Training your Shih Tzu puppy to walk on a leash is one of the most important skills your puppy will learn. Walks allow the dog to get out and interact with the world in a safe, supervised manner. A harness puts less pressure on the dog's neck than a collar, and won't mat or pull on your Shih Tzu's long hair. These dogs are very energetic, so constantly pulling on a collar can lead to a collapsed trachea. Puppies should start leash training at around eight weeks of age.
- Skill level:
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Select a harness with a chest strap that goes between the dog's front legs. You can judge the fit of the harness by slipping two fingers underneath. If you can't get both fingers under the straps, it is too tight.
Reward the puppy with treats and praise when you put on the harness. The puppy may not like the feel of the harness at first, but most soon get used to it. Allow the puppy to wear it for a day or two until they are used to the feeling.
Clip a leash to the D-ring on the back of the harness once the puppy is used to wearing it. Allow the puppy to drag the leash around. This will allow the puppy to get used to the feeling of pressure on the leash.
Pick up the leash when the puppy is used to dragging it around. Do not drag or pull on the leash, simply follow the puppy around as it roams. Once the puppy is used to the idea of you on the other end of the leash, it's time to get them to follow you.
Encourage the puppy to follow you while on the leash using treats and praise. When the puppy tries to run away from you, simply stop and hold the leash. The puppy will soon learn that the discomfort and restraint is a result of her own actions.
Tips and warnings
- A harness with adjustable straps will fit as your puppy grows.
- Keep the tone of the training light and fun, so the puppy will look forward to the next training session.
- Never punish or hit a puppy while training. Simply ignore any unwanted behaviours.
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