Train Your Shih Tzu for Agility: Expert Tips and Techniques

Shih Tzus are adorable little dogs known for their lively personalities and charming appearance. While they may seem like pampered lap dogs, Shih Tzus are actually quite intelligent and capable of learning a variety of skills, including agility training. Agility training is a fun and engaging way to keep your Shih Tzu mentally and physically stimulated while building a stronger bond with your furry companion.

Getting Started with Agility Training

Before diving into agility training with your Shih Tzu, it’s important to ensure that your pup is in good physical health. Schedule a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues that could impact your dog’s ability to participate in agility activities. Once you have the green light from your vet, it’s time to start training!

Setting Up an Agility Course

Creating an agility course for your Shih Tzu can be a fun and rewarding experience. You can start by setting up some basic agility equipment such as tunnels, weave poles, jumps, and tunnels in your backyard or a designated training area. Make sure the equipment is appropriately sized for your Shih Tzu to prevent any injuries during training sessions.

Basic Agility Commands


The “sit” command is a fundamental skill that your Shih Tzu should master before beginning agility training. Teaching your dog to sit on command will help you control their movements during agility exercises and improve their focus and concentration.


The “stay” command is crucial for agility training as it helps your Shih Tzu remain in place until you give them the signal to move. Training your dog to stay will prevent them from running off course during agility courses and ensure they follow your instructions effectively.

Building Confidence

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is key to building your Shih Tzu’s confidence during agility training. Use treats, praise, and playtime as rewards for completing agility tasks successfully. Your dog will be more motivated to participate and learn new skills when they associate agility training with positive experiences.

Gradual Progression

Agility training should be introduced gradually to prevent overwhelming your Shih Tzu. Start with simple tasks and obstacles, then gradually increase the difficulty as your dog becomes more comfortable and confident. Celebrate small victories along the way to boost your dog’s confidence and keep them engaged in the training process.

Consistent Practice

Consistency is key when it comes to agility training. Practice regularly with your Shih Tzu to reinforce their skills and improve their agility performance. Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than long, sporadic sessions, so aim to train your dog for a few minutes each day to see the best results.

Advanced Agility Techniques

Weave Poles

Weave poles are a popular agility obstacle that requires your Shih Tzu to navigate a series of poles in a zig-zag pattern. Teaching your dog to weave through the poles will improve their coordination, flexibility, and agility. Start with a few poles spaced apart and gradually increase the number as your dog becomes more proficient.

Tire Jumps

Tire jumps are another common agility obstacle that challenges your Shih Tzu’s jumping and timing skills. Encourage your dog to jump through the center of the tire while gradually raising the height to increase the difficulty level. Use positive reinforcement to motivate your dog and make the training experience enjoyable for them.


The A-frame is a tall, triangular obstacle that requires your Shih Tzu to climb up and down safely. Introduce the A-frame gradually to your dog, starting with a low incline and increasing the height as they become more confident. Use treats and praise to encourage your dog to conquer this challenging agility obstacle.

Improving Speed and Accuracy

Obstacle Sequencing

Once your Shih Tzu has mastered individual agility obstacles, it’s time to work on sequencing multiple obstacles together. Create sequences that require your dog to navigate different obstacles in a specific order to improve their speed, accuracy, and problem-solving skills. Practice sequencing regularly to help your dog become more proficient in agility courses.

Timed Challenges

Introduce timed challenges during agility training to encourage your Shih Tzu to complete obstacles quickly and efficiently. Set up a timer and track your dog’s performance to monitor their progress and identify areas for improvement. Timed challenges add an element of excitement to agility training and motivate your dog to push their limits.

Handler Communication

Effective communication between you and your Shih Tzu is essential for successful agility training. Use clear verbal cues, hand signals, and body language to guide your dog through the agility course and help them understand your instructions. Practice communication skills with your dog to build a strong partnership and improve your teamwork during agility exercises.

Consistency and Patience

Consistency and patience are crucial when it comes to improving your Shih Tzu’s speed and accuracy in agility training. Stay consistent with your training routine and be patient with your dog as they learn and progress. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, and provide encouragement to keep them motivated and engaged in agility activities.

Maintaining Agility Skills

After your Shih Tzu has become proficient in agility training, it’s important to maintain their skills and continue challenging them to prevent boredom and regression. Keep training sessions fun and varied by introducing new obstacles, sequences, and challenges to keep your dog engaged and motivated.

Preventing Injuries

Warm-Up and Cool Down

Just like humans, dogs need to warm up and cool down before and after agility training to prevent injuries and muscle strain. Incorporate gentle stretches, walking, and light exercises into your dog’s routine to prepare their muscles for agility activities and help them recover afterward.

Proper Equipment

Ensure that your Shih Tzu’s agility equipment is safe, sturdy, and appropriate for their size and skill level. Inspect the equipment regularly for any signs of wear and tear, and replace or repair damaged items to prevent accidents during training sessions. Safety should always be a top priority when it comes to agility training.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your Shih Tzu’s overall health and fitness level. Your vet can provide guidance on how to adjust your dog’s training routine based on their age, weight, and physical condition to prevent injuries and ensure they stay healthy and active.

Looking to train your Shih Tzu for agility? Check out our articles on Shih Tzu agility preparation, agility training for Shih Tzus, agility equipment for Shih Tzus, common mistakes in Shih Tzu agility training, and the importance of consistency in Shih Tzu obedience for a comprehensive guide to getting started!


Agility training is a fantastic way to challenge your Shih Tzu both mentally and physically while strengthening your bond with them. By starting with basic commands, building confidence through positive reinforcement, and gradually introducing advanced agility techniques, you can help your Shih Tzu become a skilled and agile athlete. With patience, consistency, and a lot of love, you and your Shih Tzu can enjoy the excitement and thrill of agility training together. So, grab your furry friend, set up an agility course, and embark on this rewarding journey of training your Shih Tzu to be an agility superstar!

Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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