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

Most Recommended
2 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 Crate and Potty Method

Effective
0 Votes
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?

The Ringing Bell Method

Effective
0 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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ezra
Shih Tzu
7 Weeks
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Question
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Ezra
Shih Tzu
7 Weeks

Trying to find a good solution to potty train. He doesn’t pee every hour but seems to pee pretty regularly. I can tell when he is about to pee and he will go on newspaper but we’re trying to get him to go outside to pee. We take him out and he doesn’t always pee. I keep getting conflicting information on taking him out. It says 30 mins a day. So how can I know when he’s about to pee? I don’t want to have newspaper & potty pads all over my house for the next 6 months which is what I hear is how long it takes to train them. Also at night he sleeps in his crate from about 10-5:30am and many times there’s been no pee. Some days it has pee. It’s frustrating

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jacqueline, Check out the article that I have linked below. I suggest either following the "Crate Training" method or the "Crate Training" method when you cannot supervise him or need to be gone, plus the "Tethering" method when you are home and can supervise him. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside At seven weeks of age when he is awake he cannot hold his bladder for longer than two-and-a-half hours, even if he was completely potty trained. Crate training and switching to exclusively training him to pee outside - since you indicated that's what you eventually want, will be MUCH easier and quicker in the long run if you avoid pee pads all together and transition away from paper by 8-9 weeks of age. This will only be possible if someone is home to take him potty every 1-2 hours while his bladder capacity is so limited though. Follow the directions in the method closely. I suggest taking him outside every hour at first since he is so little. You can transition to every hour-and-a-half around nine weeks of age if he is doing well. If he does not pee after an hour, you will bring him back inside and put him back into the crate for thirty-to-forty-five more minutes, then take him back out after that. He should get better about peeing quickly when you take him when he learns what "Go Potty" means and wants to pee to get the treat. The schedule timing, combined with the rewards, the "Go Potty" command, and what to do if he does not go potty, should help a lot with your confusion. Seven weeks is very early to potty train. It's great to start as soon as possible, so keep trying! but also try to be patient, knowing that he really needs about another week before he will even start to have more control over his bladder. Right now you are just helping him learn the general concept of holding his bladder and not just peeing as soon as he feels the urge. Crate training during the day should help him discover his ability to hold his bladder. At night, look at how big his crate is. His crate should be big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lay down. If it's big enough for him to pee or poop in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid the mess, then it won't encourage him to hold his pee and wake you up to go outside when he needs to go potty. If you have a larger sized crate and it's metal, then it likely came with a metal divider that you can use to block part of the crate off for now, to make it a small enough space for him. At this age, he should be waking you up to pee in the middle of the night most nights. Make sure that you are hearing him if he cries to go out and not sleeping through it. If you are sleeping through it, then you will probably have to set an alarm for halfway into the night until he is around nine weeks old. He will need to pee after about five to six hours of sleep right now, and sooner if he wakes up early. When you take him potty, take him on a leash, keep the trip boring, don't give any treats, and immediately put him back into the crate when you go back inside. If he cries when you put him back into the crate and you know that his bladder is empty now, then ignore the crying so that he will not think the middle of the night is time to play. While awake the maximum amount of time that a puppy can generally hold his bladder for is the number of months they are in age plus one (two-months-old = 2-3 hours, four-months-old = 4-5 hours). This number only applies when a puppy is trying to hold his bladder, such as when he is in a crate or has been potty trained. If a puppy is not potty trained, then I recommend taking the puppy out twice as often as he is physically capable of or sooner (two-month old puppy = every 1 to 1.5 hours, four-months-old = every 2 to 2.5 hours). At night a puppy can typically hold his bladder for double the amount of time that they can hold it for while awake during the day, as long as they stay asleep. Once they wake up, they will need to pee right away if it's been the length of time they can hold it for during the day. (two-months-old = 4-6 hours, four-months-old =8-10 hours - if they stay asleep). Each puppy is a bit different though. Some puppies start making it through the night much earlier and others take longer than average. The exact amount of time that your puppy can hold his bladder for in different situations will depend on his own body and needs though, so take what you are learning about him into consideration and adjust if needed, but know that those seem to be the averages, so try not to stray or expect too much more than that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

We have a three month old and have been taking her out every two hours or so. She seems to understand the command "go pee" when I am there, but when she follows my other dog out, she seems to forget and will often come right inside and go. The treats do seem to be working for positive reinforcement.

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Question
Teddy
Shih Tzu
Eight Months
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Question
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Teddy
Shih Tzu
Eight Months

Goes out every 3/4 hours to pee. Most nights he goes 9 or so hours. Once, he peed on my bed at night. I am now putting him out once at night. He poops in kitchen in approx. same spot, but sometimes carries it in next room. Main problem, I think, is he doesn't know how to tell me he needs to go. Just turned 8 months on the 23rd. We have had only GS before this. They were crate trained. Wonderful companion

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jan, Crate Training is typically the best method for small dogs too. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the Crate Training method for a couple of months until he has not had an accident for at least 1.5 months. You want to very carefully prevent the accidents from happening to break that habit that's formed, while also rewarding him with treats for going potty outside. I also suggest teaching him to ring a bell when he needs to go potty. Clean up previous and current accidents with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes to remove any lingering smell so that he will not be encouraged to go potty in the same spot again. When you are very closely supervising, you can also use the "Tethering" method found in the article with the Crate Training" method, but don't give him any freedom without tethering him to you or making sure he has peed outside during the last 1.5 hr. Because he is older, when you follow the crate training method, you can use a schedule similar to what you are doing now...take him outside every three hours when you are home. He can go longer at this age if he is in the crate but more frequent trips every three hours will help him learn. Also, after he goes potty, you can give him 1.5 hrs of supervised free time out of the crate instead of just 45 minutes like the article mentions for younger puppies. Potty training article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are currently using pee pads right now, in addition to taking him outside, that may be causing confusion too. Many dogs confuse pee pads with carpet and rugs, so I suggest switching to a real grass pad or litter box instead, inside an exercise pen. Check out the Exercise Pen method if you want to train him to potty inside. Potty inside training: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy To train Teddy to ring a bell to go outside, check out the article that I have linked below. I suggest using the Peanut Butter method but you can try any of the methods. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
No name yet
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks
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Question
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No name yet
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks

I’m thinking about getting a shitzu puppy However I do work and lm gone for about 6 to 8 hours 4 days a week If I can’t find someone to let her or him out while I’m gone will it confuse them if they pee in their cage ? And also which is easier to train male or female ? Or should I just not get one 🤔
Sandy

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sandra, Absolutely do not let her pee in her cage, that will cause a lot of confusion and future potty training issues. You can set up and exercise pen, put the cage with the door open in one corner and a disposable grass pad in the far corner for her to use as a potty. Check out the exercise pen method from the article linked below and follow the "Exercise Pen" method. The article mentions litter box training but you can use real grass pads instead too. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Leo
Shih Tzu
5 Months
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Question
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Leo
Shih Tzu
5 Months

We have been potty training this puppy for two straight months. He is crate trained and has a very small area during the day to eat/rest/ play. The size of a medium crate. He whines to go outside when in these two areas. But in the house he will not do anything to let us know he has to go out. He will pee in the house. I am at a loss. Two months of consisting training, rewards when he goes outside, he goes to the same spot every time, out the same door each time. I feel bad keeping him locked up all the time but how else do I help him make the connection to pee outside when in the house? He sniffs and circles when he is about to lie down on the floor so that sign doesn’t help us either.
He is almost 6 months old.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cynthia, Unfortunately, what you are describing (especially for his small breed) is still normal. Keep up the crate training and stay consistent. Puppies learn to alert you last...Holding it in the house between potty trips and pottying outside when you take them are the first steps, but they still need you to initiate taking them and if you don't they will eventually have an accident. Most puppies need to be kept on a consistent potty schedule and taken outside without them having to initiate it for months before they start alerting you. Even the easiest dogs to potty train typically take 3 months of training (you're on month 2), many dogs don't learn to alert you until 6 months - but will learn to potty outside when taken and hold it for a few hours while loose inside. Alerting comes last. Don't feel bad about crating. Many dogs that are not crated correctly end up euthanized or re-homed because they develop destructive chewing habits, window barking habits, potty training issues, and other behavior issues. My own most recent dog stayed in a crate when not supervised until 1 year of age! But as an adult now doesn't have to be crated even while traveling because she is mannerly in the house and fully house trained. One year of crating is worthwhile for 10+ years of being trustworthy and having more freedom. Check out the tethering method from the article linked below. In another month, you can switch to using that method while you are home, and crating while you are gone off or don't want him tethered to yourself if you want to. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside You can also teach him to ring a bell to go potty - honestly I don't think you are there yet, but in one to two months if he doesn't find his own appropriate way to alert you, teach it then. Peanut Butter method (squeeze cheese or liver paste can also be used instead - avoid Xylitol ingredient in peanut butter: https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chloe
Shitzu
4 Months
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Question
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Chloe
Shitzu
4 Months

E just got her and she pees in crate and lays in it. Pees and poos right after you bring her in. Never had this small of a dog. Our last dog was a Bichon. How do I break peeing in crate and not outside? She is about 2 lbs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Teresa, First, 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 her. Make sure the crate is only big enough for her to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that she 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 small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. Check out the Crate Training article linked below for tips on how to get pup to go potty while outside - which makes accidents in the crate less likely. Also, be aware that a 4 month old puppy cannot hold her bladder for longer than about 4 hours during the day even in a crate. Any longer and she will be forced to have an accident - enough accidents and she will loose her desire to keep even the right size crate without something absorbent in it clean. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are still struggling after applying the above suggestions, then unfortunately pup may have already lost her desire to hold it while in a confined space. This commonly happens when someone accidentally teaches pup to do so by placing something like a puppy pad on one end of a larger crate or confining a puppy in cage where they are forced to pee through wired flooring - like at a pet store and some shelters. There are rare puppies who simply do it anyway, even though nothing happened to teach that. In those cases you can try feeding pup her meals in there to discourage it but most of the time you simply have to switch potty training methods until she is fully potty trained - at which point you might be able to use a crate for travel again later in life. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or enclosed balcony - once weather is a safe temperature are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside!). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup will hold her bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so she won't go into there looking to pee, and take her potty outside only. Since she may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave her alone, be sure to leave her in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until she is out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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