Housebreaking a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu PuppiesThe task of housebreaking a dog is not for the impatient, or for those that are easily frustrated. It is hard work and requires perseverance, time, lots of patience, and above all, a genuine love and commitment to your pet. Among dog breeds, Shih Tzus, despite their fun and loveable personalities, are some of the hardest puppies to housebreak. They have lots of energy with which to cause trouble; short attention spans, which makes it hard for them to learn desired behaviors, and a friendly and adorable demeanor, which often makes it difficult to owners to discipline them. Add to this the fact that they’re notorious for having a desire to do whatever they please without considering the feelings of their owners, and you have a pretty big housebreaking problem on your hands.Don’t panic just yet, though. While a bit more difficult than most, the Shih Tzu puppy is not impossible to housebreak, and if you know how to go about it, it can be relatively pain free. Here are a few simple and essential Shih Tzu housebreaking guidelines that should help make your task a little easier.

Take Your Shih Tzu Puppy Outside Every 2 hours

Shih Tzus learn better through praise than through punishment. For this reason, you must begin your housebreaking task by catching your Shih Tzu doing the right thing first (i.e. eliminating outside). Take him out every 2 hours to increase your chances of catching him in the act of going potty in the right place. If you’re persistent, your every-2-hours potty breaks will pay off. When you finally catch your Shih Tzu going potty where you want him to, be sure to give him lots of praise.

Verbal Conditioning

When you catch your Shih Tzu urinating outside, say the word “potty” out loud. Continue doing this each time your puppy goes potty outside. The idea here is to begin associating the word with the action. It will take many repetitions, but if you do this early on, after a few months, whenever you say the word “potty” your Shih Tzu will understand the association, and be more inclined to go potty.

Praise Your Shih Tzu Verbally and With Physical Affection

If there’s one thing Shih Tzu puppies crave, it is love and affection. Lots of it. So when your Shih Tzu pup does something you want it to do, praise him with your voice and your touch. Give him a lot of hugs and kind words and he’ll be eager to please you again next time by performing the action that led to your coddling him, i.e. urinating outside instead of on your Persian rug.

Watch for Warning Signs

If your Shih Tzu pup is circling an area or sniffing at it, it could be a sign that it’s about to eliminate there. When your Shih Tzu is indoors, be sure to keep an extremely close watch on him or her. Identifying warning signs before it’s too late will make your job that much easier. Your Shih Tzu will obviously have no clue at first where the “right” place to eliminate is, so you’ll have to keep an eye on him or her for the first few months if you want to avoid having to clean your carpet or hardwood floor every day.

Cut Back on Outdoor Visits Gradually

Continue the routine described in the above steps for a good six weeks or until your Shih Tzu has no more accidents inside. You can then start cutting back on the frequency of outdoor visits. If you’ve done your job right, your Shih Tzu will start letting you know when it needs to go potty by standing next to the patio door and whimpering.


Many people use synthetic grass as a way of encouraging familiarity with the appropriate places to eliminate, while others believe that puppy pads do the trick. Synthetic grass is generally a terrible idea because it creates more of a mess, with wet and stinky paws to clean, as well. While you can certainly lie things such as puppy pads down as protection, these accessories do not normally aid in the housebreaking and training procedure.

Remember That Punishment is Not as Effective as Praise

Punishment is definitely NOT something you want to use when housebreaking a dog, and especially not when housebreaking a Shih Tzu pup. Shih Tzus don’t react well to punishment. As was mentioned before, they have short attention spans. They won’t be able to remember why they were being punished. And if anything, they’ll just hide it from you next time they potty inside. Praise is a much more effective and (in the long run) a much easier method.

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