How to Train a Shar Pei?

Training a Shar Pei can be challenging at times. Here are some basic guidelines to make it more bearable.
How to Train a Shar Pei?

Last update: 15 October, 2021

This breed of dog is many people’s favorite, because its appearance is unique and quite peculiar. However, to train a Shar Pei can be a challenging experience for inexperienced owners, as Shar-Pei dogs tend to be overprotective and independent. Training this animal is a process that requires patience, resources, and time.

If this responsibility has fallen into your hands, we assure you that the result will be gratifying, since the Shar Pei’s personality is even more special than their appearance. Here you’ll find tips to make its training easier.

The behavior of the Shar Pei

Whenever we talk about breeds, it’s necessary to emphasize that each dog has its own personality. Although genetics has something to say in each case (especially in dogs selected for a specific purpose), getting to know your dog in depth will be what really helps you understand it.

That said, the Shar Pei breed tends to display a balanced personality with a certain tendency to detachment. This doesn’t at all mean that they don’t love their families, but simply that they need their quiet moments and don’t demand as much attention as other dogs.

They’re also incredibly loyal and protective animals (they were formerly bred to be guardians), which can lead to socialization problems without the proper training. They tend to be suspicious of strangers, both humans, and canines.

A wrinkly tan Shar pei.

How to train a Shar-Pei?

As with any other animal, the best way to train will be through positive reinforcement. This type of education will not only help you make the sessions much more effective, but will also ensure that the learning of each rule persists over time, as the dog internalizes it and continues to comply with it when the tutor isn’t present.

When training a Shar Pei, it’s necessary to take into account its age, as the socialization stage will be critical in order to develop healthy and functional dynamics in this regard. Therefore, if you take responsibility for an adult Shar Pei which hasn’t been properly socialized, then the technique will be different. Let’s have a look.

Training a Shar Pei puppy

The ideal age to start the Shar Pei’s training will be from 3 months of age, when it’s fully weaned. Until now, the person in charge of their cognitive and social development will be their biological mother and, if you separate them early, behavioral problems may appear.

What if the puppy comes to you prematurely? In that case, you can consult with your vet about early stimulation: a series of exercises that generate mild stress in the puppy and promote its later development, both cognitive and physical.

Make sure you have professional advice for this technique, because if it’s done wrong it can create illnesses instead of benefits in the long run.

Once you start their training, be sure to set limits through games and reinforcement. For example, instruct the animal not to get on the couch, and if it obeys, reward it. A very useful command is the “no” command, so it knows when to stop or inhibit a behavior.

After this inhibitory aspect of the puppy’s education, there must be another aimed at promoting healthy behavior through positive reinforcement. So, for example, at the same time that the Shar Pei learns that it must stop barking at a person, it’ll also know that approaching them calmly and getting to know them is desirable behavior.

Training an adult Shar Pei

If you have had the opportunity to complete your Shar Pei puppy’s basic training, you can then move on to more complex forms of training, such as agility. In this way you’ll continue to stimulate their intelligence and prevent boredom.

If, on the other hand, you need to start the training in adulthood, the process will be more complicated and lengthy (but not impossible). The strategy will be the same, to support you in training in a positive way, but you’ll need to place more emphasis on simple commands so that they can internalize them correctly.

Socializing the adult Shar Pei can be the trickiest part if the dog hasn’t learned to relate properly. Depending on the problems you present in this regard, it may be recommended that you go to a canine trainer.

The socialization of the Shar Pei

Given the tendency of this breed to be suspicious and overprotective, proper socialization is a process that requires exclusive attention. Training the Shar Pei correctly in this regard will prevent both accidents and the development of anxiety and fear disorders in the dog.

Socialization should be based on creating positive experiences for the dog, in which overcoming insecurity and fear has a reward. For example, ask a friend to go through a quiet introduction process by arriving at your home, and if the dog receives them calmly, reward them.

Thus, little by little, the Shar Pei will acquire the basic notions of coexistence at home and outside of it. If the process is successful, the dog’s character will become more flexible and will rely on your figure to interact in a healthy way.

The importance of physical activity and mental stimulation

Although not an extremely active breed, the Shar Pei does need daily doses of walking and mental stimulation. Otherwise, boredom and the accumulation of energy could bring about behavioral problems or aggravate those that already exist.

In fact, training a Shar Pei is much easier if done through physical activity or games (or after they’ve got rid of a lot of energy). Any dog concentrates better and is more likely to follow directions if tired enough.

Shar Pei are intelligent and sensitive dogs. The fact that they’re more independent than other breeds doesn’t detract from the basic needs in terms of attention and dedication that any dog has. If you don’t care for the animal, then the training process will be much more complicated.

General advice

Finally, here is a series of basic indications for the education process of your Shar Pei. Always keep them in mind, as they’ll improve the results in the short and long term:

  • Be consistent: Especially if they’re an adult, if you want to train a Shar Pei, it isn’t a one-day job. Although it may seem that, at first, it isn’t bearing fruit, the dog will eventually understand what you ask, but you need to insist.
  • Do short training sessions: The average should be about 10-15 minutes of daily training. If they’re too long, the dog will end up fatigued and with decreased attention.
  • The orders, one at a time: Each exercise must be practiced separately until it’s properly assimilated. If you train several things at the same time, you may create confusion in the dog.
  • Choose a suitable place to train: In this way, you get the Shar Pei to associate the place with games and training, so they’ll be more predisposed. On the other hand, choosing a place without noise, distractions, or stressors will help your dog focus.
  • Use positive training: Punishment isn’t effective in the long term and deteriorates the relationship between you and your dog. Although relying on positive reinforcement is more work, the results will be better, and you’ll be a suitable point of reference for your dog.
  • Review the exercises already learned from time to time: To reaffirm the learning, you can do refresher sessions, and more so if you see that the dog is beginning to forget certain orders over time.
A large grey shar pei lying in the grass.

As a last piece of advice, don’t despair. No one is born knowing how to train a dog and you too will learn new things during the process. If at any time the situation overcomes you, don’t hesitate to go to a specialist.

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