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House Training

Shih Tzu House Training

Overview

If we had to choose the #1 single most important element in regard to housetraining a Shih Tzu, it would be the factor of an owner needing to choose 1 designated area for their puppy to do his or her bathroom needs. Rarely can a pup learn without this element. And simply opting for "outside" will not be sufficient. The area chosen should be a location that is only used for this purpose...This means that the Tzu should not be allowed to play in the area, it should not be close to where one would garden, BBQ, etc.

Think about different weather conditions when picking the location. What may seem like just the place for house training may not work out so well during cold, rainy or snowy weather. Once chosen, plan on spending some time there! 

The 2nd most common issue that owners have is that their puppy seems to pee or poo as soon as coming back inside of the home. 
5 month old Shih Tzu puppy
 CoCo, 5 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Anita W.
Most often, this is because enough time was not spent outside to allow the puppy to feel relaxed enough and gain his or her bearings enough to relax bladder and bowel muscles, thus resulting in urination or elimination.

When waiting for a pup to go to the bathroom, 5 minutes can feel like 50! For this reason,we highly recommend leaving an all-weather chair smack in the middle of the designated spot. When you are house training your Shih Tzu puppy, you can bring a book or a magazine, sit down, allow your Tzu to roam within the diameter of the area (use a 6-foot leash) and allow 15 to 20 minutes for your puppy to do his or her business.

Never take for granted that the deed was done. Offer great praise pats and a small yummy treat every time that your puppy is successful (even if you had to carry him or her outside so that they could finish what was started in the house). This is motivating factor that will encourage your puppy to repeat the action, in that correct designated spot.

The 3rd top element that interferes with training is not keeping a close eye on a puppy. A male can raise his leg and a female can squat within 1/2 of a second. Puddles can appear before you know it. Whenever you are home with your Shih Tzu pup, tether him or her to you with the use of a leash, and please be sure to have your Tzu wear a comfortable harness and not a collar, as injury so easily occurs with this breed when collars are used. 

If there are times that this method will not work for you, placing the puppy in a gated off area or (for a short time) in a canine playpen will keep accidents confined to one location, but please be aware that this does not constitute housebreaking.
This is because if a puppy needs to go to the bathroom, he will do so whether in a crate or not.

Always bring your puppy out: 

As soon as he wakes up (both in the morning and any time after a nap), 15 to 20 minutes after each meal, every couple of hours (based on his age), and 1/2 to 1 hour before bedtime. 

Elimination Issues & Accidents

Owners spend a lot of time and effort training their dog to go outside for their needs and it can be quite upsetting if your Shih Tzu keeps having accidents in the house. 

This can happen for several reasons:
  • A medical issue in which the dog cannot control their bladder or bowels
  • An older dog that develops medical issues in which they are unable to control their needs
  • Dogs not taken outside enough
  • Puppies left home alone too long
  • Urination caused by excitement
If your normally housebroken dog suddenly begins to make bowel movements or urinates inside your home more than several times in a month, it is time to bring your Shih Tzu to the veterinarian. Once a dog is trained to be housebroken, they will go outside without complaint; therefore a dog must have a through medical examination by their vet to check for health problems that would cause this to occur. Common reasons could be a bladder infection or bladder stones. Both must be treated by an experienced veterinarian.

Elderly dogs will lose their ability to hold their needs; this is quite common. Once a dog reaches a certain age, they cannot be expected to perform as they did when they were younger; most owners simply use dog diapers. This is an acceptable method to keep the home clean and not cause stress to an aging canine.

Medical issues and aging aside, the most frequent reason that a dog will make a puddle in the house is because they are not taken outside enough. In conjunction with this is when a puppy or even an adult dog is left home alone for too long. A dog can only hold themselves for so long! 

The general rule is that a puppy can hold their needs for the hours that equal their age. For example, a 3 month old Shih Tzu can hold its needs for 3 hours and so forth. Once your Shih Tzu is 1 year old, they should be able to wait for 8 hours. If you will be gone for longer than that, it is best to have a friend, neighbor or family member bring your dog out for a walk.
18 month old Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu brothers: Min Su (black ) Je Ju (white ), 18 months 
Photo courtesy of owner: Ron Hamilton 
Excitement can cause a dog to urinate and this most often occurs when the dog's owner finally comes home after a long day away. Even the best trained dogs will urine if they become too excited. 

Training your dog can fix this. Desensitizing must be done in this case. Just hearing the jiggle of the door knob can set a dog out of control. An owner must take some time to stand outside the door and move the handle for a moment and then enter. Upon walking into the home, they should calmly say hello and continue into another room. After several minutes, then attention should be paid to the dog. This should be done with all aspects: the car pulling into the driveway, the car door closing, etc. 

Repeating this over and over will train the dog that hearing these noises is not cause to lose control. 
More Information - When caring for a Tzu, it is very important to have detailed information on: Training, Behavior, Health, Grooming, Heat, Pregnancy and More. You may want to have a look at the most comprehensive Shih Tzu book that exists. Now in both print & eBook.
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