How to House Train Shih Tzu Puppies

Updated November 21, 2016

The Shih Tzu is a breed of small dog that is full of character. Shih Tzus are loyal dogs that make friends with humans and other animals easily. Shih Tzu puppies must be consistently trained from an early age in order to make them into good household members. This is because a Shih Tzu needs to be reminded that the human, not the dog, is the pack leader. Shih Tzu puppies may be difficult to house train due to their wilful personalities, but, with patience and consistency, it can be done.

Involve every member of your household in the training process. Each member should be instructed on where you want the dog to "potty", taught the correct way to praise and reprimand the puppy (see Step 4), and informed of the dog's schedule. When all of the household members become involved, it teaches the Shih Tzu puppy who's boss, an important step in housebreaking a Shih Tzu. (See References 1-3.)

Create a schedule for your puppy. Feed, sleep, wake up and take your puppy out for potty breaks at the same times each day. Doing so teaches the Shih Tzu puppy that there are appropriate times for certain activities, such as "potty".(Remember, puppies need to go out about every 2 hours, plus after naps and eating.) Schedules also help you to determine when your Shih Tzu naturally wants to go to the bathroom, so you can keep a consistent schedule that works for you both. (See References 2-3.)

Choose a spot outside to serve as your Shih Tzu's "bathroom", and take your puppy to this spot each time you go out for potty breaks. Keep your Shih Tzu puppy on a leash during potty breaks, to teach it that you are outside for one reason--using the bathroom, not playing or exercising. Once your Shih Tzu puppy accepts the daily routine and is housebroken, you can allow it play times outside. (See References 2-3.)

Praise your puppy immediately every time it uses the outdoor bathroom. Offer it treats and give encouragement by saying things like, "Good dog!" If you need to reprimand the Shih Tzu during housebreaking, never yell at or hit the puppy. Simply say, "No!", in a firm, sharp voice and clap your hands or make a noise to startle the puppy. Proper technique in praising and reprimanding your Shih Tzu helps establish you as its pack leader and encourages the puppy to potty outdoors only. (See References 1-3.)

Provide a spot for your Shih Tzu to use the bathroom if you have to be away from it for an extended period of time (for example, a work day). Confine the puppy to a room with newspapers or potty pads on the floor for the puppy to urinate on if you will be gone for a very long time and know that the puppy cannot "hold it." If you will only be gone for a short time, place the puppy in an appropriately sized dog crate. This teaches a Shih Tzu that it is possible to "hold it" until the next potty break. (See References 2-3)

Clean up any accidents your Shih Tzu has in the house immediately and thoroughly. If a Shih Tzu puppy smells a spot it previously eliminated on in your home, it is likely to do it again on that spot. If you catch the puppy having an accident, give an appropriate reprimand and clean up the mess. If you are not present for the accident, clean up the mess and supervise your Shih Tzu more closely from that point on to avoid further accidents. (See References 2-3)


Be consistent in your housebreaking training. Any deviation from the program during the training period gives the Shih Tzu room to gain the upper hand, and may result in prolonged training. Consistency is key. To avoid nighttime accidents, try removing your puppy's water dish for 1 hour to 2 hours prior to bedtime, then replacing it in the morning. This allows you and your puppy to sleep through the night with no worries of potty breaks or accidents in the house. (See References 2-3.)

Things You'll Need

  • Leash
  • Dog treats
  • Newspapers or potty pads
  • Crate
  • Cleaning supplies
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