Are Shih Tzus Easy to Train? (Not so Much)

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If you’re thinking about getting a Shih Tzu, you might be wondering, are Shih Tzus easy to train? The quick answer is no, they’re not. They tend to be stubborn and resist any training. Even so, they are worth the effort.

Are Shih Tzus Easy to Train?

The truth is you will have to work extra hard as pet parents to get this little pup trained.

Their stubborn streak starts the day they are born and it never ends.

It can be frustrating at times, but this toy breed is more than worth it.

Just so you know both obedience training and potty training are going to be difficult and you shouldn’t expect your Shih Tzu to understand what you want quickly.

Shih Tzus are not stupid dogs, and they can learn, it’s just that sometimes they don’t seem to want to try.

I know with my Shih Tzu, Truman, it took a very long time to get him to understand house training.

It wasn’t so much that he didn’t understand he should go outside and not in the house, it was more that he didn’t care.

So, what can you do to make training a bit easier?

Here are some tips to help…

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Housebreaking Tips

When I got Truman, he was already crate trained. 

This crate training did help, but it didn’t completely solve the issue.

It is a great way to start and keeps accidents to a minimum.

Be sure to make the crate comfortable.

It should be big enough to hold a bed and food and water bowls, but not so big to give them room to go potty.

Keep in mind, just because you’re using a crate to train them doesn’t mean you don’t have to take them outside often. 

Using puppy pads also helps.

I use the American Kennel Club Pet Training and Puppy Pads XL.

Just because Shih Tzus are small doesn’t mean your puppy pads should be.

The puppy pad will encourage your Shih Tzu to go on it instead of elsewhere in your home.

Have the pad near the door you take your dog out to go to the bathroom.

And then it is a small step to get them from going on the pad to going outside.

You also need to be consistent.

Dogs like routine and if you take your Shih Tzu outside at the same times each day they will start to get in the routine of needing to go at that time.

Keep in mind that a puppy can hold their pee on average for one hour for every month of age.

So, if your puppy is three months old, then they should be able to hold their pee for three hours.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, so use your best judgment.

Also, a puppy isn’t considered housebroken until it is at least 6 months old and has gone two weeks without an accident.

Smaller dogs, such as Shih Tzus may take longer and up to a year to be fully housebroken.

This is due to the size of their tiny bladders and their high metabolisms.

They will need to go out more often than a larger dog.

So, you need to take them on a potty break every few hours.

My Shih Tzus are now adult dogs, but I take them out when we get up in the morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, early evening, and before we go to bed.

This helps to reduce or eliminate housebreaking accidents.

If they indicate they need to go out at other times, we go then as well.

When your Shih Tzu becomes a senior dog, you may have to take them out more often as well.

Health issues such as diabetes and simply old age can make it difficult for them to hold their urine as long as they used to and they will need more bathroom breaks.

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General and Obedience Training Tips

Because Shih Tzus are so stubborn, you will need a lot of patience to get them trained.

Positive reinforcement works the best.

Food rewards work well, so before you start training your Shih Tzu be sure to have plenty of training treats on hand.

Keep in mind, Shih Tzus are companion dogs, so don’t expect them to learn agility tricks. They might be able to, but it really isn’t in their wheelhouse.

You’ll also want to consider shorter training sessions.

Your Shih Tzu will only be able to concentrate for so long before they lose interest.

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To Sum it All Up:

A Shih Tzu can be a wonderful addition to your human family and a cuddly companion. They are loyal and sweet and very loving. Their wonderful personality more than offsets the difficulty that comes with training them. Just know that it is going to take a great deal of time, and treats, to get them fully trained.




Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as a veterinarian or advice.

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