Bred from two breeds of friendly and loving toy dogs -- the Bichon Frise and the Shih Tzu -- it is no wonder that the Bichon Shih Tzu, also known as a Shihchon, has become such a popular pet. It is also no wonder, considering this mixed breed's delicate size and flowing coat, that it can be high-maintainance, requiring regular grooming and dental care. Like all strong-minded breeds, the Bichon Shih Tzu can be hard to housebreak.
While you should shave or trim your Bichon Shih Tzu puppy every few months throughout its life, you should first familiarize your puppy with the process. To do this you should brush your Bichon Shih Tzu puppy with a slicker brush or pin brush once a day, occasionally giving him or her treats to create a positive association with the action. When he or she is 8 weeks old, around the time his or her hair will be growing long for the first time, you can take your Bichon Shih Tzu to the groomer for a trim without any difficulties.
It doesn’t take long for a Bichon Shih Tzu puppy's tooth to become covered in tartar and plaque, which, if the bacteria enters the bloodstream, can potentially cause serious problems. To avoid this, use a finger brush to brush your Bichon Shih Tzu puppy’s teeth with dog toothpaste once a day. When the puppy is older you can graduate to using a regular dog toothbrush.
Proper teeth brushing may help your Bichon Shih Tzu avoid dental cleanings for which the dog must be under anesthesia. Anesthesia can create breathing problems for Bichon Shih Tzu dogs because they are brachycephalic -- meaning they have short, pushed-in faces.
Housebreaking Your Bichon Shih Tzu
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of training a Bichon Shih Tzu is putting him or her through a period of confinement. It is tempting to let your puppy loose while you are watching TV, but it is often these times when an untrained puppy will go to the bathroom on the floor. In this regard, confinement is one of the best ways to housebreak your dog.
You can confine your puppy by sectioning off a very small space for him somewhere like the kitchen or laundry room. Some people suggest putting him or her in a crate or a small pen. Your puppy needs to stay in this space all day.
In addition you must make sure your dog has somewhere to go to the bathroom when he or she needs to go. One of the simplest methods is taking him or her out in the yard every few hours. Once your Bichon Shih Tzu understands this is the place where he can go, you can install a doggy door for him to come and go as he pleases.
It is important to introduce your Bichon Shih Tzu to a feeding schedule that must, to prevent digestive problems and an uncooperative dog, include high-quality dog food. It is best to add 1 teaspoon of something as simple as water, which will help your dog process his meal faster, and thus void more regularly. If your puppy goes to sleep with an empty bladder and an empty bowel he won't leave a mess for you in the morning.
Take your dog out for a run about 45 minutes after your dog eats. Using the same command each time you go will help him or her understand the purpose of the exercise.
In general, Bichon Shih Tzu puppies require food with high protein and fat content. Food containing Omega 3s will help maintain his or her shiny coat.
Simon Thomas has worked as a writer and journalist since 2004. He has contributed articles to several online publications, including Smashing Magazine, an art-and-design e-zine. Thomas holds a B.A. in film and media from Winchester University.