How to Teach Your Shih Tzu to Walk on a Loose Leash

Do you struggle to take your Shih Tzu on walks without feeling like you’re in a game of tug-of-war? Are you tired of your furry friend pulling you down the street? Leash training can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tips and techniques, you can teach your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash and make walks enjoyable for both of you. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why it’s important to train your pup to walk on a loose leash, share some tips to prepare them for leash training, go over the basics of loose leash walking, provide solutions to challenges you may encounter, and give some additional tips to keep in mind.

Why Teach Your Shih Tzu to Walk on a Loose Leash?

Why Teach Your Shih Tzu To Walk On A Loose Leash?
As a Shih Tzu owner, you may wonder why it’s necessary to teach your furry friend to walk on a loose leash. While it may seem like a daunting task, the benefits of leash training your Shih Tzu far outweigh any challenges you may encounter along the way. Not only does leash training keep your pet safe and under control on walks, but it can also strengthen your bond and improve communication between you and your furry friend. In this section, we’ll explore the various reasons why leash training is crucial for your Shih Tzu’s development and well-being. For more information on the importance of leash training, check out our in-depth article here.


Teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash is an important aspect of their training routine. There are several benefits associated with teaching your furry friend how to walk properly on a leash.


1. Safety:Walking on a loose leash ensures your Shih Tzu’s safety by preventing them from running away or getting lost.
2. Bonding:Leash walking can be a rewarding bonding experience for you and your Shih Tzu. It provides a great opportunity for you to spend time together outdoors.
3. Socialization:Leash walks are a great way to socialize your Shih Tzu with other dogs and people. By exposing them to different sights, sounds, and experiences, you can help them become accustomed to the world around them.
4. Exercise:Walking on a leash also helps your Shih Tzu get the exercise they need to stay healthy and fit. It is a great way to encourage physical activity.
5. Obedience:Mastering leash walking is an important obedience skill that can help instill discipline and control in your Shih Tzu, making them a more well-behaved companion.

Before you start leash training your Shih Tzu, it is important to prepare them for the process. Make sure you have gathered the necessary equipment and that your furry friend is comfortable with it. Additionally, expend some of your dog’s excess energy by exercising them before training sessions. You can find more helpful tips on these steps in our Shih Tzu leash training guide.

Tips to Prepare Your Shih Tzu for Leash Training

Tips To Prepare Your Shih Tzu For Leash Training
Getting your Shih Tzu used to a leash is an essential aspect of their training. While it may seem like a simple task, certain steps must be taken to make sure that both you and your furry friend are ready for leash training. Preparing for Shih Tzu leash training requires a few essential tips that will make the process smooth and yielding. Not being ready for the task may result in a difficult and challenging experience for you and your dog. Before heading to the actual training part, it is essential to take some preparatory steps. Let’s take a look at some of the necessary tips you should follow to ensure that both you and your Shih Tzu are ready for leash training.

Gather the Necessary Equipment

When preparing to teach your Shih Tzu how to walk on a loose leash, it’s important to gather the necessary equipment to ensure that the training goes smoothly. You don’t want your dog to feel uncomfortable or restrained during the training process. Some essential equipment pieces include:

A sturdy leash:Choose a leash that is comfortable for you to hold and strong enough to withstand your Shih Tzu’s pulling. A 6-foot leash is the most commonly used length for walking dogs.
A comfortable harness:A harness distributes pressure evenly across your Shih Tzu’s chest, rather than pulling on their neck like a collar. Make sure the harness is properly fitted and not too loose or tight.
Treats:Prepare small, tasty treats to reward your Shih Tzu during the training process. Use treats that are high in protein and low in calories, such as boiled chicken or turkey.
Clicker:A clicker is a small, handheld device that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. This helps your Shih Tzu understand when they have performed the desired behavior correctly.

By using the above equipment during the training process, you can help your Shih Tzu feel comfortable and secure while you teach them how to walk on a loose leash. Make sure to introduce these equipment pieces gradually to your furry friend by allowing them to familiarize themselves with the gear before beginning leash training. This will help you avoid making any common mistakes and will make your dog more receptive to leash training in general.

Make Sure Your Shih Tzu is Comfortable with the Equipment

It is essential to ensure that your Shih Tzu is comfortable with the equipment you are going to use for leash training. This step is crucial in preventing any distractions or discomfort that may disrupt the training and lessen its effectiveness. You don’t want your furry friend to associate the leash with a negative experience.

To make sure your Shih Tzu is comfortable with the equipment, you need to consider the type of leash you want to use. There are different kinds of leashes, such as standard leashes, retractable leashes, and harnesses, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Refer to /shih-tzu-leashes-uses/ to find the best option that suits your dog’s walking style and individual needs.

Once you have decided on the type of leash, let your Shih Tzu familiarize itself with the equipment. Let your dog sniff the leash and harness and allow it to look at it. If your dog is hesitant, try to encourage it with treats or positive reinforcement.

Next, it would help if you familiarized your Shih Tzu with the sensation of wearing the leash and harness. Place the harness on your dog and let it sit, walk, and move around while wearing it. Ensure that it fits correctly and is not too tight or too loose. A well-fitting harness will prevent any discomfort or choking when your dog pulls or stops abruptly while walking.

It is also essential to ensure that the leash is the appropriate length. A leash that is too short or too long can cause discomfort and may impact your dog’s walking behavior. A standard leash length of four to six feet works best for most Shih Tzu breeds.

Before starting any leash training, make sure your dog is comfortable and familiar with the equipment. Refer to /positive-reinforcement-leash-training-shih-tzu/ to learn more about positive reinforcement techniques and /socialize-shih-tzu-walks/ to socialize your Shih Tzu with walking etiquette. Also, make sure the equipment fits well and is the appropriate length. Taking these simple precautions will help make leash training an enjoyable experience for you and your furry companion.

Exercise Your Shih Tzu Before Training Sessions

It is important to exercise your Shih Tzu before beginning leash training. This will help them release any pent-up energy and allow them to focus better during the training session.

Exercise your Shih Tzu with a brisk walk or some playtime in a quiet area, away from distractions that can make your dog overly excited. A tired dog will be less likely to pull on the leash or become too distracted during training.

Additionally, starting a training session with a tired dog can improve their ability to learn and retain new information. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to over-exercise your Shih Tzu and tire them out completely.

By exercising your Shih Tzu before training, you’ll promote a calm and focused state of mind, making it easier for them to learn to walk on a loose leash. Remember to always use your safety equipment like a collar or harness before taking your dog out on a walk.

If you are still having trouble with your Shih Tzu pulling on the leash, check out our article on shih tzu leash pulling for more tips and solutions.

The Basics of Loose Leash Walking

The Basics Of Loose Leash Walking
Walking your Shih Tzu on a loose leash may seem like a complex skill to master, but it’s actually quite simple with the right approach. Using positive reinforcement techniques and patience, you can successfully train your furry friend to walk calmly beside you without pulling or tugging on the leash. In this section, we’ll delve into the basics of loose leash walking and provide you with essential tips to help you achieve that goal. So grab your leash and let’s get started!

Training in a Quiet Environment first

When starting to train your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, it is important to begin in a quiet and low-distraction environment. This can help your pup to focus on the training and understand what you expect from them. Here are some tips for training in a quiet environment:

  • Choose an Empty Room: Choose a room in your home that is quiet and has minimal distractions. A quiet bedroom or living room can be ideal for this.
  • Remove Distractions: Before starting the training session, remove anything that could distract your dog. For instance, remove toys, treats, and even other pets from the room.
  • Use a Short Leash: Use a short leash, ideally a four or six-foot leash, so that your Shih Tzu is closer to you and you can have more control over their movement.
  • Practice the Basics: During the training session, focus on the basics of loose leash walking. This includes teaching your Shih Tzu to stand in one place, follow you, and not pull on the leash. Use treats as a form of positive reinforcement when they get it right.

Training in a quiet environment first can help your Shih Tzu get accustomed to the process of walking on a leash without getting distracted by other animals, people, or other stimuli. It is important to remember that learning takes time and patience, and your Shih Tzu may not get it right the first time. So it’s essential to be consistent and practice frequently.

Start Small

When it comes to teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, starting small is key. This means starting with short and simple training sessions and gradually increasing the length and difficulty as your pup progresses. Here are some tips for starting small:

  • Short Sessions: Keep your training sessions brief, starting with just five to ten minutes at a time. This will help prevent your Shih Tzu from becoming overwhelmed or bored.
  • Quiet Environment: Choose a quiet and familiar environment for your first few training sessions. This will help reduce distractions and make it easier for your pup to focus.
  • Simple Commands: Start with simple commands like “sit” and “stay” before moving on to loose leash walking. This will help your Shih Tzu understand the basics of obedience and make it easier to progress to more advanced training techniques.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward your Shih Tzu for good behavior. This can include treats, praise, and affection. Remember, positive reinforcement is key to successful training.

By starting small and gradually increasing the length and difficulty of your training sessions, your Shih Tzu will be more likely to succeed and become a confident and obedient walker on a loose leash.

Use Positive Reinforcement Techniques

When teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior. Positive reinforcement is a training approach that rewards good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. This means that every time your Shih Tzu walks calmly on a loose leash, you should reward them with treats, praise, or play.

Here are some positive reinforcement techniques that you can use when training your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash:

Clicker trainingUsing a clicker to mark the moment your Shih Tzu exhibits good behavior, and then rewarding them with treats or play.
TreatsOffering small treats as a reward for good behavior during leash training.
PraiseVerbally praising your Shih Tzu when they exhibit good behavior.
PlayAllowing your Shih Tzu to play with their favorite toy as a reward for good behavior.

It’s important to note that positive reinforcement should always be prompt and consistent. Try to reward your Shih Tzu immediately after they exhibit good behavior, so they can associate the reward with the behavior. Additionally, make sure you are consistent with your rewards, so your Shih Tzu learns what sort of behavior is expected of them.

Using positive reinforcement techniques when teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash can help make the training process more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. Remember to keep a positive attitude, be patient, and celebrate every small success.

Be Patient and Consistent

Teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash takes time and patience. Every dog is different and learns at their own pace. It’s important to be patient throughout the training process. It may take weeks or even months before your Shih Tzu is walking comfortably on a loose leash, but with consistency and dedication, you’ll see progress.

Consistency is also key. It’s important that you remain consistent with your training techniques and expectations. If you allow your Shih Tzu to pull on the leash sometimes and then expect them to walk on a loose leash other times, your pup will become confused and frustrated.

To help with consistency, create a training plan and stick to it as closely as possible. This plan should include the techniques you will use, the amount of time you will devote to training each day, and the goals you hope to achieve. Additionally, make sure that everyone in the household is on board with the training plan and is consistent with it.

To track progress, consider keeping a journal that documents each training session. This will help you see how far your Shih Tzu has come and what areas may need more work.

Remember that every training session should be a positive experience for your pup. Don’t get frustrated or give up if your Shih Tzu is struggling to grasp the concept of loose leash walking. Instead, remain calm and continue to use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior.

By being patient and consistent, you’ll be able to teach your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash in no time.

Challenges and Solutions You May Encounter

Challenges And Solutions You May Encounter
As with any training program, teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash can come with its fair share of challenges. However, it’s important to remember that these challenges are normal, and with the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can overcome them. In this section, we will explore some of the challenges you may encounter during your leash training journey and offer solutions to overcome them. Strong determination and a positive mindset will help you and your furry friend to succeed.

Pulling on the Leash

One common challenge you might encounter when teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash is pulling. It can be frustrating when your furry friend constantly tugs on the leash, making the walk less enjoyable for both parties involved. However, with patience and persistence, you can overcome this obstacle.

Here are some tips and solutions that can be helpful when dealing with leash pulling:

Use a shorter leashA shorter leash gives you more control over your Shih Tzu’s movements and can help prevent pulling.
Stop walking when your Shih Tzu pullsWhen your Shih Tzu pulls, immediately stop walking and wait for them to come back to your side. Once they do, continue the walk.
Redirect your Shih Tzu’s attentionWhen you sense that your Shih Tzu is about to pull, redirect their attention with a treat or a toy. This will help them focus on something else instead of pulling on the leash.
Change directionsIf your Shih Tzu is constantly pulling in a certain direction, change your direction to throw them off and redirect their attention back to you.

It’s important not to resort to punishment or aggression when dealing with leash pulling. Using any form of physical punishment can harm your Shih Tzu’s trust in you and can even make the problem worse. Instead, be patient, positive, and consistent in your training efforts. With time and effort, your Shih Tzu will learn to walk obediently by your side without pulling on the leash.

Barking or Lunging at Other Dogs or People

One of the challenges you may encounter when teaching your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash is barking or lunging at other dogs or people. This behavior can be frustrating and embarrassing for both you and your pup. Here are some tips to help you address this issue:

  • Stay Calm: It’s important to remain calm when your Shih Tzu starts barking or lunging at other dogs or people. Remember that dogs can sense our energy, so if you become anxious or agitated, your Shih Tzu will pick up on this and become more anxious and agitated themselves.
  • Avoid Punishment: Punishing your Shih Tzu for barking or lunging will only make the behavior worse. Instead, focus on redirecting their attention and rewarding them for good behavior.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: When your Shih Tzu sees another dog or person, ask them to focus on you and reward them for doing so. You can use treats, toys, or praise to reinforce good behavior.
  • Begin with Distance: Start by practicing in a quiet environment with few distractions. Gradually increase your distance from other dogs or people, and reward your Shih Tzu for maintaining good behavior.
  • Try Desensitization: If your Shih Tzu has a particular trigger, such as other dogs or people wearing hats, you can try desensitization training. This involves gradually exposing them to the trigger in a controlled environment and rewarding them for remaining calm.

Remember, addressing barking or lunging behavior takes time and patience. With consistent training and positive reinforcement, your Shih Tzu can learn to walk on a loose leash without becoming overly excited or aggressive.

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind

As you continue to train your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, keep these additional tips in mind to help make the process smoother and more successful.

Stay Positive and Patient: Leash training can take time and patience, so it’s important to stay positive and encouraging throughout the process. Remember to reward your dog for good behavior and try not to get frustrated if they struggle at first.

Practice in Different Settings: Once your Shih Tzu is comfortable walking on a loose leash in a quiet environment, gradually increase the distractions by practicing in different settings. This will help your dog learn to stay focused on you, even in more challenging surroundings.

Use Treats Strategically: Treats can be a helpful tool during training, but make sure you use them strategically. Use high-value treats to reward good behavior and gradually phase them out as your dog becomes more comfortable with loose leash walking.

Keep Sessions Short and Sweet: Training sessions should be short and sweet, especially in the beginning. Aim for 10-15 minutes per session and gradually increase as your dog becomes more comfortable with the process.

Be Flexible: Remember that every dog is different, and what works for one Shih Tzu may not work for another. Be flexible in your training approach and willing to make adjustments as needed to find what works best for your dog.

By keeping these additional tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to successfully training your Shih Tzu to walk on a loose leash, making walks more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.


After following these steps and dedicating time and effort to training your Shih Tzu, you should now be able to walk your dog on a loose leash without any issues. Remember that training takes time and patience, and it’s important to always be consistent with your techniques. Your Shih Tzu may occasionally slip up or have a bad day, but don’t get discouraged. Keep up with the positive reinforcements and you’ll see progress.

It’s also important to keep in mind that every dog is different, and what works for one dog may not work for another. Be open to adjusting your training techniques if needed, and don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional trainer if you’re having difficulty.

Walking your Shih Tzu on a loose leash not only makes the experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog but also has additional benefits. It strengthens your bond with your companion and promotes their physical and mental well-being. Plus, it shows that you’re a responsible and respectful pet owner, which is always a great thing.

Remember to always have fun and enjoy the process of training your Shih Tzu. Watching your furry friend progress and learn is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it’ll definitely be worth it in the end.

Frequently Asked Questions

What age should I start leash training my Shih Tzu?

You can start leash training your Shih Tzu at around 3 to 4 months old.

What kind of leash should I use for my Shih Tzu?

You can use a lightweight, retractable leash or a standard leash that is about 4 to 6 feet long.

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

A harness is recommended for leash training as it puts less strain on your Shih Tzu’s neck and allows for better control.

How long should each leash training session be?

Each session should be around 10 to 15 minutes long to prevent your Shih Tzu from getting bored or tired.

What treats should I use for positive reinforcement during leash training?

You can use small, soft treats like chicken or cheese that your Shih Tzu finds irresistible.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu starts pulling on the leash?

Stop walking and wait for your Shih Tzu to come back towards you before continuing the walk. Reward them for coming back towards you.

What if my Shih Tzu gets distracted during leash training?

Use their name to get their attention back and reward them when they refocus on you.

Is it okay to use a choke collar for leash training my Shih Tzu?

No, it is not recommended to use a choke collar as it can cause pain and harm to your Shih Tzu.

Can I teach an old Shih Tzu new leash training tricks?

Yes, you can teach leash training to an old Shih Tzu with patience and consistency.

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

You should practice leash training with your Shih Tzu at least once a day for 10 to 15 minutes.


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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