Shih Tzu Potty Training: Guidelines for Optimal Frequency

If you’re a proud Shih Tzu owner, you may be wondering how long you can leave your furry friend without a potty break. As much as we love our pets, accidents can happen, and no one enjoys cleaning them up. So, how often should you take your Shih Tzu out to potty? It may seem like a simple question, but the answer depends on several factors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different factors that affect potty frequency and provide guidelines for successful potty training. Plus, we’ll share some tips on what to do when accidents happen. So, buckle up, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the world of Shih Tzu potty training!

Factors that affect potty frequency

Factors That Affect Potty Frequency
When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, the frequency of their trips outside is an important factor to consider. Understanding the factors that affect potty frequency can help you establish a routine that works for both you and your furry friend. Age, size, physical activity and diet, and health conditions are all factors that can influence how often your Shih Tzu needs to go potty. By taking these factors into account, you can create a potty schedule that meets your dog’s needs and helps prevent accidents. To ensure successful potty training for your Shih Tzu, it’s important to educate yourself on the process. Check out our potty training guide for more tips and tricks on how to train your Shih Tzu to go potty outside.

Age and size

When it comes to how often your Shih Tzu needs to go potty, their age and size play a significant role. Puppies have little control over their bladder and need to go out more frequently than adult dogs, and smaller Shih Tzu dogs have smaller bladders and, therefore, need to go potty more often than larger Shih Tzu dogs.

Puppies: If you have a Shih Tzu puppy, expect to take them out every 30 minutes to an hour. As they grow, they can hold it for longer periods of time. However, it’s essential to watch for signs that they need to go, such as sniffing or circling.

Adults: Adult Shih Tzu dogs can typically hold their bladder for four to six hours during the day. However, it’s essential to monitor your dog’s water intake, physical activity, and diet, as these factors can affect how often they need to go potty.

Seniors: Senior Shih Tzu dogs may have weaker bladder control and may need to go out more often than younger dogs. They may also need to go out more frequently if they have a medical condition that affects their bladder or bowels.

Size is also an essential factor to consider when it comes to potty frequency. Smaller dogs, such as Shih Tzu, have smaller bladders and require more frequent trips outside.

AgeSizePotty Frequency
PuppySmallEvery 30 minutes to an hour
AdultSmallEvery 4-6 hours
SeniorSmallMore frequent than adults

It’s important to keep in mind that these are just general guidelines and every dog is different. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and adjust their potty schedule as needed. Potty training is also an important component in helping your Shih Tzu go potty at appropriate times. For tips on successful potty training, check out our page on Shih Tzu potty training tips.

Physical activity and diet

Physical activity and diet are essential factors that affect the potty frequency of your Shih Tzu. Just like humans, dogs’ digestive systems are influenced by what they eat and their level of physical exercise. If your Shih Tzu consumes high fiber foods, they may require more frequent potty breaks as fiber takes longer to digest. On the other hand, if your Shih Tzu indulges in high-fat meals or a lack of physical exercise, it can lead to constipation.

It’s crucial to maintain a consistent exercise routine to keep your Shih Tzu healthy and regulate their bowel movement. High levels of physical activity can increase the metabolism of your dog and stimulate their digestive system. Lacking the regular walk or sufficient exercise can decrease their metabolic rate and cause digestion issues that can affect their potty frequency.

Feeding your Shih Tzu the appropriate amount of food may also help to reduce the frequency of potty breaks. Overfeeding or underfeeding your Shih Tzu can lead to gastrointestinal problems and affect their bowel movements. Make sure to consult your veterinarian to create a diet plan that is specific to your dog’s age, weight, and health condition.

A consistent feeding routine can also regulate your Shih Tzu’s bowel movements. By feeding your dog at the same time every day, you can predict when they will need to potty more accurately. Additionally, avoid feeding them meals before bedtime to prevent accidents from happening throughout the night.

Remember, maintaining a balanced physical activity and diet routine is crucial for the well-being of your Shih Tzu and successful potty training. For more potty training tips, check out our article on potty training your Shih Tzu and avoid common mistakes with Shih Tzu potty training.

Health and medical conditions

Health and medical conditions can impact the frequency at which your Shih Tzu needs to go potty. Certain medical conditions can increase the frequency of urination or cause your dog to have accidents inside the house.

Here are some common health conditions that can affect a dog’s potty habits:

Medical ConditionDescription
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)A bacterial infection that can cause frequent urination, painful urination, and accidents in the house.
DiabetesA condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Dogs with diabetes may drink more water and need to go potty more often.
Cushing’s DiseaseA hormonal disorder that can affect a dog’s urinary habits. Some dogs with Cushing’s disease may drink more water and need to go potty more frequently.
IncontinenceA condition that can cause a dog to leak urine. Incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, obesity, and certain medications.

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing any of these medical conditions, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to manage the condition and adjust your potty training routine as needed.

If your Shih Tzu has had a recent accident in the house, it may be a sign of an underlying medical issue, so it’s important to have them checked out by a veterinarian.

Note that potty pads can be useful for dogs with medical issues that require frequent potty breaks or for older dogs who may have trouble holding their bladder. However, it’s important to still take your Shih Tzu outside regularly for exercise and fresh air to prevent them from becoming too reliant on potty pads.

By being mindful of your Shih Tzu’s health and medical conditions, you can adjust their potty training routine to ensure they stay healthy and comfortable. And if you’re having trouble with potty training in an apartment, there are plenty of tips available to help make the process smoother.

Guidelines for potty frequency

Guidelines For Potty Frequency
As a Shih Tzu owner, it’s essential to understand the guidelines for potty frequency. Consistent and timely potty breaks help ensure your pup maintains good health and reduces the likelihood of accidents. The appropriate frequency for potty breaks is influenced by several factors that have been covered in the previous section. By following guidelines based on your dog’s age and physical activity, you can establish a routine that benefits both you and your furry friend. In the following sections, we’ll dive into specific guidelines for each stage of your Shih Tzu’s life, from puppyhood to senior years. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your furry friend stays healthy, happy, and accident-free.

Puppy (8 to 12 weeks)

During the first few weeks of a Shih Tzu puppy’s life, it is important to establish a consistent potty training routine. As such, puppies between the ages of 8 to 12 weeks, should be taken out to potty every 30 minutes to an hour. Potty breaks should also be taken after meals, naps and playtime, as well as first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

It’s important to note that puppies at this age have very little control over their bladder and bowel movements, so accidents may still occur despite your best efforts to stick to the schedule. To minimize accidents, ensure that your puppy has easy access to the designated potty area and that you’re keeping a watchful eye on them at all times.

If you live in an apartment, apartment potty training tips can be helpful in creating an appropriate potty training routine that suits your living situation. Alternatively, if you’re struggling with potty training during this stage, you may want to consider extending the puppy’s time spent in a crate with a designated potty area to help them learn where and when to relieve itself.

In addition to adhering to the recommended potty frequency and crate training, positive reinforcement techniques can also be used to build good habits. Reward your puppy every time they use the designated potty area, and avoid punishing them for accidents as this may lead to confusion and fear. Remember that potty training a Shih Tzu puppy takes patience and persistence, but it is an important foundation for building a well-behaved and happy dog.

Once your Shih Tzu puppy reaches the age of 12 weeks, you can gradually start extending the time between potty breaks. This can be done by 15 to 30-minute increments every few days. By 6 months of age, most Shih Tzu puppies can hold their bladder for up to 6 hours during the day, and all night long. More information on this topic can be found in our article about the right time to potty train your Shih Tzu.

Puppy (12 weeks to 6 months)

As a puppy grows and develops, their potty habits will also change. [Brand/Company Name] has put together this comprehensive guide to help pet owners understand how often they should take their Shih Tzu out to potty. Here are the guidelines for puppies that are between 12 weeks and 6 months old:

Factors | Guidelines for Potty Frequency
— | —
Age | At this stage, a puppy’s bladder is still developing, so they will need to go out often. Plan to take them out every two hours during the day and once during the night.
Size | Small breed dogs like Shih Tzus have small bladders, so they will need to go out more frequently than larger breeds.
Physical Activity | Puppies are full of energy and constantly on the move, which means they will need to relieve themselves more frequently. Take them out after playing, eating, or drinking water.
Diet | Puppies’ digestive systems are still developing, so they will need to go out more frequently to avoid accidents indoors. Provide them with small, frequent meals throughout the day.
Health Conditions | If your puppy has any medical conditions that affect their bladder, they may need to go out more frequently. Consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Tips for Successful Potty Training

  • Be consistent with your routine and take your puppy out at the same times every day.
  • Use positive reinforcement and rewards for good behavior.
  • Supervise your puppy inside and keep an eye out for signs they need to go out, such as sniffing or circling.
  • Clean up accidents thoroughly to eliminate odors that may tempt your puppy to go back to the same spot.

Remember, every puppy is unique and may have different potty habits. It’s important to be patient and understand that accidents will happen. In the next section, we will discuss what to do when accidents occur.

Adult (6 months and older)

As your Shih Tzu transitions into adulthood, their potty frequency will change as well. Understanding their needs at this stage is crucial in ensuring successful potty training. Here are some guidelines to help you plan your Shih Tzu’s potty breaks:

Age and SizeSmall adult Shih Tzus need to go out every 4-6 hours while larger ones can hold it for a bit longer, up to 8 hours. However, it is still recommended to take them out every 4-6 hours to avoid accidents.
Physical Activity and DietIf your Shih Tzu is highly active or has a high protein diet, their need to potty may increase. Taking them out every 3-4 hours is ideal in this case.
Health and Medical ConditionsIf your Shih Tzu has any medical conditions or takes medication that increases their need to urinate, be mindful of their behavior and take them out as needed.

Remember to always reward your Shih Tzu when they successfully go potty outside and to gradually increase the time between potty breaks as they get older and show greater bladder control.

Senior (8 years and older)

As dogs age, they may lose some control over their bladder and bowels, making it necessary to take them out more frequently. For senior Shih Tzus aged 8 years and older, it is important to be attentive to their needs and adjust their potty schedule accordingly.

Factors to consider:

Minimum frequencyMaximum frequency
Age and size:Every 3-4 hoursEvery 5-6 hours
Physical activity and diet:Every 3-4 hoursEvery 5-6 hours
Health and medical conditions:Every 2-3 hoursEvery 5-6 hours

When it comes to senior Shih Tzus, several factors can influence their potty frequency. One of the biggest worries is limited mobility, as certain health issues can affect their ability to move around. Joint problems, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other similar conditions can cause pain and make it hard for dogs to get up, stand or walk. This, in turn, can make it challenging for them to hold it in, hence the need for more frequent potty breaks.

Also, older dogs may experience incontinence, a condition characterized by involuntary urination or defecation. Normally, dogs would let you know they need to go outside, but with incontinent dogs, they might not even realize it themselves, making it harder to predict when a mess might occur.

Other health issues that can affect senior dogs’ potty frequency include kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and other conditions that might mess with their body’s ability to maintain a proper balance of fluids.

As with any age group, it is essential to keep a consistent routine and monitor their behavior to ensure that your senior Shih Tzu is getting enough opportunities to relieve themselves.

Tips for successful potty training

Potty training a Shih Tzu can be a challenging task for pet owners, especially for those who are first-time dog owners. Here are some tips for successful potty training:

Establish a routineSet a schedule for feeding and potty breaks to develop a routine for your Shih Tzu.
Praise and rewardWhenever your Shih Tzu successfully goes potty outside, give them a treat, play with them, or offer praise for positive reinforcement.
SupervisionKeep an eye on your Shih Tzu, especially during potty training. This way, you can anticipate and prevent accidents from happening.
Limit water intakeLimit water intake before bedtime, during car trips, and other situations where you may not be able to take them outside for potty breaks.
ConsistencyBe consistent with your training methods, commands, and schedule to establish a habit and develop trust with your Shih Tzu.
Clean and remove accidentsIf accidents happen, clean and remove any traces of the mess to prevent your Shih Tzu from smelling it and thinking it’s okay to go potty there.
PatienceBe patient with your Shih Tzu. Training takes time and effort, and every dog learns at their own pace.

Remember that potty training is an ongoing process, and it requires effort and consistency from the pet owner. With the right mindset and tools, potty training your Shih Tzu can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend.

What to do when accidents happen

At some point, accidents are bound to happen despite your best efforts. It’s important to stay calm and handle the situation with patience and understanding.

Immediate Clean-Up

The first step is to clean up the mess immediately. Use paper towels to pick up the solid waste and dispose of it in a plastic bag. Next, soak up any liquid with more paper towels. Use an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate any odors, so your Shih Tzu will not be drawn to the same spot again.

Avoid Punishment

Punishing your Shih Tzu for an accident is not an effective way to correct their behavior. It will only cause fear and anxiety. Instead, focus on reinforcing positive behavior by rewarding them when they go in the right spot. Use treats or praise as a positive reinforcement.

Reassess Your Routine

An accident may indicate that you need to reassess your routine. Check that you are taking your Shih Tzu out regularly and providing enough opportunity for them to relieve themselves. Consider adjusting the timing of meals, exercise, and potty breaks.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

If accidents become a recurrent issue, it may be worth consulting with your veterinarian. Medical conditions such as bladder infections or mobility issues may be to blame. Your veterinarian will be able to offer advice on the best course of action.

Stay Positive and Patient

Finally, it’s important to stay positive and patient. House training a Shih Tzu is a process that requires consistent effort and patience. Accidents don’t usually last long and sticking with a positive approach will help to speed up the process of successfully potty training your Shih Tzu.


In conclusion, taking your Shih Tzu out to potty is an essential aspect of their overall health and well-being. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, physical activity, diet, and health conditions because they can affect their potty frequency.
Regular potty breaks can help prevent accidents in the house and ensure that your dog remains comfortable and healthy.

As a puppy, your Shih Tzu will require more frequent potty breaks, especially during their first few weeks of life. This is because their bladder and bowel control are not fully developed. It’s advisable to take them out every two to three hours to prevent accidents in the house.

As your Shih Tzu matures and becomes an adult, they can hold their bladder and bowel for longer periods, thus requiring fewer potty breaks. It’s advisable to take them out every four to six hours.

As they age and enter their senior years, their bladder and bowel control may decline, and you may need to take them out more frequently. In some cases, they may require assistance to potty, so it’s important to watch out for any signs that indicate a decline in their health.

To successfully potty train your Shih Tzu, it’s crucial to be consistent with their potty breaks, offer rewards and praise for successful potty trips, and supervise them during their free time in the house. Always remember to clean up any accidents promptly and thoroughly to avoid unwanted odors.

In the event of accidents, it’s important not to punish your Shih Tzu as this may cause anxiety and stress, making the potty training process more challenging. Instead, calmly clean up the mess and try to identify the cause of the accident to avoid a repeat occurrence in the future.

In conclusion, taking your Shih Tzu out to potty is a simple task that requires consistency, dedication, and patience. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu remains healthy, happy, and accident-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I take my Shih Tzu out to potty?

It depends on the age, size, physical activity, diet, health, and medical conditions of your Shih Tzu.

2. How long can Shih Tzus hold their bladder?

Shih Tzus can hold their bladder for about 1 to 6 hours, depending on their age, size, and other factors.

3. How do I know when my Shih Tzu needs to go potty?

Watch for signs such as sniffing, circling, whining, barking, scratching, or sudden restlessness.

4. Should I use pee pads for my Shih Tzu?

Pee pads can be a useful tool for potty training, but they are not a substitute for outdoor potty training.

5. How can I teach my Shih Tzu to signal when they need to go potty?

You can train your Shih Tzu to use a bell or a door scratcher to signal when they need to go potty.

6. What should I do if my Shih Tzu has frequent accidents?

You may need to adjust the potty frequency, supervise your Shih Tzu more closely, or consult a veterinarian if there are underlying medical issues.

7. Can I potty train my Shih Tzu using punishment?

No, punishment can be counterproductive and damage the bond between you and your Shih Tzu. Positive reinforcement and consistency are key.

8. Is it normal for my Shih Tzu to have accidents during potty training?

Yes, accidents are a normal part of the potty training process. They do not mean your Shih Tzu is not trainable.

9. How long does it take to potty train a Shih Tzu?

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to potty train a Shih Tzu, depending on the individual dog and the consistency of training.

10. Can I hire a professional dog trainer to help with potty training?

Yes, a professional dog trainer can provide guidance and support for potty training your Shih Tzu, as well as address any other behavioral issues.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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