New Shih Tzu owner with questions Questions

Discussion in 'Shih Tzu' started by Michael Sonshine, May 5, 2024.

  1. Michael Sonshine

    Michael Sonshine New Member

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    New Shih Tzu owner with questions

    Hello everyone. My wife and I are new owners of a 3 month old Shih Tzu and find ourselves unable to get him to stop some of his annoying behaviors.

    He is as cute as he could possibly be, but he is constantly biting, mostly our toes, feet and, when he can reach them, our hands and arms. We have tried telling him NO when he does bite, but that only seems to make him bite more. Lately he has started jumping up trying to reach whatever parts of our bodies are not covered. Is there some way to stop this?

    We have given him a lot of chewable toys and at first he chewed on them, but he has since decided that we are a more interesting target and when we offer him the toys he ignores them and bites us. Someone suggested giving him some carrot sticks to chew on but I don't know if carrots are good for him and, even if they are, don't know if they should be raw or cooked. Any suggestions?

    I had expected that house training would be the great challenge, but he is smart and has partly figured that out already. We take him out frequently but he mostly seems to like being in the house. Perhaps because we live in southern Arizona and it tends to be hot outside. He is so full of energy that he is wearing us out and making our cat a bit crazy, but I assume all of that will take care of itself over time. But I do worry about how to stop his biting. Thanks for any help.
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  3. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    At 3 months, he is very much still a baby. He is also going to be going through teething stages over the next several months.

    First, simply saying "no" means nothing. He doesn't understand what you are talking about. "No bite" provides better direction but even that will take him time to learn what "bite" refers to.

    Second, rather than just handing him a toy when he bites, interact with him with the toy. Biting you is fun because it results in an interaction with you. So, when he bites, bring that toy out and play with him with the toy. Don't give him the toy and walk away - he wants YOUR attention. Remember, we had bred dogs to be our best friends and to need to interact with us. He is trying to do just that. In addition, he has been taken away from his sublings, who he has had 24/7 contact with since birth. He is used to having a playmate constantly and then suddenly he is alone and expected to play by himself. He needs our interaction as he learns to play on his own.

    Third, as soon as he goes for the toy instead of you, praise him. Tell him that he is a smart puppy. The goal is to redirect (get him to focus on the toy) and reward when he does. Make it more fun to chew on an appropriate object than it is to chew on you.

    This is also a good opportunity to teach "leave it". When he targets your body parts, tell him "leave it" and then redirect him to the toy and play with him.

    For the jumping up to bite, remember that he is very small. It is difficult for him to get the attention of his very big playmate - so he jumps and bites to say "I'm here and I want attention". So, you want to give him a more effective way of communicating that. Teaching him to sit for attention works well. First, teach him to sit for treats. Hold the treat out and say " sit". He'll jump. Ignore him. At some point, he will sit because he doesn't know what else to do. As soon as he does, give him the treat and praise him. Repeat. It will only take a few times for him to understand that he should sit to get the treat. And as you always say "sit", he will connect the command to the behavior. Now, turn that to his attention seeking. When he jumps at you say " sit". Then wait for him to sit. As soon as he sits, get down to his level and give him attention. He will quickly learn that jumping isn't effective but sitting is. The key to this is consistency and paying attention. If he sits, you need to give him attention - each and every time. He is communicating with you that he needs your attention. If you ignore him when he sits, he will seek other ways to get your attention.

    Also keep a toy/chew at the ready wherever he tends to want to chew. You want to be able to pull it out immediately. With my current boy, when he was young he tended to want to bite at me when we went to bed at night. He didn't want to settle down and go to sleep. So I kept a bunch of chews in the bedside drawer so I could grab one easily when he started biting at me. The chew gave him an outlet to chew on while he settled down for the night.

    In regards to potty training, remember that changes in weather, especially to cold and/or wet, can cause a relapse. So be prepared for that. He may do great all spring, summer, and fall, but as winter hits he may suddenly start having "accidents". So be forwarned and when it rains or a cold front moves in, be prepared to go out with him to ensure he does his business outside rather than hold it until he's back inside. My boy did that the first two years - the first rain of the season he decided it was better to hold it and go inside. I had to go out with him and make sure he did his business. Now I can just ask "did you go potty?" at the door and he'll run off to go real quick and then come inside.
  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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  5. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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    buy an empty spray bottle and put water in it. When he bites spritz him. He will stop. A tired puppy is a good puppy. They have a lot of energy to express and walking, throwing something to retrieve will tire him out. Get some very thin raw Beef bones. Fine to eat raw bones. He has a small mouth so keep that in mind. I stopped my pom from scratching the back of my legs with a spray of water. She don't like that. I do!
  6. Michael Sonshine

    Michael Sonshine New Member

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    Thank you very much for such a complete response to my question. I have started trying your suggestions and will see how well he responds. I really appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.
  7. Michael Sonshine

    Michael Sonshine New Member

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    I think I remember hearing that years ago, but forgot all about it as I have not had a dog in all of these years and so it just slipped my mind. Thank you for the idea.
  8. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Please don't spray the puppy. It is unnecessary to punish the puppy for being a puppy. Simply redirect and praise and you will stop the biting AND have a happy dog.

    Spraying with water may seem harmless, but it can backfire. First, the puppy may become fearful in general because punishment comes out of nowhere. He has no idea why he's getting sprayed and so it makes him fearful of doing anything. Second, it can make him fearful of water OR can make him aggressive towards water.
  9. who owns who

    who owns who Member

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    This is horrible advice. It’s negative training. This is an outdated method of training. All training should be based on positive reinforcement
  10. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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    which is fantasy training. You wouldn't have said "no bark" then later add Bark! So the dog knows when and when not to. Don't say NO to a dog like that's the worst thing that could happen. IT IS NOT.
    So if a dog runs into the street only rely on recall and either chase it around or NEVER say no god forbid!! I know a few trainers who would love to get these dogs in their classes because a dog that never has no or negative reinforcement is a stupid dog. That's what i mean by NOT a trained dog a PERFORMANCE dog.
    https://psychcentral.com/health/what-is-negative-reinforcement-definition-3-types-and-examples
  11. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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  12. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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    \
    yeah my pup is scared to death of water....not
  13. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    @Michael Sonshine to clarify for you some of the comments being made, please be aware that spraying a dog for biting is NOT negative reinforcement. It is positive punishment.

    You are waiting until the dog does something "wrong" and then you are applying a punishment (squirting the dog with water).

    An example of negative reinforcement in dog training is when you push down on your dog's butt until he sits. The dog hasn't done anything wrong when you put the pressure on his butt - you apply the pressure to encourage him to sit.

    Yes, this does work. When I started training back in the 70s, this was THE way to teach a sit.

    Over the years, most people have realized that simply rewarding the dog for sitting is more effective and quicker.

    Back in the day, it usually took a few weeks to get a dog to sit consistently by using negative reinforcement. And many people mistakenly believed that they needed to force the dog's body into the sit position rather than just apply pressure - this resulted in some dogs becoming annoyed, stressed or even angry.

    Using positive reinforcement (see my first post) is much quicker AND the dog is happy to do it. I have used this method on multiple dogs, adults and puppies, from akitas to poodle mixes, and within minutes, the dogs were happily sitting on command.

    To explain how the four quadrants work, here is an example. You want to teach your child how to tie his shoe.

    Positive reinforcement - you praise your child as he does it right. If he makes a mistake, you encourage him to try again.

    Negative reinforcement - you pinch his ear and tell him to tie his shoe. Only when he gets it right do you stop pinching his ear.

    Positive punishment - each time he gets it wrong, you tell him he's a stupid idiot.

    Negative punishment - each time he gets it wrong, you take away one of his toys.

    Which is most effective to teach him to tie his shoe? Which will result in him happily tying his shoe? Which will have him becoming sullen and angry? Which will have him avoiding shoelaces for life? Which will have him resenting or disliking you?

    Do you want a dog who obeys because he fears the consequences or because he's miserable? Or do you want a dog who enjoys doing what you want?

    Shih tzus are fun happy dogs. They want to have fun. Use that. Make learning fun. Keep it positive and reward him with more fun. Redirect and reward. He will respond to that.
  14. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    Positive is not permissive. I tend to use 'ah-ah' as a reminder that it's not the behaviour I'm looking for. I don't know where you are getting your ideas from about positive training, but whatever the source, it's not good
  15. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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    I learned about operant conditioning in high school. Most trainers just pick and choose what ever they like instead of following thru on REAL operant conditioning. This is like a shopper only buying candy. Take what you want and ignore the rest. I don't consider the people doing this as trainers. They get robotic performance dogs. I saw a pup who learned down he did it himself got a click and treat but he also barked at the same time so guess who was barking on downs? Yeah real good. She had to retrain without the bark. Performance only. A trained dog learns language not behaviors. They know what is ok and not ok because using positive training has a non-positive opposite a trainer should use. SO yeah I know NOTHING about operant conditioning.

    https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
    Operant conditioning, or instrumental conditioning, is a theory of learning where behavior is influenced by its consequences. Behavior that is reinforced (rewarded) will likely be repeated, and behavior that is punished will occur less frequently.
  16. Malka

    Malka Member

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    I bet you think Cesar Milan is wonderful as well.
  17. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    So you learned about a subject in high school (50-60 years ago) and you are THE expert...

    Things have changed a lot since you were a teen. New understandings into the psyche of dogs. Better knowledge of how brains work. And a more balanced view as to how dogs should be treated.

    Your entire discussion above regarding operant conditioning is non-sensical. You claim dogs trained using operant conditioning are "performance dogs" and then you proceed to say that operant conditioning is THE way to train a dog.

    You argue that dogs trained in positive only techniques learn only the "language" and not "behaviors". That is not true. Dogs trained with positive methods learn both language and behaviors and they learn to interpret language.

    For example, my Tornado-dog loves to play " throw the ball". I trained him, using positive training methods, to put his ball in a special basket if he wants someone to throw it for him. He learned that very quickly. But he also learned that when he was getting tired of running he should hang onto the ball to catch his breath and then put it in the basket. One day, when the basket was put up while we did some work, he wanted to play ball. He looked for the basket and couldn't find it. But he did see an open box - he interpreted "basket" to include the box and dropped his ball in the box and waited to chase it.

    That is NOT a performance dog. That is a dog who has learned commands/instructions and has also learned how to modify them to his surroundings. He has the confidence to think for himself and not just "perform" on command.

    In contrast, dogs taught with negative training methods become so concerned about making a mistake that they cannot adjust their skillset to new environments. They can't substitute a box for a basket because they fear it will be punished. So they never learn how to interpret their surroundings and fit the instructions to those new surroundings.

    The FOLKS on this forum do not always agree. We all have different takes on many areas. But the one thing we ALL DO AGREE ON is that we can disagree and/or debate without attacking each other. We also have evolved over the years in our approach to dog training. What we did 40 years ago is not necessarily what we do today - because we have the humility to realize and accept that we are not all knowing and that we can learn new more humane ways of training our dogs.
  18. Helidale

    Helidale Member

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    Toedtoes likes this.
    So true Toed. We learn by our past mistakes. It is great these days to see dogs who turn up to training thinking that it is a game they play, and are full of enthusiasm to do it. Makes me smile if I say, 'Want to do training?' and Tal leaps up, wagging her tail. She may not always get things right, and, (controversially it seems), she does get an occasional No, but it makes her happy to earn rewards by finding 'lost' items, doing a stay, or doing some heelwork. (We call the latter Walk Nicely) :044: Yes, I know!
  19. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    I think the main controversy with "no" is more in the confusion that new dog owners have about it.

    Many new owners think that "no" is just automatically understood by the dog in all situations. Because the dog has learned that "no jump" means not to jump they assume the dog will automatically understand that any command including no will be understood. They don't realize that the dog has to learn all the other words used in conjunction with the no.

    That's why I tend to steer folks asking for training help away from using "no". So often they'll state "my dog knows what no means" when trying to train a new behavior or stop an unwanted behavior - as if saying no should be enough for the dog to work it out.
  20. Lifew/dogs

    Lifew/dogs New Member

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    Hope you're not asking me. He still thinks there are wolves and dogs that are alphas. hahaha.
  21. Malka

    Malka Member

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    Now SiiiiT! while I put on your chokechain and we'll go Walkies!

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