Basic Dog Obedience Training Tips
For Your Strong Willed Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu dog obedience trainingRocky our well mannered Shih Tzu chillin' out while on vacation

The Shih Tzu breed has a reputation for being stubborn, but with a few tips, basic dog obedience training for your strong willed pup is closer than you think.

“Sit. Sit. Sit. SIT. Siiiiiitttt. SIT. Sit! Good boy!”

We’ve all been next to that person (or worse, been that person) at the dog park, frustration edging into their voice as they tug gently on the leash in attempt to make their dog’s bottom hit the ground.

Basic obedience training is fairly straightforward on paper, or even when you take a group obedience class, but sometimes applying what you've learned to your strong willed Shih Tzu is an entirely different story.

While they are nowhere near impossible to train, when their stubborn agendas don’t match your own, it doesn’t feel that way.

But there is hope!

With some knowledge, and a little bit of patience of your own, you can get your strong willed pup doing basic obedience commands in no time.

5 Keys to Effective Dog Obedience Training

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If you're like me, you may be more of a visual person, for easy to follow basic tips, check out The Easy Way To An Obedient Dog and sign up for the free training video series.

The Easy Way To An Obedient Dog.  Online dog training videos

While these tips will help for any breed or skill level, they are extra important when it comes to working with Shih Tzu and their determined personalities.

Before you know it, you’ll be working with their strong will, instead of against it.


Positive training is based on the concept of reinforcing or rewarding the behaviors you want your dog to do in hopes that they will do it again.

Some people believe that their fur baby isn’t food motivated, but often times they haven’t found the right treat yet.

Experiment with several treats to see what really puts the WOW in their bow wow.

Store bought training treats, freeze dried beef, cooked shredded chicken, cheese, or even baby food are all good places to start.

Practice obedience before your dog has eaten their meals to ensure they are extra motivated.


Often people introduce the word for a command, like “Sit”, too soon or too frequently.

Start by teaching hand signals whenever possible, and wait to use the verbal cue until you’re sure he understands the behavior.

Once you introduce the vocal command, don’t say the command twice.  Use the hand signal or a treat to remind him what it is you are asking.


When it comes to Shih Tzu training, consistency is key to help remind him of the rules of the game you’re playing namely “if you do the behavior I ask, you’ll get your favorite treat.”

Whether your use a clicker or a marker word, you want to find a consistent marker to inform him of the exact moment he has done what you ask.

It is a good idea to invest in a treat pouch, so that during walks and other training times treats are always at easy access and commands can be rewarded every time you ask for them


Training should be broken up into small chunks throughout the day.

Work with him at times you already interact with him like before feeding, before and during walks, and throughout playtime.

It will help make basic obedience a more natural habit.


One of the biggest challenges in basic dog obedience training is that the you and he are not working at the same pace.

How do you know if your Shih Tzu understands?

The easiest way is to ask them a behavior 10 times. If they respond properly 8-10 times, they get it, you can move on and make it harder.

If they respond correctly 4-7 times, they kind of get it. Work at this
level a while longer.

If they are able to perform the task 0-3 times, they probably don’t

Make it a little easier and try again.

Related pages and resources:

Learn how doing these 
commands will give you
a well mannered Shih Tzu

See  the easiest way
to train your Shih Tzu

Teach your Shih Tzu
with this clicker program
from Karen Pryor

› Dog obedience

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