Shih Tzu puppies are tiny, independent dogs who can be stubborn to train, especially when it comes to housebreaking. Tempt your dog to potty outdoors with treats and praise. Consistent, positive training methods work well with this breed and should have your dog eliminating outdoors like clockwork in no time.
Walk your Shih Tzu on a leash to a convenient spot in your yard or near your home. Shih Tzus are small dogs and don't require a lot of exercise, so the closer to your home the better.
Choose a spot that is protected from the elements if possible, such as under a roof overhang so your little guy won't have to deal with excess rain or snow, which can discourage him from wanting to go outside with you.
Say a command to prompt your pup to eliminate, such as "Go potty" or "Bathroom"—keep it short and say it only once in an authoritative voice. Wait until your dog goes potty and immediately praise and treat him. Shih Tzus can be stubborn to train and tend to zone out at times. Using food rewards and positive attention is a great way to keep your dog focused and reinforce the idea that eliminating in the potty area is something good, which elicits a pleasant response from you.
If your Shih Tzu pup fails to relieve himself after about five minutes, don't wait outdoors forever staring at the poor little guy. Return indoors for 15 minutes and try again until your dog goes potty. Supervise your dog indoors on his leash so he doesn't sneak off and eliminate indoors before you return outside.
Bring your Shih Tzu pup outside the first thing in the morning, 10 minutes after meals, before bedtime and before leaving him alone for more than a few minutes at a time. Puppies have small bladders, especially the tiny Shih Tzu, which grows to no more than 16 pounds as an adult dog, according to the American Kennel Club. For dogs six months old or under, wait no more than the number of hours that equal your dog's age in months between potty breaks, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
After 12 weeks, your little pup should be able to hold his bladder at least overnight, when he is asleep, but take him out immediately when you wake. Take away your dog's water about two hours before bedtime to help prevent accidents.
Observe your Shih Tzu pup for signs that he needs to go to the bathroom. If he begins to pace, whine, approach the door you usually use to go to the potty spot or sneak off to an infrequently used part of your home, he probably needs to eliminate. Immediately leash your dog and head out to the potty area to accommodate his needs, issuing the potty command. Treat and praise him.
Crate your Shih Tzu during the night and during the day when you are not available to supervise him. Pick a small crate that your dog can grow into. The toy breed Shih Tzu is a small dog, needing only enough space in the crate to sit, stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. Shih Tzus are very clean dogs who won't want to soil their "den" area.
Lure your dog into the crate with a treat or two and make it a nice, comfy place to hang out by placing a blanket and a favorite toy inside. Reward your dog with lots of praise while he sits in the crate and keep it in an area near you or your family. This way, your Shih Tzu feels like part of what he considers his "pack" and won't feel anxious and isolated.
Don't give your Shih Tzu more than a treat or two in his crate as more than this can prompt him to relieve himself more quickly.
Interrupt your Shih Tzu pup in the act of eliminating indoors by clapping your hands a few times to startle him. Once he stops going, carry him outdoors to the potty spot to eliminate—grab his leash on the way to clip on his collar as you go. Speed is important to get him to finish outdoors so you can praise and treat him, reinforcing that eliminating outside equals a positive experience in his mind.
Clean any accidents you find indoors with an enzymatic, pet-specific cleaner to completely remove the scent of the urine or feces, which can attract him back to the same spot to eliminate again.
Feed your Shih Tzu at the same times each day to ensure that he eliminates on a consistent schedule. Once you get into a routine with your Shih Tzu pup, you can anticipate when he needs to go and he can understand when you will be taking him outside to potty.
Because the Shih Tzu is a small dog, he will require at least one bathroom break during the daytime while you are away at work, even as an adult. Hire a dog walker to bring your dog outdoors during the day to get him used to this person as a youngster and become accustomed to a daily routine. Shih Tzus are outgoing, friendly dogs who should have no problem getting used to a new person.
- Veterinary Partner: Housetraining a Urine Marking Male Dog
- Training Your Shih Tzu; Joan Hustace Walker
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Shih Tzu
- Veterinary Partner: Housetraining for Good Bonding with Your New Dog
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Puppy
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Urine Marking in Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Housetraining Puppies
- Dog Channel: Shih Tzu Puppy Training
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Puppy Mill Dog
- Spay or neuter your Shih Tzu puppy before he reaches 6 months of age to help prevent urine marking. Sex hormones present in an intact dog who hasn't been fixed can prompt your little Shih Tzu to mark your home with urine to advertise for a mate, according to Veterinary Partner.
- Dress your little Shih Tzu pup for the weather, such as with a raincoat or warm sweater, to protect him from the elements if you can't find a potty spot sheltered from rain or snow.
- Shih Tzus can be stubborn and may take up to eight months to potty train, according to PetWave.
- Crate training may not work with puppy mill Shih Tzus because these dogs don't develop the instinct to keep their den clean. If necessary, confine your furbaby to an small area in your home with a baby gate and take him outdoors every one to two hours until he starts to get the hang of potty training.
- If your Shih Tzu suddenly begins to eliminate indoors during training, a medical condition could be the cause. Visit the vet as soon as possible to rule out any medical causes for your dog's elimination issues.
- Never punish your Shih Tzu pup for accidents indoors. Not only is this cruel, but he won't understand your anger, nor will he associate any punishments with the act of eliminating indoors. You will only confuse him and make him fearful.
- Keep the fur near your Shih Tzu's backside well groomed to prevent painful mats from forming, which can affect your dog's ability and desire to eliminate properly.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.