How to Train a Shih Tzu to Pee on a Pad

Easy
2-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your Shih Tzu fits neatly in your hands. They were so small when they landed in your life and they’re not much bigger now! Life simply wouldn’t be as bright without them. But while taking them for walks and watching them explore is great fun, there are some issues at home. The major one is that they go to the toilet whenever and wherever they want. That means expensive couches, new floors, and favorite shoes are all in danger of being urinated on at some point, or worse.

Training your Shih Tzu to pee on a pad is important, therefore, if only to save those shiny shoes! But this training also means you’re not constantly cleaning up urine in your evenings. Instead, you can go back to drinks with friends or a family film and even take your pooch to friends’ houses without worrying about accidents.

Defining Tasks

You will use a ‘toilet’ command to help train your Shih Tzu to pee on a pad. Make it into a game and going to the toilet suddenly becomes fun and stress-free. Another major component of training will be getting the dog into a routine. All dogs need a schedule to lead a stable life, and Shih Tzus are no different. And although they’re small, Shih Tzus are like most dogs in their love for food. So a few yummy treats will definitely help training along.

Luckily, this is training that takes just a little practice, rather than intense doggie school. So you just need to commit a few weeks of getting your pup into their new pad routine. But if they’re older and been peeing wherever they like for many years, then it may take a couple of months before you put the lid on accidents.

Getting Started

You will probably see the quickest results if you incorporate food into training. Choose their favorite food or some yummy treats. You’ll need to take some with you each time they go for a pee. You’ll need a pee pad at the ready.

You’ll probably also want a secure leash to fit them to when you take them to go to the toilet. It’s probably a good idea to have some poo bags too in case a wee isn’t enough. Make sure you have some cleaning products to clean up any accidents as well!

Now you’ve got all you need, let’s dive in!

The Routine Method

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Step
1
Early morning
The trick with this training is getting your pup to the pad whenever they need to go for a pee. They’re likely to need to go first thing in the morning, so secure them to a leash and take them there as soon as they're up.
Step
2
Throughout the day
You’ll then need to take them back to the pad numerous times throughout the day. If your Shih Tzu is just a puppy, they will need to go even more often. The idea is that if they’re always at the pad when they need to go, then they soon won’t know any different but to go there.
Step
3
Bedtime pee
Make sure your Shih Tzu gets to go for a pee at the pad before bed. If they know they’ll get to go there each evening, then the chances of them having an accident overnight is much less likely.
Step
4
Reward
Your Shih Tzu will get into the habit of peeing on the pad much quicker if they associate it with positive things. So give them a yummy treat or a piece of food after they have finished going for a pee in the right spot.
Step
5
Clean up accidents
It’s important you clean up any accidents inside promptly. Use cleaning equipment because if your dog can smell they have been for a pee there before, they will be more likely to have an accident there again.
Recommend training method?

The Attitude Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Turn around
Lots of owners are so keen to train their dog to pee in a specific space that they stare intensely waiting for them to go. This won’t help your Shih Tzu relax. So turn around and give them some privacy as they pee.
Step
2
Avoid punishment
Accidents are inevitable. But how you deal with them is important. If you shout at your dog or punish them, then may start peeing out of submission. You must avoid this, as then you’ll have an even bigger issue to tackle.
Step
3
A previous visit
If your dog doesn’t seem eager to use the pad, try wiping some previous pee on it. If your Shih Tzu can smell they have been there before, this will relax them and they’ll be much more likely to go.
Step
4
Consistency
It can be tempting to not take the dog to the pad if you’ve had a long day or are busy. But this is a mistake. You need to make sure you take them every time. Breaking the routine will only push back the end result.
Step
5
Rewards
Each time your Shih Tzu goes for a pee on the pad, you need to give them a reward. You can use some food or you can play around with a toy for a minute. Also, if you use a clicker when you train, click after each successful pad visit, this will tell them they have done something right.
Recommend training method?

The Verbal Command Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Routine
Get into the habit of taking your Shih Tzu to the pad regularly throughout the day. You can even secure them to a leash and take them there. The more often the pup is there, the more relaxed they will feel around it.
Step
2
‘Toilet’
Whenever your dog is going or about to go, give a ‘toilet’ instruction. Give it in a high-pitched playful voice. Your Shih Tzu will respond best if they think they are playing a game. So really keep it lighthearted.
Step
3
Reward
Once they have finished going for a pee, make sure give them a reward. Some people like to use treats, but if you don’t want to risk your Shih Tzu putting on weight, you can always just play around with a toy.
Step
4
Lose the rewards
Now you simply need to repeat these steps each day. Soon enough your dog will be in the habit of only going for a pee on the pad. This means your work is done and you can start to cut out the rewards!
Step
5
Keep it clean
Although a pee pad will inevitably get pee on, it’s important you still replace it regularly. You don’t want to risk the spread of bacteria. You don’t want your Shih Tzu lying around in it and then walking it all over the house.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Olivia Draper

Published: 04/17/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Belle
Shih Tzu
2 Months
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Question
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Belle
Shih Tzu
2 Months

How often should we be taking our new puppy to the pee pad? We are wanting her to ONLY use pad.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
823 Dog owners recommended

Hello Angela, Check out the article linked below and the Exercise Pen and Crate Training methods. These methods can be followed with a pee pad as well. During the day take pup potty every 1.5 hours. If you are also crate training pup, pup can hold it for up to 2-3 hours max during the day in the crate (but those are maximums and only apply if crated or asleep). If using an exercise pen, pup can be placed in there with a pee pad when you have to be gone longer than 3 hours. At night pup will likely wake 1-2 times. The same day time times apply at night once pup wakes up, but most puppies can hold it a couple of hours past that time if they stay asleep until their bladders wake them. At night expect to either crate pup and take them when they cry to go potty, or place pup in an exercise pen with a non-absorbent bed on one end - like www.primopads.com or a cot type bed, and the pre pad on the other side of the exercise pen, so they have access to go whenever they wake - since they may not cry to ask when not crated. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy In general, a puppy can hold it for the number of months they are in age plus one during the day, but that's for a puppy who is motivated to hold it. A pup still potty trained needs to be talked about twice as often as that number. At night that increases by a couple of hours. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bentley
Shih Tzu
3 Months
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Bentley
Shih Tzu
3 Months

I just bought a shih tzu yesterday and i need to know if i can put a pee pad in my room where his cage is located and in my kitchen for when i am downstairs. I am new to house training a puppy and i want this to be as easy as possible for us both. I also put him in my downstairs bathroom today when doing chores since i couldn't watch him for an hour. Is house training going to take months or weeks?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
823 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, First, you need to decide if you want Bentley to always pee inside the house on a pad, or if you want to transition him to peeing outside, or to peeing both inside and outside. What you decide will effect how you should train it and what you should use. If you want him to pee inside long term, then I suggest using the "Exercise Pen" method or the "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below. The article talks about litter box training, but you can use pee pads, disposable grass pads, fake grass pads, or a litter box with the method. Simply substitute whatever toilet you want to use for the litter box if not litter box training. Follow the article's method's instructions and it will make potty training a lot easier in the long run. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy The more accidents that you prevent, the quicker he will learn. The more accidents that he has, the longer it will take. If you are super consistent about following one or both of those methods, then most puppies are potty trained by five months of age. It is gradual though and not all at once - meaning that it will get easier as you go and he begins to learn the concept and is able to physically hold his bladder for longer as he gets older. During the day a puppy can only physically hold his bladder for the number of months that he is in age plus one - meaning that a three month old puppy cannot hold his bladder for longer than four hours during the day - no matter what. It is best to take him out halfway into that time or sooner though while training -meaning every two hours when you are at home. I suggest setting up an exercise pen like the article describes, in one or two locations. Both one or two locations are fine. You do not want to set up pads everywhere though and you want to train him to always go to the same location, not just a pad in general. Doing that will help him not to pee in other areas of the house and to remember exactly where to find a pad to go to. Picture the difference between going to a house where there are random toilets everywhere verses going to a house and there being two bathrooms. You know from experience that you should look for bathrooms and to go in there when you need to pee. An exercise pen with a pad inside is like a bathroom and a toilet to the puppy. If you plan to train the puppy to use the bathroom only outside in the future, then I suggest either starting crate training right now and avoiding the confusion of him peeing inside on a pad ever, or train him to use a real disposable grass pad inside when you are gone and take him outside when you are at home, starting now. To teach him to use a grass pad, set up an exercise pen in a room or bathroom that can be closed off so that you can keep him from going into it as an adult later if you don't want him peeing inside anymore, and putting a real grass pad in the exercise pen. Follow the "Crate Training" method from the "How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to Poop Outside" article that I have linked below whenever you are at home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Put him into the exercise pen with the grass pad when you are NOT at home and you cannot take him outside to go potty. Do not put anything absorbent other than the grass pad in the exercise pen with him. You can purchase a PrimoPad from primopads.com if you need a durable puppy bed, and you can give him a dog-food-stuffed hollow chew toy, like a Kong, in the exercise pen. When you stuff the Kong, you can also put a little liver paste or peanut butter (avoid Xylitol - it's is toxic to dogs!) in the Kong to make it even more exciting. Honestly, I am a huge fan of disposable grass pads even for dogs that will use the bathroom inside long-term. They can be more expensive than pee pads but each one lasts much longer. They also help a dog learn how to go potty on grass outside - to make traveling easier. They tend to be easier to train a puppy or dog to use because they have a natural scent and feel. They are less confusing for the dog because they are not made out of fabric - many dogs confuse pee pads with rugs and carpet and will have accidents on rugs and carpet, especially when they cannot find a pee pad. A grass pad reduces the chances of that happening. Real-grass disposable pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI/ref=asc_df_B005G7S6UI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309763115430&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4628430177348674255&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=pla-568582223506&psc=1 A litter box is another great option for indoor potty training. You have to watch puppies in litter boxes at first though, because some puppies will try to eat the litter while young- not all do this but watch when you first use one. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Trent & Theo
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks
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Trent & Theo
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks

Hi. I have two Shih Tzu puppies. Trying to train them to use a pad until they can go outside. They seem to want to play (tear up) and sit lay on the pad rather than use it for business. Any tips on getting them to use the pad rather than peeing And pooing wherever the fancy would be gratefully received.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. Potty training times two is a fun challenge! I can just picture them playing and entertaining themselves with the peed pads. I suggest trying a litter box. Much less fun than tearing up the pads. There are great tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy. All three of the methods may be options to try. Buy a real grass litter box if you like - sometimes this makes the transition to outside easier because the puppies associate the grass litter with the real grass outdoors. Importantly, clean up every mess inside with an enzymatic cleaner. This is the only product that will remove the odor completely. Otherwise, Trent and Theo will continue to pee wherever the scent remains. Do not use ammonia; it actually smells like pee to dogs. Good luck!

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Question
susie
Shih Tzu
9 Months
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susie
Shih Tzu
9 Months

why does my puppy eat pee pad

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Susie most likely does this because puppies like to chew just about anything. I suggest trying a litter box. If you will be transitioning Susie to eventually only going potty outside, then use a real grass pad instead of the litter box or pee pads. Then, she'll easily pee outside when the time comes. Try the Exercise Pen method here, using either the litter or the grass: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy. Good luck!

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Question
Daisy
Shih Tzu
3 Months
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Question
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Daisy
Shih Tzu
3 Months

She is getting agressive biting and pees everywhere in the house. I don't have time to get her out frequently as I work but I have designated potty pads for her.

Please help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
823 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anisa, For potty training, I recommend following the exercise pen method from the article linked below. It mentions a doggie litter box, but can be used with pee pads, disposable real grass pads (best for dogs who will be transitioned to outside potty training later), or dog litter boxes. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy For the biting: Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
sofia
Shih Tzu
6 Months
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Question
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sofia
Shih Tzu
6 Months

I've tried everything to potty train her and she doesn't wanna listen shes even started to poop on the couch and bed i need help

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
221 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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Question
Oliver
Shih Tzu
4 Months
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Oliver
Shih Tzu
4 Months

I got Oliver since one week , I tried to train him on artificial grass using training spray , or using tissues wet by his own pee , but he leave it when he need to pee and go to the ceramic floor .. I put him inside the box, with the grass or the pad, he is waiting till going out of the box and do it on the floor. I put the pad which is wet of his pee and let him smell it frequently, observing him and waiting for him to relief himself on it , but he is refusing to stay on it , and once he touch the ceramic floor, he is doing it .. I am cleaning thoroughly every accident spot and very keen with the timing, early morning, after meals and drinks .. but I am facing failure.. I feel like he is refusing to do it on any furnitured floor , including the pads, because I noticed that he is never doing it on the carpets , sofas, beds, etc. he is doing it only on Ceramic floor , even if that floor is completely cleaned from any odors. please advice me ..

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
823 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vivian, Check out the exercise pen method from the article I have linked below. I recommend using that method with the grass instead of litter box - like the article mentions. I also recommend purchasing several disposable real grass pads and lining the entire floor of the exercise pen with them so that pup's only potty option is the grass. Keep an eye on pup from somewhere in the room with them and be ready to praise and reward whenever pup pees there. Right now the potty area pup is currently using may be too small so they may be trying to keep it clean the way they would a crate - so making the area bigger in the exercise pen can help pup get used to going there. Fake turf can also resemble carpet and some dogs don't feel it's okay to potty on that - but the real grass pads will be more natural feeling to help pup adjust. Finally, the exercise pen method limits pup's options to just the grass area, until pup has gotten into the habit of going potty there and is no longer hesitant, at which point you can gradually start taking away the extra pads and transitioning pup to more freedom like the method details. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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