Common Mistakes to Avoid in Agility Training for Shih Tzu

It’s no surprise that agility training can be a fun and exciting activity for both dogs and their owners. However, when it comes to training a Shih Tzu, it’s important to be mindful of common mistakes that can hinder their progress. From skipping basic commands to pushing too hard, too fast, there are several missteps that can make the training process more difficult than it needs to be. Through proper communication and consistency, Shih Tzu owners can avoid these pitfalls and help their furry companions excel in agility training. Let’s dive into some of the most common mistakes to avoid in agility training for Shih Tzu.

Not Starting with Basic Training

Not Starting With Basic Training
Starting agility training with your Shih Tzu can be exciting but can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure where to begin. While agility training can be a fun and rewarding activity for both you and your furry friend, starting with basic training is crucial for your dog’s safety and success. It’s important not to skip this step and to take the time to lay a strong foundation, as it will set the stage for more advanced agility training. In this section, we will discuss the common mistakes that many dog owners make when they don’t start with basic training, which can lead to frustration and setbacks in the agility training process. Let’s explore ways to avoid these pitfalls and make sure you have a smooth start to your Shih Tzu’s agility training journey. If you’re interested in learning more about agility training for Shih Tzu, check out our comprehensive guide.

Skipping Basic Commands

One of the most common mistakes that pet owners make when starting agility training for their Shih Tzu is skipping basic commands. Basic commands are the foundation for any type of training, and agility training is no exception. Skipping basic commands can lead to confusion and can make it difficult for your pet to understand the advanced agility commands.

To avoid this mistake, it is important to start with basic training. Basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down should be taught to the dog first. In this way, the pet owner will ensure that the dog has a solid foundation and understands what is expected of them. Here are some of the benefits that can arise from teaching basic commands.

Benefits of Basic CommandsExplanation
Improved CommunicationBasic commands help the dog owner and the dog understand each other better.
Increased ControlBasic commands help the pet owner control their dog
Easy Transition to Advanced CommandsTeaching basic commands creates a good foundation and makes it easier to transition to advanced commands
Enhanced SafetyIf a dog knows basic commands like “come” and “stay” then they are less likely to get into dangerous situations.

It is important not to skip basic commands when starting agility training for your Shih Tzu. Taking the time to build a solid foundation will increase your chances of success. If you want to learn more about agility training for Shih Tzu, check out our article on Agility Equipment for Shih Tzu and How to Train Your Shih Tzu for Agility.

Ignoring Potty Training

One of the biggest mistakes that Shih Tzu owners make when it comes to agility training is ignoring potty training. It’s a crucial aspect of training any dog, including Shih Tzu, and must not be overlooked.

House training should be implemented before agility training, as it can be a huge distraction during training sessions. Not only does it take away focus, but it can also be quite embarrassing if your dog decides to relieve themselves in the middle of the course.

Here are some key tips to follow when potty training your Shih Tzu:

  • Establish a routine where you take your dog out at the same time every day.
  • Watch for signs that they need to go, such as sniffing around or whining.
  • Praise your dog heavily every time they go potty outside.
  • If your dog has an accident inside, do not punish them. Simply clean it up and try again next time.

Remember, potty training takes time and patience. It’s not something that can be achieved in a day or two. Be consistent in your efforts, and you’ll eventually have a well-trained, obedient dog that’s ready to take on agility training.

Ignoring potty training during the early stages of training can set your Shih Tzu back and even cause them to become disinterested in training overall. So, before you start working on more advanced agility training for your Shih Tzu, make sure they are properly house trained and ready to tackle the course.

For more tips on advanced agility training for your Shih Tzu, check out our article on Advanced Agility Training for Shih Tzu. And for information on how to prepare your Shih Tzu for agility training, take a look at our article on Shih Tzu Agility Prep.

Pushing Too Hard, Too Fast

Pushing Too Hard, Too Fast
Training your Shih Tzu for agility can be exciting, but it is important to remember that it is a process that requires patience and consistency. While it is natural to want your furry friend to excel, it is crucial not to push too hard too fast. Ignoring your dog’s limits and rushing into obstacles can lead to injuries and a disappointing experience for both you and your pup. In this section, we will cover common mistakes related to pushing your dog too hard and how you can avoid them. So, take a deep breath, relax, and let’s get started.

Rushing into Obstacle Training

One of the most common mistakes in agility training for Shih Tzu is rushing into obstacle training. While obstacle training is an exciting and essential aspect of agility training, it is crucial to take your Shih Tzu through the necessary steps before introducing obstacles.

Training StepPurpose
Basic TrainingTo establish communication, trust, and obedience with your Shih Tzu
Coordination ExercisesTo improve your Shih Tzu’s body awareness, balance, and stability
TargetingTo teach your Shih Tzu to follow and touch a specific object or spot on command
Tunnel IntroductionTo introduce your Shih Tzu to the concept of running through a tunnel and build confidence
Jumping and WeavingTo teach your Shih Tzu how to navigate jumps and weave poles with proper form

By skipping these essential steps and jumping straight into obstacle training, you risk causing confusion, frustration, and even injuries to your Shih Tzu. Additionally, if your Shih Tzu does not have the basic skills and commands required for obstacle training, they may become overwhelmed and anxious, leading to poor performance and reluctance to continue training.

It is crucial to take a structured approach to agility training for your Shih Tzu. Start with basic training, coordination exercises, targeting, tunnel introduction, and jumping and weaving before rushing into obstacle training. By doing so, your Shih Tzu will have the skills, confidence, and trust in you necessary to succeed in agility training.

Forcing the Dog to Complete an Obstacle

When it comes to agility training for Shih Tzu, obstacles are a great way to challenge your furry friend’s physical and mental abilities. However, it is important to keep in mind that not every Shih Tzu may be comfortable with all types of obstacles. Forcing your dog to complete an obstacle can not only break their trust in you but can also lead to physical harm. Here are some reasons why you should avoid forcing your Shih Tzu to complete an obstacle:

Injury: Just like humans, dogs can experience injuries while participating in agility training. If your Shih Tzu is not comfortable with an obstacle, forcing them to complete it can result in injuries such as sprains or even fractures.
Fear: Your furry friend may be afraid of certain obstacles, and forcing them to complete them can heighten that fear. This can cause long-term behavioral issues such as anxiety or aggression.
Trust: Forcing your Shih Tzu to complete an obstacle can break their trust in you. You are their source of safety and security, and if you force them to do something they’re uncomfortable with, they may start to view you as a threat.
Training setback: Forcing your dog to do something they’re not ready for can result in a setback in their training progress. It is important to keep things gradual and ensure your Shih Tzu is comfortable with each obstacle before moving on.

Forcing your Shih Tzu to complete an obstacle can have negative consequences on their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as their trust in you. Always prioritize your furry friend’s safety and comfort, and progress their agility training gradually.

Lack of Consistency

Lack Of Consistency
Maintaining a consistent approach is essential in any training, and agility training for Shih Tzus is no exception. Without consistency, your furry friend will be unable to obtain and retain the necessary skills to excel. Consistency doesn’t only refer to the time and frequency of your training sessions, but it also encompasses the rewards system and the command structure that you employ. Let’s explore some of the common mistakes that you need to avoid to ensure that your pup remains on track.

Irregular Training Schedules

Creating a consistent training schedule for your Shih Tzu is essential to successful agility training. Irregular training schedules can hinder your dog’s progress and result in confusion and frustration. To avoid this, establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a regular training schedule:

  • Set a specific time for training sessions: Choose a time of day when you and your dog are both alert and focused. This could be in the morning or early evening, depending on your daily routine.
  • Stick to a routine: Dogs thrive on routine and consistency, so try to train at the same time and in the same location each day. This will help your dog understand what is expected of them and make training more effective.
  • Plan ahead: Make sure you have your training plan and equipment ready before each session. This will help you avoid wasting time and keep your dog engaged.
  • Be flexible: Life can be unpredictable, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a training session. Just try to get back on track as soon as possible.

By following these tips and sticking to a regular training schedule, you can help your Shih Tzu become a confident and competent agility dog. Remember, consistency is key, and regular training will help your dog progress much faster than irregular training sessions.

Inconsistent Rewards

One of the most common mistakes that Shih Tzu owners make in agility training is providing inconsistent rewards. A reward can be anything that your dog finds motivating such as treats, toys or even praises. When you give a treat or reward to your Shih Tzu after performing a good behavior, it reinforces that behavior and encourages your dog to repeat it. However, inconsistency in reward-giving can lead to confusion and frustration in your dog.

To avoid this error, it is crucial that you keep a consistent rewards system in place. One way to do this is to use a reward-based system where the dog is given a treat or a toy each time they perform the desired behavior. However, it is essential to remember that your dog should not solely depend on the rewards. It is vital to decrease the frequency of rewards gradually, meaning the dog is given a treat every second or third time they do the right thing.

An inconsistent rewards system confuses your dog, and your Shih Tzu may begin to lose interest in the activity altogether. To help you avoid this mistake, here is a table summarizing the typical mistakes people make when giving rewards to their Shih Tzu:

MistakeWhy It’s a ProblemPossible Outcome
Randomly choosing when to give a rewardThe dog does not get encouraged and may feel disinterested.The Shih Tzu may not perform the behavior that you are trying to teach him.
Withholding rewards even when the dog deserves itIt leads to reduced excitement and confusion in the dog.The Shih Tzu may become frustrated and associate the activity with negative emotions.
Giving too many rewards at the same timeThe dog may stop putting in effort when he already knows the outcome is the same.The Shih Tzu can become too dependent on the rewards, and it becomes challenging to phase them out later in the training.

If you keep your rewards system consistent, your Shih Tzu will soon learn that performing the desired behavior will result in a reward. By creating this positive connection with the activity, your dog is more likely to repeat the same behavior with enthusiasm next time.

Improper Communication with Your Dog

As much as we want to communicate with our furry friends, sometimes we fail to convey our messages properly in agility training, resulting in confusion and frustration. Communicating with your Shih Tzu is not just about what you say, but also how you say it and what you use as rewards. It is crucial to build a strong foundation of meaningful communication to establish trust and excel in agility training. Let’s take a closer look at some common mistakes to avoid when communicating with your dog.

Using Harsh Commands

One common mistake that pet owners make during agility training is using harsh commands. It is understandable to feel frustrated if your Shih Tzu is not behaving as you want during training. However, using a commanding tone can create a negative environment for your dog, making it difficult for them to learn and perform well in the long run.

To avoid using harsh commands, it is essential to understand that agility training should be a fun and positive experience for you and your pet. Your Shih Tzu should be motivated and encouraged to perform well, using positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise.

Using harsh commands can not only make your dog feel stressed but can also create a divide between you and your pet. This may result in your dog associating agility training with negative feelings, making them less likely to follow commands and perform well.

Here is a table outlining some harsh commands that should be avoided during agility training and alternative phrases to use instead:

Harsh Commands to AvoidAlternative Phrases to Use
“No!”“Oops,” “Try again,” “Not quite,” “Let’s do it again.”
“Stop!”“Slow down,” “Easy,” “Wait,” “Stay.”
“Bad dog!”“Uh-oh,” “Nope,” “No reward this time,” “Not the right way.”

Remember to remain patient, positive, and consistent with your training methods. With enough practice, your Shih Tzu will learn to associate agility training with a positive experience and perform well in competitions.

Using Inappropriate Rewards

When it comes to dog training, using rewards is an integral part of the process. However, it’s important to note that not all rewards are created equal, and using inappropriate rewards can lead to undesired behavior in your dog. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when it comes to using rewards in agility training for Shih Tzu:

Reward MistakesWhy It’s a MistakeAppropriate Rewards
Using Table ScrapsTable scraps are often high in fat and sodium, which can have negative health consequences for your dog. Additionally, using table scraps as a reward can encourage begging and other undesirable behaviors.Treats specifically designed for dogs, such as small training treats or bits of cooked chicken or hot dogs.
Using Inedible RewardsWhile using toys or playtime as a reward can be effective for some dogs, it may not be as motivating for others. It’s important to understand what motivates your dog and tailor your rewards accordingly.Treats, praise, or playtime – whichever motivates your dog the most!
Using Punishment as a RewardPunishing your dog for not completing an obstacle or performing a command correctly is never an appropriate reward. It can cause your dog to become fearful or anxious, leading to a breakdown in communication and trust between you and your pet.Treats, praise, or a pat on the head – positive reinforcement will go much further in creating a trusting and positive bond with your dog.

By understanding what rewards to use (and what to avoid), you can motivate your Shih Tzu and create a positive training environment. Remember, agility training should be fun for both you and your dog – so make sure to keep the rewards appropriate and engaging.


In conclusion, agility training can be a rewarding experience for both you and your Shih Tzu. However, it is important to approach training with patience and consistency to avoid common mistakes.

Starting with basic training and commands, such as sit, stay, and come, is essential before moving on to more advanced agility training. Skipping this step can lead to frustration and confusion for both you and your dog. Additionally, ignoring potty training can hinder progress and lead to accidents during training.

Pushing too hard, too fast, is another common mistake to avoid. It’s important to take baby steps and gradually increase the difficulty of obstacles. Rushing into obstacle training or forcing the dog to complete an obstacle can lead to injury and cause the dog to lose confidence.

Consistency is key in agility training. Irregular training schedules or inconsistent rewards can disrupt progress and make it difficult for your Shih Tzu to understand what is expected of them.

Communication is also important during agility training. Using harsh commands or inappropriate rewards can lead to disobedience and a breakdown in the human-dog relationship.

Remember that the goal of agility training is not just to win competitions, but also to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. Approach training with positivity, patience, and a willingness to learn, and you will see success in your agility training journey with your beloved Shih Tzu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can agility training be done with a Shih Tzu?

Yes, Shih Tzus are capable of participating in agility training. However, it is important to start with basic training and ensure that the training sessions are tailored to the breed’s capabilities and limitations.

What are some basic commands for agility training?

Basic commands include “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “heel”. These are important commands for establishing control over your Shih Tzu during agility training.

What is potty training and why is it important for agility training?

Potty training is the process of teaching your Shih Tzu to eliminate in a designated area. It is important for agility training because allowing your dog to relieve themselves during training can be disruptive and distracting.

Is it necessary to rush into obstacle training?

No, it is not necessary to rush into obstacle training. Starting with basic commands and gradually introducing obstacles can be beneficial in ensuring that your Shih Tzu is comfortable with the training process.

What should I do if my dog refuses to complete an obstacle?

If your Shih Tzu refuses to complete an obstacle, it is important to avoid forcing them to complete it. Take a step back and work on building their confidence with the obstacle through positive reinforcement and gradual training.

Why is consistency important in agility training?

Consistency is important in agility training because it helps establish routines and expectations for both you and your Shih Tzu. It also helps reinforce the behaviors and commands you want your dog to learn.

How often should I train my Shih Tzu for agility?

You should aim to train your Shih Tzu for agility for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day. However, it is important to avoid overworking your dog and to take breaks as needed.

What are some appropriate rewards for agility training?

Appropriate rewards for agility training include treats, toys, and verbal praise. It is important to choose rewards that your Shih Tzu finds motivating and that can be easily given during training sessions.

Why is using harsh commands inappropriate in agility training?

Using harsh commands can create a negative association between your Shih Tzu and agility training. It can also cause your dog to become anxious or afraid, which can hinder their progress in the training process.

What should I do if I am struggling with agility training?

If you are struggling with agility training, it is important to seek help from a professional trainer or veterinarian. They can provide guidance and support in tailoring the training process to your Shih Tzu’s specific needs and abilities.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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