Have you ever been in the situation where you are out for a walk with your Shih Tzu, happily going down the street when your heart misses a beat and then sinks because you see another dog coming?
It means only one thing. Your lovely but very dominant dog is going to try to leave their mark on yet another dog.
And you’ve no idea how badly this could go!
Even though the other dog is on a leash you know you’re in trouble if they come too close, and so you start looking for an exit strategy…
But before you know it your Shih Tzu is barking like crazy and showing off their teeth, despite their size.
You’ve tried everything to stop this behavior.
Like tugging on the leash, a different collar, distraction with food but nothing has made the slightest bit of difference.
Now it’s just a case of keeping them separated at all costs.
You’ve started to give up all hope.
So where did it all go so horribly wrong?
The thing that so many dog owners and trainers don’t seem to understand is that if you’ve been giving your Shih Tzu the wrong messages at home then it’s too late to turn it around when you see another dog on the street.
The simple fact is this… Dogs are simple animals.
And I mean that in a very loving way.
But they’re simply not interested in bigger TVs, faster cars or their next holiday.
Rather, dogs are about survival.
First and foremost.
Which includes protecting the property and the pack, especially when they are outside.
Now. Think about it.
Dogs are pack animals.
They understand there are leaders and followers.
And the leaders decide what is dangerous and take the initiative of protecting the pack.
So what do you think happens when your dog thinks that they are the pack leader and they walk down the street and see another strange dog coming?
That’s right. They walk up to them chest-up, head-up, tail-up and try to get them to back down. And that’s when it all goes pear-shaped.
But what started the reaction was giving your Shih Tzu the message that they were in charge in the first place!
That they’re in fact the Pack Leader in your home.
Now, of course, all dogs are different and some dogs are naturally more dominant than others, and there are some who like to be more submissive.
It doesn’t really matter what kind your Shih Tzu is.
The secret is this: YOU need to be the Pack Leader.
Once you establish this you will find all the other training tricks will start to work.
A gentle pull on the leash, the distraction using a food treat and the gentle word of warning.
The fact is that the training approaches that you’re currently using are probably really good ones but without a solid foundation, they simply don’t work.
Because in summary, your dog is not taking any notice of you once the other dog shows up.
Your dog has bigger things to worry about, like protecting followers in their pack (you).
So, to turn it around… again, YOU need to become the pack leader.
Here are some great training tricks that I can share that will help you achieve that calmer dog as the other dogs approach.
But remember, the pack leader foundation HAS to be in place first.
• Food distractions: This approach can really work with some food hounds! The key is this: use it as a distraction. Do not reward your dog after they have lunged towards the oncoming dog. Use amazing food, such as chicken or cheese. Not their usual biscuits!
• Take it slowly: Do not expect miracles overnight. Unless you’ve just put the pack leader rules in place! Often pushing things too fast will result in it going wrong, but going slowly builds confidence.
• Master the walk: Make sure that you’ve gotten control of your dog’s walking before you meet the oncoming dog. If you need to consider a device other than a flat collar to achieve this then do so.
• Stay focused on what you want: It’s easy to get sucked into following your dog’s behavior but remember that you need to continue to show your dog exactly how you want them to behave.
• Be ready to step in: Stay focused on the best result but be ready to step in and quickly guide your dog away or gently tug or correct them. Once you’ve done this remember to relax immediately afterward.
One of the things that I love about this whole method is that it works with your Shih Tzu’s natural instincts.
For example, it’s natural that one dog will be above another.
You can’t take that out of dogs.
But by positioning yourself as the top dog in the pack, they will not be nearly as likely to become overly protective, tense, dominant or take things too far.
Remember that trying to deal with the problem when you see the other dog approaching is always going to be too late.
It’s about sorting out the real cause of the issue that will turn things around.
Your Shih Tzu is just waiting for you to give him the right messages!