The Maltese Shih Tzu is one of the cutest lap dog breeds, and it’s common for their owners to dote on them. Because they’re so small and adorable, there’s a common misconception that lap dogs such as the Malshi don’t need to be trained. However, training is a crucial part of owning and caring for a dog, and an untrained Malshi won’t be able to live their life to the fullest.
Why Train a Maltese Shih Tzu
Training a dog not only teaches them proper dog behaviour, it also gives you a chance to bond with your dog. A properly-trained Malshi is more free to be themselves.
Teaching your dog even just basic obedience – such as how to sit, stay and come back on command – gives them the chance to do things they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
Training allows them to be more confident in unfamiliar situations, and allows their owner to keep them under control if they get stressed. It’s also a great way to keep your dog from getting bored, as the mental challenge of learning new commands and tricks will keep them engaged and happy.
A well-trained and well-socialised Malshi will have more opportunities for new experiences, and will have a deeper bond with their owner. Owners will be better able to communicate with their dog, giving them more time to focus on what really matters – enjoying each other’s company.
Training a Maltese Shih Tzu
Patience and consistency are main traits that an owner needs to have to train a Maltese Shih Tzu. We can split a dog’s training into several basic areas:
- House training
This is the most basic training that a dog should receive, as it is important for the cleanliness of their home. House training a Maltese Shih Tzu can be more challenging than with other dogs, due to their small bladders. However, if you start when the dog is young, they should pick it up in almost no time at all.
The key to house training is to set a schedule for them to go to the toilet, and stick to that schedule so the dog learns what’s expected of them during potty breaks. They should have a consistent spot where they can go potty, as they need scent cues so they know where to pee and poo.
Always reward your Malshi when they’ve successfully gone to the toilet in the proper spot and at the proper time.
- Obedience training
Obedience training is an ongoing process – nobody is ever really done with training their dog to sit, stay or come back on command. There are always improvements that can be made, and consistent training throughout the dog’s life will ensure that they never forget the commands.
There are several core commands that every dog should know:
- Lie down
- Leave it
- Drop it
- Emergency recall
Teaching your dog each one of these commands follows the same basic steps. First is to capture or shape the behaviour. Next, reward them for performing the behaviour. Lastly, add a command to the behaviour.
For example: most dogs will sit naturally on their own. When they’re sitting, praise them for sitting, and reward them with treats or pets. This reinforces the idea that sitting is a good thing. Then you say “good sit” so that they know that “sit” is associated with the behaviour that they’re doing. Doing this repeatedly is known as capturing or shaping the behaviour.
Once they know what “sit” means and can perform it a couple of times on command, you can begin actively training your dog to sit, with the same basic idea. Give the command, and if they perform it, praise and reward.
Five to ten repetitions of the command is usually enough in one session, then you can either move on to a different command or end the training. Always end your training on a high note with a successful command, so that your dog looks forward to the next session.
- Tricks and fun things
Teaching your dog tricks follows the same process as obedience training, it’s just that these commands are used as a fun way to show off your dog’s skills. Some of the common tricks that many dog owners teach include:
- Roll over
- High five
- Play dead
Each one can be done by capturing and shaping behaviours, in small increments, so that your dog learns the proper movements.
Maltese Shih Tzus are smart dogs and can learn almost any command or trick, so long as you put the time and effort into it.