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Shih Tzu Behaviors


The Shih Tzu is a precious and amazingly special dog breed for a reason. This dog has a unique and surprising inbred traits that allow the Shih Tzu to be one of the most loving and incredibly great pets to have.

Discussed will be personality, behavior in regard to various age groups, interaction between the Shih Tzu with other dogs, the blending of a family that includes cats and children and how to manage the slight stubborn streak that may appear once in a while!
Shih tzu acting shy
This is one Shih Tzu whose personality shines!

Unique Behavior of the Shih Tzu

Undoubtedly, the most amazing trait of this dog is its behavior. One can immediately see their wonderful personality before even interacting with the Shih Tzu. This breed is extremely friendly and definitely not shy! Seeming to have a naturally happy soul, this dog is a wonderful, loving companion. Always close and loyal to its owners, this Shih Tzu also bonds quickly with any person whom its family accepts.

Therefore, this dog will be un-aggressive and friendly to neighbors, friends, extended family and even strangers once the Shih Tzu reads the reactions of its owners and instinctively knows if a person is "friend or foe".

Energy Level

One of the best behavior traits of the Shih Tzu is that this dog will contently jump up to play around with its owners or others or will cheerfully run through a field as if it is the best place it has ever seen! Alternatively, the Shih Tzu will also be perfectly content to lay on its dog bed, looking on as its human family watches a movie.

As an owner, if you are busy with household tasks, the Shih Tzu will silently watch you, just happy to be in a warm and safe home.

Vital to the happiness and health of the Shih Tzu is a daily opportunity to exercise. 
This indoor dog most definitely does require a burst of activity each day; perhaps to purge energy it reserves during it's quiet times.  See: Exercise- Learn how to provide the correct amount of activity

Interaction with Various Ages

One of the great traits of the Shih Tzu is that this breed cannot be categorized as being the best companion for just one age group. This dog is a perfect companion for everyone from homes with children, to elderly owners living alone.  The ability to feel comfortable around people of all ages is one of the reasons why Shih Tzu are great therapy dogs
Remaining close to its owner, not demanding or high strung, the Shih Tzu will happily keep their human company from morning to night. They have a small size, yet are rather sturdy for a toy breed.

This dog also is a wonderful family pet. Absolutely happy to get attention and be loved by 1 person or 10, the Shih Tzu is a perfect family member. Most of the time, they are perfectly content to sit quietly and wait as long as needed to finally get that hug and pat that they long for so badly.

It is important to make sure that all family members realize just how little the Tzu is, and that all must be careful when playing with the dog and to watch where they step!
Normal and expected behavior blends well for interaction with children. Not a snappy or aggressive dog, he or she will be thrilled to play with toddlers and children. 

This dog will usually follow their lead. Although this breed has a regal appearance, it will merrily romp around with children of all ages. When needing a break, the Tzu will simply retreat to their resting area as long as it is easily accessible.

Just two elements to keep in mind is that youngsters should be taught proper handling techniques which includes approaching from the site, two-handed pick-up and holding the dog close to the body.  The other is that they should be instructed to not tease the dog; this can possibly lead to some snapping if this breed becomes stressed or overwhelmed. 

Older children should be included in all care including feeding, as this teaches the Shih Tzu to respect all humans, despite their size and age.
happy Shih Tzu dog
Bunny, 3 months old
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Oliver

Frightened Behavior & Acting Scared

Rarely, some dogs will display signs of being very afraid. This can be toward strangers, noises or just about anything and everything. This is commonly seen when caring for a rescued, adopted Shih Tzu. While this can be troubling canine behavior, there are many reasons why a dog may behave this way and many methods that you can implement to try and help you dog. 

Other Pets?

Having a other dogs is not usually an issue, as this dog will be friends with just about any other pet. Although it should be said that since the Shih Tzu so badly craves love and attention from its human family members, it is sometimes suggested to limit other pets if your time at home is limited.

As with any other dog breed, there is a chance that your Shih Tzu will have some difficulty adjusting to a new dog entering into the household. For more information on this subject: See Behavior - Multiple Dogs - Understanding the process a dog goes through when a new dog comes into the home

Does this Breed Have a Stubborn Streak?

The idea that the Shih Tzu has a stubborn streak should not be taken out of context nor over exaggerated. 

Because this dog is so lively, animated and playful, the Shih Tzu may sometimes be happily oblivious to the serious need of training and housebreaking. Therefore, an owner may need to offer a bit more time than with other breeds to instill the necessary training methods. If an owner does take the time, with patience and consistence, this dog will most certainly be able to be 100% trained. Not only can this breed be trained; they can excel with advanced commands such as those given at dog show agility events.

We offer you a page regarding Shih Tzu barking which includes the issues that 1 owner was experiencing and the detailed advice that we offered to her. 
See Also:

Shih Tzu is Acting Strange - The top 8 reasons why a Shih Tzu may start to act oddly and what to do in each case. 
Shih Tzu Rolls Around in Feces - This is a disturbing and puzzling behavior; see the top reasons why a dog does this and the 5 steps to stopping it. 
Shih Tzu Sleeping Habits  - How much sleep is considered normal for each stage in a Shih Tzu's life. Also tips to helping your puppy or dog get a great night's sleep. 
Shih Tzu Coprophagia - This refers to when a dog eats feces; see the 4 reasons why a dog does this and the 5 steps you can take to put a stop to it. 
Shih Tzu Snoring and Snorting - It is not uncommon for brachycephalic breeds like the Shih Tzu to have some amount of snoring. See what is normal and what is a red flag of a possible health issue. 
Shih Tzu Licking a Lot - It's nice to receive a kiss from your dog once in a while, however if a Shih Tzu is licking you all the time, it can be a bit too much. Also, dogs can lick compulsively lick themselves, which often leads to raw, irritated areas. 
Shih Tzu Increased Appetite  - The Shih Tzu is one of the larger toy breeds and most have a healthy appetite; however, sudden increased hunger should be addressed. 
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