Can Shih Tzus Be Left Alone?

can shih tzus be left alone
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If you have a Shih Tzu you might be wondering can Shih Tzus be left alone? Yes, they can, but no they don’t like it. There are some important considerations you need to take into account before you decide to leave your Shih Tzu home alone.

Can Shih Tzus Be Left Alone?

I have two Shih Tzus, Sammy, and Truman. (You can learn more about them here.) I am fortunate to work from home and have for many years, so I don’t have to worry about leaving them home alone on a daily basis.

I do travel once in a while, and then the question becomes should I leave them at home and have a dog sitter look in on them a few times a day or take them to a kennel.

They hate the kennel just like most dogs do. In fact, Truman who is really friendly bit one of the caretakers at a kennel years ago.

I’ve always had to wonder if the caretaker was being rough with Truman or if Truman was just having a bad day, but regardless, it is a difficult decision to make.

When you’re talking about leaving your Shih Tzu alone all day five days a week, that becomes an even sticker issue.

When I was in graduate school and before Sammy joined the family, Truman would have to spend long hours alone. I felt bad about it, and while Shih Tzus can be left alone, there are good reasons not to do so.

Can Shih Tzus Stay Home Alone?

Yes, you can leave your Shih Tzu alone, however, here are some of the most important reasons you might not want to do so.

1.Shih Tzus Have Separation Anxiety

Shih Tzus tend to get very attached to their owner. In fact, you become their world. All they want to do is make you happy and be near you.

Some Shih Tuz owners even complain that their Shih Tzu is too clingy and follow them all around the house and even to the bathroom.

For some, it can get to be a bit too much.

The other side of this coin is that your Shih Tzu can feel very insecure and nervous when you aren’t around.

This separation anxiety can lead to troubling outcomes.

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Your Shih Tzu might become destructive while you are gone. Or they might hurt themselves. 

Either way, separation anxiety can be a serious issue when leaving your Shih Tzu alone.

Destructive Behavior

Don’t be surprised to come home and find something in your house destroyed. This could be a pillow, your shoes, or anything else your Shih Tzu can get ahold of and tear up.

They aren’t doing this out of spite or even the enjoyment of ripping something to shreds. 

This behavior comes from the fact that they are scared and full of anxiety and they need to release some of these feelings.

Chewing on Furniture or Themselves

You might also see some chewing on furniture. Your table legs are right in front of them and they may take out their anxiety on them. 

Even worse, your Shih Tzu might start chewing on itself. This self-harm can cause bald spots or skin irritation that can lead to infections.

Scratching Doors

If you have come home to destruction a couple of times, you may think the solution is keeping your Shih Tzu locked in one room. 

You’d be wrong. 

This will only increase their anxiety and they will also feel like they are being punished.

Not to mention, they will scratch the doors of the room until they’ve created a real mess. 

I had a dog once that had such bad separation anxiety that she scratched all the doors in my apartment to pieces and then went on to actually rip up a six-foot area of carpeting. 

Let me tell you, that one was hard to explain to the landlord. 

If you want to keep your Shih Tzu in one area of your home while you are gone for the day, make it an open area and use a baby gate or fencing, so they can see out and around them. They won’t feel so contained and trapped.

For tips on how to deal with separation anxiety in Shih Tzus, check out this article from American Shih Tzu Club.

black and white shih tzu sitting on a sofa
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2. You Might Have Bathroom Issues

Depending on how long you are gone, you might start to have housebreaking issues.

A young puppy or any Shih Tzu under the age of six months, can’t hold their blatter for too long. In general, a Shih Tzu puppy can hold their bladder for one hour for each month of their life.

So, if your Shih Tzu puppy is four months old they should be able to hold their bladder for four hours. Any longer and you might come home to a puddle. 

An adult Shih Tzu should be good for eight to ten hours.

However, once your Shih Tzu is a senior dog, they may have more difficulties holding their bladder. They can also develop diabetes or kidney disease which will make them need to go to the bathroom much more often.

I used to take Truman and Sammy out four times a day, but now that they are older it is six to seven times a day and Sammy sometimes will still get me up in the middle of the night to take her out.

The point is, if you leave your Shih Tzu alone too long, you will have some clean up to do when you get home and you won’t be able to blame anyone but yourself.

3. Barking, Crying, and Howling Issues 

You may find that you also have barking, crying, and howling issues. You may not be aware of this, but your neighbors sure will be especially if you live in an apartment house.

The last thing you want is angry neighbors complaining to you and the landlord. 

All of these things are stressful for you and for your Shih Tzu.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help ease their anxiety and make them and yourself happier.

Instead of Leaving Your Shih Tzu Alone Try One of These

There are options that you can and should consider before leaving your Shih Tzu alone. Here are the best two.

illustration with the words doggy daycare on it
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1.Doggie Day Care 

When you think of a dog kennel, you might not be picturing a very happy or friendly place, but that’s really started to change.

Most kennels now have doggie daycare and doggie spas. These are places where your Shih Tzu gets to play with other dogs during the day, have human interaction, as well as treats and even baths if you so want.

It can be a great alternative to having your Shih Tzu at home alone all day long. 

2. Dog Walkers

If doggie daycare is a bridge too far for you or there are none in your area, you might consider having a dog walker come to your home to take your Shih Tzu out for a walk in the middle of the day.

Their bladder will be thankful and it will give your furry friend something to look forward to. You can also have the dog walker give your Shih Tzu a treat at the end of the walk which will be a win-win for your pouch.

3. Get a Second Shih Tzu

Another, and perhaps easier option, is to get a second Shih Tzu. Having company at home while you are away, is a great way to relieve your Shih Tzu’s anxiety. 

Besides, if one Shih Tzu brings joy into your life, just think how much more joy you’ll receive with two.

Related Questions:

Can Shih Tzus Be Left Alone for 8 Hours?

Once your Shih Tzu is past the puppy stage and is fully housebroken, it should be able to be left home alone for 8 or 9 hours at a time.

Older Shih Tzus and puppies may not be able to go that long without a bathroom break.

Do Shih Tzus Get Attached to One Person?

Yes, they do. Shih Tzus are truly a one-person dog. They usually like most people they meet, but they will only love one. That’s true with my Truman as well.

He is friendly and tends to like most people, but you can always tell who comes first in his heart. This does make it more difficult for him to be away from me.

The same could be true of your Shih Tzu.

To Sum it All Up:

You can certainly leave your Shih Tzu alone and I have throughout my Shih Tzu’s life, but you do want to watch for signs of separation anxiety, so you can address that, and be aware that depending on the age of your Shih Tzu you may have potty issues as well.

Make use of a doggie daycare or dog walker if you can. Both you and your beloved little pouch will be happier for it.


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’s behavior. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

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