How to Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait

How to Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait  by Brad Clarke     |Published 01-08-2024

Waiting is perhaps one of the most important (and basic) commands to teach your Shih Tzu, or any breed of dog for that matter. A dog who knows how to wait is less likely to get up to mischief and runoff, and it also minimizes the possibility of accidents.

Holding your dog’s attention with a simple one-worded command will make it easier to get him to obey subsequent commands and to keep your pooch under control.

Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait:  Black and White dog is sitting by the door.Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait

Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Wait

How do you get started and is it really that difficult to teach your Shih Tzu to wait? Let’s find out.

Introduce the Command - A Step-by-Step

The first step is to introduce your Shih Tzu to the command. At this stage, dog owners shouldn’t expect any kind of understanding at first. Rather, this is the time for your dog to hear the word for the first time when he’s doing something you want to associate with the keyword.

For example, let’s say you want to train your dog to wait by making him stop before leaving the house (or any area). Remember that once the training begins, you should never allow your dog to leave without obeying the command. Follow these easy steps to get started:

1. Before you open the door, hold onto your dog until he’s waiting patiently or keep him in the sitting position (if he already knows “sit”). Open the door slightly while repeating the keyword, in this case, we will use “wait”. Open it only enough so that your dog can see outside but cannot get through the crack.

2. The next step is to open the door wider and repeat “wait”. Wait for a few seconds and then open the door wider and repeat the word. 

3. Do it until the door is wide enough for your dog to get through, say the word, and make sure he does wait before you step through first and allow him to follow. You can even incorporate another keyword to let your dog know it’s okay to walk through, such as “go” or “okay”.

4. Mishaps are inevitable, and it’s almost 100% that your dog will try to squeeze through the opening or bolt through to freedom when the door is wide enough. If and when he does this, Immediately pull him back in and close the door and repeat the keyword “wait” and start again from the beginning. 

5. Keep going through steps 1 to 3 and 4 if necessary until your dog gets it right a few times, and then you can go for your walk. 

For most dogs, the steps above will work. However, there are times when we’re dealing with dogs who may have emotional trauma, or poor temperament due to negative experiences and will need a little more help.

Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait With Positive Reinforcement

What makes the training stick? Why, positive reinforcement, of course! Your dog will need to get something in return in order to understand that what he is doing is right. Alternatively, do not reward bad behavior, so your dog knows not to do it. 

Never use punishment to show your dog wrong from right, because it could breed aggression, resentment and make the overall experience a difficult one for you and your dog. Plus, results show that punishment isn’t as effective as positive reinforcement. 

Get some high-value treats (special ones your dog doesn’t usually get) so that he is even more eager to get things right (bribery with food works for most canines).

Just because your dog didn’t totally get it right doesn’t mean you can’t give him some encouragement. In the beginning stages of any sort of training, you can reward your dog for trying. If your Shih Tzu shows hesitation to cross the threshold before you give the go-ahead, give him praise. 

Patience and Consistency is Needed When You Train Your Shih Tzu to Wait

It shouldn’t take too long, but teaching your Shih Tzu to wait is not a one-time success type of thing. Just like with anything you teach your dog, it will take patience and repetition on your part. Don’t expect your pooch to get it right just because you tell him to do something a few times.

Dogs need constant repetition to remember something. If you spend six months teaching your Shih-Tzu to wait, but in reality, you only tell them to wait once or twice a week, your dog will not remember what to do or even understand that that is a command. 

Not only do you have to do it frequently but you also have to do it with consistency. If your dog “forgets” how to wait on an off day, do not just let it go. You have to make sure that your dog gets it every time. If you do, it will maybe take one to two weeks with repetition for your dog to understand “wait”. 

The Follow-Up

Once your dog has mastered waiting by the door, you can transfer this knowledge to other activities. Try telling your Shih Tzu to wait at the crosswalk, or stoplight, or before you give him a treat. If done right, your dog should recognize the word and the command can be applied to a variety of situations.

When you’re sure your dog understands the wait command, you can use “wait” as a neutral command before you ask your dog to do something else. Let’s say your dog is a real eager beaver when it comes to mealtimes and he likes to lunge into his bowl and devour everything within a few minutes. This is the perfect situation to use “wait”, and then “go” or “okay” when you give him the go-ahead to eat.

“Wait” can also prevent your dog from lunging at something he shouldn't, let’s say another dog because he gets too excited, or run carelessly across the street because he spots his furry best friend. 


Don’t worry, your dog will master what you try to teach with patience and consistency. It may take some dogs as little time like a week to become pros at “wait”, while others may need a little longer.

Even if your dog is a master at commands, you should still continue to reinforce your dog’s understanding of the word by applying it to different situations to make sure it sticks. In time, your Shih Tzu will be one well-behaved dog! 

Author Bio

Brad cannot remember life without dogs around, and he simply can’t live without them! He created Dog Nerdz to provide owners with crucial tips and essential info to be the best dog owner they can be. He has learned so much over the years about how to look after his precious pup Boogie!"

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About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.