Say Goodbye to Leash Pulling: Tips for Training your Shih Tzu

Are you tired of being dragged on walks by your Shih Tzu? Leash pulling can not only be frustrating, but it can also be dangerous for both you and your furry companion. If you’re feeling perplexed about how to deal with this behavior, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many pet owners struggle with leash pulling in their dogs, especially Shih Tzus who can be particularly stubborn. Fortunately, there are many techniques and tools available to help reduce leash pulling and make walks more enjoyable. In this article, we’ll explore common causes of leash pulling, how to recognize it, and step-by-step training techniques to stop this behavior. We’ll also introduce equipment that can aid in reducing leash pulling and provide additional tips to keep in mind. So, grab your leash and let’s get started towards a more enjoyable and safe walking experience with your furry best friend.

Understanding Your Shih Tzu’s Leash Pulling Behavior:

Understanding Your Shih Tzu'S Leash Pulling Behavior:
It can be frustrating to take your Shih Tzu for a walk when they are constantly pulling on their leash. Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s leash pulling behavior is the first step toward finding a solution. Pulling on the leash can lead to discomfort, and in some cases, it may even put your Shih Tzu at risk of injury. In this article, we will explore the common causes of leash pulling behavior and how to recognize it in your pet, as well as effective training techniques and equipment that can help stop this unwanted behavior. Don’t forget the importance of leash training for your Shih Tzu – read more about it in our previous article on the importance of leash training for your Shih Tzu.

Common Causes of Leash Pulling Behavior:

Leash pulling behavior is a common problem among Shih Tzu owners. Pulling on the leash can make walking your furry friend a frustrating and even painful experience. Understanding the causes of leash pulling can help you tackle it effectively. Here are some common causes of leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzu:

  • Lack of leash and obedience training
  • Excitement
  • Curiosity
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Hunting or herding instincts
  • Wanting to meet other dogs or people
  • Boredom or lack of exercise
  • Uneven pace with the owner
  • Pulling to get to specific locations or smells

It is important to note that leash pulling can also be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as pain or discomfort. If your Shih Tzu has begun pulling on the leash suddenly or is showing other signs of distress, it is best to consult a veterinarian to rule out any physical concerns.

To prevent leash pulling, it is essential to start with the basics, such as proper leash training and obedience training early on. This can help establish a strong bond between the owner and the Shih Tzu, making it easier to communicate and understand each other’s needs during walks. In addition, choosing the right leash and collar is also important to prevent discomfort or pain on the dog’s neck.

In the next section, we’ll be covering various training techniques for reducing leash pulling that you can use to teach your furry friend good leash manners.

How to Recognize Leash Pulling:

One of the main steps to dealing with leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzu is understanding what it is and how to recognize it. It is common for dogs to pull on the leash from time to time, especially when they see something exciting or new. However, when the pulling becomes excessive or makes walks difficult, it’s important to address the behavior.

Here are some signs that your Shih Tzu may be exhibiting leash pulling behavior:

Signs of Leash PullingDescription
Leash TensionWhen the leash is taut and there is a constant pull from the dog
Choking or CoughingWhen the Shih Tzu is pulling hard enough to cause choking or coughing
Dragging YouWhen the dog takes you off balance and drags or runs away from you
Pulling Towards SomethingWhen the Shih Tzu is pulling towards something that they want to investigate or get to
Ignoring CommandsWhen the dog is not responsive to commands to stop or slow down

It’s important to keep an eye on your Shih Tzu’s behavior during walks to recognize any signs of leash pulling. By identifying when the behavior occurs, you can start implementing techniques to reduce it, such as positive reinforcement and changing walking direction. However, it’s also important to avoid common leash training mistakes to ensure that you are not unintentionally reinforcing the behavior. For more information on these mistakes, check out our article on Shih Tzu Leash Training Mistakes to Avoid. By recognizing the signs of leash pulling and implementing effective training techniques, you can make walks with your Shih Tzu more enjoyable for both of you. To learn more about how to teach your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, check out our article on How to Teach Your Shih Tzu to Walk on a Loose Leash and for tips on socializing your Shih Tzu during walks, check out our article on Socializing Your Shih Tzu During Walks. Remember, using positive reinforcement during leash training can be highly effective- read more about that in our article on Positive Reinforcement Leash Training for Shih Tzu.

Training Techniques for Reducing Leash Pulling:

Training Techniques For Reducing Leash Pulling:
With the right training techniques, you can train your Shih Tzu to walk calmly and happily on a leash without pulling. However, it can be a challenging task for pet owners who are dealing with leash pulling behavior, leaving them perplexed and unsure of where to start. Fortunately, there are several effective techniques that pet owners can use to reduce leash pulling behavior. These techniques use positive reinforcement and redirecting techniques to teach your Shih Tzu appropriate leash behavior. Let’s dive into some of the most effective training techniques for reducing leash pulling in Shih Tzus.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques:

Positive reinforcement techniques are one of the most effective ways to train your Shih Tzu to stop pulling on their leash. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. This method not only teaches your dog what they should do, but it also makes the training fun and enjoyable for them.

There are different types of rewards that you can give your Shih Tzu when they display good behavior during walks. The table below lists some examples of positive reinforcement techniques and the rewards that you can use:

Positive Reinforcement TechniqueExamples of Rewards
Treatssmall dog treats, such as a piece of chicken or cheese
Praiseverbal cues such as “good job” or “well done”
Playtimethrowing a ball or playing tug of war with a toy
Physical Affectionpetting, belly rubs, or cuddles

It is important to note that the rewards you give your Shih Tzu should be appropriate for their size and dietary needs. Treats should be small and healthy, and playtime should be keep in moderate.

When using positive reinforcement, be sure to reward your Shih Tzu right at the moment they produce wanted behavior. For example, if your Shih Tzu walks beside you without pulling, reward them immediately with a treat, praise, or playtime. This will create a positive association in your dog’s mind and reinforce the desired behavior during their next walk.

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool for leash training your Shih Tzu when done consistently and correctly. Be patient and have faith in the process; soon enough, your furry friend will be walking peacefully by your side with little to no pulling.

Change Direction Method:

One effective method for reducing your Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior is the Change Direction Method. This technique helps teach your dog that they must pay attention to you and adjust to your movements instead of pulling ahead.

To use this technique, you’ll want to start walking forward with your Shih Tzu on a leash. As soon as they begin to pull, quickly change direction and walk in the opposite direction. You can use a hand signal, such as a gentle pull on the leash, to alert your dog that you’re turning around.

Once your dog catches up with you, or the leash becomes slack, praise and reward them with a treat. Then continue walking in the original direction. Continue doing this every time your dog pulls on the leash, using a different direction.

For example:

| Step | Action |
| —- | —— |
| 1. | Walk in original direction with your Shih Tzu on a leash. |
| 2. | Shih Tzu pulls on the leash. |
| 3. | Quickly turn around and walk in opposite direction. |
| 4. | Use hand signal or gentle pull on leash to alert your dog. |
| 5. | Shih Tzu catches up or leash becomes slack. |
| 6. | Praise and reward your dog with a treat. |
| 7. | Continue walking in original direction. |
| 8. | Repeat as necessary every time your dog pulls on the leash. |

Over time, your Shih Tzu will learn that they need to pay attention to your movements and adjust their pace accordingly, instead of pulling in the opposite direction. This technique requires patience and consistency, but the results can be very effective in stopping your dog from pulling on the leash.

Sit and Wait Technique:

One effective technique for reducing leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzu is the sit and wait technique. This technique requires patience and consistency but can quickly teach your Shih Tzu that pulling on the leash does not lead to getting what they want.

To practice this technique, start by standing still somewhere your Shih Tzu cannot move too much, like a hallway or a small room. Put on your dog’s leash and ask them to sit. When they have sat, begin to move slowly forward. If your dog starts to pull, come to an immediate stop and wait for them to return to a sit position. Once they have sat, continue moving forward again. You can repeat this process as frequently as necessary until your dog understands what they need to do to move forward.

It is important to use positive reinforcement during this technique, so make sure to reward your Shih Tzu with treats and praise whenever they exhibit good behavior. Over time, reduce the frequency of the treat rewards as your dog learns what is expected of them.

The sit and wait technique is a great way to teach your Shih Tzu self-control and to show them that they need to behave appropriately when on the leash. By being consistent and patient with this technique, you will soon see an improvement in your dog’s leash pulling behavior.

Stop and Go Method:

Walking your Shih Tzu on a leash can be the perfect way to bond with your furry friend, but it can also be frustrating if your pup won’t stop pulling. One effective technique to prevent leash pulling is the Stop and Go Method.

Essentially, the Stop and Go Method involves stopping in your tracks as soon as your Shih Tzu starts to pull on the leash. This sends the message to your pup that pulling isn’t the way to continue forward. Once your Shih Tzu stops pulling and the leash is slack, you can then continue on your walk.

To use this technique properly, follow these steps:

Step 1:Begin your walk with your pup on a short lead. Hold the lead firmly, but not so tight that it restricts your Shih Tzu’s natural stride.
Step 2:As soon as your Shih Tzu begins to pull on the leash, stop walking. Stand still and don’t budge as your pup tries to continue walking forward.
Step 3:As your pup realizes that pulling won’t lead to progress, they’ll eventually stop trying to pull and come back to you.
Step 4:When your Shih Tzu releases tension on the leash and the lead slackens, give your pup a treat or verbal praise.
Step 5:Begin walking again, repeating the steps as many times as necessary. Over time, your pup will learn that pulling on the leash isn’t effective, and you’ll be able to walk them without pulling.

Remember, the Stop and Go Method requires consistency and patience, so you may not see immediate results. But with persistence, you’ll be able to get your Shih Tzu to walk calmly by your side.

Clicker Training:

Clicker Training is a popular and effective method for teaching new behaviors to your Shih Tzu while also reducing unwanted behaviors like leash pulling. This type of training involves using a small device known as a clicker, which makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Here are the steps to follow when implementing clicker training to stop leash pulling in your Shih Tzu:

  • Introduce the Clicker: Begin by introducing the clicking sound to your Shih Tzu, associating it with a treat or reward. Press the clicker, then immediately give your dog a treat.
  • Associate the Click with Walking: Once your dog understands the link between the clicker and the reward, incorporate it into your walking routine. When your dog walks without pulling on the leash, click the clicker and give a treat as a reward.
  • Ignore Pulling: When your Shih Tzu pulls on the leash, stop in your tracks and stand still. Avoid pulling them back or yelling at them. Wait for your dog to relax and take a step back. Once your dog takes a step back, click the clicker and offer a treat.
  • Repeat Consistently: Clicker training requires repetition and consistency, so be sure to incorporate it into every walk you take. Over time, your Shih Tzu will associate the clicker with the reward and will walk without pulling on the leash.

It’s important to note that clicker training is not a quick fix, and it may take time for your Shih Tzu to associate the clicker with the reward and stop leash pulling. However, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can successfully train your Shih Tzu to walk without pulling on the leash using clicker training.

Equipment that Can Help Stop Leash Pulling:

Equipment That Can Help Stop Leash Pulling:
Walking your Shih Tzu should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your furry companion. However, if your pup has a tendency to pull on their leash, it can quickly turn into a frustrating and unpleasant outing. Fortunately, several types of equipment can help prevent leash pulling behavior and make your walks more comfortable. Let’s explore options that can help calm your Shih Tzu’s pulling tendencies.

Front Clip Harness:

When it comes to finding the right equipment to help stop your Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior, a front clip harness is a popular option amongst dog owners. This type of harness is designed to clip at the front of the dog’s chest rather than on their back, which gives the owner more control during walks.

One of the advantages of a front clip harness is that it helps to redirect your dog’s focus towards you. When your dog pulls while wearing a traditional harness or collar, the pulling motion actually encourages them to continue moving forward in the direction they’re pulling. However, with a front clip harness, when your dog pulls, they will be turned back towards you, making it easier to guide them in the right direction.

Another advantage of using a front clip harness is that it reduces pressure on your Shih Tzu’s neck. Pulling on a traditional collar can cause strain and discomfort for your dog, leading to coughing or choking. The front clip harness distributes the pressure evenly across your Shih Tzu’s chest, making walks more comfortable for them.

It’s important to note that a front clip harness may not be the best option for every dog. Some Shih Tzus may not respond well to the pulling sensation while wearing a front clip harness, while others may find the harness uncomfortable altogether. It’s a good idea to try out different types of harnesses to see what works best for your pup.

Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of using a front clip harness for your Shih Tzu:


  • Redirects your dog’s focus towards you
  • Reduces pressure on your dog’s neck
  • Provides more control during walks
  • Can make walks more comfortable for your dog


  • Some dogs may not respond well to the pulling sensation
  • May not be the best option for every dog
  • It takes time for your dog to get used to it

A front clip harness can be a useful tool in helping to reduce your Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior. However, it’s important to remember that training techniques and consistency are also key in effectively addressing this issue.

Head Collar:

The head collar is another option for controlling leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus. It works by fitting around the dog’s head and muzzle, giving the handler more control over the direction of the dog’s head and ultimately, their body. Here are some key features and benefits of using a head collar to help reduce leash pulling behavior:

Prevents pulling without chokingThe head collar applies pressure on the dog’s muzzle and back of the head, which makes it uncomfortable for them to continue pulling. This is an effective way to prevent pulling without causing any choking or harm to the dog.
Allows for better controlThe head collar gives the handler more control over the dog’s movements by directing their head and therefore their body. This is especially helpful when dealing with a strong, stubborn, or large dog that’s difficult to manage on a leash.
Reduces jumping and lungingSince the head collar takes control of the dog’s head, it can also help reduce behaviors such as jumping, lunging or barking while on the leash.
May require adjustment periodSome Shih Tzus may require an adjustment period to get used to the head collar. They may try to paw at it, rub their faces on the ground, or try to remove it, especially if they haven’t worn a head collar before.
Should be properly fittedIt’s important to get the right size and fit for the head collar to ensure that it works properly and doesn’t cause any discomfort or injury. The collar should fit snugly but not be too tight or loose.

The head collar can be a valuable tool in the effort to reduce leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not a substitute for proper training and positive reinforcement. With time, patience and consistency, your Shih Tzu can learn to walk calmly and comfortably on a leash without pulling.

Martingale Collar:

A martingale collar is a special type of collar designed to prevent a dog from slipping out of it. This collar consists of two loops – a large loop that fits around the dog’s neck and a smaller loop attached to the leash. When the dog pulls on the leash, the smaller loop tightens, preventing the dog from escaping the collar.

The Benefits of Using a Martingale Collar for Leash Pulling:

One of the main benefits of using a martingale collar for leash-pulling Shih Tzus is that it provides more control than a regular collar. Because of the collar’s design, it tightens only to a certain point, preventing choking or injury to the dog. Additionally, because the collar ensures a secure fit, you won’t have to worry about your Shih Tzu slipping out of the collar and running loose.

How to Choose the Right Martingale Collar:

When choosing a martingale collar for your Shih Tzu, it’s essential to pick the right size. Ideally, the collar should fit snugly around your dog’s neck when the smaller loop is slack, but it shouldn’t be too tight. You should always measure your dog’s neck before purchasing a martingale collar to ensure that you get the right size.

The Best Martingale Collars for Leash Pulling:

There are many different brands of martingale collars available, so it can be challenging to choose the right one. Here are some of the best martingale collars for Shih Tzus:

Max and NeoReflective stitching for high visibility, comes in various sizes and colors
Mighty PawHigh-quality nylon and iron chain, limited collar slip design
CollarDirectMade of soft, genuine leather, adjustable, comes in different colors and sizes


A martingale collar can be an effective tool for reducing leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus. It provides greater control and security than a regular collar and is designed with the dog’s safety in mind. When selecting a martingale collar, be sure to choose the correct size and consider the features of your chosen brand. With patience and consistent training, a martingale collar coupled with positive reinforcement can be an effective tool in stopping leash pulling.

Additional Tips to Stop Leash Pulling:

When it comes to leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus, there are many different training techniques and equipment that can be used to help reduce the pulling. However, there are also additional tips that owners can keep in mind to make the training process more effective. By incorporating these tips into your training routine, you can help your Shih Tzu become a well-behaved and enjoyable walking companion. Let’s take a closer look at some of these additional tips below.

Be Patient & Consistent:

As with any training method, it’s important to practice patience and be consistent in your efforts to correct your Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior. This means remaining calm and collected even when your pup is testing your patience with their stubbornness.

Table: Tips for Patience and Consistency

Set Clear ExpectationsEstablish boundaries and rules from the start and consistently reinforce them.
Stick to a RoutineBuild a consistent routine that includes regular walks and training sessions.
Remain CalmStay composed and avoid getting frustrated with your pup’s progress.
Celebrate ProgressEncourage your Shih Tzu with treats and praise every time they exhibit good behavior.

It’s important to remember that training takes time and there will be setbacks along the way. However, with patience and consistency, you can teach your Shih Tzu to stop pulling on the leash and enjoy stress-free walks together. Avoid using physical punishment as it can damage the trust and bond between you and your furry friend. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement techniques and give your pup plenty of love and attention throughout the training process. Trust and love will help your Shih Tzu to learn and progress faster.

Avoid Using Punishment:

When dealing with leash pulling behavior in your Shih Tzu, it is essential to avoid using punishment as a method of training. Punishing your dog can cause fear and anxiety, making it less likely to learn new behaviors. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement techniques to encourage and reward good behavior.

Here are some reasons to avoid using punishment in dog training:

1. It can harm your relationship with your dog: Punishment creates a negative association with you in your dog’s mind, making it harder to build a positive relationship based on trust and respect.

2. It can increase anxiety and aggression: Dogs that are regularly punished may become anxious, stressed, and even aggressive. Reacting with violence or aggression can lead your dog to become more reactive in stressful situations.

3. It may not be effective long-term: Adverse training techniques are often effective in the short-term, but dogs will quickly learn to exhibit negative behaviors when not in your presence.

4. It can cause unintended consequences: Punishment can lead to an increased likelihood of your dog exhibiting related negative behaviors or developing new ones that are harder to control.

5. It is not an appropriate way to build a relationship with a family member: Your dog is a member of your family, and family members should never be subjected to physical or emotional abuse. Instead, focus on positive techniques to teach your dog appropriate behaviors.

By avoiding punishment and focusing on positive reinforcement and other humane training techniques, you can help your Shih Tzu learn new behaviors, develop positive associations with you, and grow into a well-behaved and happy pet.

Exercise Before Walking:

Exercise Before Walking:

Before taking your Shih Tzu out for a walk, it is crucial to ensure that they have had enough exercise beforehand. This will help your pup burn off extra energy and reduce the likelihood of them pulling on the leash during the walk.

Here are some exercises that you can do with your Shih Tzu before the walk:

FetchPlaying fetch with your Shih Tzu indoors or in a fenced yard can help burn off energy.
Tug-of-warA game of tug-of-war can be a great way to exercise your pup and bond with them.
Training sessionsEngaging your Shih Tzu in short training sessions can help tire them out mentally and physically.
Interactive toysInteractive toys, such as puzzle feeders, can keep your pup entertained and provide mental stimulation.

It is important to note that the amount of exercise your Shih Tzu needs may vary based on their age, health, and individual energy level. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine a suitable exercise routine for your pup before beginning any new activities.

Incorporating exercise before the walk can help make the experience more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. Remember to keep it fun, engaging, and tailored to your Shih Tzu’s needs. With time and patience, your pup will likely become better behaved during walks and less likely to pull on the leash.

Find the Right Walking Spot:

When it comes to reducing leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzu, finding the right walking spot can be a crucial factor. This is especially true if you have a high-energy dog who is easily distracted by their surroundings.

Here are some tips to help you find the ideal walking spot:

Tip #1:Look for quiet and less crowded areas – loud and crowded areas can be overwhelming to your dog and may make them nervous or overexcited.
Tip #2:Choose places with fewer distractions – this can help your dog stay focused and limit their opportunities to pull the leash.
Tip #3:Find a route with a consistent terrain – walking in areas with a lot of hills or obstacles can be challenging for your dog and contribute to leash pulling behavior.
Tip #4:Consider the temperature – Shih Tzu dogs do best in mild temperatures, so avoid walking in extreme heat or cold.

By following these tips and finding the right walking spot, you can help set your Shih Tzu up for success and make walks more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. Remember to have patience and consistency in your training, and your dog will be walking calmly on the leash in no time.


In conclusion, dealing with leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus can be challenging, but it is possible to overcome with the right training techniques and equipment. It is important to understand the common causes of leash pulling, such as excitement, anxiety, or lack of exercise, and recognize when your Shih Tzu is displaying this behavior.

Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, can be effective in teaching your dog to walk calmly on a leash. The change direction method, sit and wait technique, stop and go method, and clicker training are all helpful strategies to try. It is also important to consider using specialized equipment, such as a front clip harness, head collar, or martingale collar, to further assist in reducing leash pulling.

In addition to using the right techniques and equipment, it is essential to be patient and consistent in your training efforts. Punishment should be avoided, as it can create fear and anxiety in your Shih Tzu. Prior to walking your dog, try to provide exercise and find the right walking spot to help reduce their excitement levels.

Remember, overcoming leash pulling behavior in your Shih Tzu may take time and effort, but with the right approach and consistent training, your furry friend can eventually walk calmly on a leash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My Shih Tzu keeps pulling on the leash, what can I do?

A: You can try positive reinforcement techniques or using equipment such as a front clip harness or head collar to help reduce leash pulling behavior.

Q: Why does my Shih Tzu pull on the leash?

A: There are many reasons why a Shih Tzu may pull on the leash, such as being excited or having pent up energy. Other reasons may include wanting to explore their surroundings or being anxious or fearful.

Q: Can I punish my Shih Tzu for leash pulling?

A: It is not recommended to use punishment as a technique to stop leash pulling behavior. Positive reinforcement techniques are more effective and do not harm the dog.

Q: Does the type of leash I use affect my Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior?

A: Yes, the type of leash can affect your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Using a shorter leash or a leash with more control, such as a head collar or front clip harness, can help reduce pulling.

Q: Can I train my Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash?

A: Yes, with patience and consistency, you can train your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash using positive reinforcement techniques and proper equipment.

Q: How long does it take to stop leash pulling behavior in Shih Tzus?

A: It depends on the dog and the training techniques being used. Some Shih Tzus may take longer than others to adjust their behavior.

Q: Can I hire a professional dog trainer to help stop my Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior?

A: Yes, hiring a professional dog trainer can be a great option if you are struggling to stop your Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior on your own.

Q: Is it okay to use a retractable leash with my Shih Tzu?

A: Retractable leashes may not be the best option for a Shih Tzu as they can give the dog too much freedom and make it difficult to control their movements. It is recommended to use a traditional leash with more control.

Q: Should I always use the same training technique to stop my Shih Tzu’s leash pulling behavior?

A: It can be beneficial to try different training techniques to find what works best for your Shih Tzu. Some methods may be more effective than others depending on the dog’s personality and behavior.

Q: Can a Shih Tzu still pull on the leash even with proper training and equipment?

A: It is possible for a Shih Tzu to still pull on the leash even with proper training and equipment. However, consistent training and the use of proper equipment can greatly reduce the likelihood of leash pulling behavior.


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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