How to Effectively Train Your Shih Poo

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How to Effectively Train Your Shih Poo
By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | January 1, 2024
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The Shih Poo, a delightful mix of Shih Tzu and Poodle, are known for their friendly disposition and adorable appearance. These small-sized dogs make wonderful companions, but like all dogs, they require proper training to become well-behaved members of your family.

To effectively train your Shih Poo, start with early socialization, teach basic commands using positive reinforcement, crate train for safety, and be patient and consistent. Address specific challenges with tailored solutions and consider advanced training for mental stimulation.

Understanding the Shih Poo Breed

Before we dive into training, it’s essential to understand the Shih Poo breed’s characteristics and temperament. Shih Poos inherit traits from both the Shih Tzu and Poodle parents, and this mix results in a unique combination of traits:

  • Size: Shih Poos are small dogs, typically weighing between 8 to 18 pounds and standing 8 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. Their compact size makes them suitable for apartment living.
  • Coat: Their coat can vary depending on the genetics inherited from their parents, but it often combines the soft, wavy, and low-shedding qualities of the Poodle with the longer, silky hair of the Shih Tzu.
  • Temperament: Shih Poos are known for their friendly and sociable nature. They tend to be affectionate, playful, and often get along well with children and other pets. However, they can also be a bit stubborn, so effective training is crucial.
  • Intelligence: With their Poodle lineage, Shih Poos are usually intelligent and quick learners. This intelligence can be harnessed to teach them a variety of commands and tricks.
  • Energy Level: Shih Poos are moderately active dogs. They enjoy playtime and short walks, making them adaptable to both active and less active households.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the Shih Poo breed let’s move on to the essential steps in effectively training your Shih Poo.

What is the Importance of Early Socialization in the Shih Poo Breed?

Socialization is a critical aspect of raising a well-adjusted Shih Poo. Proper socialization during puppyhood helps your dog become comfortable around people, other dogs, and various environments. It also reduces the risk of behavioral problems in the future.

  • Puppy Playdates: Arrange playdates with other puppies or dogs to help your Shih Poo learn appropriate social behaviors and build positive associations with other canines.
  • Exposure to Different Environments: Introduce your puppy to various environments, such as parks, streets, and different types of flooring. This exposure helps them become confident and less anxious in new places.
  • Meeting New People: Let your puppy meet different people, including children and adults of all ages. Ensure these interactions are positive and gentle to prevent fear or anxiety.

Basic Obedience Training for Your Shih Poo

Basic obedience commands are the foundation of any dog’s training. Teaching your Shih Poo these commands will help them become well-behaved and responsive to your cues.

Sit: Start with the “sit” command, as it’s one of the easiest for puppies to learn. Hold a treat above your puppy’s head and move it back over their eyes. As their head follows the treat, their bottom will naturally lower into a sitting position. Reward and praise them when they sit.

  • Stay: Teaching “stay” is essential for safety. Begin by asking your Shih Poo to sit, then hold your palm out and say “stay” while taking a step back. If they stay in place, reward and praise them. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the stay.
  • Come: The “come” command is crucial for recall. Use a cheerful tone and encourage your puppy to come to you. When they do, reward and praise them enthusiastically. This command is vital for keeping your Shih Poo safe in various situations.
  • Leave It and Drop It: “Leave it” and “drop it” are crucial for preventing your Shih Poo from picking up or chewing on harmful objects. Start with a low-value item and practice these commands regularly, rewarding them for compliance.
  • Leash Training: Leash training is essential for walks and outings. Use a lightweight leash and harness, and encourage your Shih Poo to walk beside you without pulling. Reward them for walking calmly on the leash.

How Can Positive Reinforcement Help with Training Your Shih Poo?

Positive reinforcement is a powerful training method for Shih Poos. It involves rewarding your dog with treats, praise, and affection when they exhibit desired behaviors. Here are some tips for using positive reinforcement effectively:

  • Use High-Value Treats: Find treats that your Shih Poo loves and reserve them for training sessions. High-value treats are more motivating and can help maintain your dog’s interest and focus.
  • Consistency is Key: Consistency in your commands and rewards is crucial. Always use the same words and gestures for each command, and reward your dog immediately when they follow your instructions.
  • Timing: Timing is everything in positive reinforcement. Reward your Shih Poo immediately after they perform the desired behavior to reinforce the connection between the action and the reward.
  • Avoid Punishment: Avoid using punishment-based training methods, as they can create fear and anxiety in your Shih Poo. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior and ignoring or redirecting unwanted behavior.

How to Start Crate Training Your Shih Poo

Crate training is a valuable tool for housebreaking and providing your Shih Poo with a safe and comfortable space. Here’s how to crate train effectively:

  • Choose the Right Crate: Select a crate that is appropriately sized for your Shih Poo. It should be large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably but not so big that they can use one end as a bathroom.
  • Positive Associations: Make the crate a positive place by placing toys, bedding, and treats inside. Encourage your puppy to enter the crate voluntarily and reward them when they do.
  • Gradual Introduction: Start by leaving the crate door open and allowing your Shih Poo to explore it at their own pace. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend inside, using treats and praise to make it a positive experience.
  • Establish a Routine: Create a schedule for crate time, including overnight stays and short periods during the day. This routine helps your Shih Poo understand when it’s time to rest and when it’s time for other activities.
  • Housebreaking: Crate training is particularly helpful for housebreaking. Puppies instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping area, so the crate can aid in teaching them bladder control.

Potty Training Your Shih Poo

Potty training is one of the most challenging aspects of raising a puppy. Shih Poos can be a bit stubborn in this regard, so patience and consistency are essential.

  • Set a Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule for your Shih Poo, and take them outside shortly after meals, as well as first thing in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Use a Designated Area: Choose a specific spot in your yard where you want your Shih Poo to go potty. Take them to this spot consistently so they understand where it’s appropriate to eliminate.
  • Supervision: Keep a close eye on your puppy when they are indoors, especially during the initial stages of potty training. Look for signs such as sniffing, circling, or whining, which may indicate they need to go outside.
  • Positive Reinforcement: When your Shih Poo eliminates in the designated area, reward them with praise and treats. Positive reinforcement will help reinforce the desired behavior.
  • Be Patient: Accidents will happen during the potty training process. When they do, avoid scolding or punishing your puppy. Instead, clean up the mess calmly and continue with your training efforts.

Socializing Your Shih Poo with Other Dogs

Socializing your Shih Poo with other dogs is crucial for their development and behavior. Here are some tips for successful dog-to-dog interactions:

  • Choose Playmates Carefully: Select dogs of similar size and temperament for playdates. Avoid overwhelming your Shih Poo with larger or overly dominant dogs.
  • Supervise Play: Always supervise interactions between your Shih Poo and other dogs to ensure they play safely and learn appropriate social cues.
  • Teach Proper Behavior: Use positive reinforcement to encourage your Shih Poo to exhibit polite behaviors, such as sharing toys and taking turns during play.
  • Expose to Different Breeds: Try to expose your Shih Poo to a variety of dog breeds and sizes to help them become comfortable around different types of dogs.

Training Challenges and Solutions

Every dog, including Shih Poos, may encounter training challenges along the way. Here are some common issues and how to address them:

  • Barking: Shih Poos can be prone to barking, especially when they are bored or anxious. To reduce excessive barking, provide mental stimulation through toys and puzzles, and address the underlying cause of their anxiety.
  • Separation Anxiety: Shih Poos are known for forming strong bonds with their owners, which can lead to separation anxiety. Gradually acclimate your puppy to being alone by leaving for short periods and gradually increasing the duration.
  • Leash Pulling: If your Shih Poo tends to pull on the leash during walks, consider using a harness designed to discourage pulling. Additionally, practice loose leash walking during training sessions.
  • Stubbornness: Shih Poos can be a bit stubborn, so patience and consistency are key. Use positive reinforcement and break training into short, frequent sessions to keep your dog engaged and motivated.

Advanced Training and Enrichment Activities for Your Shih Poo

Once you have mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced training and enrichment activities to keep your Shih Poo mentally and physically stimulated. Here are some ideas:

  • Agility Training: Agility courses provide an excellent outlet for your Shih Poo’s energy and intelligence. Set up a mini-agility course in your backyard or attend agility classes in your area.
  • Trick Training: Shih Poos are intelligent dogs that enjoy learning new tricks. Teach them fun and impressive tricks like “roll over,” “play dead,” or “fetch specific items.”
  • Puzzle Toys: Interactive puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys can keep your Shih Poo entertained and mentally engaged. These toys challenge their problem-solving skills and provide mental stimulation.
  • Obedience Competitions: If you’re interested in taking training to the next level, consider enrolling your Shih Poo in obedience competitions. These events can be a fun way to showcase their skills and bond with your dog.

Patience and Consistency

Above all, remember that training a Shih Poo, or any dog, takes time, patience, and consistency. Dogs thrive on routine and positive reinforcement, so stay committed to your training efforts. Celebrate your Shih Poo’s progress and always maintain a loving and respectful relationship with your furry companion.


Training your Shih Poo is a rewarding journey that strengthens your bond and ensures your dog’s well-being. By starting early with socialization, teaching basic obedience commands, using positive reinforcement, and addressing specific training challenges, you can raise a well-behaved and happy Shih Poo. Remember that every dog is unique, so adapt your training approach to suit your Shih Poo’s individual needs and personality. With dedication and love, you’ll enjoy many wonderful moments with your well-trained Shih Poo companion.