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Your new pup is very cute. He’s friendly, excitable and loving – what you’ve always hoped for in dog. But there’s one thing that isn’t cute and that’s his ability to poop just about anywhere. He will poop behind the sofa, on the welcome mat, and even right on your lap if you let him. It’s not in a Shih Tzu's natural instinct to know where to poop and where not to – they will need to be trained. You may have noticed that he doesn’t seem to go in his bed area. Dogs will usually not poop where they sleep, but any other place is fair game – and they will poop anywhere. So, to house train your new pup, try any of these three methods. In good time you’ll stop sniffing every time you enter a room and start enjoying your time with your new pal!
In order for you and your Shih Tzu puppy to live together, they will need to respect the rules of the house. One of those rules is no pooping on the carpet! Reasonable enough, I’d say. This is something that all dogs, no matter their size or intelligence, can learn to do. It may take a couple of weeks to form the habit of going outside, but once they’ve got the hang of it, there is little you need to do to keep the training up – it should become instinct.
It’s important to house train puppies from a young age. Once they have learned that they can go anywhere, they will continue to do so. But if you catch them early, it will be a much simpler process. It’s much more difficult to train older dogs not to poop inside, so the recommendation is always to start early! Begin as soon as your puppy comes home.
Like all training, rewards are useful for encouraging good behavior. You can choose to use small treats, but this is optional. A treat is useful for capturing their attention, but this isn’t necessary with house training, you just need a positive reward for correct behavior. Options for alternative rewards include love, attention, or their favorite toy.
It is very important not to scold your puppy if he does have accidents. This could cause him to hide when he does need to go, which will worsen the problem! Training using fear and intimidation is not successful, it can lead to anxious and aggressive dogs which will only lead to further problems. Instead, encourage desired actions and reward correct behavior.
Patience is key on this one. It may be frustrating to you that your pup cannot control himself. But remember, it took you years to become potty trained! So give your little guy a break and be prepared to commit to this training regime. Let’s get started!
The Schedule Method
Time their meals
Get into the routine of scheduling meals twice a day. If puppies receive food all day long, guess what – they will poop all day long. Feed your dog at the same time each day and their bowels will eventually be on a timer too.
Grab yourself a poop diary
This method is all about scheduling, which sometimes requires a little notetaking to make sure you’re on time. Grab yourself a notebook where you can write down the last time your pup went outside. This will help you remember and stick to the system.
Grab and go
Young puppies have very weak bladders and can go at the drop of a hat – especially when something has excited them, or when they have received a lot of exercise. Every 10 minutes you should take your puppy outside to go. If they don’t go after a little while, bring them back inside and try again in another 5 to 10 minutes. This may seem like a big task, but it will be worth it! Gradually you can extend the time between toilet breaks, until they only need to go twice or three times a day on their walks or scheduled toilet breaks.
When you’re outside and you can see that your pup is settling down to do the business, you can use command words like ‘poo poos’. This will start the association between the command word and the action.
Once they have gone outside, you can praise them for all their hard work! Give them lots of love and attention or grab a toy and get playing. You can use treats as a reward, but Shih Tzus are prone to gaining weight easily, so if you can, use an alternative.
Continue with the schedule
It’s important that you continue with the schedule throughout their lives. Whether you plan to walk them twice a day or just once with a morning and evening toilet break, make sure you stick to this at all times. It’s unfair on your dog to make them hold it in. They may desperately need to go but you have trained them not to. To stop mistakes happening, keep to the schedule.
The Supervise Method
Keep an eye on your puppy at all times. If you see them about to squat, sniffing the ground or they have their tail straight out, these are the tell-tale signs they are about to go!
When you see this happening say ‘Ah ah’ short and sharply. This should not be an aggressive tone, but it should be sharp enough to signal that something is not right.
Grab and run
Pick your puppy up and take them straight outside. There is no time for encouraging them out the door – this needs to be a quick process to avoid accidents. If you leave the leash by the door, you can grab it on your way out and put them straight on it as soon as you’re outside.
Once they have done the dirty business, give them a big "well done" for their effort! Give them lots of physical praise and play fun to start the association between going outside and correct behavior, this will encourage them to continue it in the future.
Clean up messes thoroughly
If you’ve taken your eye off the ball and they have made a little mess inside, make sure you immediately clean up and do so thoroughly. If you leave behind traces of smell it can act as a signal for them to go there again. It’s almost like they have marked their territory on your carpet and they need to maintain it. So, get cleaning!
The On The Walk Method
Grab your leash
Almost all owners would prefer their dogs to toilet while they are on their walk. Rather than soiling your perfectly manicured lawn, its much better if they can go out in the wilderness where it will be hidden from everyone, or where you can pick it up and dispose of it straight away. So, grab your leash.
Get up early
Get ready to take them for a walk first thing in the morning. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? I’d bet before you make that cup of coffee, you’re up and in the bathroom. This is how your pup will feel too, so don’t make them wait, get out the house as soon as you’re ready!
Take them out for a walk
Before you let them outside to go, put them on a leash and make their first pee of the day on a walk. Sometimes, if puppies have been trained to go in the yard this might be the only place they go for a while, so keep them out on your walk until they are desperate.
Use your signal words
If you’ve been using command words in the garden, for example ‘go pee pee’ or ‘go poo poo’ you can use these on their walk to signal they should go to the toilet.
Make sure you reward them with lots of praise, love and attention after they have gone on their walk. This will encourage the behavior and signal that they should do it again when they can.
Swap the yard for walks
Continue with this schedule, swapping the backyard toilet breaks for scheduled walks on which you can encourage those bathroom breaks.
Written by Olivia Draper
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021