Teaching Your Shih Tzu To Stay
If your Shih Tzu gets away and crosses a busy street, you’ll be glad he knows the cue Stay,
so he doesn’t see you and come dashing back in front of traffic. Stay can also be an important safety cue in many other situations, such as when your dog wants to run up to greet a larger dog who may be aggressive, when you drop something on the floor that may be dangerous for your Shih Tzu to eat (such as medication), and when people come to visit.
Teaching stay is harder for a Shih Tzu than Come Here or even Sit, because a Shih Tzu wants to be with you, and if Stay means staying somewhere apart from you, she isn’t going to like it. But that doesn’t mean she can’t learn Stay, and she should.
Here’s how to train your Shih Tzu Stay:
- Stand in front of your Shih Tzu and say “Sit.” (see How To Tech Shih Tzu To Sit).
- Take one step back and hold up your hand, palm facing your dog, and say, “Stay.” If your Shih Tzu gets up and comes to you, act like nothing happened, and don’t reward him. Step back in front of him and ask him to sit again. Then step back with palm up and say, “Stay.”
- Keep repeating Steps 1 and 2 until your Shih Tzu gives up and stops coming to you. As soon as he stays put, step back to him right away and give him a treat. When first teaching this cue, reward him after just a few seconds. He’ll learn how to stay longer, later on. You always come back to your Shih Tzu to reward him with the treat and praise, so he doesn’t have to break his stay to come get the reward — otherwise, he may confuse the Stay and Come cues.
- After your Shih Tzu reliably stays when you take one step back, try taking two steps back as you say “Stay” and continue to keep your palm out.Your Shih Tzu will figure out that the word Stay and the hand signal mean he shouldn’t move. If he stays put, step back to him and reward him.
- Keep adding more steps backwards, just one at a time. Don’t move farther away until your Shih Tzu reliably stays at each level. If you practice this in small steps and exercise a lot of patience, your Shih Tzu can figure out this trick easily. Keep practicing Stay, for a few minutes several times each day, until you can say “Stay” and walk all the way out of the room without your Shih Tzu following you to see where you went. If he’s really mastered his lesson, he knows perfectly well that you’ll be back soon to reward him for being such a good boy.
When training your shih tzu Stay, always reward your Shih Tzu by coming back to him to give him his treat. This part is crucial. Don’t let your dog come to you when training this cue. That will be confusing for him. If you come back to him to reward him, you reinforce that Stay means Stay, not “Stay for a minute and then come as soon as I say ‘Good dog.’” After all, “Good dog” doesn’t mean “Come Here!” (although a lot of dogs seem to think it does!).