Every shih tzu owner must eventually deal with some unwanted behaviors on the part of their four legged companions. Some of the most frequently encountered training problems with shih tzu puppies and shih tzu dogs alike are jumping on people and performing those amazing feats of escape.
Jumping up on people
Jumping up on people can be a cute trick for shih tzu puppies, but it quickly becomes a problem behavior as the shih tzu gets older, larger and heavier. A very heavy shih tzu can easily knock a child or even a small adult off his or her feet, so jumping on people can be a dangerous problem as well as an annoying one.
The reason shih tzu puppies and older shih tzu jump on people is obvious – they are excited and happy to see them. Many people are reluctant to discourage this exuberant behavior, but it is important to redirect that happiness and energy in other ways. Many well meaning owners, family members and friends inadvertently encourage this jumping up behavior by picking the shih tzu puppy up, kissing it or otherwise providing encouragement.
This type of inconsistency is anathema to proper shih tzu training, and in order for the shih tzu to be trained not to jump, every member of the family must recognize and accept the importance of the training. If one member of the family allows the shih tzu dog to jump up while other family members do not, the shih tzu will understandably become confused and frustrated. The training must be firm, kind and consistent in order to be effective.
One way to redirect the shih tzu dog’s happiness and excitement from jumping is to teach him to lift his paw when greeting you. This “shaking hands” posture is an acceptable way for the shih tzu to show his happiness and his respect. Many people even teach their shih tzu to do simple tricks, like rolling over, instead of jumping on people.
Escaping and roaming the neighborhood
A responsible shih tzu owner would never dream of allowing his or her shih tzu to roam the neighborhood freely. Allowing a shih tzu to roam on its own is irresponsible, dangerous (to the shih tzu and the neighborhood), and probably even illegal. Most towns have ordinances which prohibit dogs from being allowed to roam around free, so you could be in legal trouble if your dog is found wandering the neighborhood unattended.
Of course sometimes that wandering shih tzu is not the owner’s idea, and many dogs perform amazing feats of escape when left on their own. The temptations for unattended dogs are many, including passing bicycles, joggers, children, cats and other dogs. It is much easier to prevent escapes than to recapture a loose shih tzu, so let’s talk about some preventative measures every dog owner can take.
Removing the motivation to escape is a big part of the solution. A bored shih tzu is much more likely to spend his day plotting the great escape. A shih tzu that is surrounded by everything he or she needs, like lots of toys, a soft bed, and plenty of fresh clean, water, is more likely to spend his or her day contentedly sleeping or playing with toys until the owner returns.
In addition, a shih tzu with lots of pent up, unused energy is likely to try to escape. Try incorporating several vigorous play sessions with your shih tzu into your daily routine. Make one of those play sessions right before you leave. If your shih tzu has a chance to work off his or her energy, chances are he or she will sleep or relax much of the day.
Of course dealing with the shih tzu is only half the problem. It is also important to make the property as escape proof as possible, through proper fencing and other measures. For shih tzu that dig, it may be necessary to extend the fence underground by placing metal stakes in the ground every few feet. For shih tzu that jump, it may be necessary to make the fence higher. And if none of these measures work, it may be necessary to confine the shih tzu to the house when you are not at home.
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Connie Limon is a shih tzu breeder. She publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. A professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Discounts are offered to subscribers. Sign up at: www.stainglassshihtzus.com
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