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Your Shih Tzu, Luna is a breath of fresh air in your usually noisy household. Regardless of whether there is an argument, Luna brings you all together. Her wagging tail can’t help but deflate any tension. She is also a firm favorite when guests are over. But guests see the best side of Luna. You, unfortunately, also see some of the downsides. The main issue is her toilet habits. Your clean kitchen floors and even your carpets are often used as Luna’s personal toilet.
Training your Shih Tzu to pee and poop outside, therefore, will come with some well-needed benefits. Firstly, you won’t have to worry about the unpleasant spread of bacteria around your house. Neither will you have to come downstairs to the unpleasant aroma of Luna’s midnight pee. If you can tackle this problem you may be better equipped to tackle other issues too.
Thankfully, training Luna to pee and poop outside isn’t as complicated as you might think. The trick is getting her into a consistent routine of going in a specific spot. To get her into that routine, you need to find the right incentive. Food is often an effective motivator with Shih Tzus. You will also use a verbal command to give you greater control over Luna’s toilet habits.
If your Shih Tzu is just a puppy then training may take just a week or two. This is because they aren’t in a set habit yet and they should respond swiftly to training. If they have had years of going to the toilet wherever they like, however, then you may need up to six weeks. Stick to training and your floors and furniture will thank you. You also won’t have to worry your guests will tread in something unpleasant.
Before you start work, you will need to gather a few things. A training leash, treats or the dog's favorite food broken into small pieces will be needed. You will also need a clicker and a toy for one of the methods below. Some antibacterial or other cleaning spray will also be required.
Set aside a few minutes at several points through the day for training. In addition, the more you are around to clear up accidents, the sooner you will reach that end result.
Once you have all of that, just bring patience and some poo bags, then work can begin!
The Routine Method
Make sure you feed your Shih Tzu at the same times each day. This will allow you to predict when they will need the toilet so you can take them outside accordingly. You simply cannot get them into a toilet routine easily if they eat at different points each day.
Make sure the dog has access to a water bowl at all times. If they are dehydrated, predicting when they will need the toilet will be challenging. So make sure you regularly top their bowl up.
Once you have given the pup their breakfast, secure them to a leash and take them outside to go for a pee and a poop. They are likely to need to go around 15 to 20 minutes after a meal.
Make sure you take the dog out again after dinner in the evening. If your Shih Tzu is always outside when they need to go for a pee and a poop, then they will have no choice but to get into a habit of going out there.
Make sure you clean up accidents quickly and completely. If a dog can smell that they have been to the toilet in a spot before, then they will be more likely to go there again. So get out the antibacterial spray and give it a good clean.
The Environment Method
It can help to take your Shih Tzu to the same spot every time. So find an accessible place outside that is close by. This is simply because they will feel more at ease and comfortable if they go there regularly.
You wouldn’t appreciate it if someone stared at you when you went for a pee or a poop, so turn around when your dog is about to go. This will relax them and speed up the whole process.
A previous visit
If they seem uneasy and are struggling to go, wipe some of a previous visit down in the area. If it smells like they have been there before, they will be more likely to go there again. It’s a quick, albeit unpleasant, way to help them go to the toilet.
Make sure your Shih Tzu gets a generous reward whenever they have finished going to the toilet in the right place. You can use treats or play around with a toy for a minute. You can also give them some verbal praise.
Lose the treats
Follow the steps above until your dog is no longer having any accidents. At this point they will be in a consistent routine and you can gradually cut out the treats. Just make sure to continue taking them outside regularly each day.
The Verbal Cue Method
Always be ready
The key is always being outside when your Shih Tzu needs to go for a pee and a poop. So secure them to a leash regularly throughout the day and head outside to the same spot. If they are a puppy, you will need to take them out even more.
Just as the pup is about to go or starts to go, give a ‘toilet time’ command. Give it in a playful, high-pitched tone. You want this to feel like a game. You can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction, Shih Tzus can learn hundreds of different commands.
Once the dog has finished doing its business, give them a generous reward. It could be a treat or a toy. You can also click now if you use a clicker when you train. Just make sure your Shih Tzu gets their reward within a few seconds of finishing their business.
Cut out the treats
Now you simply need to practice. Always give the command and take the dog out until accidents become a thing of the past. At this point they know to only go for a pee and a poop outside, so you can gradually phase out the treats.
It is important you do not punish your pup for any accidents. If you scare them then they may start relieving themselves in submission. This is an even bigger challenge to overcome, so remain calm at all times.
By James Barra
Published: 04/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021