Shih tzus are adorable little dogs with short legs. Those legs do need exercise, though—without regular walks your dog may become obese and frustrated. Every shih tzu is different; help your little pooch stay healthy by figuring out the best exercise schedule for you both.
Typically, 30 minutes of walking each day is enough for a small to medium-size dog like the shih tzu. It's not necessary for this to be undertaken in one session, however. Also, the dog doesn't need to be constantly walking for the 30 minutes daily. Your dog will naturally take little breaks for toileting and sniffing around the environment—this is fine and counts toward the 30-minute total.
Many shih tzu owners find it's more convenient to break their dog's daily 30 minutes of exercise up into two shorter walks. You could take your shih tzu out for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening—this split schedule allows plenty of toileting opportunities for your dog. Generally, shih tzus will tire quite quickly, because their legs are so short that they have to take many steps to match one of yours. Any time a shih tzu starts to pant heavily, drag its walking pace or lie on the ground and refuse to walk, you know the walk has been too long.
If your shih tzu gets plenty of playtime around the house and garden or yard, specific daily walks may not be necessary. If your pooch spends all day crated in the house while you are at work, you need to make sure she gets daily exercise outside the crate. This could be playing fetch in the yard, or running after dog toys in the home. Make time to play actively with your shih tzu each day.
When the weather is hot and humid, it is safest for shih tzus to exercise in a cool or indoor environment. This dog's flat face makes it struggle to breathe in hot and humid conditions. Forcing your shih tzu to exercise in hot weather places the pooch at risk of heat stroke. You can reduce the chance of overheating by giving a shih tzu a short summer haircut. Without some regular indoor or outdoor exercise, your dog is more likely to develop bad habits such as barking or destructive chewing.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.