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How to Train a Shar Pei: 12 Tips & Tricks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

red shar pei dogs in the mountain

How to Train a Shar Pei: 12 Tips & Tricks

The Shar-Pei is a strong, confident, and loyal dog. Hailing from China, it’s got an imposing demeanor, a witty brain, and an affectionate heart. But it can also be very stubborn. For centuries, this dog has been serving as a guardian, always relying on its own self. That’s exactly why obedience training is essential for a Shar-Pei!

And if you skip early socialization, the dog will grow into a dominant, bossy beast with little respect for the rules. On the bright side, if you raise it right, the Shar-Pei will turn into a docile, even-tempered, and faithful protector. So, how do you potty-train a Shar-Pei? How do you make it stop biting and barking? Read on to find out!

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The 12 Tips to Training a Shar Pei

We begin our deep dive into Shar-Pei training techniques with the basics. Being positive, steering the pup in the right direction with a calm, yet firm voice, and keeping the sessions short is how you earn a Shar-Pei’s trust. This is an obstinate, highly intelligent breed that only responds to a friendly and confident leader. Here’s how you train it:

General Recommendations

1. Put Positive Reinforcement to Good Use

This is the golden rule of dog training. Whenever the pup does something right, be quick to praise its performance. The biggest motivator is going to be a tasty snack, but Shar-Pei dogs appreciate petting as well. Don’t pat them on their backs or heads, though: instead, go for the chin and chest. Be generous with the reinforcements to create the right associations.

The puppy needs to learn that as long as it does what you want, there’s going to be a treat at the end. Also, even if the dog only gets half of the assignment right, you should still encourage it. However, never give the dog treats, hugs, or cuddles if it refuses to follow your lead.

shar pei dog training
Image By: WilleeCole Photography, Shutterstock

2. Don’t Scold or Shout at the Shar-Pei

Some pups take forever to learn a simple command, and that can be frustrating. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Shar-Pei dogs. They are much smarter than the average dog and master new moves in 3–10 days, or even sooner. They do tend to be stubborn, though, and even a little bit aggressive at times.

But no matter how anxious the furry friend is, never raise your voice at it, let alone use curse words. Treat the dog like a little kid (a very talented one) and try to be the adult in the room. If the dog is attached to you and gets this kind of attitude from its human parent, that might break the bond. So, be very calm and understanding!

3. Use Your Voice to Guide the Dog

Dogs are gifted with a great sense of hearing and can easily recognize human voices. Call to it from a dense crowd, and the pup will come running. More importantly, our four-legged buds are capable of processing the differences in tone. That’s why in many ways, the tone is more important than the actual words. In this regard, pups are just like little kids.

For example, a soft, calm voice makes a dog feel safe and encouraged. A firm tone, in contrast, has more authority to it and is best to be used when teaching commands like “No” and “Quiet”. So, practice a bit before getting started with the dog. Otherwise, you might sound a bit too angry when saying these words, frightening the puppy.

fawn shar pei dog sitting outdoor
Image By: taranova oxana, Shutterstock

4. Keep the Training Sessions Nice and Short

Shar-Pei dogs get distracted easily and don’t like to participate in boring, repetitive activities. Therefore, long training days are a bad choice for this breed. Instead, keep the sessions short (5–10 minutes, 3–5 times a day), yet exciting enough for the dog to look forward to the next day. Also, try your best to make the training diverse by changing things up.

The Shar-Pei are smart chaps and catch onto things quickly; so, think about incorporating more fun elements into each session. Ideally, the routine should focus not only on the pup’s physical condition but also on its mental capabilities. That said, teaching a dog different commands simultaneously is not a good idea.

5. Start Obedience Training at a Young Age

We can’t stress enough how important it is to start “working” with the Shar-Pei while it’s still a puppy. Most behavioral patterns in dogs are established at a young age (when the pup is 7–8 weeks old). Now, some dog experts recommend postponing the first training session until the pup reaches at least 10–12 weeks of age and letting it develop on its own.

But with a Shar-Pei, the sooner you start, the better. The same goes for early socialization. Puppies are capable of exploring the world at a very tender age and happily make new friends. If you let the fluffy boy/girl develop the wrong patterns early on, it will be much harder to fix them in the future. Also, find a quiet place where you can train the dog in peace.

sharpei dog training
Image Credit: Pixel Shot, Shutterstock

Potty-Training a Shar-Pei

Alright, now that we’ve covered the essentials of training this Chinese guardian, it’s time to talk about an essential topic: house-training the pup. The good news is—that Shar-Pei is a witty, quick-to-catch-on dog and likes learning and sticking to a routine. So, use the following tips and tricks, and it shouldn’t take much effort to get there.

1. Practice Patience, Reward Proper Behavior

This is the best advice any trainer will give you: be patient! Sometimes, it may feel like the doggo will never learn how to do its business outside. But, if you give it time, eventually, the pup will master this oh-so-important skill. To get the best results with a Shar-Pei, start potty training at 3–4 months old. Take the dog outside and give it 2–3 minutes to make up its mind.

If nothing happens, repeat in an hour or so. The idea here is to let the puppy know the only place to go potty is the outdoors. Always take it to the same area/spot and use the same route. And the moment the pup “understands the assignment”, give it a treat. Over time, you can make the outdoor visits less frequent until the pet learns to always use the outside for bathroom breaks.

2. Learn to Recognize the Signs

How do you know exactly when the dog wants to relieve itself, though? Well, if it’s approaching the exit door, staring at it, barking, and circling, that means it wants to go outside. Sometimes, pups also smell the floor and scratch the door. So, that’s your cue! We would also recommend installing a doggie door. Teach the pup how to use it, and it won’t have to involve you in the process anymore.

shar pei dog pooping
Image By: Istvan Csak, Shutterstock

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Tips for Dealing With the Dog’s Aggression

A loyal protector, the Shar-Pei doesn’t take kindly to strangers because it was bred to guard and push trespassers away. That’s why it doesn’t hesitate to put its teeth to good use when dealing with a potential threat. So, how do you tackle this issue? Neutering/spaying is always an option, but it would be best to minimize the aggression and biting via socialization. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Put a Stop to Biting With Early Socialization

Dogs bite because of fear and aggression, and, if an adult Shar-Pei puts enough force into it, the bite can bruise and even break the skin. A domestic Shar-Pei will never do that to its owner, of course, but it might bite another human or an animal when provoked. To avoid that, invest heavily in early socialization. The goal here is simple: to let the dog communicate with as many strangers as possible.

Take it to various places (a park or a beach will do) and help it have different experiences while it’s still growing. This way, it will become more confident and less prone to aggressive behavior like barking or biting. Again, canines become hostile when they feel threatened, and this mostly happens when they face something unknown.

2. Consider Sterilizing the Shar-Pei

Sterilization helps dogs live longer, happier lives. On average, the life expectancy of neutered males is 13.8% higher, while females enjoy a 26.3% boost. It’s also a great “tool” for keeping aggression to a minimum. This is especially true for the boys: after their reproductive organs are removed, they become less territorial and aggressive toward fellow canines.

You should, of course, consult with a veterinarian before you go ahead with this procedure. It might be that your dog has a medical condition that doesn’t go well with sterilization. But, most pups benefit greatly from neutering/spaying. Besides, for dogs suffering from testicular, ovary, or breast cancer, it’s often the only available remedy.

shar pei dog with owner
Image By: Stari Vrac, Shutterstock

How Do You Train a Shar Pei to Stop Barking?

For a watchdog, being vocal is a good thing: it kills two birds with one stone, or, rather, bark. First, it scares stray animals and intruders away; secondly, the bark lets the owner(s) know something’s wrong. However, this also means you might have to deal with angry neighbors or even distant relatives that the dog mistakes for violators. Thankfully, there are ways to fix this unwanted behavior:

1. Set the Right Mood, Use the “Quiet” Command

If the doggo is a bit grumpy today, resist the urge to follow its lead. With the Shar-Pei, it’s very important to act like a true leader and serve as an example. It’s no secret that dogs can easily “read” human emotions. So, if the fur baby is barking all the time, don’t shout back at it. Instead, try to counter that by creating a chill environment. Chances are, the pet will want to copy your mood!

Also, use the “Quiet” command to make the barking stop. Practice a calm, reassuring tone, and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. This will take time and dedication to master, but you can speed up the process via positive reinforcement. Applaud and treat the dog every time it becomes quiet after this command.

2. Wear the Doggo Out With Exercise

The Shar-Pei is an intelligent, adaptable, and flexible dog. It likes to stay on its feet and won’t mind joining you on a long walk/run or an agility/tracking class. So, one way to put a stop to all the barking is to get the dog so tired that it doesn’t have the energy to get vocal anymore. On top of that, once it burns off the excess energy (which a Shar-Pei can have lots of), it will have no reason to bark.

Chinese Shar-pei puppy on the grass
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

3. Read the Shar-Pei’s Body Language

Since our four-legged companions don’t speak English (or any other language) yet, they use body movements to communicate. When Shar-Pei dogs are stressed, startled, or scared, the fur on their backs goes up. They also tend to show their teeth as a way to say “Don’t mess with me”. So, if you’re seeing this type of behavior, that means something’s bothering your dog, and a bark is about to follow.

Be quick to assess the situation and try to make the environment more welcoming for the pet. Are you in a crowded place full of unfamiliar people? Or maybe you’re in a park filled with bigger, stronger dogs? Early socialization does help, of course, but sometimes, dogs can get scared for no reason. In that case, just take the pup back home.

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The Shar-Pei is an affectionate, protective dog that’s quick to adapt yet aloof with strangers. In the right hands, it can be an exemplary canine citizen, with a big, loving heart, friendly attitude, and perfect manners. Start the training early, use positive reinforcement, and keep the sessions short, and the Shar-Pei will turn into a pillar of the community.

Patience, consistency, and lots of love: that’s the “secret formula” to training this Chinese beauty. Never push the dog to its limit, do your best to keep the training fun and exciting, and be generous with the treats, hugs, and kisses. Lastly, speak to the dog in a calm, cheerful tone, and it will happily follow your commands!

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Fesiun, Shutterstock

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