucial part of agility training. Verbal praise, such as “good job” or “well done,” is essential. Additionally, physical praise, such as a pat or a rub on the head, can also be extremely effective. Try to be consistent with the amount of praise you give so that your Shih Tzu knows when they have done something right.

Combining Treats and Praise: The best way to encourage your Shih Tzu during agility training is to combine treats and praise. When they complete an exercise correctly, immediately give them treats and praise. This will establish a positive connection in their mind between the exercise and positive rewards.

TreatsPraiseCombining Treats and Praise
Select small, healthy and tasty treats such as cooked chicken or beefOffer verbal and physical praise immediately when your Shih Tzu completes an exercise correctlyCombine treats and praise as soon as your Shih Tzu has done something right, to establish positive reinforcement
Avoid treats that are too hard or too big to swallowBe consistent with the amount of praise you give
Do not use treats that your Shih Tzu is allergic to

It is also essential to avoid overfeeding treats, as this can lead to weight gain and potential health issues. Make sure to adjust the amount of food you give during meal times to account for the extra calories given as treats during agility training. Using treats and praise correctly during agility training can help your Shih Tzu learn, be more active and have fun.

Incorporating Agility Training into Daily Life

Incorporating Agility Training Into Daily Life
As a pet parent, it’s important to find ways to keep your furry friend entertained, engaged, and physically active. One way to achieve this is by incorporating agility training into your Shih Tzu’s daily routine. Agility training is not only a great way to help your Shih Tzu burn off some energy, but it also promotes physical fitness, mental stimulation, and builds the bond between you and your furry companion. In this section of the article, we will discuss different types of exercises you can practice with your Shih Tzu and how to create your own agility course, as well as some challenges and considerations to keep in mind before starting any agility training.

Different Types of Exercises

Agility training can encompass a wide variety of exercises that incorporate different skills and physical abilities. Here are some of the different types of exercises that you can try with your Shih Tzu:

  • Jumps: Jumping exercises are a fundamental part of agility training for dogs. Your Shih Tzu can learn to jump over various types of obstacles, such as bars, hurdles, and tunnels. These exercises help develop your dog’s leg strength, coordination, and agility.
  • Weave Poles: Weave pole exercises involve a series of poles that are arranged in a zigzag pattern. The goal is for your Shih Tzu to weave in and out of the poles while following a specific command. This exercise helps improve your dog’s ability to maneuver through tight spaces and develop their paw-eye coordination.
  • Tunnels: Tunnels are an essential part of agility training, and your Shih Tzu can learn to run through them quickly and smoothly. These exercises help develop your dog’s sense of spatial awareness, as well as their ability to move quickly and remain focused on the task at hand.
  • Contact Obstacles: Contact obstacles, such as the A-frame, teeter-totter, and dog walk, are designed to develop your dog’s sense of balance and coordination. Your Shih Tzu can learn to climb up and down these obstacles while following specific commands.
  • Tire Jumps: Tire jumps require your Shih Tzu to jump through a suspended tire while following a specific command. This exercise helps improve your dog’s jumping form and coordination.
  • Selective Object Discrimination: These exercises involve training your Shih Tzu to recognize and respond to specific objects, such as cones or colored poles. This exercise helps develop your dog’s decision-making skills and ability to follow your commands.

Incorporating different types of exercises into your Shih Tzu’s agility training routine can help keep the exercises fun and fresh. Remember to progress slowly and make sure your dog is comfortable with each exercise before moving on to more advanced maneuvers. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping your Shih Tzu become an accomplished agility athlete.

Creating an Agility Course

An agility course can be a fun and challenging way to train your Shih Tzu. Not only does it provide physical exercise, but it also enhances mental stimulation and builds confidence. Creating an agility course can be done both indoors and outdoors, depending on the available space. Here are some tips on creating an agility course:

Step 1Choose a location – a flat, obstacle-free area works best for an indoor agility course while an open grassy area will do for outdoor courses.
Step 2Set up the obstacles – choose obstacles that suit your Shih Tzu’s level of experience, but some common ones include jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and A-frames. Adequate spacing should be given to each obstacle so that the dog has enough room to turn between them.
Step 3Create a course map – sketch out a map of the course layout using cones, ropes or chalk. The map should show the direction and sequence of the obstacles for the Shih Tzu to follow.
Step 4Introduce the obstacles – as your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable with each obstacle, gradually increase the level of difficulty. For example, start with low jumps and progress to higher ones.
Step 5Practice the course – run through the course with your Shih Tzu, using verbal commands and hand signals to guide them through. Practice regularly to build up their skills and speed.

It’s important to keep safety in mind when creating an agility course. Make sure obstacles are set up correctly and firmly secured, and monitor your Shih Tzu to ensure they are not overexerting themselves. Always use positive reinforcement to encourage and reward your dog’s progress. With patience and persistence, agility training can be a fun and rewarding activity for both you and your Shih Tzu.

Challenges and Considerations

As with any new activity, introducing agility training for your Shih Tzu comes with its challenges and considerations. Pushing your furry friend too hard too quickly can lead to injuries or setbacks. In this section, we will delve into the potential obstacles you may encounter during agility training and how to overcome them. Additionally, we’ll highlight important factors you should take into consideration before starting agility training with your Shih Tzu. Let’s explore these with a discerning eye.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Agility training for Shih Tzu can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some common challenges and ways to overcome them:

DistractionsTrain in a quiet, enclosed space to minimize distractions. Gradually increase the level of distraction as your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable and focused.
Lack of FocusMake sure your Shih Tzu is well-rested and has not eaten a big meal before training. Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to keep your dog motivated and focused.
Physical LimitationsConsult with your veterinarian to ensure your Shih Tzu is physically capable of agility training. Consider modifying exercises to accommodate any limitations, such as using lower jumps or slower speeds.
Training PlateausTake a break and switch up the routine to keep things interesting. Incorporate new exercises or increase the difficulty of existing ones to challenge your Shih Tzu and prevent boredom.

By addressing these common challenges, you can help ensure that your Shih Tzu stays engaged and motivated during agility training. Remember to always prioritize your dog’s safety and well-being, and have fun with the process!

What to Consider Before Starting Agility Training

Before starting agility training with your Shih Tzu, there are a few important things to consider to ensure their safety and success. Here are some essential factors to take into account:

  • Health Conditions: It’s crucial to make sure your Shih Tzu is healthy and free from any medical conditions that could impede their physical abilities. Bring your dog to the vet for a check-up and discuss any concerns you may have about their health.
  • Age: While agility training can be suitable for dogs of all ages, it’s important to adjust the intensity and complexity of the exercises according to your dog’s age. Puppies, for instance, should not be overworked, as their bones are still developing. Older dogs, on the other hand, may need modifications to accommodate their physical limitations.
  • Temperament: Not all Shih Tzus may be suited for agility training. Some dogs are naturally timid or anxious, which could make them uncomfortable with the fast-paced environment of agility training. Observe your dog’s personality and behavior and decide if agility training is suitable for them.
  • Training Goals: It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve through agility training. Are you doing it purely for fun, or do you have ambitions of competing with your Shih Tzu? Knowing your training goals will help you plan and execute a training regimen that is tailored to your dog’s needs.
  • Time Commitment: Agility training requires a significant time commitment, both in terms of training sessions and course setup. Consider your schedule and availability and decide if you can devote enough time to this activity.
  • Other Pets and People: Finally, consider the presence of other pets and people in your home, especially if you plan to set up an agility course in your yard. Make sure that your Shih Tzu is comfortable around other animals and people and that the course setup will not pose any safety risks to them.

Taking the time to consider these factors will help ensure that your Shih Tzu is prepared and safe for agility training. It will also help you plan and execute an effective training regimen that is tailored to your pet’s unique physical and psychological needs.


In conclusion, agility training is a great way to bond with your Shih Tzu while also providing them with physical and mental stimulation. Not only does agility training improve your dog’s overall health and fitness, but it also strengthens their obedience and reinforces positive behavior.

By preparing your dog physically and providing the necessary equipment, you can safely introduce agility training to your Shih Tzu. Remember to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to encourage good behavior and keep training sessions fun.

Incorporating agility exercises into your daily routine will keep your Shih Tzu engaged and active, and creating a backyard course can provide hours of entertainment for both you and your dog. However, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and considerations that come with agility training, such as potential injuries and proper warm-up techniques.

Before starting agility training, consider consulting with a professional trainer or vet to ensure that your Shih Tzu is physically and mentally ready for this type of activity. With patience, practice, and dedication, your Shih Tzu can become an agility champion and enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can any Shih Tzu participate in agility training?

Yes, any physically healthy Shih Tzu can participate in agility training as long as they are properly trained and prepared.

2. What age should my Shih Tzu start agility training?

Experts recommend starting agility training around 12-18 months of age to ensure their growth plates have fully closed.

3. Do I need special equipment for agility training?

While specialized agility equipment is available, it is not necessary to get started. You can start with everyday items like cones and jumps.

4. Is agility training only for competition purposes?

No, agility training can be a fun way to bond with your Shih Tzu and provide them with physical and mental stimulation, even if you don’t plan to compete.

5. Can Shih Tzu with disabilities participate in agility training?

It depends on the disability. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian and an experienced trainer to determine what activities are safe for your Shih Tzu.

6. Can I train my Shih Tzu for agility on my own?

While it’s possible to train your Shih Tzu for agility on your own, enlisting the help of a professional trainer can greatly benefit you and your dog’s progress.

7. Is agility training only for high-energy dogs?

No, any dog can benefit from agility training, even those with lower energy levels. It can improve their overall fitness and mental sharpness.

8. Can I use treats during agility training?

Yes, treats can be a valuable tool for rewarding your Shih Tzu for successful completion of an obstacle or exercise.

9. Can agility training help with Shih Tzu’s behavior issues?

Yes, agility training can help with behavior issues as it provides mental and physical stimulation, which can reduce stress and anxiety in dogs.

10. How often should I train my Shih Tzu for agility?

The frequency of training sessions depends on your Shih Tzu’s physical readiness and your own schedule. It’s best to start with short sessions a few times a week and gradually increase the duration and frequency as your Shih Tzu progresses.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make Doggolab a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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