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Shih Tzu Potty Training Guide (FAST)

Originally from China, the Shih Tzu was bred as a companion dog for Chinese royalty. The breed eventually spread to other parts of Asia, and eventually to Europe and the United States. 

The Shih Tzu of today is a dog known for being cheerful, friendly, and having a naturally happy demeanor. However, they ARE known to be stubborn and easily bored and might be more challenging to housebreak in comparison to other breeds. 

Shih Tzu potty training
Shih Tzu Potty Training Guide (FAST)

They are highly trainable animals like most dogs and the ease at which they can learn to potty train depends on certain factors such as the effort put into training them, the consistency, the encouragement they are given, and the positive reinforcement, so break out those treats! 

It takes patience to train them and they can start being trained as early as around two months old. The average time it can take for them to learn to potty train is around two to four months. 

What Do You Need For Potty Training? 

Some of the supplies that you may need to potty train your Shih Tzu are:

Crates

Contrary to a common misconception that a crate is a cage, crate training refers to a technique that is used to teach your dog to hold their bladder by restricting them to their own space. 

The principle behind using it for potty training is that dogs are less likely to pee in their crate because they live and sleep in it. 

The size of the crate should be big enough for your Shih Tzu to lie down, sit, and still have space to move around comfortably but there shouldn’t be too much space in it because they are more likely to find an area and use it as a potty spot.

Crate training when done right is an invaluable tool for potty training. Dogs will see the crate as their home, and retreat to their safe space to rest when they need some “me time.”

Dogs should not be crated for long periods, so don’t keep your pooch in there for a couple of hours or so. 

brown and black puppies asleep in crate
Brown and black young puppies sleeping in a shared crate.

Cleaning Supplies 

An untrained Shih Tzu is going to have accidents. A bunch of them! 

Dogs are creatures of habit, and if they have an “oopsie” in a spot of your home, you can bet that they will use the same spot if it isn’t cleaned up, since there will be a strong scent of their pee. 

You’ll need a strong enzymatic cleaner to sop up any organic waste and attack the pee or poop at a biological level. 

Then you’ll need an odor eliminator to mask the scent so that your dog doesn’t think that spot on your favorite rug is his personal toilet.

cleaning dog urine with a product
The dog owner thoroughly clean the carpet to remove odor and stains.

Treats

Who doesn’t like treats? Even us humans love to indulge in our guilty little pleasures from time to time (or all the time)! 

Dogs are no different. Every time they do a good job at using their potty area, ensure to reward them by giving them their favorite foods and this will encourage them to use the right spot whenever they have to pee or poo.

Shih Tzu treat
Holding a treat for the Shih Tzu.

Steps For Potty Training 

Potty training isn’t the easiest thing and will take loads of patience, consistency, and time. Here are some tips to get started on potty training your Shih Tzu:

Observation 

One of the first steps is to watch them and look out for the signs that they may want to eliminate their waste such as sniffing the ground, walking around in circles, and squatting. When that happens, quickly bring your dog to the potty area.

Shih Tzu approaching
Shih Tzu approaching a stranger.

Coming up with commands

You should come up with command words that you will be using when it’s time for them to go to their potty spot so that whenever you use these words they associate it with going to that area. 

Some examples of commands you can use are: “go potty”, “go pee” or simply just “do it!” 

Shih Tzu and owner
The owner commands Shih Tzu to do his “thing.”

Designated potty area

Find a good location and designate that spot as their potty area. Whenever it’s time for your Shih Tzu to do their thing, just take them to that special area and use the command words to instruct them as they go. Remember to treat and praise lavishly if they do what you want them to! 

This reinforces to your dog that this is the spot they should use whenever they need to take care of their business.

Shih Tzu on the grass
Shih Tzu standing on the grass in an afternoon.

Timing

Shih Tzus have tiny bladders and cannot hold their pee for excessive periods. Young puppies below 6 months can hold their pee for about 2-3 hours, while older puppies might be able to last through the night. 

Shih Tzu food to avoid
Shih Tzu Food To Avoid (Feeding Advice and Toxic Foods for Shih Tzu)

Adult dogs need two or three walks a day to relieve themselves, so don’t make them hold their pee for TOO long. You should take them straight to potty after they have had something to eat or when they have just woken from a nap. 

Whenever they eat it stimulates their digestive system and they may need to go pee or poo a few minutes after a big chow

Having a reward system in place

Whenever your dog goes to use the designated potty area, you should reward them with a treat, their favorite toy, or loads of praise. 

are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic
Are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic? What you need to know [Allergies]

Tips And Tricks For Potty Training 

Constant supervision 

In order to stop accidents from happening you have to always observe them especially if they wander off far away from you. 

One accident alone is enough to delay their potty training progress. You can use a leash, crate, or puppy playpen if you need to restrict your Shih Tzu’s movements.

Shih Tzu at pet store
Owners are accompanied by their Shih Tzu to buy pet supplies.

Give them constant praise

Every time your dog goes to use the potty always celebrate and cheer them on. Whether it be giving them a pat on the head, jumping up and congratulating them, or providing them with one of their favorite biscuits, ALWAYS reward

When you repeatedly do this they will begin to understand that they are doing the right thing because of the constant goodies.

shih tzu puppy licks tonuge out
A Shih Tzu puppy with its tongue out. Expect a Shih Tzu puppy to lick EVERYTHING!

Use a crate

This is a very effective way of potty training your dogs in general because dogs don’t want to soil the inside of their crate with their waste.  

Shih Tzu look up
Shih Tzu looks up from his crate.

Have a feeding schedule

Eating stimulates their bowel movements so it is highly likely that they are going to want to get rid of their excrement immediately after eating. 

Building a routine for them creates some form of discipline and gets them into the groove, so when it comes poop time, you’ll be ready for it. 

Shih Tzu asking for food
Shih Tzu is hungry!

Signs Your Shih Tzu Needs To Go Potty

Since dogs don’t have the ability to verbalize when they need to go, you’ll have to watch for certainly behaviors and body language that indicates that it is “that time”. 

Shih Tzu in a hurry
Shih Tzu is in a hurry and needs to poop!

Moving around in circles

When you notice your dog walking or running around in circles and sniffing this is a big sign they need to take care of their business.

Whining

If they are looking at the door longingly and whining, it is either that they want to go for a walk very much, or they really need to go to the toilet! Some people become suspicious that their puppy is peeing to get attention.

Scratching the door

If their potty area is outside and you see them pawing or scratching the door this is a good sign they want to go outside and get rid of their waste. Of course, if it happens too many times with your dog not going, it may just be that your dog wants out. 

Distracted

You know how difficult it is to concentrate on a conversation when you really need to “go”? Dogs are the same! Another very important pattern to look out for is whenever you notice a dramatic shift in their attention. They may be in the middle of training or play, and suddenly just wander off and start sniffing around. 

No Punishment! 

It isn’t like your dog is doing it deliberately, regardless of how some people mistakenly think dogs do it as “revenge.” This word isn’t in the canine vocabulary, so none of that “rub your dog’s nose in it” bull****. 

Getting angry at them ends up making the situation worse because it will make them scared to eliminate their waste when you’re around. 

They may even start hiding and doing their thing in hidden corners, trying to keep it away from you and avoiding your displeasure. 

Don’t make a fuss. If you catch him in the very act of peeing or pooping where he isn’t supposed to, a firm “no” will suffice, then bring him to the pee spot and let him do it there, praising and rewarding when the deed is done.

a shih tzu licking its owners face
A Shih Tzu licks its owners face. Lick frenzy!

Final Thoughts On Shih Tzu Potty Training 

The good news is that Shih Tzus are actually relatively easy to potty train. With a little patience and consistency, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your Shih Tzu picks up new behaviors. 

Some methods are more effective than others, so it’s important to do some research before getting started. 

It may take a few days or weeks for your Shih Tzu to get the hang of things, but eventually, he or she will get it. And when they do, you’ll be glad you took the time to potty train them!