Shih Tzu Behavior Problems – Top 10

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If you’re thinking about getting a Shih Tzu you might be wondering about Shih Tzu behavior problems. While these little cuties are wonderful dogs, they aren’t perfect. The good news is most of these issues can be corrected.

Shih Tzu Behavior Problems

Whether you are thinking of getting a Shih Tzu or you already have one just know that behavior issues are normal for toy breeds, but you can reverse them.

So, let’s take a look at the bad behavior most common in Shih Tzus and ways to fix it.

1. Going Potty in the House

This may be the worst issue you will have to deal with when owning a Shih Tzu.

For pet owners, this bad behavior is the most annoying.

I know that’s is true for me.

Shih Tzus can be pretty stubborn and difficult to house train. 

When my Truman was 14 years old, I used to joke that we were still working on it.

When he was younger he would go outside and lift his little leg and put it right back down without peeing.

He thought he was fooling me.

He would also not go when we were outside and then immediately go once we were back inside.

Talk about frustration!

Not to mention, I’d have to walk have the county to get him to go.

He finally got better but now that he is older, 17 years old, we have new problems as he has a hard time holding his bladder and will just let it fly whenever he feels like it.

It is an ongoing issue for a lot of Shih Tzu owners.

But there are solutions.

Truman was crate trained before I got him as a puppy.

This was actually very helpful.

Even as he got older, I would leave him in his crate when I was gone during the day.

Keep in mind, once a Shih Tzu is an adult they can hold their bladder for 8 to 10 hours as long as there are no health issues.

Puppies can’t go that long.

When Truman was a puppy I would get up in the middle of the night to take him outside to pee.

So, if you are having real issues, consider crate training.

Using puppy pads (get the largest ones you can) is another way to encourage your Shih Tzu not to go throughout the house.

Place the pad near the door you take your Shih Tzu outside to go potty.

The pads have chemicals in them that encourage a dog to use them instead of somewhere on your carpeting.

Don’t scold your dog for going on the puppy pad. You want to encourage this.

Throwing away a soiled pad is a heck of a lot easier than cleaning your carpets.

Once outside, take your Shih Tzu to the same area each time to go potty. There will be odors in this area that will stimulate your pooch to go.

It’s also important to stick to a routine. This will help eliminate inappropriate urination.

Take your Shih Tzu outside at the same time each day or as close as you can.

Also, feed your Shih Tzu first and then take them out.

Eating tends to simulate a dog’s bowls.

House training can be an ongoing issue for some Shih Tzus but keep working with yours and you should get it under control.

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2. Aggressive Behavior

Some Shih Tzus can show aggressive behavior at times.

I have been lucky to not have this issue, but other Shih Tzu human parents certainly have.

There are a number of reasons for this.

The first thing you want to do is make sure your Shih Tzu doesn’t have any health issues.

If your pup is sick or injured, they can be aggressive because they don’t feel well or are in pain.

Another reason your Shih Tzu might be aggressive is that they are scared.

Make sure no one in the family, intentionally or unintentionally, is scaring your dog.

Little kids like to pull tails and grab hair.

This can hurt a little dog without the child realizing it.

Shih Tzus can also become territorial.

This isn’t just about a place, but it can be about a person.

If your Shih Tzu is too attached to you, they may lash out with aggressive behavior towards people that come near you.

If your Shih Tzu is aggressive towards other family pets this can also be due to being territorial.

There are ways to overcome this.

First off, take your Shih Tzu to see their vet to make sure there are no health or dental issues causing the aggression.

If you get the all-clear health-wise, then take an inventory of the people that come in contact with your dog.

Watch their interactions to determine if something is happening to scare your Shih Tzu.

If you have a new puppy, be sure to socialize it completely.

I did a decent job with Truman but I didn’t get him around children as much as I should have when he was a puppy.

He has never liked children and that’s my fault.

However, if your Shih Tzu is too attached to you and lashing out at those that come near you, do what you can to have that person(s) interact with your dog without you being around.

Taking them for a walk and giving them treats will help build a bond.

Also, when your Shih Tzu is being aggressive take them out of the room and away from you.

This negative reinforcement should help as well.

If they are aggressive with other dogs, there may not be much you can do about it. 

You can try taking them to a dog park so they get used to being around other dogs, but honestly, this is better done when your Shih Tzu is still a puppy.

3. Digging

Lots of dogs like to dig Shih Tzus are no different.

One of the reasons dogs dig is due to the fact that their ancestors who lived outdoors would dig a hole they could sleep in to help protect them from the weather.

It would keep them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

They would also dig holes for security.

Of course, your little Shih Tzu doesn’t have those issues, but it is still in their genetic code.

Have you ever seen your pup dig on the carpet or bed?

This is why.

I know that Sammy, my second Shih Tzu will do this, especially on her little bed or on my bed when it’s time to go to sleep.

If this is happening is really isn’t a major issue. 

Of course, if your Shih Tzu is digging holes in your yard that can be a bigger problem.

The easy way to fix this is to not let your dog out into your yard without your supervision.

They really shouldn’t be out by themselves anyway.

It is too easy for them to get hurt.

Not to mention, there are vile people that like to steal small dogs.

No matter the reason, supervise your Shih Tzu when it is outside.

Also, they really aren’t outside dogs anyway, so after they go potty, they should come back inside.

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4. Barking

Some Shih Tzus like to bark while others don’t.

Truman only barks when someone comes to the door.

Sammy never barks at all.

But there are Shih Tzus out there that want to bark at everything.

One of the easiest ways to teach your Shih Tzu not to bark is through lots of training.

You’ll want to use a training treat for this.

When your dog starts barking say “quiet.” 

When they stop barking give them a treat.

This will need to be repeated often, but in time they will figure it out.

At some point, you should be able to just say “quiet” without the treat and they will stop barking.

Also, never reward baking behavior.

For example, if your dog is barking in the other room, don’t go in there to tell it to be quiet or yell at it.

Sure, this is a negative response, but your dog still got a response and attention from you which is what they want.

Wait until they stop barking to go into the room to reward them.

5. Begging for Food

The easiest way to keep your Shih Tzu from begging is to not feed them at the table and don’t give them human food. 

As a pet parent, this one is on you.

Truman never begged for food because I didn’t give him people food.

So, don’t start it and this won’t be an issue.

Not to mention, if you feed your Shih Tzus human food, you can turn them into picky eaters.

I know it is easy to think of your dog as part of your human family, but this is one time you shouldn’t do it.

Once you give it, it is much harder to get them to stop begging.

Just do your best to ignore their big eyes and you won’t have this problem.

And honestly, people’s food isn’t really good for them.

They get all the nutrients they need from their dog food especially if you provide them with high-quality dog food.

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6. Being Stubborn

Shih Tzus are known to be stubborn.

Honestly, this is a major trait of the breed.

There’s not much you can do about it.

Obedience training will help, but even then, there will be moments where their stubborn streak rears its ugly head.

The best thing you can do is embrace it.

7. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a real issue with Shih Tzus.

If it is too bad you may need to use a dog crate them or use an indoor dog pen to keep them safe and your house in one piece while you are gone. The dog pen can also help with housebreaking.

If you don’t want to do that, consider taking them to doggie daycare during the day.

Dog walkers can also help.

Schedule one during the middle of the day.

Making sure your Shih Tzu has plenty of exercise will help as well.

They don’t need too much but even a short walk or a game of fetch before you leave the house will help.

A tired dog is a good dog.

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8. Boredom 

Like all of us, your Shih Tzu can get bored.

This could be due to a lack of exercise or not enough attention.

You want an activity level that matches your Shih Tzu’s needs.

This might be a couple of short walks a day or even running around the house for ten minutes.

Keep in mind that Shih Tzus don’t handle cold very well, so if you live in a cold part of the country be sure to put a sweater on your pup before you go on a walk.

I know mine seen to get cold when it gets below 70 degrees.

Shih Tzus are definitely a heat-sensitive breed.

You’ll also want to ensure your dog has plenty of dog toys to keep them occupied when you’re away.

This will help keep the boredom away.

And the right toys will provide plenty of mental stimulation.

Finally, if you only have one Shih Tzu you might consider getting a second.

This will keep both of them occupied.

9. Being Clingy

Part of the joy of having a Shih Tzu in your life is that they love you…and they love you a lot.

What makes them happiest is being with you, near you, and even on you.

Even so, all this love you get from them can make them a little clingy.

The truth is, if you don’t want a pet that follows you around the house, sits on your lap or next to you, and never wants to leave your side, then don’t get a Shih Tzu.

This is part of their charm and you should embrace it.

You might also enjoy:

Why Do Shih Tzus Wink?

My Shih Tzu Seems Sad (Shih Tzu Depression) Signs/Tips

10. Nipping and Biting

This really goes back to being aggressive.

Again, if you are having this issue, take your Shih Tzu to the vet to ensure they are not sick or injured.

If they aren’t then you will need to do what you can to socialize them.

Once it is an adult dog this can be difficult.

You’ll want to consider obedience training.

The proper training will make a difference.

You might also enjoy:

Do Shih Tzus Like to Cuddle?

How do You Know if Your Shih Tzu Loves You?

To Sum it All Up:

Shih Tzus are wonderful pets. They are loyal and love their owners more than anything else in the world. They love to cuddle with you and want to be with you. They are great lap dogs. Even so, their typical stubborn nature can bring with it some issues. Your best option is to nip these in the bud when your Shih Tzu is still a puppy, but with a little work on your part, you can reduce or eliminate most Shih Tzu behavioral problems.



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 behaviors. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

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