How to Prepare Your Shih Tzu for Agility Competitions

Imagine the rush of adrenaline as your furry friend slaloms through weave poles, dashes through tunnels, and leaps over jumps with grace and agility. Yes, we’re talking about the exhilarating sport of dog agility competitions! And if you’re a proud owner of a Shih Tzu, you might be surprised at how well this breed can excel in this athletic event.
But where do you start? How do you turn your cuddly companion into a nimble athlete? Don’t fret! In this article, we’ll guide you step-by-step through preparing your Shih Tzu for Agility Competitions with expert tips and advice. From basic training to equipment selection, we’ll cover everything you need to know to help your pup become an agility star. So, grab a toy for your pup and let’s get started!

Benefits of Agility Training for Your Shih Tzu

Benefits Of Agility Training For Your Shih Tzu
Agility training is a wonderful way to enhance your Shih Tzu’s physical and mental well-being. It is a sport that is not only fun and enjoyable but also has numerous benefits that can contribute to your dog’s overall health. Regular agility training of your Shih Tzu can help them to become physically stronger, mentally sharper and build an unbreakable bond between you and your furry friend. However, it is vital to remember that agility training for your Shih Tzu is a process that follows a few steps. Before your Shih Tzu is competition-ready, it’s essential to provide them with the proper training and equipment to get started. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of agility training, the training process, the necessary equipment, and the importance of proper preparation before a competition. Agility training is a fantastic way to keep your Shih Tzu healthy and active, and it’s never too late to get started.

Improved Physical Ability

One of the biggest benefits of agility training for your Shih Tzu is the improvement of their physical ability. This type of training involves a lot of running, jumping, climbing, and crawling, which can help develop their strength, endurance, and balance. Here are some specific ways that agility training can improve your Shih Tzu’s physical ability:

  • Cardiovascular health: Agility training is a high-intensity workout that can get your Shih Tzu’s heart pumping and improve their cardiovascular health. This can help prevent obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.
  • Muscle development: Running, jumping, and climbing over agility equipment can help your Shih Tzu build muscle mass and strength. This can improve their overall physical performance and make them more resilient to injuries.
  • Better coordination: Agility training requires a lot of coordination between the dog and the handler. By practicing agility routines, your Shih Tzu can improve their coordination, balance, and agility.
  • Increased flexibility: Many agility training exercises, such as weaving through poles, require dogs to stretch and contort their bodies. This can improve your Shih Tzu’s flexibility, which can help prevent injuries and improve their overall physical ability.

By improving your Shih Tzu’s physical ability through agility training, you can help them live a longer, healthier, and more active life. To learn more about agility training for your Shih Tzu, check out our article on how to train your Shih Tzu for agility competitions. And to get the right equipment for your training, visit our guide on agility equipment for your Shih Tzu.

Increased Mental Stimulation

Training your Shih Tzu for agility competitions not only improves its physical ability, but also provides crucial mental stimulation. This type of exercise requires your dog to quickly process new information, adapt to new situations and follow directions precisely. Here are some ways agility training can benefit your dog’s mental capacity:

1. Problem-Solving Skills: Agility courses often include obstacles that require your dog to solve a puzzle before advancing. By surmounting these obstacles, your Shih Tzu will learn how to think critically and problem-solve under pressure.

2. Improved Focus: With so many exciting sights, sounds and smells in a training ring, your Shih Tzu will need to learn how to focus exclusively on task at hand. This skill can translate to improved focus in other areas of life, such as obedience training or basic commands.

3. Heightened Confidence: Successfully completing an agility course can give your Shih Tzu a sense of accomplishment and pride. This contributes to increased mental wellbeing and confidence in general.

4. Healthy Mental Exercise: As your Shih Tzu navigates through an agility course, its mind is fully engaged and challenged. This type of mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise and contributes to a healthy, well-rounded dog.

Remember that while agility training is beneficial for any Shih Tzu, it’s important to approach the task with care and precision. Rushing the process or pushing your Shih Tzu too hard can lead to injuries or negative mental feedback. For more information, please visit our article on common shih tzu agility mistakes or advanced training techniques for agility competitions in Shih Tzu here.

Bonding Opportunities

Training your Shih Tzu for agility competitions is not just about physical ability and mental stimulation, it can also create bonding opportunities between you and your furry companion. Agility training sessions can help you and your Shih Tzu develop a stronger connection and understanding of each other, which can translate to a better relationship outside of the training field.

Here are some bonding opportunities that agility training can provide:

  • Collaboration: Agility training requires a lot of collaboration between the owner and the dog. As an owner, you need to be aware of your Shih Tzu’s movements, cues, and responses to your commands. This constant collaboration during training can create a deeper sense of trust and understanding between you and your dog.
  • Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a training technique that rewards good behavior. It is a great way to establish a positive and trusting relationship with your Shih Tzu. When your dog learns that good behavior is rewarded with a treat or praise, they will be more likely to repeat that behavior.
  • Fun: Agility training can be a lot of fun for both you and your Shih Tzu. Playing and training together can create positive experiences and memories for you both, which can strengthen your bond.
  • Quality time: Spending time with your Shih Tzu during agility training can be a great way to strengthen your bond. Taking time out of your busy schedule to train and play with your dog can create a sense of togetherness and shared experiences.

Agility training for your Shih Tzu can provide more than just physical and mental benefits. It can also create bonding opportunities that can strengthen your relationship and communication with your furry friend. Remember to incorporate positive reinforcement, have fun, and spend quality time with your Shih Tzu during training sessions.

Training Your Shih Tzu for Agility Competitions

Training Your Shih Tzu For Agility Competitions
Preparing your furry friend for agility competitions can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your Shih Tzu. But where do you even begin? As with any type of training, it’s important to start with the basics and work your way up. In this section, we will cover the fundamental steps required to get your Shih Tzu started in agility training, from basic training to developing specific behaviors and improving endurance, speed, and accuracy. Let’s dive in and unleash your Shih Tzu’s full potential on the agility course.

Basic Training

A strong foundation of basic training is essential before beginning agility training with your Shih Tzu. Here are some basic training concepts to keep in mind:

  • Sit: This is one of the most basic commands your dog should know. Start by holding a treat above your Shih Tzu’s head so that their nose points up, causing them to sit down. Use a firm “sit” command as you do this so that they begin to associate the word with the behavior.
  • Stay: Stay is important for your Shih Tzu to learn so that they can remain in one place while you set up their agility equipment. Have your Shih Tzu sit or lie down, and then give the “stay” command. Gradually increase the amount of time they remain in position before rewarding them for staying put.
  • Come: The “come” command is crucial in agility training because you want your Shih Tzu to come to you willingly and immediately. This command can be taught by associating it with a fun activity, such as playing fetch or offering a treat.
  • Heel: The “heel” command is useful in agility training for keeping your Shih Tzu to your side as they move through a course. Begin by having your Shih Tzu sit or stand next to you, and then command “heel” as you begin to walk. Keep the pace slow and reward them as they stay close to your side.

Remember to use treats and positive reinforcement throughout basic training sessions to encourage good behavior from your Shih Tzu. With these basic commands mastered, your Shih Tzu will be ready to move on to more complex agility-specific behaviors.

Teaching Agility-Specific Behaviors

Agility-specific behaviors are essential to teach your Shih Tzu in preparation for competing in agility competitions. These behaviors include jumping, weaving, and tunnel running. Here are some tips for teaching these behaviors to your furry friend:


Teaching your Shih Tzu to jump over hurdles is crucial for agility competitions. Start with small jumps and gradually increase the height. Use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to encourage your Shih Tzu to jump over the hurdle.

To help your Shih Tzu understand where to jump, use a visual marker such as a colored piece of tape on the hurdle. You can also use guide wires on each side of the hurdle to guide your Shih Tzu towards the center.

Once your Shih Tzu has mastered jumping over a single hurdle, you can add more hurdles and make it into a series of jumps.

Tunnel Running

Tunnel running is another crucial behavior for agility competitions. Start by getting your Shih Tzu to run through a short tunnel without any turns or bends. Encourage your Shih Tzu to go through the tunnel with treats and praise.

As your Shih Tzu gets more comfortable with going through the tunnel, you can start adding turns and bends. Use a guide to help your Shih Tzu understand the direction of the tunnel.

Weave Poles

Weave poles are a challenging behavior and require patience and persistence. Start by setting up just a few weave poles and having your Shih Tzu run through them. Use a guide to help your Shih Tzu understand where to go. Reward your Shih Tzu with treats and praise for each successful run through the weave poles.

Gradually increase the number of weave poles until your Shih Tzu can successfully weave through them all. You can also practice with different weave pole configurations to keep your Shih Tzu engaged and challenged.

By teaching these agility-specific behaviors to your Shih Tzu, you’ll set them up for success in agility competitions. Remember to use positive reinforcement and patience throughout the training process.

Proofing Behaviors

Proofing behaviors is an essential step in preparing your Shih Tzu for agility competitions. It involves ensuring that your furry friend is able to follow commands and perform the desired behaviors in any situation, no matter how challenging it might be. Here are some tips for proofing behaviors:

1. Train in Different Locations: Dogs are highly situational learners, so it’s important to train your Shih Tzu in different locations, including outdoors, indoors, and in new environments. This will help your dog learn to apply the behaviors they know in all sorts of situations.

2. Add Distractions: When proofing behaviors, it’s important to expose your dog to different types of distractions. For instance, you can introduce noises, toys and people to simulate a competition environment. Then, you can use treats to reward your dog for focusing on their training session.

3. Introduce Unfamiliar Handlers: During agility competitions, your Shih Tzu will have to take cues from handlers they are unfamiliar with. To prepare for this, try having a fellow agility enthusiast work with your dog during training sessions while you take on their dog.

4. Vary Training Order: Since dogs are creatures of habit, it’s essential to vary the order in which you teach them skills. For instance, you can switch between teaching the weave poles, high jump or contact equipment first. This way, your dog won’t anticipate what’s coming next and will be prepared to take on any obstacle.

To sum it up, proofing behaviors is a crucial component of agility training for your Shih Tzu. It helps them become more familiar with a range of different scenarios, distractions and handlers, allowing them to perform at their best and impress the judges. By training in different locations, adding distractions, introducing unfamiliar handlers, and varying the training order, you will prepare your Shih Tzu for any agility competition they may face.

Adding Distractions

As your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable with agility training, it’s important to add distractions to your training sessions. This will help your dog focus on the task at hand regardless of the environment they are in. Here are some tips for adding distractions to your Shih Tzu’s agility training:

  • Introduce new sights and sounds: Incorporate elements such as people, other dogs, and loud noises into your training sessions. This will teach your dog to stay focused on the task at hand even in busy and distracting environments.
  • Change up the training location: Agility competitions take place in a variety of settings, so it’s important to train your Shih Tzu in different environments. Take your training sessions to different parks, fields, or indoor facilities to help your dog adjust to new environments.
  • Vary the time of day: Agility competitions may take place at any time of day, so it’s important to train your Shih Tzu during different times of the day. This will help your dog become comfortable with the different lighting conditions and temperatures they may encounter.
  • Use toys: During training sessions, incorporate toys into the agility obstacles to simulate a more realistic competition situation. For example, toss a toy over the jump or through the tunnel to encourage your Shih Tzu to stay focused and continue through the obstacle.

By adding distractions to your training, your Shih Tzu will become a more well-rounded and confident agility competitor. Remember to be patient and consistent as your dog adjusts to new environments and situations. With time and practice, your Shih Tzu will be ready to compete and show off their agility skills!

Building Endurance

As with any type of physical activity, building endurance is an important part of preparing your Shih Tzu for agility competitions. Without proper endurance training, your furry friend may become fatigued or even injured during competition. Here are some tips for building endurance:

  • Start Slow: Begin by introducing short periods of exercise and gradually increase the duration over time. This will help your dog build their stamina without overexerting themselves
  • Consistency: Regular exercise is key to building endurance. Make sure to incorporate daily walks or runs to keep your Shih Tzu active and keep building their endurance.
  • Gradual Intensity: Once your Shih Tzu has built up a basic level of endurance, gradually increase the intensity of their exercise. This can include increasing the speed of their runs or the duration of their agility training sessions.
  • Variety: Incorporating a range of activities can help build your Shih Tzu’s endurance in different ways. Try mixing up running, jumping, and weaving exercises to work different muscles and improve overall fitness.

Remember to always pay attention to your dog’s body language and signs of fatigue. If you notice your furry friend getting overly tired, take a break and let them rest. With dedication and consistency, your Shih Tzu can build up their endurance and be ready for the agility competition stage.

Developing Speed and Accuracy

As you progress through training your Shih Tzu for agility competitions, a key component for success is developing speed and accuracy. This means building up your dog’s ability to quickly and confidently navigate the agility course with precision. Here are some tips to help your Shih Tzu get faster and more accurate on the course:

Train with a MetronomeUsing a metronome can help your Shih Tzu develop a sense of rhythm and timing. This is especially helpful when it comes to jumping and weaving since both require precision and timing in order to avoid faults or penalties.
Build EnduranceIn addition to building speed, your Shih Tzu will also need to build up their stamina and endurance in order to maintain their speed and accuracy throughout the course. Make sure to gradually increase the length and intensity of your training sessions, and provide plenty of rest and recovery time.
Incorporate Positive ReinforcementEncouraging your Shih Tzu with positive reinforcement such as treats, toys, and praise can help boost their confidence and motivation, making them more likely to perform at their best.
Use Distraction DrillsTeaching your Shih Tzu to navigate the course with distractions can help improve their speed and accuracy. Try introducing mild distractions like toys or sounds and gradually increase the level of distraction over time.
Practice Different Handling TechniquesAs the handler, you play an important role in guiding your Shih Tzu through the course. Practicing different handling techniques such as front crosses, rear crosses, and blind crosses can help improve your Shih Tzu’s ability to navigate the course with speed and accuracy.

By focusing on developing your Shih Tzu’s speed and accuracy, you can help them become a top competitor in agility competitions. Remember to incorporate positive reinforcement, gradually increase training intensity, and practice a variety of handling techniques to ensure your Shih Tzu is ready to excel on the agility course.

Agility Equipment for Your Shih Tzu

Agility Equipment For Your Shih Tzu
When it comes to agility competitions, having the right equipment is crucial for your Shih Tzu’s success. From jumping to tunnel running, each piece of equipment requires specific training and preparation. As a loving pet parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure your furry friend is well-equipped and well-trained for the challenge that lies ahead. In this section, we will discuss the various agility equipment your Shih Tzu will encounter in competitions and how to train for each one. So, grab your training treats and let’s get started!


Agility jumping is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of an agility course. Training your Shih Tzu to jump properly is essential if you want them to compete effectively. Here are some tips for training your Shih Tzu to jump:

  • Start Small: When introducing your Shih Tzu to agility jumping, start with a low jump or even a pole on the ground. This will help them build confidence and learn proper jumping form.
  • Teach Proper Form: Make sure to teach your Shih Tzu to jump with their front legs first, tucking their hind legs underneath them. This will help prevent injuries and improve jumping speed and accuracy.
  • Practice Distance: Gradually increase the distance between jumps to improve your Shih Tzu’s jumping skills. Start with shorter distances and work your way up as they become more comfortable.
  • Add Height: As your Shih Tzu becomes more experienced, gradually increase the height of the jumps. Start with low jumps and gradually make them higher, always monitoring their jumping form and comfort level.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and other positive reinforcement to encourage your Shih Tzu to jump. This will help keep them motivated and make training even more fun for them.

By following these tips, you can train your Shih Tzu to be a skilled and confident jumper, ready to compete in agility competitions. Remember to always start small and work your way up gradually, using positive reinforcement to keep your Shih Tzu motivated and engaged.

Tunnel Running

Tunnel running is one of the most exciting aspects of agility competitions for both dogs and handlers. A tunnel is a flexible and lightweight tube made of durable material that is open at both ends. The tunnel can be straight or curved, and can be used as an obstacle in various agility competitions. Here are some tips for training your Shih Tzu to conquer tunnel running:

Tips for Tunnel Running Training
Vary the length of the tunnel: Start with a short tunnel and gradually increase the length as your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable.
Encourage your Shih Tzu: Use positive reinforcement techniques to motivate your Shih Tzu to run through the tunnel. You can use treats, toys or verbal praise to encourage them.
Lead the way: Run along with your Shih Tzu through the tunnel, especially in the beginning. This will make them feel more confident and comfortable.
Teach directional commands: You can use directional commands such as “left” and “right” to guide your Shih Tzu through the tunnel in the correct direction.
Practice with distractions: When your Shih Tzu is comfortable running through the tunnel, practice with distractions such as toys or other dogs nearby to simulate real competition environments.
Build up speed: Once your Shih Tzu is comfortable with running through the tunnel, gradually increase the speed at which they run through it.

Remember, the key to successfully training your Shih Tzu for tunnel running is patience and consistency. With the right training, your Shih Tzu will be a tunnel running pro in no time!

Weave Poles

The weave poles are one of the most challenging obstacles in agility competitions. This obstacle is designed to test a dog’s ability to weave through a series of tightly spaced poles. It requires a combination of speed, accuracy, and agility.

Training Your Shih Tzu to Handle Weave Poles

To train your Shih Tzu on how to tackle the weave poles, it is best to start with a simplified version. Begin by placing a couple of poles in a line and teaching your dog to weave in and out of them. Gradually add more poles, spacing them closer together as your dog becomes more familiar with the exercise.

Another helpful tip is to use a guide wire or fence to keep your dog on track. This will help prevent them from skipping poles or getting tangled up in the weave.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When training your Shih Tzu for weave pole agility, it is important to avoid common mistakes. One mistake is starting too early, when your dog is not ready for this advanced obstacle. Another common mistake is relying too heavily on treats or positive reinforcement. While treats are a great way to motivate your dog, relying too heavily on them can lead to your dog becoming too dependent on them.

Proper Weave Pole Technique

To properly navigate the weave poles, your Shih Tzu should lead with their shoulder through each pole, not their nose. This helps prevent them from getting off balance and tripping over the poles.

Additionally, it is important that your Shih Tzu remains focused on the task at hand. Distractions can cause them to lose their concentration, resulting in mistakes or missed poles.

Weave Pole Equipment

When it comes to weave pole equipment, there are several options available. Portable weave pole sets can be a great option for training at home or in the park. These sets are typically lightweight, easy to set up, and come with a carrying case for easy transport.

If you are looking for more advanced options, you can consider in-ground weave pole sets. These sets are permanently installed in the ground and provide a more realistic competition experience.


Weave poles are a challenging but rewarding obstacle in agility competitions. With proper training and technique, your Shih Tzu can learn to navigate this obstacle with speed and accuracy. Remember to start with a simplified version and gradually increase the difficulty level to ensure your dog’s success. Also, invest in quality weave pole equipment to set your dog up for success at home and in competitions.

Contact Equipment

Contact equipment is an essential part of agility training for your Shih Tzu. This type of equipment includes the A-frame, dog walk, and teeter-totter. The A-frame is a challenging piece of equipment that requires the dog to climb up one side and down the other. This is an excellent exercise for building confidence and agility. The A-frame is typically made of wood or aluminum and is adjustable to different heights.

The dog walk is another essential piece of contact equipment that consists of a long plank with a ramp on each side. The dog must walk up one ramp, traverse the plank, and then walk down the other ramp. This is a great exercise for building balance and accuracy. It can also be adjusted to different heights and can be made of wood or aluminum.

The teeter-totter, also known as a seesaw, is a challenging piece of equipment that requires the dog to walk up a ramp and then cross a balance board. This is an excellent exercise for building balance, control, and confidence. The teeter-totter can be made of wood or aluminum and is adjustable to different heights.

When training your Shih Tzu on contact equipment, it is essential to start with low heights and gradually increase the height as they become more confident and comfortable. It is also crucial to use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your dog to approach and climb the equipment.

Contact equipment is an important part of agility training for your Shih Tzu. Incorporating these pieces of equipment into your training routine will help build your dog’s confidence, agility, and endurance.


The A-Frame obstacle is a steep ramp that resembles the letter A. This obstacle requires your Shih Tzu to ascend on one side and then descend on the other side. The A-Frame is a great addition to any agility course as it provides both a physical and mental challenge for your furry friend.

Benefits of the A-Frame

The A-Frame is an excellent obstacle for improving your Shih Tzu’s balance and coordination. Additionally, it requires focus and concentration, which is great for increasing mental stimulation during training sessions.

Training for the A-Frame

To train your Shih Tzu for the A-Frame, start by teaching them to climb and descend on a low platform. Gradually increase the height of the platform until your Shih Tzu is comfortable climbing on an object that is similar in height to the A-Frame.

Next, slowly introduce the A-Frame itself. Begin by walking your Shih Tzu up to the bottom of the ramp and giving them lots of praise and treats. Then, guide them up the ramp and back down on a leash. Repeat this process until your Shih Tzu is comfortable ascending and descending on the A-Frame independently.

Challenges of the A-Frame

The steep incline and decline of the A-Frame can cause your Shih Tzu to lose their balance and fall off. To prevent this, practice with a lower height and slowly increase the incline as your Shih Tzu builds their confidence and skill.

Table of A-Frame dimensions

| Size | Height at apex | Width at base |
|Small | 5’6″ | 30″ |
|Medium| 6’8″ | 36″ |
|Large | 8’0″ | 42″ |

Regardless of your Shih Tzu’s skill level or size, the A-Frame is an obstacle that will undoubtedly provide them with a physical and mental challenge. With patience, practice, and the right training techniques, your furry friend will be conquering the A-Frame in no time.

Dog Walk

The dog walk is a challenging obstacle that requires your Shih Tzu to have good balance and agility. It is comprised of three elevated planks, with the middle plank being higher than the other two. The height of the planks typically ranges from 4 to 5 feet off the ground.

Training: When training your Shih Tzu for the dog walk, start by introducing them to each plank individually. Get them comfortable walking over each one before trying the full obstacle. Once they are confident with each plank, practice walking them through the full obstacle slowly and with you guiding them. Gradually increase their speed as they improve.

Technique: When your Shih Tzu approaches the dog walk, encourage them to slow down and focus. They should step up onto the lower plank and carefully step up to the higher middle plank. From there, they step down onto the other lower plank and continue on to the next obstacle.

Mistakes to avoid: One common mistake is when a Shih Tzu jumps off the dog walk instead of stepping down. This can cause injury and disqualification in competitions. Another mistake is when a dog slides or runs too fast and falls off the side of the elevated planks. To avoid this, ensure that your dog is properly trained and has good balance.

To help you better understand the dog walk, here is an overview table:

TrainingTechniqueMistakes to Avoid
Introduce each plank individually
Build up to full obstacle gradually
Practice slowly at first
Encourage slowing down and focus
Step up to middle plank carefully
Step down onto lower plank
Avoid jumping off of dog walk
Avoid falling off the side
Ensure good balance and training

With consistent practice, patience and positive reinforcement, your Shih Tzu will soon master the dog walk and be ready to take on any agility competition!


The Teeter-Totter is a piece of agility equipment that can be challenging for some Shih Tzus. It consists of a long board that pivots on a fulcrum, with one end raised and the other lowered. The dog must walk up the board until it begins to tip, and then down the other side.

Teeter-Totter Dimensions:

| Length | 10-12 feet |
| Width | 12 inches |
| Height (at center) | 24 inches |

The key to training your Shih Tzu for the Teeter-Totter is to start slowly and reinforce the behavior step by step. Begin by teaching your dog to walk on a low, flat board that doesn’t tip. Once your dog is comfortable with this, gradually increase the height of the board until your dog is walking on a board that is raised on one end.

Teaching the Teeter-Totter:

1. Start with a low board: Begin training your Shih Tzu by having them walk on a low, flat board without any inclination. Take the opportunity to praise, reward, and reinforce this behavior every time.

2. Gradually increase the incline: Increase the incline, using a brick or a small object under one end of the board. Keep the board low, start with a slight inclination, and gradually increase it, offering positive reinforcement each time.

3. Add a pivot point: Once your Shih Tzu is comfortable walking on an incline, you can add the pivot point by placing a fulcrum under the board. Use a small, solid object like a brick. Keep in mind that the pivot point should be in the middle of the board.

4. Slowly lift the board: After adding a pivot point, raise one end of the board until it’s just a few inches off the ground. Gradually increase the height over time.

5. Practice and repeat: Practice with your Shih Tzu regularly and reinforce the desired behavior each time. Offer plenty of positive reinforcement for every success.

The Teeter-Totter can be a challenging obstacle for your Shih Tzu. Follow the steps above to train your dog safely and effectively, and take your time to establish a strong foundation before increasing the difficulty level. Remember to always praise and reward your Shih Tzu for their efforts and progress.

Preparing for Your First Competition

Stepping into the world of agility competitions with your Shih Tzu can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. As with any competition, preparation is key. Put your mind at ease by following these tips for preparing your Shih Tzu for their first agility competition. From selecting the right competition to warming up exercises, we’ve got you covered. By following these steps, you and your furry friend will be well-prepared to show off your agility skills and form a stronger bond through this exciting activity.

Selecting the Right Competition

When it comes to selecting the right agility competition for your Shih Tzu, there are a variety of factors to consider. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Location: Look for competitions that are within a reasonable driving distance from your home. This will help you avoid long travel times and minimize stress for both yourself and your dog.
  • Level of Competition: Consider the skill level of your Shih Tzu when selecting a competition. It’s important to choose a competition that matches your dog’s abilities. Starting with a lower level of competition can help build confidence and set your dog up for success.
  • Surface: Take notice of the surface of the competition area. Is it grass, dirt, or another type of material? It’s important to train your dog on similar surfaces to prepare for the competition.
  • Weather Conditions: Be aware of the typical weather conditions for the competition location and time of year. It’s important to ensure that your dog is comfortable and won’t overheat or become too cold during the competition.
  • Rules and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the competition. Make sure that you and your Shih Tzu are fully prepared and meet all requirements for the event.
  • Prize: While it shouldn’t be the sole reason for entering a competition, it’s always nice to have the chance to win a prize! Take a look at the prize offered and consider if it’s worth the time and expense involved in participating.

Taking these factors into account can help you select the right agility competition for your Shih Tzu. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the experience with your furry friend!

Gather the Right Gear

Before heading to your first agility competition with your Shih Tzu, it’s important to gather the right gear to ensure that both you and your furry friend are comfortable and prepared. Here are some must-have items to bring along:

Collapsible crateProvide a comfortable and secure resting place for your Shih Tzu between runs
Leash and collarKeep your Shih Tzu safe and under control when not running
Treats and waterKeep your Shih Tzu hydrated and motivated throughout the competition
Agility gearBring along any equipment that you have from your training sessions, such as jumps and tunnels, to practice beforehand and help your Shih Tzu get comfortable in the competition setting
First aid kitBe prepared for any accidents or injuries that may occur
Sunscreen and bug sprayKeep yourself and your Shih Tzu protected from the sun and insects if competing outdoors

Make sure to also check the competition rules and requirements in advance to see if there are any additional items you need to bring.

By gathering all the necessary gear, you can ensure that both you and your Shih Tzu are ready for a successful and enjoyable agility competition experience.

Get Plenty of Rest

As the competition date approaches, it is important to ensure that your Shih Tzu is well-rested and energized. Getting plenty of rest is essential both for physical recovery and mental preparation. Your Shih Tzu needs to be alert and focused on the course, so here are some tips to help them get the rest they need:

Stick to a RoutineShih Tzus thrive on routine, so keeping a consistent daily schedule can help prevent undue stress or anxiety. Try to keep meals, walks, and playtime consistent to keep your Shih Tzu on a regular sleep schedule.
Create a Comfortable Sleeping EnvironmentMake sure your Shih Tzu has a comfortable place to sleep that is quiet and dark. Invest in a cozy bed or crate, and try to minimize noise and distractions in the sleeping area so that your Shih Tzu can fully relax and recharge.
Limit Strenuous ActivityWhile it is important to maintain a regular exercise routine, too much activity can be counterproductive. Make sure your Shih Tzu is not overexerting themselves in the days leading up to the competition, and avoid strenuous activity on the day before the event.
Keep Calm and Provide ComfortShih Tzus are sensitive dogs who can become easily stressed or anxious. Make sure to provide plenty of reassurance and comfort during this time, and try to keep them in a calm and stress-free environment.

Remember, a rested and relaxed Shih Tzu is more likely to perform well in the agility competition. By planning ahead and following these simple tips, you can ensure that your furry friend is well-rested, focused, and ready to tackle the course with confidence.

Check Your Health

Taking care of your health is essential before competing in any sport, and the same applies to your Shih Tzu. Make sure your furry friend is in the best possible condition by following these tips:

  • Visit your vet: Take your Shih Tzu for a thorough examination to ensure they are fit to compete. Make sure they are up to date on vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and any other necessary medications. This will also provide you with peace of mind that your dog is in good health.
  • Check for injuries: Give your dog a thorough check for any injuries or abnormalities, such as limping, limp tail, or any unusual lumps or bumps. Address any concerns with your vet, and avoid competing until your dog has fully recovered.
  • Pay attention to diet: Proper nutrition is crucial for your dog’s overall health and performance. Ensure your dog is consuming a well-balanced diet that is rich in protein and healthy fats. Avoid feeding your dog before the competition to prevent bloating or upset stomachs.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause serious health problems for dogs, so make sure your Shih Tzu has access to clean water at all times. Bring water and a bowl to the competition site to keep your dog hydrated throughout the day.
  • Be mindful of the weather: Extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, can be dangerous for your Shih Tzu. Check the weather forecast ahead of the competition day, and take necessary precautions to keep your dog safe and comfortable, such as using cooling vests or blankets.

Following these simple steps can help ensure that your Shih Tzu is in the best possible health before the competition. Remember, your dog’s health and well-being should always come first.

Warm-Up Exercises

Before any competition, it’s important to properly warm up your Shih Tzu. A good warm-up routine can help prevent injuries and improve performance. Here are some exercises that you can do to warm up your Shih Tzu:

WalkingTake your Shih Tzu for a brisk walk to get their muscles warmed up and heart rate increased. Start with a slow walk and gradually increase the speed to a brisk pace.
StretchingStretching exercises can help improve flexibility and prevent muscle injuries. Gently stretch your Shih Tzu’s limbs, neck, and torso.
JumpingHave your Shih Tzu jump over a low hurdle or small obstacle to get their muscles warmed up and improve their focus and coordination.
RunningEncourage your Shih Tzu to run around and play before the competition. This will help get their blood flowing and increase their energy levels.
Focus exercisesPractice focus exercises with your Shih Tzu. Use treats or toys to get your dog’s attention and get them in the right mindset for the competition.

By incorporating these warm-up exercises into your routine, you can help your Shih Tzu perform at their best during the competition. Remember to always check with your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine with your dog. Additionally, it’s important to listen to your dog’s cues and not push them too hard during warm-up or competition.


After reading through this article, you should have a good understanding of how to prepare your Shih Tzu for agility competitions. Agility training can greatly benefit your dog in terms of physical ability, mental stimulation, and bonding opportunities. It’s important to start with basic training and gradually work up to teaching agility-specific behaviors while proofing behaviors and adding distractions.

When it comes to agility equipment, there are various pieces your Shih Tzu will need to be familiar with, including jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and contact equipment like the A-frame and dog walk. By incorporating warm-up exercises into your routine, you can help your dog build endurance and develop the speed and accuracy necessary for competition.

When preparing for your first competition, it’s important to select the right one and gather the appropriate gear. Additionally, make sure both you and your dog are well-rested and in good health leading up to the competition.

Overall, agility training provides a fun and exciting way to bond with your furry companion while improving their physical and mental well-being. With patience and consistency, your Shih Tzu can become a skilled agility competitor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Shih Tzus Participate in Agility Competitions?

Yes, Shih Tzus can compete and excel in agility competitions with proper training and guidance.

2. What Are the Benefits of Agility Training for Shih Tzus?

Agility training provides physical and mental stimulation, improves coordination, and strengthens the bond between owners and their dogs.

3. Can You Train a Shih Tzu for Agility at Home?

Yes, you can train your Shih Tzu for agility at home with basic equipment and guidance from professional trainers.

4. How Long Does it Take to Train a Shih Tzu for Agility?

The training period for a Shih Tzu to become competition-ready can range from several months to a year, depending on the dog’s physical ability and the owner’s dedication.

5. What Equipment Does a Shih Tzu Need for Agility Training?

Some of the essential equipment for agility training includes jumps, tunnels, weave poles, contact equipment, and a variety of other obstacles that increase agility skills.

6. Do Shih Tzus Need Special Grooming for Agility Competitions?

While there is no specific grooming requirement for agility competitions, keeping your Shih Tzu’s coat clean and trimmed can help prevent tripping or other mishaps during training and competitions.

7. What Age Can Shih Tzus Start Agility Training?

Shih Tzus can begin agility training as early as six months old, but at this stage, it is more about building foundational skills and training essentials, such as obedience and recall.

8. What Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid During Agility Training?

Some common mistakes to avoid during agility training include not using positive reinforcement, neglecting warm-up exercises, failing to proof behavior, and not providing adequate rest for your Shih Tzu.

9. How Often Should You Train a Shih Tzu for Agility?

Training your Shih Tzu for agility requires consistency, so it is best to practice two to three times per week, with each session lasting around 30-40 minutes.

10. How Can You Prepare Your Shih Tzu for their First Agility Competition?

Preparing your Shih Tzu for their first agility competition involves getting enough rest, gathering the proper equipment and supplies, selecting the right competition, and ensuring your dog is healthy and physically fit.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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