Home Shih Tzu Dog Food and Treat Recipes Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Heel During Walks

Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Heel During Walks

by Scott Lipe
Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Heel During Walks

Once your Shih Tzu has had all their puppy shots, typically around 12 to 16 weeks old, you can begin training them to heel during walks. To prepare for this training, make sure you have a short leash or retractable leash, a harness for your Shih Tzu, training treats, and that your dog knows the “Sit” command.

Preparing for Heeling Training

Shih Tzu Training

Before starting the heeling training for your Shih Tzu, it’s crucial to have the right equipment and supplies. These items will facilitate a successful training session and help set your dog up for success. Here are the essentials you’ll need:

  • Harness: Instead of using a collar, opt for a harness specifically designed for small breeds like Shih Tzus. A harness provides better control, reduces the risk of neck injuries, and prevents your dog from pulling excessively during walks.
  • Leash: Choose a short leash that allows you to keep your Shih Tzu close to you. This will help you maintain control and reinforce the heeling position. A retractable leash is not recommended for heeling training as it may lead to inconsistent communication between you and your dog.
  • Training Treats: Pick small, moist training treats that your Shih Tzu finds highly motivating. These treats will serve as rewards during the training sessions, encouraging your dog to comply with your commands and stay focused on the task at hand.


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In addition to the equipment, ensure that your Shih Tzu is familiar with the “Sit” command before starting the heeling training. This command will serve as the starting position for heeling and provide a foundation for other obedience tasks.

Table: Heeling Training Essentials

Item Description
Harness Avoid using a collar and opt for a harness to ensure your Shih Tzu’s comfort and safety during training.
Leash Choose a short leash to maintain control and keep your Shih Tzu close to you while training.
Training Treats Pick small, moist treats that your Shih Tzu finds highly motivating as rewards during the training sessions.

With the right equipment, treats, and your Shih Tzu’s understanding of the “Sit” command, you’re ready to start the heeling training. Remember to be patient, consistent, and positive throughout the process, and soon your Shih Tzu will be walking alongside you like a pro!

Holding the Leash Correctly

Leash holding

Properly holding the leash is essential for maintaining control over your Shih Tzu during heeling training. By using the correct grip, you can guide your dog’s movements and keep them in the desired heeling position. To hold the leash correctly:

  1. Take the leash handle in your right hand.
  2. Allow the leash to cross your body and grip it near your left hip.

This grip position provides you with better control over your dog’s movements and allows you to easily guide them during the training sessions. It ensures that your Shih Tzu stays close to you and maintains the proper heeling position.

Steps to Teach Your Shih Tzu to Heel

Teaching your Shih Tzu to heel during walks requires a step-by-step approach that focuses on positive reinforcement and consistency. By following these training steps, you can help your furry companion master the skill of heeling:

  1. Command a “Sit” as the starting position: Before beginning the heeling training, ensure your Shih Tzu is in a seated position. Use the “Sit” command to establish a starting point for the training session.
  2. Slap your left hip twice and say “Heel” firmly: This action will signal to your Shih Tzu that it’s time to start walking. By slapping your hip, you create an auditory cue that is easily recognizable. Saying “Heel” with confidence will reinforce the command.
  3. Stand still when your dog tries to walk ahead: If your Shih Tzu starts to pull or move ahead of you, stop walking and stand still. Use the harness to prevent any potential injuries. Provide praise and gentle pats when your dog comes close to you, as this encourages them to stay by your side.
  4. Give a quick, light tug on the leash: When your Shih Tzu stays near you, give a gentle tug on the leash to reinforce the desired behavior. This action helps your dog understand that walking by your side is the correct response.
  5. Repeat the “Heel” command and offer words of praise: As your Shih Tzu walks beside you, continue to repeat the “Heel” command. Offer words of praise to reinforce their good behavior. Vary the pace and take turns during the walk to keep it challenging and engaging.
  6. Keep walking confidently when turning: If your dog doesn’t follow immediately when you turn, keep walking confidently. They will catch up to you, and the harness will prevent any neck injuries. By maintaining a steady pace, you encourage your Shih Tzu to stay close to your side.
  7. Reward successful heeling with treats and praise: Every 5 minutes of successful heeling, give your Shih Tzu a training treat and say “Good, Heel.” This positive reinforcement helps reinforce the desired behavior and encourages your dog to continue walking by your side.
  8. End the walk with a “Sit” command and reward: When you reach the end of the walk, stop walking and command your Shih Tzu to “Sit.” Provide praise and a treat to reinforce the finishing position. This helps your dog understand that the walk is coming to an end and reinforces their training.

By following these steps consistently, you can train your Shih Tzu to heel during walks and enjoy a more controlled and pleasant walking experience together.

Directed Shaping Technique for Heeling

Dog heeling during a walk

The directed shaping technique is an effective training method to teach your Shih Tzu to heel during walks. By using positive reinforcement and clear signals, you can guide your dog into the desired position and reinforce their behavior. This technique relies on rewards and repetition to ensure your Shih Tzu understands the heeling command and follows it consistently.

To start, call your dog’s name and point to the side you want them to walk on. As soon as they come alongside you, reward them with a clicker or a verbal “yes” to indicate they are in the correct position. Continue to reward your dog each time they willingly come into the heeling position.

As your dog becomes more comfortable with heeling, you can increase the challenge by adding variations. Increase the pace, turn, or zig-zag during your walks to keep your Shih Tzu engaged and attentive. Incorporate eye contact commands like “Look” or “Watch Me” to further strengthen their focus and obedience.

Benefits of Directed Shaping Technique for Heeling
1. Establishes a clear communication between you and your dog
2. Reinforces desired behavior through positive reinforcement
3. Improves your dog’s focus and obedience skills
4. Creates a harmonious walking experience for both you and your Shih Tzu

Remember to use treats and praise as rewards to encourage your Shih Tzu’s progress. Consistency and patience are key when using the directed shaping technique. With practice, your Shih Tzu will learn to heel reliably and make your walks enjoyable and stress-free.

Handy Tips for Heeling Training

Heeling Training

When training your Shih Tzu to heel, it’s important to have a few handy tips up your sleeve to make the process smoother and more effective. Here are some valuable tips:

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to heeling training. Use the same commands and techniques every time you go for a walk with your Shih Tzu. This will help your dog understand what is expected of them and reinforce the training.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in training your Shih Tzu to heel. Reward your dog with treats and praise when they walk by your side and follow your commands. This positive reinforcement will motivate and encourage your dog to continue behaving correctly.

“Consistency is key when it comes to heeling training.”

Practice Patience

Patience is crucial during the heeling training process. It takes time for your Shih Tzu to learn and adjust to walking by your side. Be patient with your dog and avoid getting frustrated. Remember, training should be a positive experience for both you and your furry friend.

Tips for Heeling Training Description
Start with Short Training Sessions Keep the training sessions short, especially in the beginning. This will prevent your Shih Tzu from getting overwhelmed and help them stay focused.
Be Firm but Gentle When correcting your dog’s behavior during heeling training, be firm but gentle. Avoid using harsh methods or punishment, as this can create fear and resistance.
Gradually Increase Distractions As your Shih Tzu begins to master heeling, gradually introduce distractions such as other dogs or people. This will help them to stay focused on you even in more challenging environments.

By following these handy tips, you can effectively train your Shih Tzu to heel during walks and enjoy pleasant strolls together. Remember to be consistent, use positive reinforcement, practice patience, and implement the helpful strategies mentioned above. With time and effort, your Shih Tzu will become a well-behaved and obedient walking companion.

The Importance of Leash Training

Leash training is a vital aspect of ensuring a harmonious and enjoyable walking experience with your Shih Tzu. Proper leash training helps prevent unwanted behaviors such as pulling, jumping, and anxiety during walks. By teaching your dog to walk on a leash, you can establish control and promote a stronger bond between you and your furry companion.

Walking on a leash not only keeps your Shih Tzu safe but also enhances their overall behavior. It teaches them to stay by your side and follow your commands, which is essential for their safety and the well-being of those around you. Leash training instills discipline and helps your Shih Tzu understand their boundaries while providing them with mental and physical stimulation.

“Leash training is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable walking experience with your Shih Tzu.”

Additionally, leash training can significantly improve your Shih Tzu’s social skills and interaction with other dogs and people. It allows you to maintain control in unfamiliar environments and ensures that your dog remains calm and well-behaved while encountering new situations.

Benefits of Leash Training
Prevents pulling, jumping, and anxiety
Establishes control and promotes a stronger bond
Enhances overall behavior and discipline
Improves social skills and interaction

Remember, leash training is a gradual process that requires consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. Celebrate your Shih Tzu’s successes and provide them with rewards, such as treats or verbal praise, to reinforce good behavior during walks. With time and effort, you’ll be able to enjoy peaceful and relaxing strolls with your well-trained and obedient Shih Tzu.

Top Tips for Leash Training:

  • Start leash training as early as possible to establish good habits.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar to avoid neck injuries.
  • Ensure the leash is the appropriate length to maintain control and keep your Shih Tzu close.
  • Reward your dog with treats and praise for walking calmly beside you.
  • Be patient and consistent, as leash training takes time and repetition.

Training Shih Tzu Puppies vs. Adult Dogs

Training a Shih Tzu puppy to heel is typically easier compared to training an adult dog, primarily due to their quick learning abilities and eagerness to please. Puppies have a higher level of energy and are more adaptable to new routines and commands. They are also less likely to have ingrained behaviors that need to be corrected. By starting early, you can establish good habits and make heeling a natural part of your puppy’s walking routine. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successfully training a Shih Tzu puppy.

On the other hand, training an adult Shih Tzu to heel may require more time and effort. Adult dogs may have already developed habits and behaviors that need to be unlearned or modified. However, the intelligence and trainability of Shih Tzus make them reasonably easy to train at any age. With patience, consistency, and the right techniques, you can teach an adult Shih Tzu to heel during walks. Regardless of whether you’re training a puppy or an adult dog, the same basic principles and training techniques can be applied to teach them to walk by your side.

Whether you’re training a puppy or an adult dog, it’s important to remember that every dog is unique and may learn at their own pace. Some Shih Tzus may require more time and reinforcement to master the heeling command, while others may pick it up quickly. Be patient, stay consistent, and adapt your training approach to suit your dog’s individual needs. Overall, the key to successful training is to establish a positive and trusting relationship with your Shih Tzu, providing clear and consistent guidance throughout the process.

Benefits of Heeling Training for Shih Tzus

The importance of heeling training for Shih Tzus goes beyond having a well-behaved dog during walks. It offers a range of benefits that enhance your dog’s behavior and foster walking etiquette. By teaching your Shih Tzu to heel, you create a stronger bond and improve their focus and obedience skills.

Heeling training promotes good behavior by discouraging pulling and jumping, making walks more comfortable and enjoyable for both you and your furry companion. It also helps establish walking etiquette, ensuring that your Shih Tzu follows your lead and stays close to you while walking, without wandering off or pulling in different directions.

When your Shih Tzu masters heeling, they learn to walk by your side, making them more attentive and responsive to your commands. This level of discipline and control extends beyond walks and can positively impact their behavior in other environments. It instills a sense of trust and respect, strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

By investing time and effort in heeling training, you are not only improving your dog’s behavior but also creating a harmonious and enjoyable walking experience. So, start training your Shih Tzu to heel and reap the benefits of having a well-trained and obedient companion by your side.

Benefits of Heeling Training Description
Improved Behavior Discourages pulling and jumping, promoting good behavior during walks.
Walking Etiquette Establishes proper walking etiquette, keeping your Shih Tzu close and following your lead.
Stronger Bond Strengthens the bond between you and your dog through trust and respect.
Focus and Obedience Enhances your dog’s focus and obedience skills, extending beyond walks.
Harmonious Walks Creates a harmonious and enjoyable walking experience for both you and your Shih Tzu.

Enlisting Professional Help for Training

While training your Shih Tzu to heel can be a rewarding experience, some dog owners may find it challenging to achieve the desired results on their own. In such cases, enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer can make a significant difference. Professional trainers have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to address specific training needs and provide personalized guidance.

Virtual training sessions have become increasingly popular and accessible, allowing dog owners to receive professional help from the comfort of their own homes. Many trainers offer online classes and one-on-one sessions via video calls, ensuring that you can get the assistance you need regardless of your location.

When choosing a professional trainer, it’s essential to look for someone with experience in training Shih Tzus or small breeds. Look for positive reviews and recommendations from other dog owners, and consider trainers who use reward-based training methods, which are proven to be effective and create a positive learning environment for your furry companion.

Remember that professional training is an investment in your dog’s future and well-being. By working with a knowledgeable trainer, you can overcome training challenges, enhance your dog’s obedience skills, and build a strong bond based on trust and understanding.

Benefits of Enlisting Professional Help:

  • Expert knowledge and guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs
  • Access to virtual training sessions from the comfort of your own home
  • Opportunity to work with trainers experienced in training Shih Tzus
  • Positive reinforcement techniques that create a positive learning environment
  • Overcoming training challenges and enhancing your dog’s obedience skills
  • Building a strong bond and trust between you and your dog

Enjoy the Strolls with Your Well-Trained Shih Tzu

Now that you have successfully trained your Shih Tzu to heel during walks, it’s time to enjoy the strolls with your well-trained dog. Walking with a dog that walks calmly by your side not only improves your overall walking experience but also strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion.

With consistent training and patience, your Shih Tzu will become accustomed to walking beside you, offering you an enjoyable and stress-free walking experience. Remember to continue reinforcing the heeling command during walks, offering praise and rewards for their good behavior. These positive reinforcements will encourage your dog to stay focused and obedient.

As you embark on your walks with your well-trained Shih Tzu, take pride in the effort you’ve put into their training. Your dedication will pay off, and you’ll be rewarded with calm and enjoyable walks, creating lasting memories with your beloved pet.

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