How to Potty Train a Shih Tzu Puppy

Medium
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

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. 

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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

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Most Recommended
5 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
Timing
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.
Step
4
Upon waking
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.
Step
5
After meals
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.
Step
6
Rewards
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.
Step
7
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.
Recommend training method?

The Ringing Bell Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
Practice
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.
Step
5
Potty bell
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.
Step
6
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.
Step
7
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.
Step
8
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.
Recommend training method?

The Crate and Potty Method

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Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Inside crate
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.
Step
2
Every hour
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.
Step
3
Outside
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.
Step
4
Potty success
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.
Step
5
After meals
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.
Step
6
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.
Step
7
In crate
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.
Step
8
Success
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.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 02/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Do not have a name yet
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks
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Question
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Do not have a name yet
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks

What is the best way to train my puppy if I have to work during the day?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kim, I would use the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below. I would modify the method so that pup is always in the exercise pen when you aren't there, even after they are potty trained, since pup is at an age where chewing is also a concern, until they are around 1 year. The method mentions a doggie litter box, but it can be used with pee pads, a doggie litter box, or disposable real grass pads. I find grass pads are easiest for most dogs to learn for indoor potty training, especially if you also want pup to learn to go potty outside as needed, but it can be followed with any of those indoor potty options. You won't be able to reward when you are gone, so just practice rewarding pup when you catch them going potty on it, whenever home. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella
Shihpoo
6 Months
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Bella
Shihpoo
6 Months

She won't go potty on her toilet, instead she lay on it when I place her on her toilet. I need help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexia, What is your setup like? What type of potty are you using? One of three things may be needed, depending on what your setup is like and what type of indoor potty you are using. 1. Make the space big enough that you can walk pup slowly around and across the potty when you know they need to go potty. The movement helps stimulate the need to go. 2. Add a potty attractant spray to the area, especially in combination with the walking. Spray the area with it right before taking pup potty there. 3. Switch to a method where pup stays closer to the potty all the time, make the potty area more enticing to go on there the ground around it. Reward pup whenever you catch them going potty there. This is usually done by setting up an exercise pen, placing a non-absorbent bed like www.primopads on one end and something like a disposable real grass pad on the other end, and spraying the grass pad with a potty attractant spray. Check out the exercise pen method linked below - this uses a litter box but it can be done with most indoor potties, like grass, pee pads, or doggie litter box. Exercise pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If pup still won't go on the pad and is going beside it instead, cover the entire floor of the exercise pen with your potty surface, reward pup when they go potty on it, then after pup is doing well with that remove about a foot of potty surface at a time. Make sure the exercise pen is set up on something non-absorbent like hard floor and not carpet. 4. If you are using something like a pee pad or an indoor potty made of plastic, like some fake grasses or trays, try switching to something more absorbent or more natural. A disposable real grass pad is one example. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Amazon also Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Daisy
Shih Tzu
10 Months
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Question
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Daisy
Shih Tzu
10 Months

I’m having a challenge training my pup how to poop. Is there something m doing wrong?
I’d love her to learn indoor and outdoor potty training

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dami, For dogs who are learning indoor and outdoor potty training, consistency between the two and clearer boundaries are really important. First, I would start by using a disposable indoor grass pad for the indoor potty training, instead of something like a pee pad, because pee pads are much more likely to be confused with other fabrics like rugs, and don't resemble the outside world. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty Most of these can also be bought on Amazon Second, I would use the Exercise Pen method I have linked below for the indoor potty training initially, and set up the exercise pen in the location where you want the pad to live long term - you want pup to learn to go potty in a specific location in the house, not just on a certain surface, to ensure pup doesn't associate the rest of the house with pottying too. Some dogs even need something like an exercise pen to be left up around the pad long term to give a visual cue that the potty is different than the rest of the house - sort of like how we expect to find a toilet inside a bathroom so go looking for a bathroom when in a home, and don't expect to toilet anywhere else inside. Exercise Pen method - a litter box or grass pad can either one be used while following this method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Third, I would follow the Tethering method from the article I have linked below for the outside potty training. When pup isn't 100% empty, I would either have pup be in the exercise pen near the indoor potty or tethered to you with a hands free leash at this point in the training. There are additional steps in the tethering method article for how to get pup to go potty while outside - like walking pup slowly around on leash, teaching Go Potty, using scent to encourage pup, choosing a calm location to walk pup around in (require pup to go potty in a calm location before a walk instead of during, so pup doesn't hold their bladder is hopes of keeping the walk progressing), and using treats to reward pup when they do go. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Since pup is a bit older, pup can likely go about 2-4 hours between potty trips when not in a crate. When you will be gone, confine pup to a crate or in the exercise pen with the grass pad to prevent accidents inside. The #1 goal of potty training is preventing accidents through management at first, so that pup develops a natural preference for keeping your home clean to help motivate them to want to keep it clean on their own as they are then rewarded for going potty in the correct location. With some dogs you may find that you need to teach pup to go potty just outside, so pottying isn't associated with inside at all, then after about a year of consistent outside potty training you can attempt adding in a grass pad and exercise pen inside, once pup can clearly differentiate that the rest of the house is supposed to be kept clean. When that's the case, I would simply start with outside potty training and the crate training method from the article I have linked below, adding the exercise pen method for inside potty training later on. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. You want him to get into the habit of holder his bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever he feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Fluffy
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks
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Fluffy
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks

Why does my dog act determined to use the bathroom everywhere but the puppy pad? When ever he acts like he needs to go I put him on the pad but he holds it till I let him of and he goes somewhere else and starts to use it so I bring him back but it's not working.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Brody
Shih Tzu
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Brody
Shih Tzu
3 Years

How can I start getting my dog to potty outside? He’s such a hyper, energetic dog he’s not well trained yet but I’m trying to get the hang of it. He has been using the bathroom inside on pads, and it’s time for a new change I’ve tried training him outside but it never really worked out but now I’m ready to try it again, so please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Baylee, I highly recommend crate training pup and temporarily pup should always be either tethered to you with a hands free leash or in the crate while learning, unless you know he has just peed AND pooped and you have eyes on him 100%. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the smell and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if he has an accident sooner) of freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-8 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. If he hasn't gone poop yet during that half of the day, he needs to be tethered to you or returned to the crate, then taken back outside again in 30-45 minutes if you know he likely needs to go, less frequently if he likely doesn't need to poop. Pooping outside equals more freedom. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. Work on teaching "Quiet" by using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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