Teaching a shih tzu to come when called is also called “recall. ” Recall is actually a series of behaviors. You want to make your shih tzu think that coming when called is the best thing that happens in his life. Practice a lot. Increase the distractions gradually so your shih tzu learns that coming to you is always more rewarding than anything else there is to do. Reinforce with different kinds of rewards.
Follow the recall with one of your shih tzu’s favorite things – food, a toy, freedom, or playing with another dog. When your shih tzu is distracted, time your “come” cue for the moment the shih tzu can most easily disengage from his other activity. Avoid repeatedly calling your shih tzu when you know he won’t or can’t come to you. Go get him instead. While you are teaching your shih tzu to come, never end your shih tzu’s play or fun by calling him to you. Always be enthusiastic and upbeat when your shih tzu comes to you.
Teach your shih tzu each part of the chain of behaviors separately. For food rewards, try chicken, liver, cheese, sardines, and other smelly, yummy, soft treats.
Teaching your shih tzu the cue: Go into a low stimulation environment where you and your shih tzu can be alone, like a bathroom or a bedroom. Say the word you have chosen for your cue, such as, “come!” and give your dog a treat. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times. Do this exercise several times for two or three days.
Teach your shih tzu the beginning behavior by capturing it: When your shih tzu is about to come to you anyway, say “come!” just before he gets to you, then say “yes!” and give your shih tzu a reward.
When you take your shih tzu for a walk, suddenly call him and take several steps back. When your shih tz turns to follow, say “yes!” and give him a reward. Tell your shih tzu what a great shih tzu he is! After a couple of practices, add in the sit and/or a collar touch. Say your shih tzu’s name, come, sit!”
Increase the distance and speed gradually. Start by calling your shih tzu a few feet, then a few more until you can call him through your house and across your backyard. Practice away from home in fenced areas, or in an open area using a long line for safety.
Teach your shih tzu to pay attention when you ask, separately from teaching “come!” To get your shih tzu to pay attention to you, work attention games into everyday life. For 10 days or so every time your shih tzu looks your way reward him with praise, affection, or a treat. Do this throughout the day. After a couple of days of rewarding the natural check in, start occasionally saying your shih tzu’s name and reward him when he looks your way.
Putting it all together: When your shih tzu has learned all the pieces, you can start putting the behaviors together. The entire chain of behaviors are: responding to your request for attention, coming to you quickly, sitting or accepting a collar touch, waiting for the release. Practice several times and at various times during the day in low distraction environments to set your shih tzu up for successes. Only use your cue for recall when you are very certain he will come to you to help your shih tzu succeed. Keep practice sessions light and fun.
Connie Limon is a shih tzu breeder. She is 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: http://www.stainglassshihtzus.com