Common Mistakes to Avoid While Leash Training Your Shih Tzu

Do you find yourself struggling to effectively leash train your beloved Shih Tzu? Have you tried and failed to correct bad habits like leash pulling or the inability to stay focused during walks? You’re not alone. Many pet owners face these same challenges, but fear not, as we’ve compiled a list of common mistakes to avoid when leash training your Shih Tzu. By following these tips with patience and consistency, you’ll be able to successfully leash train your furry friend and enjoy peaceful walks together. So grab your leash and let’s get started!

Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Leash

Mistake #1: Choosing The Wrong Leash
One of the most essential pieces of equipment for leash training your Shih Tzu is the leash itself. While it may seem like choosing any leash should do the trick, not all leashes are suitable for all dogs, and choosing the wrong leash can lead to difficulties in training and even cause harm to your pup. It’s essential to choose the right leash based on your dog’s size, temperament, and purpose. To know more about the importance of leash training your Shih Tzu, refer to this guide.

Not all leashes are created equal

When it comes to leash training your Shih Tzu, it is important to understand that not all leashes are created equal. Different types of leashes can have a significant impact on your training success.

Let’s take a closer look at some common leash types:

Leash TypeUses
Standard LeashThis is the most common type of leash used for walking your Shih Tzu. It is usually made of nylon or leather and comes in various lengths.
Retractable LeashThis type of leash allows your dog to roam freely, but can also be locked to control their distance. However, they can be dangerous if not used properly and can lead to leash pulling.
Harness LeashA harness leash is ideal for Shih Tzus because it distributes their body weight evenly, preventing harm to their neck and throat. It is also recommended for dogs who have respiratory problems.

It is important to consider your Shih Tzu’s size, age, and behavior when choosing a leash. For example, a retractable leash may not be the best option for a young Shih Tzu who is still learning to walk on a leash. A harness leash may be a better option for senior Shih Tzus who have difficulty breathing.

It is also recommended to have multiple leashes on hand for different purposes. For example, a longer leash may be needed for training exercises, while a shorter leash may be preferred for walks in busy areas.

To learn more about the uses of different leash types for Shih Tzu and how to choose the best leash for leash training, check out our comprehensive Shih Tzu leash training guide.

Choosing the right leash for your Shih Tzu

Choosing the right leash for your Shih Tzu:

When it comes to choosing a leash for your Shih Tzu, there are several factors to consider. Some of the things you need to think about include:

  • The length of the leash
  • The width of the leash
  • The material of the leash
  • The type of leash

The length of the leash is an important consideration. Your Shih Tzu should have enough room to move around and explore, but not so much that they can wander off or get into trouble. A leash that is between 4-6 feet long is typically a good choice for leash training your Shih Tzu.

The width of the leash is also important. You don’t want a leash that is too thin or too thick. A leash that is too thin can cut into your Shih Tzu’s skin and cause discomfort, while a leash that is too thick can be difficult to control. A leash that is between 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch wide is usually a good choice.

The material of the leash is another consideration. While there are many different materials to choose from, nylon and leather are the most common materials used for leashes. Nylon is lightweight and affordable, while leather is durable and looks stylish. Choose the material that works best for you and your Shih Tzu’s needs.

The type of leash is also important. A standard leash is the most common type of leash, but there are also retractable leashes and training leashes that you can use. Retractable leashes can give your Shih Tzu more freedom to explore, but they can also be dangerous if your dog wanders too far away. Training leashes are designed to help you teach your Shih Tzu to walk on a leash without pulling.

In general, it’s important to choose a leash that is strong, sturdy, and comfortable for both you and your Shih Tzu. By selecting the right leash, you can make the leash training process much easier and more enjoyable for you and your furry friend. If you want to learn more about leash training your Shih Tzu, check out our Shih Tzu leash training guide and our article on teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash using positive reinforcement techniques.

Mistake #2: Not Enough Positive Reinforcement

Mistake #2: Not Enough Positive Reinforcement
Leash training your Shih Tzu can be a challenging task, especially when you’re not using the right techniques. One common mistake that many dog owners make is not providing enough positive reinforcement during the training process. It’s important to understand that punishing your furry friend won’t encourage them to behave properly while on a leash. Instead, you need to use positive reinforcement techniques to make the training process a success. Without proper positive reinforcement, your dog won’t understand what you expect from them during walks, which can lead to frustration and even aggression. Let’s look at some techniques that can improve your Shih Tzu’s leash training experience.

Punishing your dog doesn’t work

Training your Shih Tzu to behave on a leash requires patience, consistency, and the use of positive reinforcement techniques. Punishing your dog for bad behavior may seem like the quick and easy solution, but in reality, it will not yield the desired result.

Punishing your dog can backfire and lead to even worse behavior. Yelling, hitting, or using physical force can scare your dog and damage your relationship with them. Your Shih Tzu may become nervous, anxious, and fearful, causing them to act out even more. It’s crucial to remember that your dog wants to please you and make you happy, and punishing them for their attempts at learning will only confuse and upset them.

To successfully leash train your Shih Tzu, it’s important to reinforce good behavior with positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement encourages the behavior you want from your dog, making them more likely to repeat it. When your Shih Tzu walks calmly on the leash, provide verbal praise, treats, or a favorite toy to let them know they’ve done a good job.

Positive reinforcement can also work in situations when your Shih Tzu gets distracted or starts pulling on the leash. Instead of punishing your dog for bad behavior, redirect their attention to you by using treats or an encouraging voice. This way, your dog will learn that good things come from staying focused on you.

By using positive reinforcement, you can build a strong bond with your Shih Tzu and make leash training an enjoyable experience for both of you. Punishing your dog only causes fear and resentment, leading to an unproductive training session and an unhappy dog.

To learn more about the positive reinforcement techniques for leash training your Shih Tzu, check out our article on positive reinforcement leash training for Shih Tzu. Remember that leash training is an essential part of socializing your Shih Tzu on walks, so be sure to read up on our tips for socializing your Shih Tzu on walks. And if you’re struggling with leash pulling specifically, head over to our guide on preventing Shih Tzu leash pulling.

Positive reinforcement techniques for successful training

Positive reinforcement techniques are essential while leash training your Shih Tzu. These methods focus on reinforcing good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. Punishment creates fear and anxiety in your furry friend that can make the leash training process lengthier and more difficult.

The following table shows positive reinforcement techniques you can use while leash training your Shih Tzu:

Use TreatsWhen your Shih Tzu follows commands, give him a small treat. Positive reinforcement with a reward system helps in strengthening the dog’s understanding of good behavior. You can also use praise like “good boy” or “well done” along with the treat.
Take BreaksLeash training can be tiring for your Shih Tzu, so take breaks for playtime or relaxation. This will help prevent exhaustion and feelings of negativity. Taking breaks can also help in building positive associations and rapport with their training sessions.
Show AffectionShowering affection in the form of pats, hugs or cuddles will make your Shih Tzu feel loved and comforted. When leash training, try to encourage your dog with positivity and never use harsh or aggressive tones or body language.
Use Clicker TrainingA clicker is a small and easy-to-use tool that makes a sound when you press it. When your Shih Tzu performs a desired behavior, use the clicker and immediately reward it with its favorite treat.
Positive TonePositive tone plays a significant role in reinforcing good behavior. Use a cheerful and friendly tone while giving commands such as “come”, “stay”, and “walk”. Dogs have sound sensitivity and respond to tone, so try to maintain a positive tone throughout the training sessions.

Using positive reinforcement techniques while leash training your Shih Tzu can help build a strong and trusting bond between you and your canine companion. It also provides a good opportunity for fun and play. Remember, training sessions should be short and enjoyable, so don’t push too hard and be patient with your furry friend. Happy learning and happy walking!

Mistake #3: Starting Too Late in Life

Mistake #3: Starting Too Late In Life
Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? While this may not be entirely true, it is important to note that starting leash training with your Shih Tzu too late in life can pose some challenges. As a Shih Tzu owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend is properly trained for their safety and the safety of others. However, it can be perplexing to determine when the right time is to start leash training your Shih Tzu. In this section, we will explore the difficulties of starting too late and the optimal time to begin leash training your Shih Tzu.

Leash training difficulty increases with age

It’s important to start leash training your Shih Tzu at a young age. The difficulty of leash training can increase as your dog ages. This is because older dogs may have a harder time unlearning bad habits or may be less receptive to learning new commands.

To better understand the challenges of leash training an older Shih Tzu, let’s take a look at the table below:

Learning AbilityHighModerateLow
Physical AbilityHighly ActiveActiveLess Active
Resistance to ChangeLowModerateHigh

As you can see from the table, puppies have a higher learning ability and are highly active, which makes them better suited for learning new behaviors like leash training. Adult dogs are still capable of learning, but their learning ability and physical ability may be slightly decreased. Senior dogs have the lowest learning ability and are less physically capable than puppies or adult dogs. Additionally, senior dogs may be more resistant to change and have already established behaviors that are harder to change.

So what does this mean for leash training your Shih Tzu? It means that if you wait too long to start leash training, it may be more difficult for your dog to learn and adjust to the new behavior. This is why it’s crucial to start leash training as early as possible to establish good habits and prevent bad ones from forming.

Leash training difficulty can increase with age, so it’s important to start early and be patient with your Shih Tzu throughout the process.

The best time to start leash training your Shih Tzu

When it comes to leash training your Shih Tzu, timing is crucial for success. The best time to start training is when your puppy is between 8 and 16 weeks old. This is the age when your Shih Tzu is most receptive to learning and forming positive associations with new experiences.

Waiting too long to start leash training can lead to behavioral issues. Older dogs may have already developed bad habits, making it more challenging to retrain them. Leash training difficulty increases with age, causing more frustration for both dog and owner.

On the other hand, starting too early can also be problematic. Puppies under 8 weeks of age are not fully vaccinated, and exposing them to new environments can expose them to illnesses. Additionally, puppies that are too young may not have the physical ability to walk on a leash, making it a negative experience for them.

The best time to start leash training your Shih Tzu is between 8 and 16 weeks of age. This is the period when they’re most receptive to training and are eager to please their owners. It’s a great opportunity to set a solid foundation for future obedience, socialization, and overall behavior.

Advantages of starting leash training at the right timeDisadvantages of starting leash training too late or too early
Increased receptiveness to learningDifficulty in retraining older dogs
Development of positive associations with new experiencesPoor habits may have already formed in older dogs
Opportunity to set solid foundation for future obedience, socialization, and behaviorPhysical inability of very young puppies to walk on leash

Starting leash training at the right time helps to ensure the success of training and the well-being of your Shih Tzu. By following the right techniques and providing plenty of positive reinforcement, you’ll equip your dog with the skills and behaviors necessary for a happy and healthy life.

Mistake #4: Overexposure to Distractions

Mistake #4: Overexposure To Distractions
When leash training your Shih Tzu, it’s important to remember that they can easily get distracted by their surroundings. Many pet owners make the mistake of exposing their furry friend to too many distractions too soon, resulting in an uncooperative and difficult training experience. It’s crucial to find the right balance of introducing new environments and stimuli while also ensuring your Shih Tzu remains focused on the task at hand. Let’s dive into the common mistakes that come with overexposure to distractions and how to avoid them.

Avoid too many distractions while leash training

When leash training your Shih Tzu, it’s important to avoid too many distractions. Distractions can make it difficult for your dog to focus on the training, leading to frustration for both you and your pup. To help keep things focused, it’s a good idea to choose a location for your training sessions that is free from excessive noise or activity.

Here’s an example table of potential distractions to avoid when leash training your Shih Tzu:

DistractionHow it can hinder leash training
Loud noises (e.g. construction, traffic)Can startle your dog and cause them to lose focus
Other dogsCan lead to excitement or fear, making it hard to concentrate on training
Crowded areasCan be overwhelming for your dog and lead to distractions
New people or animalsCan create excitement or anxiety, making it hard for your dog to focus

As your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable with leash training, you can gradually introduce more distractions in a controlled manner. Remember to take things slow and only add one distraction at a time, allowing your dog to adjust and remain focused on training. With patience and consistency, you and your Shih Tzu can overcome distractions and become successful in leash training.

Gradually increase exposure to distractions

When leash training your Shih Tzu, it’s important to gradually increase their exposure to distractions. This means introducing them to different environments, noises, and sights while they are on a leash.

Why is it important to gradually increase exposure to distractions? Your Shih Tzu can easily become overwhelmed if exposed to too many distractions at once. This can lead to anxiety, fear, and even aggression, making it difficult to train them properly. Gradually increasing exposure to distractions allows your dog to become comfortable and confident in their surroundings, making leash training much more successful.

To do this, create an exposure plan for your Shih Tzu. This plan outlines different levels of distraction that your dog will encounter during leash training. For example, level one may include practicing in a quiet area with no distractions, while level two may include practicing near a road with minimal traffic.

Use the following table as an example of an exposure plan:

1No distractions
2Minimal noise and people
3More noise and people
4Loud noise and crowded areas

How do you progress through each level? Start with level one and practice in a quiet area with no distractions. Once your Shih Tzu has mastered this level, move on to level two and practice in an area with minimal noise and people. The goal is to gradually increase the distractions your dog faces until they are comfortable walking on a leash in any environment.

Remember to reward your Shih Tzu for good behavior during each level of exposure. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to continue making progress.

By gradually increasing exposure to distractions, you can help your Shih Tzu become a confident and well-trained walking companion.

Mistake #5: Improperly Fitting Harnesses and Collars

Mistake #5: Improperly Fitting Harnesses And Collars
One crucial element of leash training that is often overlooked is the fitting of the collar or harness. Many Shih Tzu owners make the mistake of using ill-fitting collars or harnesses, which can cause harm to their pets. As an assistant, I suggest paying close attention to this aspect of training, as it can greatly affect the success and safety of your Shih Tzu during leash training. Let’s explore the common mistakes made when it comes to fitting collars and harnesses, and how to avoid them.

Ill-fitting collars and harnesses can cause harm

An ill-fitting collar or harness can be harmful to your Shih Tzu, causing discomfort and even injury. It is important to measure your dog properly and choose the right size for their collar or harness to ensure their safety.

Collars: When it comes to collars, it is important to select the correct width, as a collar that is too narrow could potentially cause damage to your dog’s throat. Additionally, when fitting the collar, make sure that it is snug but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your Shih Tzu’s neck comfortably.

Harnesses: Harnesses are a common choice for leash training, as they distribute pressure more evenly across your dog’s body. When measuring your Shih Tzu for a harness, take into account their chest girth, neck width, and weight to select the appropriate size. A harness that is too loose could result in your dog slipping out of it, while one that is too tight can restrict their movement and cause discomfort.

It is essential to check your Shih Tzu’s collar or harness regularly to ensure it still fits appropriately. As your dog grows or loses weight, you may need to adjust the size accordingly to prevent any discomfort or injury. Remember, prevention is better than cure when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of your furry friend.

Proper measuring and fitting for your Shih Tzu

Proper measuring and fitting of your Shih Tzu’s collar or harness is crucial for successful leash training. Ill-fitting collars and harnesses not only make it difficult to control your dog, but can also cause harm and discomfort. Here are some steps to ensure you get the correct fit:

Firstly, measure the circumference of your Shih Tzu’s neck or chest using a soft measuring tape. Make sure to measure snugly, but not too tightly. Record the measurements in inches.

Next, refer to the size chart provided by the collar or harness manufacturer. This will help you determine the correct size for your Shih Tzu based on their neck or chest measurements.

Note: It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s size chart, as different brands may have different sizing. Don’t assume your Shih Tzu is a certain size based on previous collars or harnesses they have worn.

After selecting the appropriate size, adjust the collar or harness to fit your Shih Tzu snugly but comfortably. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar or harness and your dog’s skin.

Tip: Check the fit of your Shih Tzu’s collar or harness regularly, as they may need adjustments as they grow or gain/lose weight.

By taking the time to properly measure and fit your Shih Tzu’s collar or harness, you’ll not only ensure their comfort and safety, but also make leash training a more pleasant experience for both you and your furry companion.

Mistake #6: Pulling on the Leash

Perhaps one of the most frustrating experiences for any Shih Tzu owner is dealing with their pet’s constant pulling on the leash during walks. It can quickly turn an enjoyable activity into a stressful and discouraging one. However, it’s not uncommon for dogs to pull on the leash, and it’s important for owners to understand why it happens and how to properly address the behavior. Let’s delve into this issue and explore effective techniques for training your Shih Tzu to stop pulling on the leash.

Why your Shih Tzu pulls on the leash

When it comes to leash training a Shih Tzu, it can be frustrating when they constantly pull on the leash during walks. It’s important to understand the reasons behind this behavior so that you can effectively address it. Here are some possible reasons why your Shih Tzu may be pulling on the leash:

Possible ReasonExplanation
Excitement:Shih Tzus are known for their energetic personalities, so it’s possible that your dog is simply excited to be outside and exploring. They may also be eager to meet new people or other dogs.
Lack of exercise:If your Shih Tzu isn’t getting enough exercise, they may have excess energy that they need to release. This can lead to pulling on the leash as they try to run around and play.
Curiosity:Shih Tzus are a curious breed, and they may want to investigate new sights, smells, and sounds around them. This can result in them pulling on the leash to get closer to whatever is catching their attention.
Fear:If your Shih Tzu is feeling afraid or anxious, they may try to pull away from whatever is causing those feelings. This could be anything from a loud noise to a person or another dog that they’re unsure of.
Lack of training:If your Shih Tzu hasn’t been properly trained to walk on a leash, they may not understand that they should stay by your side. They may also have learned that pulling on the leash gets them where they want to go faster.

Identifying the reason behind your Shih Tzu’s pulling behavior is the first step in addressing it. Once you understand why they’re doing it, you can start to use training techniques that will help them learn to walk calmly on a leash.

Training techniques to stop leash pulling

One of the most common issues when leash training a Shih Tzu is their tendency to pull on the leash. It can be frustrating for both the owner and the dog, but there are some effective training techniques that can help to resolve this issue.

1. Use positive reinforcement: Start by rewarding your dog with a treat or praise when they walk calmly beside you without pulling. This will encourage them to continue this behavior.

2. Use a shorter leash: Using a shorter leash will give you more control over your dog’s movements and make it harder for them to pull away.

3. Stop and stand still: If your Shih Tzu starts pulling on the leash, stop and stand still. Wait until they stop pulling and then start walking again. This will teach them that pulling won’t get them where they want to go.

4. Change direction: If your dog pulls in a certain direction, change directions quickly and calmly. This will catch your dog off guard and teach them to pay attention to you.

5. Use a no-pull harness: A no-pull harness can make it easier to control your dog and reduce pulling. These harnesses have a front clip that redirects the dog’s attention back to you.

6. Leash training classes: Consider enrolling your Shih Tzu in a leash training class. These classes can provide structured training and socialization for your dog, and give you the tools needed to effectively train your dog.

Remember, leash training takes time and patience. Don’t get frustrated if your Shih Tzu doesn’t learn right away. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successful leash training.


In conclusion, leash training your Shih Tzu may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion. Remember, choosing the right leash for your Shih Tzu is crucial in ensuring their comfort and safety. Avoid using punishment as positive reinforcement techniques are much more effective in helping your dog learn desired behaviors.

Starting early is better than starting late, so don’t wait until your Shih Tzu is older to begin leash training. Gradually introducing distractions and ensuring that your Shih Tzu’s collar or harness fits properly can prevent injuries and discomfort. Lastly, if your Shih Tzu pulls on the leash, there are several training techniques you can use to correct this behavior, including positive reinforcement and redirecting their attention.

Leash training is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and by avoiding these common mistakes, you can help ensure a happy and well-trained Shih Tzu. Remember to be patient, consistent, and always provide plenty of positive reinforcement, and you’ll have a joyful and obedient companion in no time!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I leash train my Shih Tzu as a senior dog?

Yes, you can still leash train your senior Shih Tzu, but it may take longer and require more patience and positive reinforcement.

2. Should I use a collar or harness for leash training?

This depends on your Shih Tzu’s specific needs and behavior. A harness is typically recommended for small breeds like Shih Tzus to avoid neck injuries or collapsing tracheas.

3. How often should I practice leash training with my Shih Tzu?

Consistency is key, so try to practice leash training with your Shih Tzu at least once a day for short periods of time.

4. Is punishment an effective method for leash training?

No, punishment can actually harm the bond between you and your Shih Tzu and make them more fearful or anxious.

5. How can I prevent my Shih Tzu from being too distracted while leash training?

Start in a quiet and familiar space, and then gradually introduce more distractions as your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable.

6. Can I use treats as positive reinforcement for leash training?

Yes, treats can be a great way to encourage and reward good behavior during leash training. Just be sure to use small and healthy treats to avoid overfeeding your Shih Tzu.

7. Should I use a retractable leash for my Shih Tzu?

Retractable leashes can be dangerous for small breeds like Shih Tzus and may cause injuries or accidents. Stick with a standard leash for safer and more controlled training.

8. How long does leash training usually take for a Shih Tzu?

This varies for each individual Shih Tzu, but it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for successful and consistent leash training.

9. Can I hire a professional dog trainer for leash training my Shih Tzu?

Yes, a professional dog trainer can offer personalized and effective leash training techniques for your particular Shih Tzu and their behavior.

10. Will leash training my Shih Tzu help with their overall behavior?

Leash training can have a positive impact on your Shih Tzu’s behavior and obedience, especially when using positive reinforcement and consistent practice.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

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

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