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The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, and certainly one of the oldest lap dogs. Having been bred for centuries to do nothing but be a loving companion, Shih Tzus are very good at this important job. Shih Tzus are well adapted to indoor living and are a good companion for less active people who still want a dog.
Paper training is a good potty training technique for your Shih Tzu puppy, since tiny bladders can't go long between potty breaks, and small puppies don't excrete too much to be reasonable for a person to clean up regularly. Many people train their Shih Tzu to use a paper that is kept in a litter box or other contained area and which their dog uses for the length of her life. This is a good idea for mobility challenged people who can clean up the pad easier than they can take their dog outside. It is also good in areas of inclement weather, when owners don't want their Shih Tzu's luxurious coat to get wet, or they worry it is too cold for such a small dog to go outdoors.
Potty training takes patience and diligence. For the first few weeks with your new puppy, you will want to watch her as closely as possible. Any accidents set your puppy back by confusing training. Never punish your puppy for mistakes, either during or after the mistake. Punishing your puppy will only cause her to fear the process of going potty, which can lead to all sorts of problems down the road, not the least of which being that your puppy will try to hide her going potty from you.
Always have yummy treats available to reward your puppy for going in the right place, and if she goes in the wrong place, simply move her to the right place or put a paper under her while she is going, and clean it up very thoroughly. Keep your puppy contained in areas where urine will not soak into carpet or flooring, even while you are watching her, for the first few weeks.
The most important part of paper training is the paper. While old newspapers have traditionally been used, you can also use specially made potty pads that absorb urine and odor better while protecting the floor beneath with a plastic layer. Potty pads are made with adhesive to stick to the floor so your puppy will not mess up the paper, and scented to encourage your puppy to go potty on them. If you are planning on having your Shih Tzu potty inside permanently, you can buy a cat's litter box to contain the pad or a special plastic tray with upturned lips to keep it from sliding and to contain any leaks.
The Paper the Pen Method
Set up a pen
Set up an exercise pen or use a small room or bathroom. The floor should be urine resistant so that any messes can be cleaned up thoroughly. If you don't have such a floor available, a hard plastic lining can be put down.
Cover with paper
Cover the pen completely with paper or potty pads, sticking the pads to the floor or taping them down so that your puppy will not disturb them with her movements. Discourage your puppy from playing with the paper, and make sure she has plenty of toys and chews available.
Praise and remove when your puppy potties
When your puppy goes potty, praise and reward her and quickly remove the affected paper.
Scent the new paper
Scent the new paper by pressing some of the urine onto it from the old paper. It does not require very much, just a little scent is all that is needed.
Reduce and relocate paper
Your puppy will probably go near the urine spot from her last time. Keep reducing the paper, starting at the bed and food area and moving towards the potty area until there is only one paper left. Then this paper can be slowly moved day after day closer to its final location or outside. If your puppy has a setback at any point, move back a step.
The Crate and Paper Method
This technique relies on supervising your Shih Tzu whenever she isn't in her crate. Even when supervising, do not allow your puppy on any flooring where an accident will not wash out.
You will only be able to leave your puppy crated for an hour at most, and this only when you have acclimated her by moving up in several minute inclements, and providing her with plenty of chews and toys.
Leave crate, go to paper
As soon as you let your puppy out of her crate, lead her by leash or set her on the paper where she should go potty. Give a command for "go potty" and reward her when she does.
Potty breaks every half hour
While your Shih Tzu is out with you, bring her to the paper every half hour and ask her to "go potty". Reward her whenever she goes.
As time goes on, you will not need to bring your Shih Tzu to the paper while she is out with you, she will go on her own. When you notice her do this, reward enthusiastically. Eventually you can move the paper to its final position or outside.
The Connected to You Method
This method relies on constant supervision, and will not work if you cannot have your puppy with you at all times.
Never out of your sight
Keep your pup close to you by setting up her play pen around you, by keeping her harnessed to you, or holding her in your lap.
Paper every hour
Every hour during the day or every three hours at night, bring your puppy to the paper, ask her to go potty, and reward her.
Gradually increase the time your puppy goes between potty breaks. Your puppy will begin to let you know when she wants to go to the paper.
Begin letting your puppy go to the paper of her own will. You should still watch her very closely, and bring her to the paper again if she has any accidents. After this period you can bring the paper outside if you want to.
By Coral Drake
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021