Potty Training Your Shih Tzu: Tips and Tricks for Success

There comes a time in every pet owner’s life when they must embark on the journey of potty training their furry friend. When it comes to Shih Tzus, this can be a unique challenge as these adorable creatures can be stubborn and difficult to train. But fear not, with the right knowledge and techniques, you can successfully potty train your Shih Tzu. In this article, we will explore the most effective strategies for potty training your Shih Tzu step-by-step. From developing a potty routine and positive reinforcement techniques to dealing with accidents and special circumstances, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in and get your Shih Tzu on the path to potty success.

Understanding Your Shih Tzu

Understanding Your Shih Tzu
Understanding the nature and temperament of your Shih Tzu is crucial in successful potty training. Shih Tzus are known for being lively, affectionate, and sometimes stubborn. However, it’s important to note that the training process can differ from dog to dog, as each one has their own unique personality. To effectively train your adorable furry friend, it’s essential to learn about the challenges you might face during the training process, as well as the Shih Tzu potty training facts. This will help ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and tools to avoid common mistakes and create a personalized potty routine that works best for your pooch. To learn more about the Potty Training tips and tricks for Shih Tzus, visit Shih Tzu Potty Training Tips.

Potty Training Challenges for Shih Tzus

Potty Training Challenges for Shih Tzus

Despite being adorable and intelligent, Shih Tzus can present unique challenges when it comes to potty training. As a breed that was originally bred to be lap dogs, Shih Tzus tend to be more stubborn and independent than other breeds. This, coupled with their sometimes slow metabolism, can hinder behavior consistency and make potty training difficult.

Another challenge that Shih Tzu owners may face during potty training is the breed’s relatively small bladder and tendency to drink lots of water. As such, accidents can happen frequently, especially during the initial stages of potty training. This can be discouraging for both the owner and the dog, but remaining patient and consistent will help overcome these challenges.

Additionally, Shih Tzus are known to be sensitive and anxious dogs. If a Shih Tzu is scared or feeling insecure, they may refuse to go potty outside, which can lead to accidents inside the house. It’s important to provide a comfortable and secure environment for your Shih Tzu during the potty training process.

Understanding these unique challenges is important when attempting to potty train your Shih Tzu. By taking a tailored approach and addressing each challenge as it arises, you can successfully train your furry friend to go potty in the right place at the right time.

For more information on common mistakes to avoid during Shih Tzu potty training, check out our article on Shih Tzu Potty Mistakes to Avoid.

Shih Tzu Potty Training Facts

Shih Tzu Potty Training Facts

Potty training a Shih Tzu can be challenging, but with consistency and patience, it can be done successfully. Here are some important facts to keep in mind when potty training your Shih Tzu:

  • Shih Tzus have small bladders: Due to their small size, Shih Tzus have small bladders, which means they need to go potty more frequently than larger dogs.
  • Shih Tzus are stubborn: This breed can be stubborn at times, which can make potty training more difficult. It’s important to establish yourself as the leader and be consistent with training.
  • Shih Tzus need a routine: Establishing a routine for your Shih Tzu can help with potty training. Take your dog outside at the same times every day and reward them for going potty in the appropriate spot.
  • Shih Tzus respond well to positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, can be very effective when potty training your Shih Tzu. Punishment, on the other hand, can be counterproductive.
  • Shih Tzu puppies may have accidents: It’s normal for Shih Tzu puppies to have accidents during the potty training process. Be patient and consistent with training to help your puppy learn.

Remembering these facts can help make the potty training process smoother for both you and your Shih Tzu. Try to be patient and consistent with training, and if you’re having trouble, consider seeking advice from a professional dog trainer or veterinarian. For more tips and strategies on potty training your Shih Tzu, check out our potty training guide.

Step-by-Step Potty Training Strategies

Step-By-Step Potty Training Strategies
As you embark on the journey of potty training your Shih Tzu, it’s important to have a solid strategy in place. Without a plan, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the challenges that come with potty training a new puppy. Thankfully, there are several effective strategies that you can use to make the process smoother for both you and your furry friend. By following these step-by-step tips and tricks, you can create a potty training routine that works for your unique situation. Let’s dive in and explore these strategies in detail without forgetting to establish a consistent potty schedule for your Shih Tzu. (link to #shih-tzu-potty-schedule if desired)

Developing a Potty Routine

When developing a potty routine for your Shih Tzu, consistency and patience are key. The routine should be based on your dog’s schedule and needs. Keep in mind that puppies have smaller bladders and will need to go more frequently than adult dogs.

Here are some steps to develop an effective potty routine:

  • Establish set times for potty breaks: Take your Shih Tzu outside first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime. These are the times when they are most likely to need to go. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the routine, they may start to signal when they need to go out.
  • Choose a designated spot: Designate a specific spot outside where you will take your Shih Tzu to potty. This will help them associate that spot with going potty and can aid in their training.
  • Use verbal cues: Use a consistent phrase, such as “go potty” or “do your business” to let your Shih Tzu know what you want them to do when you take them outside.
  • Monitor your Shih Tzu: Watch your dog for signs that they need to go, such as sniffing or circling. When you see these behaviors, take them outside immediately.
  • Reward good behavior: When your Shih Tzu goes potty outside, praise them and give them a treat to reinforce the behavior.

It’s important to be patient with your Shih Tzu during the potty training process. Remember that accidents may happen, especially in the beginning stages of training. If your dog has an accident, it’s important to clean it up thoroughly to prevent any lingering smells that may attract them to go in that spot again.

If you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space, you can still develop a successful potty routine for your Shih Tzu. Check out our article on Shih Tzu potty training apartment tips for more information.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Positive Reinforcement Techniques are an essential part of any successful potty training plan for your Shih Tzu. Positive reinforcement trains your dog by rewarding desirable behavior, which encourages them to repeat this behavior in the future. This technique is far more effective than punishing your dog for undesirable behavior, as punishment may create fear and anxiety that could hamper the potty training process.

One of the most common positive reinforcement techniques used to potty train Shih Tzus is providing them with delicious treats. Whenever your Shih Tzu successfully relieves themselves in an appropriate location, reward them with a treat immediately. This establishes a link between the positive behavior and reward in their mind, making them more likely to repeat the action in the future.

Another effective positive reinforcement technique is verbal praise. When your Shih Tzu successfully relieves themselves in the designated area, shower them with praise, in a happy and upbeat tone. Tell them how proud you are of them and what a good job they’ve done. This positive feedback is yet another way to encourage and reinforce good potty behavior.

Keeping your Shih Tzu motivated is a crucial part of successful potty training, and fundamental to a successful potty training plan is choosing a potty option that suits both you and your Shih Tzu. If you’ve opted for outdoor training, choosing a route that stimulates and motivates your Shih Tzu visually and mentally can be helpful. Taking your Shih Tzu to the same outdoor potty spot and repeating the same command phrase every time you go, for example, “go potty,” can help ensure your Shih Tzu knows what’s expected of them and feels comfortable with the routine.

Remember that your Shih Tzu is an intelligent breed and can often sense frustration, fear, and anxiety from their owners. The key to successful potty training is patience and consistency, so stay calm and in control. This will help your Shih Tzu stay relaxed and confident while you’re potty training them, leading to a happier, better-adjusted furry friend in the long run.

Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Verbally Indicate a Need to Go

Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Verbally Indicate a Need to Go

Aside from the conventional potty training techniques such as developing a potty routine and positive reinforcement, teaching your Shih Tzu to indicate verbally when it needs to eliminate can prove to be beneficial. This technique can come in handy especially when your furry friend is feeling unwell, it can no longer contain its bladder or when it needs to go outside of its regular potty break schedule.

The following is a step-by-step guide to teaching your Shih Tzu to verbally indicate a need to go:

1Choose a specific command that will serve as a cue for your Shih Tzu to indicate the need to go. It can be something as simple as “potty” or “outside”.
2Whenever your Shih Tzu needs to go, use your chosen command accompanied with a hand gesture such as pointing at the door or making a specific hand signal.
3After a few times of using the command and gesture, your Shih Tzu will soon learn to associate them with going potty. Be sure to reward and praise your furry friend whenever it indicates a need to go using the command.
4Over time, your Shih Tzu will begin to vocalize the command itself whenever it needs to go out. At this point, you can start to wean your pet off the need for the hand gesture by gradually removing it from the process.
5By consistently using the command and rewarding your Shih Tzu, it will soon learn to indicate verbally whenever it needs to go, making potty breaks easier for both you and your furry friend.

Remember that teaching your Shih Tzu to verbally indicate a need to go will take time and patience. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to making this technique work. In the beginning, your furry friend may not vocalize the command and may still prefer to use its usual cues. This is normal, and you should continue with the training until it picks up the vocalization.

If during training you experience any accidents, refer to our article on “Shih Tzu Potty Training Accidents” for tips on how to handle the problem. Additionally, crate training your Shih Tzu can prove to be useful in potty training, and you can learn more about it in our article “Crate Training for Shih Tzu Potty Training“.

Potty Training Essentials

Potty Training Essentials
When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, having the right tools and essentials can make all the difference. These essential items can help make the process smoother and more effective, ultimately leading to a successful outcome. From puppy pads to crate training, incorporating these must-have items into your potty training routine will set you and your furry friend up for success.

Puppy Pads

In potty training your Shih Tzu, puppy pads are a useful tool to have on hand. These absorbent pads can be placed on the floor in a designated potty area for your pup to use. This can help prevent accidents and make clean up easier.

However, it’s important to note that using puppy pads exclusively can lead to your Shih Tzu becoming dependent on them and may delay the process of them learning to go outside. It’s best to use them as a temporary solution or for times when you are unable to take your dog outside (e.g. during bad weather).

When using puppy pads, it’s important to place them in the same spot every time to establish a designated potty area. This helps your Shih Tzu understand where they are supposed to go.

Here are some tips for using puppy pads effectively:

Tip #1Change pads frequently. No one likes to use a dirty bathroom, and neither does your Shih Tzu. Be sure to change the pads frequently to keep your pup’s potty area clean and comfortable.
Tip #2Praise your Shih Tzu when they use the pad. Positive reinforcement is key in potty training, so be sure to give your pup lots of love and praise when they use the pad correctly.
Tip #3Gradually move the pad closer to the door over time. This helps your Shih Tzu associate going potty with going outside, making the transition to outdoor potty training easier.
Tip #4Use a pheromone spray to attract your Shih Tzu to the pad. Pheromone sprays like Adaptil can help entice your pup to use the pad, making potty training a little easier.

Remember, while puppy pads can be a useful tool in potty training your Shih Tzu, they should not be relied on exclusively. Gradually transitioning to outdoor potty training should be the ultimate goal. With consistency and positive reinforcement, your Shih Tzu will become potty trained in no time.

Crate Training

Crate training is one of the most effective strategies for potty training your Shih Tzu. It involves creating a cozy space for your furry friend to call their own, which can help them feel more secure and comfortable. Using a crate as a potty training tool is beneficial for several reasons:

Benefits of Crate Training
Provides a safe space for your Shih Tzu to sleep and relax
Helps with potty training by teaching your pup to hold their bladder
Prevents destructive behavior when unsupervised
Facilitates travel with your Shih Tzu

When beginning crate training, it’s important to start slow and gradually increase the time your Shih Tzu spends inside. Here are some tips for successful crate training:

  1. Choose the right size crate: Your Shih Tzu should be able to comfortably stand, turn around, and lay down inside their crate.
  2. Introduce the crate: Allow your pup to explore the crate and make it comfortable by adding bedding and toys.
  3. Associate the crate with positive experiences: Reward your Shih Tzu with treats and praise when they enter the crate voluntarily.
  4. Use the crate during meal times: Feeding your Shih Tzu inside their crate can help create positive associations.
  5. Gradually increase crate time: Start with short intervals and gradually increase the time your Shih Tzu spends inside.
  6. Don’t use the crate as punishment: The crate should be a positive space for your Shih Tzu.

Remember, crate training should always be done with patience and positivity. With time and consistency, it can be a valuable tool in potty training your Shih Tzu.

Potty Training Sprays

Similar to puppy pads and crate training, potty training sprays are an essential tool to aid in the potty training process for your Shih Tzu. These sprays can help to create a specific spot where your Shih Tzu can go potty, as well as encourage them to go when you need them to.

What are Potty Training Sprays?

Potty training sprays are a type of solution that you can use to create a specific scent in a designated potty area for your Shih Tzu. The scent can attract your Shih Tzu to the area, making it more likely that they will go potty in the designated spot. There are many types of potty training sprays available on the market, and they are generally safe for both dogs and humans.

How to Use Potty Training Sprays

Using potty training sprays is simple and can be done in a few steps:

  1. Choose a designated potty area for your Shih Tzu.
  2. Clean the area thoroughly to remove any previous scents.
  3. Apply the potty training spray to the designated area.
  4. Take your Shih Tzu to the designated area frequently and encourage them to go potty.

Benefits of Potty Training Sprays

There are several benefits to using potty training sprays, including:

Encourages potty in a specific spotThe scent of the spray can encourage your Shih Tzu to go potty in a specific designated area, reducing mess and making cleanup easier.
Provides a consistent cueThe scent of the spray provides a consistent cue to your Shih Tzu that this is the area where they should go potty.
Helps with training outside the homeUsing a potty training spray when outside the home can help your Shih Tzu recognize where they should go potty, even in unfamiliar surroundings.


Potty training sprays can be a beneficial tool in the potty training process for your Shih Tzu. They can help to create a specific area for your Shih Tzu to go potty, provide a consistent cue, and aid in training outside the home. Consider incorporating a potty training spray into your Shih Tzu’s potty training routine to help achieve success.

Troubleshooting Potty Training Issues

Potty training your Shih Tzu can be a challenging process, and there may be times when you face unexpected issues. You may encounter accidents, regression, or special circumstances that require different strategies. But don’t fret! With a bit of perseverance and these helpful tips, you can troubleshoot any potty training issues that arise. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common challenges you may face and how to overcome them.

Dealing with Accidents

Nobody is perfect, and accidents are inevitable when it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu. However, how you react to these accidents can make a significant difference in your pet’s progress. Here are some tips for dealing with accidents:

  • Remaining calm: Even though it can be frustrating, it’s important to stay calm and composed when accidents happen. Shih Tzus are very sensitive dogs, and they can tell when you’re upset or angry. Yelling or punishing your pet will only make them more anxious and hesitant to go potty around you.
  • Ensuring safety: Cleaning up accidents promptly and thoroughly is essential not only for your own comfort but also for your pet’s safety. Shih Tzus have small bladders, and they can easily slip and fall on wet floors. Use an enzyme cleaner specifically designed for pet urine stains to eliminate the odor and discourage repeat accidents.
  • Reinforcing training: Accidents are an opportunity to reinforce your training efforts. If you catch your Shih Tzu in the act of going potty in the wrong place, interrupt them with a loud noise or clap your hands to get their attention. Then, immediately take them outside to finish their business in the correct spot. Praise them enthusiastically when they do so.
  • Adjusting your routine: If accidents are happening frequently, you may need to adjust your potty routine. Take your Shih Tzu outside more often, especially after they eat or drink. Consider reducing their water intake before bedtime to reduce the chances of accidents overnight. Remember that consistency is key to successful potty training.

By following these tips, you can ensure that accidents don’t hinder your Shih Tzu’s potty training progress. Instead, view them as an opportunity to enhance your training efforts and strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.

Overcoming Regression

It’s not uncommon for your Shih Tzu to experience regression during potty training. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a change in routine, a new pet in the house, or simply forgetting their training.

Regression is frustrating, but it can be overcome with these helpful tips:

Reinforce Basic TrainingGo back to the basics of potty training your Shih Tzu, such as taking them outside frequently, rewarding them for going in the right place, and supervising them closely indoors. Make sure positive reinforcement is being used consistently.
Seek the CauseIf your Shih Tzu is experiencing regression, try to identify the underlying cause. It could be a medical issue, such as a urinary tract infection, or a behavioral problem. Once the cause is identified, you can take steps to address it.
Reset Their RoutineIf a change in routine is to blame, try to get your Shih Tzu back on their regular schedule. Keep track of when they eat, drink, and go potty, and adjust their routine as needed. Consistency is key.
Use a CrateIf your Shih Tzu is regressing with indoor accidents, consider using a crate to keep them contained when you’re not able to supervise them. This will also help establish a regular routine for potty breaks.
Stay Patient and PersistentRemember that potty training takes time and patience, and setbacks can happen. Don’t get discouraged if it seems like progress is slow. Keep using positive reinforcement and training techniques consistently, and your Shih Tzu will eventually get back on track.

With patience, persistence, and the right approach, you can help your Shih Tzu overcome regression and stay on the path to successful potty training.

Special Circumstances

When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, there may be some special circumstances that you need to take into consideration. Below are some scenarios that may require extra attention and patience:

Special CircumstanceEffective Strategy
Incontinence or Medical IssuesFirst and foremost, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your Shih Tzu’s potty accidents. Incontinence may require the use of dog diapers or frequent trips outdoors. Your veterinarian may also recommend medication or treatment options to help manage the issue.
Adopting an Adult Shih TzuIt’s important to understand that potty training an adult Shih Tzu may take longer than training a puppy. Your adult dog may have already developed habits that are hard to break, so consistency and patience are key. Establish a routine and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. If your adult Shih Tzu was not previously potty trained, consider crate training and using puppy pads to assist with the process.
Rescuing a Shih Tzu with a History of Abuse or NeglectPatience, love, and understanding are crucial when potty training a rescue dog. Your Shih Tzu may be scared, anxious, or simply not used to being indoors. Be gentle and avoid punishment if your dog has accidents. Use positive reinforcement and reward good behavior. If needed, seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

Remember, every Shih Tzu is unique and may require different approaches to potty training. It’s important to remain patient, consistent, and positive throughout the process, no matter what special circumstances may be present.


After following the effective strategies for potty training your Shih Tzu, you may still encounter some setbacks and difficulties. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that every dog is unique and may learn at a different pace. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are always key.

Continue to develop a routine with your Shih Tzu and celebrate every successful trip outside. Potty pads, crate training, and potty training sprays can all be useful tools in this process. Remember to reward your furry friend every time they go potty outside with verbal praise, a treat, or a rewarding playtime.

Accidents and regression are common in potty training, but it’s important not to scold or punish your Shih Tzu. Instead, clean up the mess and move on with the potty training process. If you’re noticing a significant regression, reassess your routine and make changes as necessary.

Special circumstances like health issues or a change in living situation can also affect potty training. It’s important to work with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to develop strategies and solutions for these unique situations.

In conclusion, potty training your Shih Tzu may take time and effort, but it’s an important aspect of pet ownership. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can help your furry friend learn the ropes and develop good potty habits. Remember to always approach potty training with love and understanding, and celebrate every successful moment along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I potty train my Shih Tzu at any age?

Yes, it is possible to potty train a Shih Tzu at any age, although the process may take longer for adult dogs than for puppies.

How often should I take my Shih Tzu outside to potty?

You should take your Shih Tzu out to potty at least every 2-3 hours, and immediately after meals or naps.

Should I punish my Shih Tzu for accidents inside the house?

No, punishing your Shih Tzu for accidents will only make him scared and confused. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement techniques like rewards and praise for good behavior.

When should I start crate training my Shih Tzu?

You can start crate training your Shih Tzu as soon as you bring him home. Crate training can be a useful tool for potty training and keeping your puppy safe while you’re away.

Can I use puppy pads for potty training my Shih Tzu?

Yes, puppy pads can be a helpful tool for potty training your Shih Tzu, but it’s important to wean him off of them gradually and encourage him to go outside.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu has an accident inside the house?

If your Shih Tzu has an accident, clean it up immediately with an enzyme cleaner to remove the odor and discourage repeat incidents. Avoid punishing your dog, and focus on positive reinforcement for good behavior.

Is it necessary to teach my Shih Tzu to verbally indicate when he needs to go potty?

No, it’s not necessary, but it can be a helpful tool for communication between you and your dog, especially if you have a busy lifestyle or live in an apartment.

Can I potty train my Shih Tzu without using treats?

Yes, you can use verbal praise and affection as rewards for good behavior, rather than treats. However, treats can be a helpful tool to speed up the potty training process and reinforce good habits.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu is resistant to potty training?

If your Shih Tzu is struggling with potty training, try adjusting your training techniques, seeking advice from a professional dog trainer, and being patient and consistent with your approach.

Can I potty train my Shih Tzu without professional help?

Yes, with patience, consistency, and the right tools and techniques, you can potty train your Shih Tzu at home without the need for professional help.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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