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Potty training a Shih Tzu puppy takes time and patience. Your Shih Tzu actually started potty training while he was still in his den with his litter mates and his mother. Puppies learn very easy early on to separate their potty areas from their living quarters. So, this idea is not new for your Shih Tzu puppy. Potty training him now that he's in your home will consist of teaching him to tell you when he needs to go outside to go potty or showing him a place in the house where he could go such as a litter box or a pee pad, or even artificial pee-pee grass within your home because he's small.
Once he knows where to go and how to get there, your Shih Tzu puppy can be conditioned rather quickly to go there to go potty. You can even bell train your puppy if you’d like him to ring a bell to let you know he needs to go outside.
However you decide to potty train your Shih Tzu puppy, whether indoors or outdoors, it will require time, patience, and commitment to paying attention and being around to watch the signs that your pup needs to go potty. Setting your Shih Tzu up for success rather than failure will be key in making this a quick process for you both. Your Shih Tzu puppy can begin potty training as soon as he arrives in your home, however, he will get it easier the older he gets. You should remember that your puppy can hold his bladder for about one hour for every month he is old. So, if you are bringing home a 3-month-old pup, he can hold it for about 3 hours. Remember this when you are potty training during the day if you're out of the house for long periods of time and at night because he will interrupt your sleep to go potty.
To potty train your Shih Tzu puppy you will need to decide exactly where you need him to go. If you need to take him for a walk to go potty, you will need proper leash and harness or collar to keep him safe and secure while you are going outside to go potty. If you are taking him into a safe fenced-in backyard, consider the things you may need to prepare for a trip into the backyard in the middle of the night such as a pair of shoes for your cold feet. If you're going to train your Shih Tzu puppy to go potty indoors on a pee-pee pad or indoor grass or even a litter box, have all of this set up and ready to go before you start your training sessions. Of course, as with any training for your little guy, be sure to have treats handy so you can reward him for good behavior as he learns.
The Special Spot Method
Choose potty spot
Choose an area in your yard where you would like your Shih Tzu puppy to go potty every time he needs to go. This will protect other areas of your yard from urine damage and keep your yard clean and free of dog poo. Be prepared to keep this area as clean as possible so your pup wants to go here as he gets older.
Time to go
Take your Shih Tzu to that special potty area every time you take him outside to go potty. Do not let him play in the area. Wait patiently and start using a command such as ‘go potty’ each time you take your puppy to that area.
Your Shih Tzu puppy should be able to hold his bladder only about one hour for each month he is old. This means if your dog is three months old, he can hold it for about three hours. Avoid making him wait any longer to go outside.
Each time your Shih Tzu wakes from sleep, take him to his special potty spot so he can go potty. Avoid playing in this area. Let him sniff and go potty, but once he is done, take him elsewhere for play.
Be sure to take your Shih Tzu to his potty area after every meal. Again, this is not time for play, so avoid giving any attention or allowing him to play.
Any time your Shih Tzu goes potty in his special area, give him a treat. If he goes outside but not in his special area, you can still treat him, but try to make sure he makes it to the spot the next time. If your pup has accidents inside the house, redirect him by taking him to his special spot but do not treat him. Avoid scolding him for accidents, just be sure to get him to his spot on time next time. Be sure to set him up to succeed by taking him out often.
Other areas indoors
This method works for special areas inside as well such pee pads or indoor grass. Be consistent and get your Shih Tzu puppy to his spot on time to go potty before having accidents elsewhere, know the signs he needs to go, and reward him for succeeding.
The Crate and Potty Method
If you are crate training your Shih Tzu puppy, be sure to take him outside to go potty each time you remove him from his crate. Make his crate a comfortable place to be with bedding and toys. Avoid placing any pee pads inside the crate.
While your puppy is getting used to the crate and you are learning more about him, take him out of the crate every hour to go potty. Once your Shih Tzu is about eight weeks old, he should be able to hold it for two hours. You can typically count on adding an hour for each new month of age as your Shih Tzu grows.
Once your Shih Tzu puppy is outside, let him sniff around and explore. Do not let him play too much if your only goal is to go potty. If he is playing he probably doesn’t have to go just yet. Begin using words, commands, or key phrases your Shih Tzu will know later as a command to go potty.
When your Shih Tzu is successful and goes potty outside, give him verbal praise and a treat. Once he is done you can take him back inside for play time or cuddle time. Try to keep his time in the crate down to a minimum.
Be sure to take your Shih Tzu puppy outside to go potty about five to ten minutes after he has eaten any meals. Make this happen before you place him back in his crate and also even if he has his meals in his crate.
Out of crate
When your Shih Tzu is out of the crate for social or play time, keep an eye on him for signs he may need to go potty. He will sniff or circle if he needs to go. These actions might be incorporated into play time, so be sure to keep a close eye on him.
When your puppy needs to be in the crate for extended periods such as when you are working or out of the house or during nighttime sleep, be sure to take him out in time to go potty. Remember your Shih Tzu puppy should be let outside to go potty every hour or two. If he’s older than three months, old, he might be able to wait up to three hours.
Remember to reward your Shih Tzu puppy with a treat each time he is successful and makes it outside without accidents. Try to stay on top of getting your Shih Tzu puppy out in time to be successful and make it without accidents.
The Ringing Bell Method
Introduce a bell
Show your Shih Tzu puppy a bell he will ring to let you know when he needs to go potty. Let him sniff the bell and ring it so he can hear what it sounds like. Once this introduction is done, give your little guy a treat.
Hang the bell
Hang the bell near the door your Shih Tzu will use to get outside to go potty each time he needs to go.
Show puppy the bell
Take your Shih Tzu to the bell and ring it for him. Sit on the floor and train your pup to ring the bell himself. Show him the bell and place a treat next to it. Your Shih Tzu should sniff the treat causing the bell to ring. When the bell rings, say a command you’d like your dog to know such as “bell” or even “potty.” Over time, he will connect ringing the bell with the action of getting outside to go potty.
Keep practicing getting your Shih Tzu to ring the bell and give him a treat each time he gets the bell to ring. Eventually, stop holding a treat to the bell and only use the command you’ve been repeating. When he rings the bell, give him a treat.
Once your Shih Tzu knows how to ring the bell, you’ll need to train him when to ring the bell and what he gets when he rings it. Get your puppy to ring the bell and once he does, open the door and let him outside. Do not give him a treat until he is outside.
At certain times
Your Shih Tzu will likely need to go potty soon after meals, right after waking from sleep, and throughout the day a few hours after his last trip outside. Take advantage of these times and get him to ring his bell before letting him outside. For instance, after a meal, take your Shih Tzu right to the bell, have him ring it, take him outside, and once he goes potty, give him a treat. Do this anytime you think he needs to go potty.
Sniff and circle
Any time you catch your Shih Tzu puppy sniffing in the house or circling, he is likely looking for a place to go potty. If you catch him doing these things before an accident indoors, get him outside quickly. If you have time to stop and have him ring the bell, do so. If you do not think you have time, you can ring it on your way out and still give him a treat for making it outside.
On his own
Over time, with lots of practice with the bell and successful potty training, your Shih Tzu will likely start going to the door on his own to let you know he needs to go outside to go potty. If he is not ringing the bell on his own when he gets there, practicing ringing it before you let him outside. With practice, your Shih Tzu should ring the bell to let you know he needs to go outside.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 02/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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