Are Lhasa Apsos Stubborn?
Spend some time with Lhasa lovers or read most any article you find online and you'll hear "Lhasa's are stubborn..." or "You need to be the leader of the pack..." or maybe you've already heard "Lhasas are hard to train".  If so many people are saying it, then it must be true, right?  Well, some of it is partially true, but understanding why is important, especially if you plan to train one.

Intelligent minds bore easily
Wikipedia says the Lhasa ranks #126 in intelligence.  Petidregister says they're #68.  Pethelpful states #79. And the AKC simply states they're one of the smartest breeds of dogs.  So what can we tell from this? They're not dumb!  That is all that can be known from these various reports.  Who knows what they were judged on in any of these.  How high they can jump?  How good at math they are?  Did they do treat puzzles?  Count to 10?  How many kibbles does it take to get to the center of a...well, you get the idea.  What I can say from personal experience is the Lhasa Apso is an intelligent breed.  They like a mental challenge and they bore easily.  Keep it interesting!

Imagine training a dog to sit who already knows the command.  He does it great twice and on the third time he's bored of this but you keep asking him to sit.  He stops obeying.  Is he dumb?  Hard to train? Stubborn? Maybe he's just done with that and ready to move on.  This is no longer interesting or engaging.  He's bored.  To prevent this, keep repetitions short and train more frequently.  Short 5-10 minute sessions is all it takes!

Leader of the Pack - Be the Boss!
It's true, you need to be the leader of the pack and take authority.  This is true with all dogs; some just require more authority than others.  The Lhasas native purpose was to be a sentinel or guard dog and commanded respect.  This mentality isn't bred out over the years, in fact it's still one of the great things about this breed.  It does mean you'll also want to train them to know when it's OK to bark and when it isn't, but it's also the reason you'll need to be more assertive when gaining respect.  You'll need to be more regimented and authoritative as well as establish a routine, speak in a commanding tone and walk with purpose and leadership.  Always walk through doors first and force the dog to follow you.  If you don't take command, the Lhasa will.  And you'll notice this in many ways such as barking, picky eating behavior and poor obedience in general or taking YOU on a walk.  Be the boss, and be a friendly loving one and you'll be the CEO of your Lhasa.  That's Constantly Esteemed Owner, and yes I just made that up but it's true.  Your dog will love you for the leadership and making it clear what you want, so it's clear to him when it's accomplished.


How long does it take? 
Lhasas are easy to train!  It generally only takes 3 days of repetition.  That's right!  In just 3 days of 3 short sessions per day, you can teach a Lhasa to do almost anything.  It may take a couple of weeks to master and polish that skill but chances are high that your dog understood by the 3rd time he was shown.  And that after just two more days, he is doing what you've asked.

Release words and keeping it fun! 
Make it fun, keep it interesting (switch it up, but keep skills at only 2 or 3 being taught at a time) and have lots of treats!  Reward your dog the second they've performed, so they quickly learn what earns the treat.  It's good to choose a release word as well, so your dog knows when you expect them to be done.  This is very valuable with the stay command.  "OK" is a common release word which doesn't sound like other words and your dog is never confused about when he's done.  It's easy to want to say "good boy" or "good girl" but this is a phrase used often and is not the best choice for a release word. 

Train at a good time 
Use food rewards and lots of praise and keep positive!  It's good to train when they're hungry and not immediately after a big play session.   You can use the same treat for several commands.  Letting them taste it a bit and then continuing the training session will ensure you're not just feeding the dog.  At only 8 weeks your puppy is able to start training for short sessions. Teach your Lhasa Apso puppy the basic skills such as "heel", "sit", "down", "come", and "stay".  


Start with the basics 

Sit - When the dog is standing, hold a treat toward his nose and run it back over the top of their head.  As soon as you see the hind end hit the floor, treat, use your release word and praise them.  If you'd like to command them to sit without verbal queues, be sure to use the same hand gesture every time as well.  Your Lhasa will soon begin reacting appropriately to either verbal commands or hand gestures.  For sit, I use a pointed finger as if I were saying "hold up one sec". 

Down - Once the sit command is mastered, start on the down command.  Ask them to sit and then ask them to "down".  At the same time pull their front legs out from under them and as soon as the elbows hit the floor, treat, use your release word and praise them.  For the down command I use a flat palm pressed down as a visual queue. 

Come - Use a high value food reward for this one.  It needs to be especially great for them to come when called.  This can save a dog's life in danger situations and your dog needs to want to stop everything and come when called.  If your dog loves chicken (most Lhasas do!) then have boiled chicken for this one.  Cheese, bacon or whatever they love most should be used to ensure this one is an enthusiastic participation!  Change your voice, use a FUN voice, lean down and make it sound like it's going to be a party to come see you.  In a safe space have someone else hold your dog and you walk away to practice this skill.  Your dog should always be rewarded and you need to always grab the leash the second they're with you (or step on it at least).

Stay - To teach a dog to stay we need to have a mastered skill such as sit or down.  The video below is a 3 month old Lhasa and shows exactly how this is begun.  Ask the dog to sit and tell them to stay.  Hold a treat right at their nose but hidden behind your fingers so it can not be taken.  While walking around your dog slowly, keep the treat right at their nose and repeat the word "stay" over and over.  When you're back in the heel position with the dog sitting on your left, give the release word and treat.  Begin to do this with the treat farther away from the nose and then begin to do this with more distance between you and the dog.  Start distancing by pivoting to the front of your dog, repeating the word stay and taking a step back.  When you return to the heel position is when your dog is given the release word and rewarded.  At any time if the dog moves start back over and make sure to begin from the same start position.  Next try turning your back on your dog while asking them to stay.  Try slipping around a corner.  The stay command takes time to master at distances and be sure to reward with lots of enthusiasm when your dog cooperates!

Heel - When your dog is about 12 weeks it's time to add the heel command.  To heel means to be at your left side, walking, with your dogs head by your left leg.  Once the dog sits, say the command "heel" and hold a treat low enough to gain your dog's attention and begin walking slowly.  They can taste or nibble as you walk but keep moving and saying heel.  After a short distance, give your release word and reward.  If your dog isn't cooperating then make sure to keep the treat near their nose and move them along.  This is an awkward stance to walk in when training a puppy but is a valuable command to have.  I use a finger pointing down by my left leg for the visual command to "heel".

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