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Tips On Becoming The Shih Tzu Pack Leader  

by Connie Limon

Thirty five years or so ago people trained dogs almost exclusively with force. Recently dog training, which includes our beloved Shih Tzu, consists of head halters with no corrections. Some trainers feel this is wrong because of the explosion of dominance and aggressive dog problems found in family pets. These same trainers feel the correct position about dog training and Shih Tzu training is in the middle.

Your Shih Tzu should respect you, cooperate with you and try to do what you ask. If you have that, then it is most likely you can train the Shih Tzu to do almost anything.

Respect from your Shih Tzu is something you have to earn over time as the result of good leadership techniques. Based upon this thinking, some dog trainers feel it is not uncommon for a dog or Shih Tzu to mind 80% of the time and still not respect its owner. When dogs or the Shih Tzu do not respect their owner are asked to do something they don't want to do, and the trainer pushes the point to try and force the Shih Tzu or any dog to mind these dogs often become handler aggressive

. The reason for this is a lack of pack structure.

A Shih Tzu with a solid pack structure is not going to be aggressive in the presence of its pack leader. You as the Shih Tzu owner needs to become the leader of the pack even if the pack only consists of you and the Shih Tzu. Dogs are pack animals. The Shih Tzu so loves and is so human-like it is easy to forget they are "animals," and not our children. We need to apply the rules in which animals understand in their own pack existence.

In order to become the pack leader, you need to learn to apply responsible pack structure techniques, and master concepts of a learning phase, a distraction phase and a correction phase along with a maintenance phase. Apply sound pack structure principles in your day to day life with your Shih Tzu to establish you and family members as higher pack members in your family pack.

Becoming a pack leader does not involve aggression towards the Shih Tzu or hard leash corrections or even raising your voice to the Shih Tzu. It means to adopt a leader's attitude. Remember that most dogs prefer to be followers. Your Shih Tzu would rather you be the leader of the pack.

Strive to make sure your Shih Tzu understands that you will always be fair with him. This is the first step in building respect and leadership. He should learn that he has a responsibility to follow known directions and if he refuses there will be consequences.

Dogs and the Shih Tzu see things that are good for them and things that are not good for them, sort of looking at life in black and white terms. They do not understand English. For the most part they do not reason either. They react to the black and white parts of life.

Through training experiences, your Shih Tzu will learn you are only going to ask him to do things he knows how to do. If he performs correctly let him know you are happy with him. If he does something wrong always let him know he has made a mistake. Avoid correcting your dog in obedience training for things that he has not been trained to do. You only correct because you know, through the Shih Tzu's training experiences that he understands a command and he is refusing to do it.

It is important that your Shih Tzu learns you are 100% consistent in how and when you administer corrections. One of the most important parts of being a pack leader is being consistent at all times. For example, do not ignore incorrect behavior toward guests in the home and then correct the Shih Tzu when he exhibits incorrect behavior while on walks. Remain consistent.

Effective corrections must be administered within 1 seconds of an infraction. It is never a positive thing to correct your Shih Tzu an hour or more after he has urinated on the wrong spot. Don't ever think your Shih Tzu "knows" he did something wrong while you were gone.

Another important key of training your Shih Tzu is to learn to administer corrections at a level that produces harmony in the family pack. You must learn when simply saying "NO" is enough of a correction to the Shih Tzu knows that he is doing something wrong verses learning when to administer a higher level of discipline correction for more severe offenses. This is one of the most difficult concept for new trainers/owners to learn.

Remember that dogs and the Shih Tzu learn through repetition. It often can take as many as 30 repetitions for a dog to learn a new command. You need to repeat the exercise often enough for the Shih Tzu to completely understand the exercise.

When you are seeking for a professional trainer, you might ask if any of these techniques are those they incorporate into their training programs.

Source: Ed Frawley's Philosophy on Dog Training

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About the Author

Connie Limon, Breeder of pet and show prospect Shih Tzu in a variety of colors. Visit website at and sign up for our FREE newsletters. Our website provides a wealth of information. Puppies are sold with health guarantee and are bred from champion bloodlines. Also visit our Shih Tzu article collection at


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