Dogs are known as “man’s (or girls) best friend” for a reason. They are loyal, loving, and always happy to see us. However, sometimes they can be a little…difficult.
Whether it’s chewing on our shoes or barking incessantly at nothing, dog behavior can be frustrating.
But don’t worry I’ve got 7 tips to encourage positive behavior in your Shih Tzu!
1. Establish a Routine and Stick to It
Shih Tzus are creatures of habit, and they thrive on routine. By establishing a daily routine, you can help your dog learn what is expected of him and when.
This will also help reduce anxiety and stress levels.
Start each day with the same basic sequence of events: breakfast, potty break, playtime/exercise, lunch, potty break, nap time, dinner, potty break, and bedtime.
Of course, there will be days when this schedule gets thrown off (visitors, vet appointments, etc.), but try to stick to it as much as possible.
Your Shih Tzu will also benefit from having a specific spot for sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom.
This will help him understand that there are certain places for certain activities, and he’ll be less likely to have accidents in the house.
2. Be Consistent with Commands and Rewards
In order for your Shih Tzu to learn what you expect from him, you need to be consistent with your commands and rewards. If you only sometimes give your Shih Tzu a treat when he obeys a command, he won’t understand what he’s being rewarded for.
Likewise, if you’re constantly changing the rules (for example, sometimes letting him on the couch and other times not allowing it), he’ll get confused and frustrated.
Every time he does something positive – such as sitting when you ask him to or coming when you call his name – make sure you praise him and give him a treat.
On the other hand, if he does something you don’t want him to do such as jumping on you or chewing on your furniture make sure to say “no” in a stern voice and remove whatever it is he’s chewing on.
It’s important that everyone in the family is consistent with the commands and rewards, so be sure to have a discussion with any other adults or older children in the household.
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is key when it comes to training your dog. Dogs learn best when they are rewarded for good behavior, so make sure to praise him often.
This can be in the form of treats, petting, or verbal praise – whatever you know he responds to best.
It’s important to catch him being good, so try to keep an eye out for positive behavior throughout the day.
For example, if he’s been quietly lying in his bed while you’re getting ready for work, give him a treat and tell him what a good boy he is.
It’s also important to avoid using negative reinforcement, such as scolding your dog. This will only make him scared and confused and is likely to cause more behavioral problems in the long run.
If you’re not sure how to use positive reinforcement, there are plenty of resources available online or you can consult with a professional dog trainer.
Remember, your Shih Tzu wants to please you, so make sure you let him know when he’s doing a good job!
4. Ignore Bad Behavior
Although it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to discourage bad behavior is to ignore it. If your Shih Tzu is barking for attention, for example, don’t give him the satisfaction of eye contact or verbal praise.
The goal is to make him realize that he’s not getting what he wants by acting out and eventually he’ll learn that the only way to get your attention is to behave in a positive manner.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore your dog. If he’s exhibiting bad behavior, make sure to say “no” in a stern voice but don’t give him any more attention than that.
Once he’s calmed down, you can praise him for being good.
5. Help Your Shih Tzu Stay Calm
One of the best things you can do for your dog is to help him stay calm and avoid stressful situations. Dogs can get anxious and stressed just like humans, so it’s important to be aware of the signs.
If your Shih Tzu is panting, pacing, or seems otherwise agitated, he may be feeling stressed, and this can lead to bad behavior.
If you know there’s going to be a situation that might be stressful for your dog (such as a fireworks display), take steps to help them relax beforehand.
There are a number of things you can do to help your dog stay calm, such as providing him with a quiet place to retreat to when he’s feeling overwhelmed or exercise to tire them out.
6. Don’t Ever Hit Your Shih Tzu
Hitting or otherwise physically punishing your dog is never acceptable. Not only is it cruel, but it’s also ineffective. Hitting or yelling at your dog will only damage your relationship and make them scared of you.
If you need to discipline your dog, do so calmly and firmly, using short phrases such as “no” or “stop”.
Then immediately redirect their attention to something positive, such as a toy.
If you’re struggling to deal with a particularly stubborn dog, there are plenty of positive training methods that can help.
7. Be Patient and Have Realistic Expectations
Training a Shih Tzu takes time, patience, and consistency. Don’t expect your dog to learn everything overnight. Like people, dogs learn at different speeds.
It will take weeks or even months of consistent positive reinforcement before he really understands what you’re trying to teach him.
Even then, there will likely be setbacks along the way.
The most important thing is to never give up on your dog. They may make mistakes, but they’re learning and as long as you are patient, they will eventually get it.
If you’re looking for ways to encourage positive behavior in your Shih Tzu, these seven tips should help.
Remember to be patient and consistent, and always use positive reinforcement.
If you are having trouble managing your Shih Tzus behavior and feeling frustrated, don’t hesitate to seek out the help of a professional trainer. They are there to help and can offer guidance tailored to your individual situation.
With a little time and effort, you’ll have a well-behaved dog who is a joy to be around.