Dog Behavior: The Shih Tzu

by C. Finkbeiner | July 9th, 2015 | Dogs, Spotlight

black and white shih tzu (400x400)The Shih Tzu dog is one that is full of personality and sass. From a young age, each Shih Tzu develops their quirks that will define them as they grow. They are happy-go-lucky and very excitable almost all of the time.

Because they are clumsy pups, they tend to get the reputation of being ditzy dogs. Shih Tzus have good memories and are loyal to those who indulge them with the constant affection they desire. They also can be very stubborn and will not give in if they do not want to do something.

Training Shih Tzus successfully begins in puppy-hood. As they age, Shih Tzus become comfortable in their routines and may resist change as it can be very traumatic. However, unlike other toy breeds, they generally do not become snappy or mean.

The Shih Tzu is a very vocal dog. Barking can be an annoying habit of theirs, but it’s only to alert those around them that something new is happening. This makes them good therapy dogs for the visually and audibly impaired by causing a fuss when something happens that requires attention, such as a door bell ringing or an entering person. Excessive barking can be curbed with training, but no training will eliminate their need to investigate all activity and report back to their humans their discoveries.

Idle paws do not belong to Shih Tzus. Their high energy nature makes them active all day, and this means they need a good amount of environmental stimulation. They love long walks, car rides and travelling. They love games with ropes or balls that keep them constantly moving around. They thrive on being brushed and groomed (and pampered), sitting with the family, and even being hand fed. They love to be spoiled and will spoil in return.

What they do not love is being home alone, or being in a cage. Crate training is a good thing for a Shih Tzu whose human must be out of the house without him for a few hours a day, but you must ease him into accepting his cage. Make sure the crate is well stocked with toys, ropes, chew treats and a food and water supply.

Shih Tzus experience separation anxiety and can be destructive if left unattended. Talk to a veterinarian if you feel your Shih Tzu has too much anxiety. You may find relief for your dog from homeopathic options such as lavender oil, or a prescription of a gentle sedative.

Shih Tzus are small and light toy breed dogs. They reach fast speeds quickly when running, and can leap to high levels if something attracts them to do so (such as food on the table). Regular exercise is important for them to be able to burn off their daily energy. If even given a small space to play, the Shih Tzu will find ways to play fast and hard. Small yards and large rooms in an apartment will suffice as long as it’s safe for him to frolic.

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