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Marking / Peeing Inside

Shih Tzu Peeing in the House / Marking

Overview

A puppy or older Shih Tzu peeing in the house is a common issue that owners face. Your Shih Tzu may be urinating in one specific area repeatedly, or may essentially be peeing just about anywhere other than where you'd like him to. 

In many cases, urinating inside is due to territorial marking, which is different than emptying the bladder for bathroom needs.

Either way, this section will cover:
  • The difference between marking and peeing to empty the bladder
  • Exact steps to take to stop this sort of behavior
You'll be happy to know that this type of problem can be resolved if you closely follow all of the tips. 

Housebreaking Issue Vs Marking

It's important to make the distinction between these two things, because you will need to take additional steps to resolve territorial marking.
Marking:
  • Urine is lightly sprayed. The dog does not empty his/her entire bladder. 
  • This is often done in the one or more spots inside the house, over and over.
  • This is most often done on vertical objects such as table legs and sides of furniture
  • The dog does not have an issue with bowel movements; these are mainly done outside. 
  • Is more common with unfixed male and female dogs.
Urinating for bathroom needs:
  • The entire bladder is emptied, which leaves puddles of pee. 
  • This may or may not be done in just certain areas of the house.
  • This is most often done on the floor.
  • The dog may also have bowel movements inside. 
  • Is common even with dogs that are spayed or neutered. 
If your Shih Tzu is peeing in the house due to bathroom needs, you will want to refer to housebreaking a Shih Tzu
If your Shih Tzu appears to be peeing inside due to marking, this section will dive into the details. 

While a good portion of the methods to fix this does involve making sure to follow potty training guidelines, a big aspect will be taking steps to resolve territorial marking. 

How to Stop a Shih Tzu From Peeing in the House Due to Marking

As we touched on, this will involve both following housebreaking guidelines and taking steps to resolve the reasons behind marking behavior. If you only pay attention to one of these aspects, success will be limited. 

In addition, it is important to note that each of these tips serve an important purpose. Halfheartedly following these or skipping some entirely will affect your level of success. 

#1 Follow Housebreaking Rules to a T 

1. Have one designated bathroom area. This should be an area that you can easily bring your Shih Tzu to no matter the weather and particularly in the wintertime

2. Bring your dog out first thing in the morning, every few hours (3 hours for a 3 month old, 4 hours for a 4 month old, etc.), 20 minutes after a meal, and right before bed.

3. All trips outside should be on leash, and you should supervise your Shih Tzu by standing in the center of the designated area to allow your dog to choose 'just the right spot'. 

4. Each time that your Shih Tzu pees or poos in the right area, give praise and reward. The reward should be a treat that is not normally given for snacks and is extra delicious. 

5. Any time that you are home with your dog and can keep an eye on him, do so very attentively. 
Keep him directly by your side via tethering his leash to you. Be sure to have him on a harness and not a collar to prevent neck injury. 
6. Any time that your are home and cannot keep a super-close eye on your Shih Tzu, or when your dog is home alone, keep him in a properly sized canine playpen. 

About the canine playpen:
  • A pen is a vital part of both housebreaking and stopping a Shih Tzu from peeing inside due to marking. Allowing a dog free reign in the house is just asking for trouble.  
  • With the right playpen, your Shih Tzu will have all the comforts he needs to be happy, and there will be no possible way for any urine to be sprayed anywhere other than in the enclosure, on pee pads.
  • Working on potty training and taking steps to stop marking (more ahead), will eventually lead to your Shih Tzu being able to be out of the pen much more often. However, for dogs that need to stay alone during the day, playpens should be used indefinitely to help combat separation anxiety
  • This will also be your Shih Tzu's sleeping area, since you do not want your dog to pee in the house at night while you are sleeping (don't worry, it will be uber-comfortable - more ahead).
How to set this up:
  • Choose a room that is used frequently by family members, so that your Shih Tzu does not feel isolated.
  • Once peeing inside has been resolved and you do not need to keep a close eye on your Shih Tzu, you can leave the door open so that your dog can come and go as he pleases.
  • Within the pen, have a quality dog bed. For this breed, an orthopedic dog bed is recommended.
  • Have water at all times, and food if at times that you will not be home. A good method of leaving a meal is to place kibble in a treat-dispensing toy since this also serves as a way to keep a dog busy. 
  • Have a few selected favorite toys. 
  • Have pee pads. The area within the pen will have 4 basic spots: Bed, toys, water and/or food, and pee pads. Since a dog rarely pees or defecates on his own belongings, urine and feces will end up on the pads. 
If your Shih Tzu tends to rip up the pee pads, use a dog 'litter box', minus the sand, to keep them in place. 
Ahead are our recommendations for creating this sort of set-up.

Address the Marking Urges

1. Spay or neuter your Shih Tzu. 

While some dogs that are fixed will still mark, spaying or neutering drastically cuts down or eliminates these issues for most dogs when in conjunction with good potty training rules. 

2. Establish yourself as leader. 

Most owners assume that their dog sees them as the leader. However, this is not always so. 

In many cases, a dog will mark in an attempt to show dominance, either to challenge their human's place in the hierarchy of the house, or to see if there is any weakness. It's the canine way, even for small toy breeds like the Shih Tzu. 

In addition, a common issue seen is that a Shih Tzu will pee on his owner's bed, shoes, or other personal belongings. This can seem like a personal insult. However, it is often just the opposite. 

A dog, believing he is Alpha, may urinate on his human's belongings or right near them, to mark the area in an attempt to ward off potential dangers to his 'Beta' (which means you, if the roles have been reversed). 

You can claim your role as a loving leader by only placing meals down after a 'Sit' is obeyed. In addition, whenever leaving or coming back into the house, you should be the first to do so, followed by your Shih Tzu. The house is the 'den' and the leader always is given the respect to enter and exit first. 

3. Restrict views to other dogs/animals.

In some cases, a dog will mark in response to other animals. This may be a neighbor's dog or even wildlife in the yard. 
4. Create peace in a multiple-pet household. 

If there is contention between the pets, this can lead to marking as they try to figure out which of them is the 'Alpha' of the group. 

With a dog/cat combination, be sure that each has their own separate areas to play, rest, and sleep. Keep their feeding areas away from each other so that there is no food competition. 

With more than one dog, one must be chosen as the Alpha Dog. Usually, it is the older one. Make it clear to both dogs that you are aware of this natural hierarchy. The Alpha Dog should have his meal placed down first (after a 'Sit, see previous point #2).

When going out, the Alpha Dog is leashed first, he is given a new toy first, etc. Do not feel bad for the Beta dog; he is just as loved and all dogs will be more at peace once you, the true Alpha, recognize the canine order.  
5. Block access to areas that are frequently urinated on. 

If possible, use gates or other blocking methods to prevent your Shih Tzu from going over to an area that he habitually urinated.

If you are not able to do this, an opposite approach may work. Turn the area into one that is used to give treats, new toys, to play games, and/or where grooming is done. 
6. Properly clean areas that were peed on with enzyme cleanser.

This is paramount to fixing marking issues. A dog's urine contains enzymes that are not washed away with regular soap and water. Even if the area looks clean and smells just fine to you, it can be sending out strong scents to your Shih Tzu. 

These scents practically scream, "This is the bathroom area!'. 

So, even if you are following all the guidelines, you'll be competing with this signal, and your Shih Tzu will be torn between the two options: follow the new rules, or listen to the signal. 

In Summary

By following housebreaking rules as closely as possible, and taking all steps to fix the root causes of marking, marking issues can be resolved in as little as a week. 

Using a playpen (that holds a good bed, toys, and pee pads), along with close supervision, and properly cleaning spots that were urinated on, will combine to bring about success. 
Below are our top picks for a great canine playpen, the pee pads you'll need, a holder (if your Shih Tzu messes with the pads, and a top enzyme cleanser to wipe away those urine signals for good. 
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