How to Potty Train a Shih Tzu: Training Tips and Problems


Young Shih Tzu puppies are pretty stubborn; their housebreaking is not something that can be done easily. To potty train your dog, you’ll have to stock up with lots of treats, a leash and a crate to manage this task.

Choose the Place

Walk your Shih Tzu on a leash to a convenient spot by your home. Since this breed is small and doesn’t need to exercise much, you can’t go that far. There is no point in walking under heavy rain or snow, in this case your dog will feel irritated and nervous and potty training will inevitably fail. Besides, you should choose whether you want your dog to eliminate inside or outside. If the outside is your option, refrain from setting up a litter box, because this may send the wrong message.

The Command

Say a command in an authoritative voice and wait until your dog starts toileting. Just come up with something simple, such as “go potty, girl” or “hurry up, boy”. Afterwards give him the treat immediately to reinforce the idea that this phrase along with toileting in the specific area brings something pleasant. Soon this reinforcement will help the dog to memorize the command and grasp its meaning, and you’ll be able to use this phrase to make your dog start toileting.


You should let the puppy go to his spot in the following cases:

  • after he wakes up;
  • 10 minutes after each meal;
  • before he goes to sleep;
  • before leaving him alone for a significant time.

Frequency of toileting depends on dog’s age. The older your dog, the longer he can keep it inside. For dogs six months old or less, you should wait as many hours as your dog’s age in months between toilet breaks. 10 weeks old dog is already supposed to hold his bladder at least for 12 hours, but in the morning you’ll still have to take him out. Nevertheless, don’t forget that Shih Tzu, just like Poodle, Bichon or Maltese, is a small dog. Even if he is grown up, don’t expect any extra ordinal “bladder control” skills from him.

The Red Flags

Pay attention to the signs the dog gives when he would like to eliminate. If he:

  • licks his lips;
  • looks at you, glances away and then looks at you again;
  • sniffs the ground in a seemingly random way;
  • yawns very often.

Those are the signs of anxiety and the anxiety is a sign of a full bladder. If you always notice such behavior and act correspondingly, the dog will remember your reaction and his signals will be more vivid. In case if your dog is about to pee in a wrong place, you should instantly leash your dog and head out to the corresponding spot.

The Nesting Area

Until your Shih Tzu is fully potty trained, you should leave him in the crate, when you cannot look after him, otherwise he will turn your home into a mess. The crate must be big enough to let him sit, stand, turn around and lie, must have good ventilation and located near you or near your bed. The point is that if a Shih Tzu considers a box as the nesting place, he will never defecate in there. However, some owners prefer tether or umbilical method to keep the puppy under watch; they just attach the puppy with a lash to their wrists or belts while at home.


To interrupt defecation in a wrong place, you can clap your hands a bit; the loud sound will startle him. Then pull the leash and drive him in the proper spot. So that indoor accidents could never repeat, clean the feces and urine up thoroughly, use odor eliminators to get rid of the urine smell.


Due to putting feeding schedule in good order, you can prompt your dog to go toileting on a schedule as well. However, the dog should have full access to water supply any time.


  • punishment doesn’t work. When it comes to this breed, just ignore accidents and reinforce successes;
  • dress your little dog for the weather;
  • neuter or spay the puppy if he is under 6 months old. Unaltered females marks just as often as neutered males or more, if there are other dogs around;
  • arm yourself with patience. Since this breed is hard to housebreak, it takes about 8 months to potty train;
  • if nothing works, you’ll probably need professional help. Know that behavioral problems can be a result of illnesses, hormones or psychological issues; only a skillful vet can help you with them.

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Author of Silvia Brown
Written by Silvia Brown
Glad to see you, my friends! I started this blog several years ago as a hobby and continue to write articles about dogs.
I'm a dog lover and the proud owner of two wonderful dogs: French Bulldog Maya and Beagle Tom. It's been more than 10 years since I had a dogs and worked closely with them. I've raised four dogs throughout my life and have experience assisting in the births of two dogs. At least once a week, I volunteer with friends at a dog shelter AMA Animal Rescue and Animal Care Centers of NYC in NY.

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