Home » Camellia Saunderson » Training Small Breed Dogs like Jake the Shih-Tzu

Training Small Breed Dogs like Jake the Shih-Tzu


Recently I noticed that all of my clients are large breed dogs; does that mean that there are more large breed dogs with behavioral issues than there are small breed dogs? I don’t believe so. I feel that many people see small breed dogs as being easier to manage than large breed dogs, so often times they get tucked away, picked up off the ground, left at home, and have excuses made for their behavior, rather than actually dealing with it.

Jake is a 7 year old Shih-Tzu who came to me as an owner surrender. He had an extensive bite history, having bit every adult and child in his home on multiple occasions, and was going to be euthanized before the new baby arrived. He was human aggressive, biting on contact, and dog aggressive, reacting at the sound of another dog. Jake lived a very sheltered life in the past, never being socialized or even walked; he was allowed on the furniture, was fed for free, had no boundaries, and ran the entire home, demanding things when he wanted them and biting when he didn’t.

Like many small breed dogs, Jake was a tough little cookie! I taught him to work for his food, gave him boundaries, exercised him on a daily basis, socialized him with other dogs, taught him obedience, and taught him respect for humans. He now gets along great with other dogs, fitting well into my pack of pitbulls. In fact, he is the toughest out of all of them! He meets new dogs and new people on a regular basis, and has spent some time with children.

Will Jake ever bite again? He certainly has it in him; he spent the first 7 years of his life biting and it is going to take a lot longer than 5 weeks to teach him not to, but he now enjoys being patted, getting belly rubs, being picked up, laying on his back, and above all else, living a balanced life style. Jake needed a home with a strong leader, because he is a strong dog himself. He needed someone that would continue to socialize him and exercise him on a daily basis. He needed someone that would continue to train him and make him work for his food so that he would continue to respect his humans. Above all else, Jake needed boundaries. What did Jake not need? Someone that would allow him to take over the furniture, or sleep in their bed. Jake did not need someone to carry him around, feed him treats all day, and love him to death. For Jake’s rehabilitation to be successful, he needed a leader, so when he was fully trained and ready to go home, I trained his owners too!

What we must remember is that small breed dogs are dogs too, and they require everything a large breed dog does; exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, leadership, boundaries, and guidance. I encourage everyone with a small breed dog to keep this in mind, and if you are having issues with your little ones, do not hesitate to contact one of our family of upk9 trainers who can help you solve the problems; a dog with behavioral issues is not a happy dog, and all dogs, regardless of breed or size, deserve to live a balanced lifestyle.



Are you at your wits end with your dog’s behavior and would like to have control, sanity, and above all else, safety? No matter the age or breed, please contact me, because I promise you, I can help you!

Book your FREE consultation and demonstration with me today! Send me an email at camellias@upk9.ca  Like me on Facebook! Not in The Valley, NS? Find a trainer near you ! Be sure to sign up for Duke’s Free mini video series HERE 


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