If you're looking for a small dog that requires only moderate exercise, the Shih Tzu fits the bill. Bred solely as a companion canine, the Shih Tzu's friendly, affectionate nature makes him a good choice for a small nest: He's the right kind of dog for apartment living.
While the Shih Tzu's origin is disputed, DNA evidence shows the breed is ancient, closely related to the wolf. Tang Dynasty art from the 7th century depicts Chinese dogs that appear to be Shih Tzus., and the dogs are known to have been popular among royals in the Ming Dynasty of 1368 to 1644. The dog, called Lion Dog because of its look, is among the Tibetan holy dogs. After the breed nearly died out as a result of the Chinese Communist Revolution, a Shih Tzu breeding program began in Great Britain in the 1930s. Your Shih Tzu can trace his lineage back to 14 dogs. The AKC accepted the Shih Tzu into its stud book in 1969.
While the Shih Tzu puppy doesn't require much exercise, the Shih Tzu breed is notoriously hard to housebreak. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but it may take longer than with other breeds. Just remain patient and consistent. Taking your puppy for walks benefits housebreaking training. When he urinates or defecates outdoors on a walk, praise him to the hilt. He may not catch on at first but eventually he'll get the idea. Take the puppy out for a walk every few hours, if possible. It makes the odds that he'll go while outside even higher, as he starts catching on to the idea of eliminating outside. Use a special term like "Let's go potty" or something short to cue him.
Incorporate training into your exercise routine with your puppy. Once he visits the vet and gets his puppy shots, take him on outings to acclimate him to the wider world. You might want to invest in some puppy obedience classes, which won't stress a youngster but helps teach him -- and you -- the basics. These classes are often referred to by dog trainers as "puppy kindergarten."
Any time you're exercising or socializing your puppy, you're teaching him -- whether or not you know it -- because he looks to you for guidance. You can inadvertently teach him wrong things without realizing it. Here's an example: A loose puppy won't come when called; when he does come back to his owner, the owner yells at the dog for not coming immediately. What did the owner just teach him? In the puppy's mind, coming to the owner equals being chastised. Next time he gets loose, he'll be reluctant to come when called. When training a puppy, you have to realize the dog's point of view.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.