Shih Tzus are some of the cutest and most playful dogs you can get, but they’re also some of the most difficult to train, especially when they’re young.
From basic commands to housebreaking, there’s a lot that you need to teach your tiny Shih Tzu, so be prepared to dedicate quite a bit of time to help keep your pet’s canine instincts at bay.
The earlier you train your Shih Tzu dog, the higher your chances of succeeding. Ideally, a Shih Tzu’s potty training should begin at around 8 weeks old, although there are cases of younger Shi Tzus being paper trained.
This post attempts to shed light on some of the most useful tips that you can implement to train your Shih Tzu puppy. The tips aren’t that complicated, but the success you’ll garner boils down to how much effort you put into the training process.
General Tips for Shih Tzu Puppy Training
In this section of the article, we’re going to cover some general guidelines that you should follow when training your Shih Tzu pup. Further down the article, we cover how you can potty train and housebreak your puppy in detail.
1. Lay Down Ground Rules
The first step to effective Shih Tzu training is to establish some ground rules for your pet dog. You need to be very clear with regard to what your puppy can and cannot do to ensure successful house training.
Further, everyone within your household must be on the same page as to what these rules are. You don’t want to be enforcing house training rules only for another family member in your house to overlook them.
Some examples of rules that you may want to enforce onto your Shih Tzu bichon puppies include not allowing the dog on the furniture, not allowing the dog to get close to the trash can, and not allowing the dog or a golden retriever to quench its thirst from the toilet, just to name a few.
By laying down the ground rules, it becomes easier to train your playful Shih Tzu. It also helps spare you a lot of hassle in the long run.
2. Give Your Dog Approval
All dogs seek their owners’ recognition and approval, especially the tiny Shih Tzu. This little ball of energy can actually become depressed without the approval of its Shih Tzu owner.
With that said, it’s critical that you reward your Shih Tzu with your approval whenever it follows the rules you’ve set for it. Good behavior should always be praised and rewarded.
As with bad behavior, you should avoid physical punishment at all costs because it’s inhumane, first and foremost, and it’ll cost you your puppy’s trust.
Keep in mind that Shih Tzus are extremely sensitive to yelling and punishment. Further, they may misbehave deliberately when frightened. Further, do not resort to ignoring your dog/toy poodle or leaving it alone for a long time, or else it’ll develop separation anxiety.
Rather than punishment, you want to resort to reward-based methods of dog training such as a clicker and treats. When you notice your tiny Shih Tzu exhibiting good behavior, click the clicker and give your puppy small treats. Follow up by saying something along the lines of “good job.”
If you forget and yell at your dog or a german shepherd, we urge you not to use its name while yelling. Your little Shih Tzu must not associate its name with negative things/feelings.
And lastly, bad behavior must be addressed within about 5 seconds from its occurrence, or else your puppy will be confused about what you’re trying to reprimand.
3. Punish Using Time-Outs
Like we just said, Shih Tzus aren’t the most appreciative of punishment, but considering their stubborn nature, there will come a time when you need to punish your dog in some way shape or form, especially if you’ve tried a reward-based approach and failed.
Shih Tzus thrive on the approval and companionship of their owners, as we already mentioned, and so giving your puppy some time-outs will serve you as an effective way of punishment.
However, you should use this approach sparingly to reprimand significantly bad behavior. The trick here is to use a certain word before and during the punishment so that your puppy understands that it’s being punished. No need to get too creative; you can simply say “time-out in a stern (not loud) tone of voice.
4. Enforce Noise Control
While it may seem impossible to control a dog’s barking, let alone a Shih Tzu’s, it’s actually not that hard to achieve, but you need to start from an early age.
What you need to do is determine a command that you’re going to utter to your dog when you want it to stop barking. When you utter the command and the dog ceases its barking completely, give it a small treat as a reward. As you can see, we’re all about reward-based approaches.
If your pet dog still isn’t associating the command you’re uttering with your desire for it to stop barking, you need to gradually increase the timeframe between it stopping its barking and you giving it the treat. Then, right before you give it to the dog, repeat the command a few times.
5. Teach Basic Commands
Since we’re on the topic of using commands to reduce certain behavior, you should dedicate some time and patience to teaching your puppy some basic commands.
You may want to teach your puppy to stay, sit, or come upon command, in addition to any other actions that you want to teach your puppy.
As per usual, you want to go about teaching your puppy these commands using a treat-based approach. When your puppy acts upon your command, give it a small treat.
6. Designate Meal Times
When you adopt a pet, it’s very important that you designate and maintain meal times so that your puppy stays in good shape, making the whole puppy training process easier.
After each mealtime, take the dog food up, leaving nothing for your puppy to eat until its next mealtime. Oh, and you shouldn’t give your puppy any table scraps, as some foods that you may think won’t hurt your puppy can actually be deadly.
Housebreaking Shih Tzu Puppies
Now that we’ve established a general framework for training Shih Tzu puppies, it’s time to get a bit more specific with our training, starting with how to housebreak a Shih Tzu.
Completely housebreaking or potty training a Shih Tzu takes anywhere from 2 to 4 months, depending on how much time and effort you put into the training process.
Note that all dogs must be vaccinated before being brought outside. Generally, puppies are vaccinated when they’re between 12 and 16 weeks. Refer to your vet for specific information.
Before you housebreak your puppy, there are a few preparation steps that we recommend you take in preparation to ensure the best possible results.
To prepare your puppy for housebreaking or potty training, pick an area of your yard where your dog is free to roam. The area should be between 8 and 10 feet in diameter and should be easily accessible. Don’t allow your pup to go outside of that area.
There will be times when you’re not able to supervise your little male Shih Tzu closely, like when your dog is home alone. In this case, you want to put your puppy in a contained area, but not a crate.
Crates are too restricting and aren’t very effective in housebreaking a dog. Further, putting your dog in a crate may force it to defecate or urinate in its own personal space, which is distressing for the dog and not convenient for the dog owner. Instead of a crate training, use an indoor playpen.
You should line the floor inside the playpen with pee pads. We suggest using holders so that your puppy isn’t able to move or chew at the puppy pad. To add, you should put a water bowl, bed, and a few toys inside the pen to keep your puppy entertained when you’re not around.
Shih Tzus are so intelligent to the point of deviousness; the moment you look away, they’ll do as they please, and so keeping an eye on your puppy all the time isn’t always the most optimal approach, and it’s not that convenient since no one has time to keep an eye on their dog all day.
With that said, we highly recommend using a tethering method to keep your dog the tiny fellow at bay. To be more specific, we recommend leash training with a harness.
You should opt for a lightweight and soft-handle leash so that it’s easier for you to handle and so that it’s not a burden on your tiny Tzu. Don’t utilize a typical outdoor leash during housebreaking preparation.
As with the harness, opt for one with a step-in design so that it’s easy to put on. We don’t advise using one that requires you to put it over your dog’s head. Bear in mind that a harness is a good way to prevent potential neck injuries.
You may be tempted to get a collar for your puppy rather than a harness; don’t. The Shih Tzu is one of the brachycephalic dog breeds, and so having a collar around your Shih Tzu’s neck can cumber its breathing by transferring tension from the leash (especially if it’s a heavy one) onto the dog’s windpipe.
We said it once and we’ll say it again; dog training should be based on rewards. If you notice your maltese puppy peeing or pooping in the right place, you should give your Shih Tzu a treat as a form of praise and motivation so that your maltipoo puppy repeats the same behavior.
If you don’t give your dog a treat when it acts right, it’ll see no compelling reason to act the same way again. As mentioned before, the reward must be given within mere seconds from the action so that your puppy doesn’t get confused about why you’re rewarding it. Keep the treats in a plastic bag so that they don’t get spoiled
If you’ve pulled off the above-mentioned preparation steps, give yourself a round of applause. Now, it’s time for the housebreaking process.
First and foremost, when you bring your Shih Tzu puppy outside, you need to keep it by your side as much as possible so that you can react swiftly to its behavior, whether it’s right or wrong.
When you exit your house, make sure your imperial Shih Tzu puppies is on a leash and harness. Further, do not allow your new shih tzu puppy to roam around freely. Accompany it as it roams through the designated area.
Note that if your pup needs to pee or poo, it’ll take it a few minutes to pinpoint the right spot and for its bladder and bowel muscles to relax, so we recommend roaming around with your pup for a good 15 minutes.
After your pup relieves itself, don’t rush back into the house right away. Give it 5 minutes before you return to the house just in case there’s more.
Mission accomplished? Awesome! Now it’s time to give your puppy some solid words of praise like “good dog” and a nice treat to let it know that it’s behaving correctly.
Alrighty! Now you know how to housebreak a Female Shih Tzu. But wait, when should you housebreak the little fellow, exactly? Below is a list of the most ideal times for teacup Shih Tzu puppies housebreaking.
- Right after your shihpoo puppy wakes up from its sleep or from a nap
- Around 20 minutes before its bedtime
- Right before you take it out of its in-house training area
- Around 20 minutes after each meal
- Before and after each walk you take with your puppy
- Every time your maltese shih tzu puppy indicates the need to pee or poo
Make sure to extend the time between every housebreak as your dog gets older. This will help its bowel and bladder muscles grow stronger. So, for instance, if your teacup puppy is 2 months old, housebreak it every 2 hours or so. If it’s 3 months old, you should housebreak it every 3 hours.
Obedience Training for Shih Tzu Puppies
A lot of Shih Tzu puppy owners tend to neglect obedience training because of how easy it is to pick up and handle such a small dog. Obedience training is actually good for your dog’s safety. Responding to your commands in a dangerous situation can help save your dog’s life.
Luckily, obedience training for Shih Tzu dogs isn’t all that challenging and you won’t need to hire a dog trainer considering this is a breed that thrives on love and praise.
There are several obedience training techniques that dog owners can employ in their puppy training, but we’ll only be covering the two most popular ones.
The Shape Training Method
- Come: To train your Shih Tzu to come to you using the shape method, you’ll need a clicker and a treat. Firstly, put your little Shih Tzu on the floor then walk away from it. Wait for your dog to come to you and when it does, click, treat, and say “come.” The more you repeat the process, the faster your dog will get it.
- Sit: With the training clicker in your hand and your pup right in front of you, wait for the dog to sit and when it does, click, treat, and say “sit.” Simple, right?
- Down: Assuming you’ve taught your dog the sit command, you want to say “sit,’ then when your dog lies down after sitting, click, treat, and say “down.”
- Stay: To teach your new puppy to stay upon command, you need to say “stay then wait for your dog to remain in its place for a few seconds. If it does, click, treat, and say “stay.” Now, if the dog moves after staying for a few seconds, do not click and reposition your dog for another attempt.
The Lure Training Method
- Come: To train a Shih Tzu to come to you using the lure method, you need to hold a treat out and then say “come.” If the Shih Tzu comes to you, give it the treat and a few words of praise.
- Sit: To train a Shih Tzu to sit upon your command, you must have the pup in front of you with a treat held above and behind its fuzzy head. The moment your dog sits to observe the treat, say “sit” then give it the treat.
- Down: For the down command, your Shih Tzu needs to be sitting first, so utter the “sit” command. Next, hold a treat near the ground and then wait for your dog to lie down to grab the treat. When it does, say “down” and let the dog have the treat.
- Stay: For this command, the dog needs to be sitting or lying down, so utter any of the two commands. Then, you want to say “stay” while holding a treat. Do not provide the treat until the dog remains in place for a few seconds. If the dog moves, reposition for another attempt. If it remains in place, try extending the time it needs to wait before it can have the treat.
From housebreaking and potty training to obedience training, we’ve covered all that you need to know about how to train a Shih Tzu puppy.
Taking into consideration the stubborn nature of Shih Tzu dogs, it’ll take you quite a bit of time and effort to succeed in your shih poo puppy training, but don’t forget that the Shih Tzu is one of the dog breeds that thrive on affection and praise, so use that as the primary approach to training your dog.
Note that all of the techniques covered in this article can work with an adult dog. Further, since adult dogs are more controlled than pups, it’ll probably take less time.