Potty Training Your Shih Tzu in an Apartment: Tips and Tricks

If you’re a Shih Tzu owner living in an apartment, you may be wondering how to potty train your furry friend in a confined space. It’s not surprising that this task can seem daunting, but fear not – with the right preparation and techniques, you can successfully potty train your dog in your apartment. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step, from getting supplies to addressing common challenges. So grab some treats and let’s get started!


Preparing for potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment requires careful planning and organization. Without proper preparation, potty training can become a frustrating and time-consuming task. In this section, we will discuss some essential steps you need to take to make the potty training process smoother and more manageable. We will cover getting supplies and creating a schedule, as well as designating a potty area. These tips will help you set the stage for successful potty training. Let’s begin! To learn more about potty training your Shih Tzu, check out our potty training guide.

Getting Supplies

To set your Shih Tzu on the path to successful potty training, you need to get all the necessary supplies. The first item you need is a sturdy leash, which will allow you to take your pup outside quickly and safely. Make sure to also purchase some poop bags, which will help you clean up after your Shih Tzu.

Another essential item for potty training is a crate. The crate will act as a den for your dog, serving as a confined space where they can relax and sleep when they’re not being supervised. It’s also a great tool for crate training, one of the most effective potty training techniques. If you want to use potty pads, buy a few packs of pads and a pad holder or two.

You’ll also need cleaning supplies for any accidents that might happen during the training process, including a high-quality pet stain and odor remover. Invest in some chew toys to keep your dog occupied, especially during crate training. Lastly, it’s crucial to have patience and a positive attitude when embarking on this journey.

Remember, potty training a Shih Tzu might take some time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. With the right supplies and mindset, your furry best friend will be happily pottying outside or on a pad in no time!

Create a Schedule

Creating a schedule is an essential part of potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment. Having a routine will help your pup understand when it’s time to go potty and prevent accidents from happening. It’s recommended to take your Shih Tzu puppy out every 2-3 hours, especially after waking up, playing, or eating. Consistency and patience are key, and you need to follow the schedule even on weekends.

Below is a sample schedule you can use as a reference when creating your own:

6:30 amWake up and outdoor potty break
7:00 amBreakfast
7:30 amPlaytime
9:30 amOutdoor potty break
12:00 pmLunch
12:30 pmCrate time
2:30 pmOutdoor potty break
5:30 pmDinner
6:00 pmPlaytime
8:30 pmOutdoor potty break
9:00 pmCrate time

Remember to adjust the schedule based on your puppy’s individual needs and behaviors. If your Shih Tzu is having accidents in their crate or around the apartment, it may be a sign that they need more frequent potty breaks. On the other hand, if they don’t go potty during their scheduled outdoor breaks, you might need to extend the time between breaks.

By creating a consistent schedule, you’ll be setting your Shih Tzu up for success in their potty training journey. Don’t forget to check out our Shih Tzu potty training tips for more guidance on this exciting yet challenging process.

Designate a Potty Area

Designating a Potty Area

One of the most important steps in potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment is designating a potty area. This area should be easily accessible to your dog, and consistently used throughout the training process.

To start, choose a small, confined area in your apartment. This could be a corner of the kitchen or bathroom. Place a potty pad or artificial grass patch on top of a newspaper to prevent any accidents from soiling your floors. Make sure to place a sufficient amount of pads or patch to give your Shih Tzu enough space to do their business.

Creating consistency is key in potty training. Take your Shih Tzu to the designated potty area at the same times every day, such as immediately after they wake up or after mealtime. This will help establish a routine and make it easier for your Shih Tzu to associate the designated area with potty time.

It’s essential to avoid punishing your Shih Tzu for potty accidents during the training process. Accidents are inevitable, especially in the beginning stages of training. Instead, focus on praising and rewarding your Shih Tzu for successful potty sessions in the designated area.

By designating a specific potty area and using a consistent schedule, you can make the potty training process easier for both you and your Shih Tzu. Don’t forget to clean up any accidents promptly, neutralizing the area with an enzymatic cleaner to prevent your Shih Tzu from being attracted to the same spot again.

Establishes consistency in potty trainingMay require multiple potty pads or patches to cover sufficient space
Encourages association between designated area and potty timeCan be challenging to train your Shih Tzu to use the designated area exclusively
Makes clean-up easier and more efficientRequires regular cleaning of designated area

Training Techniques

Training Techniques
Starting the potty training process for your Shih Tzu in an apartment can be a daunting task, but with the right training techniques, it can be much easier than you think. Creating and sticking to a routine, along with positive reinforcement, will make a big difference in achieving success. In this section, we will explore some effective training techniques that can aid in the potty training of your furry friend. Let’s get started with the first technique: crate training. If you want to learn more about common potty training mistakes for Shih Tzus, follow this link.

Crate Training

Crate training is a highly effective and recommended method for potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment. Not only does it help prevent accidents by restricting your puppy’s access to the rest of the apartment, but it also serves as a safe and comfortable space for your pup to rest and sleep in.

Here are some steps to successfully implement crate training:

  • Choose a crate that is the appropriate size for your Shih Tzu. It should be large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably, but not so large that they can divide it into a potty area and a sleeping area.
  • Introduce the crate to your pup slowly and positively. Leave the door open and place treats and toys inside to encourage them to enter voluntarily.
  • Start feeding your pup their meals inside the crate with the door open. Gradually start closing the door while they eat and then, over time, keep the door closed for longer periods after they finish eating.
  • Don’t force your pup to stay in the crate for an extended amount of time, particularly in the beginning. Build up the duration they stay in the crate slowly over time.
  • Take your Shih Tzu to their designated potty area immediately after letting them out of the crate. This reinforces that going potty happens outside, not inside the crate.
  • Make sure your pup has plenty of exercise and playtime outside of the crate to prevent boredom and excess energy that can lead to accidents.

Crate training can be particularly helpful at night when supervision is limited and accidents are more likely to happen. Place the crate in your bedroom so your pup doesn’t feel isolated or anxious and can be comforted by your presence.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to crate training, and don’t forget to adjust your Shih Tzu’s schedule as they grow and require more frequent potty breaks.

For more tips on establishing a consistent potty routine for your Shih Tzu, check out our article on creating a Shih Tzu potty schedule. And for guidance on how to handle accidents during the potty training process, head over to our article on dealing with accidents during Shih Tzu potty training.

Bell Training

Bell Training is a popular and effective way to communicate with your Shih Tzu that it’s time to go potty. This technique involves hanging a bell by the door and ringing it every time you take your dog out to go potty. Over time, your dog will associate the sound of the bell with going outside to do their business, and will start ringing the bell when they need to go out themselves.

To begin bell training, you’ll need to follow a few steps:

Step 1Choose a bell that makes a distinct sound and hang it by the door.
Step 2Every time you take your Shih Tzu out to go potty, ring the bell.
Step 3After ringing the bell, take your dog outside to their designated potty spot and give the command to “go potty.”
Step 4Wait for your dog to go potty, and then praise and reward them with a treat.
Step 5Repeat this process every time you take your dog out to go potty.
Step 6If your dog starts ringing the bell themselves, praise and reward them, and take them outside to go potty.

It’s important to remember to only let your dog outside to go potty, and not to play or explore. This will reinforce the idea that going outside is strictly for going potty. With consistency and positive reinforcement, your Shih Tzu will be ringing the bell and going potty outside in no time.

While bell training can be effective, it’s important to remember that it’s not a guarantee and your Shih Tzu may still have accidents. If you need additional training techniques, consider crate training or adjusting your potty schedule.

Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment, positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool to help your furry friend form good habits. Instead of punishing your dog for going in the wrong place, focus on rewarding them for going in the right place.

Here are some positive reinforcement techniques you can try:

  • Treats: Whenever your Shih Tzu goes potty in the designated area, immediately reward them with a treat. Use small, bite-size treats to avoid overfeeding your pup.
  • Praise: Dogs love hearing their owners’ voices and receiving verbal praise for their accomplishments. Whenever your Shih Tzu goes potty in the right place, use an excited tone of voice to give them plenty of verbal praise.
  • Playtime: In addition to treats and praise, you can also reward your Shih Tzu with a few minutes of playtime after they go potty in the right place. This can make potty time more enjoyable for your pup and encourage them to seek out the designated area.

Remember to be consistent with your positive reinforcement techniques, and always reward your Shih Tzu immediately after they go potty in the right place. Over time, your furry friend will start to associate the act of going potty in the designated area with positive rewards and begin forming good habits.

Consistency is Key

When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, consistency is key. It’s important to establish a routine and stick to it, as this will help your dog understand when it’s time to go potty. Here are some important tips to help you stay consistent throughout the training process:

  • Establish a routine: Decide on times throughout the day when you will take your Shih Tzu outside to go potty, and stick to those times. For example, you might take your dog out first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bed. By establishing a routine, your dog will learn to recognize those times as potty breaks.
  • Use the same word: Choose a word or phrase to use when you want your dog to go potty, such as “go potty” or “do your business”. Use this word consistently every time you take your dog outside to go potty. Eventually, your dog will associate the word with going potty and will be more likely to go on command.
  • Take your dog to the same spot: Designate a specific area for your dog to go potty, and take your dog to that spot every time. By consistently taking your dog to the same spot, your dog will associate that area with going potty, and will be more likely to go there on their own.
  • Be patient and persistent: Potty training takes time and patience. It’s important to stay persistent and not give up, even if your dog has accidents or takes longer to learn. With consistency and positive reinforcement, your Shih Tzu will eventually learn to go potty outside every time.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment. Establish a routine, use the same word, take your dog to the same spot, and be patient and persistent. With time and dedication, your dog can become fully potty trained and a happy and well-behaved companion.

Common Challenges

Although potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment can be a rewarding experience, it may also present some challenges. As every dog has its unique personality and learning pace, it is not uncommon to face some hiccups in the process. Not to worry, with patience, consistency, and the right techniques, you can overcome any issues that arise. In this section, we will explore some potential roadblocks and offer solutions to help you achieve potty training success with your furry friend.

Accidents Happen

Potty training your Shih Tzu can be a challenging process, and accidents are bound to happen along the way. However, these accidents can be a valuable learning experience for both you and your furry friend. Here are some tips to help you handle accidents like a pro:

  • Stay calm: Accidents can be frustrating, but it’s important to stay calm and not get angry at your dog. Shouting or punishing your pup can lead to fear and anxiety, making the potty training process even harder.
  • Clean up quickly: It’s important to clean up any accidents promptly to prevent stains and odors. Use an enzymatic cleaner designed for pet messes to eliminate all traces of urine or feces.
  • Reassess your schedule: If accidents are happening frequently, it may be a sign that your pup needs more potty breaks or a more structured schedule. Consider adjusting your routine to better meet your dog’s needs.
  • Keep an eye on your pup: Accidents often happen when your pup is unsupervised, so it’s important to keep an eye on them at all times. If you’re not able to watch them, confine them to a designated potty area or crate.
  • Reinforce positive behavior: When accidents are limited, be sure to praise and reward your pup for going potty in the right place. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in reinforcing good habits.

Remember, accidents are a normal part of the potty training process, so don’t get discouraged if they happen. With patience, consistency, and a positive attitude, your Shih Tzu will soon be fully potty trained and accident-free!

Nighttime Training

Training your Shih Tzu to use the potty during the nighttime is an important aspect of potty training. While it’s a little more challenging than daytime training, with proper techniques, it can be accomplished successfully.

1. Limit Food and Water Intake
One way to make nighttime training easier is to limit your Shih Tzu’s food and water intake before bed. Try not to feed your furry friend at least two hours before bedtime. Additionally, it’s a good idea to remove their water dish about an hour before bed.

2. Take Your Shih Tzu Outside Before Bed
Before putting your Shih Tzu to bed, take them outside to their designated potty area for one last bathroom break. Encourage them to go potty with positive reinforcement and reward them after they’ve finished.

3. Use a Crate
Using a crate for nighttime training can be very helpful. Shih Tzus have a natural instinct to keep their sleeping area clean. So if they’re in a crate, they’re less likely to go potty inside. However, make sure the crate has enough space for your Shih Tzu to move around comfortably.

4. Make Sure the Potty Area is Accessible
Make sure that the potty area is easily accessible for your Shih Tzu at nighttime. If they’re in a crate, position the crate near the potty area. Additionally, make sure it’s well-lit, so your furry friend can see where to go.

5. Be Patient and Consistent
Training your Shih Tzu to go potty at night takes time and patience. You may have a few accidents along the way, but don’t get discouraged. Keep up with positive reinforcement and remain consistent in your training techniques. With time and effort, your furry friend will learn to go potty during the nighttime outside.

By following these nighttime training techniques, you can successfully potty train your Shih Tzu in an apartment. With proper training, patience, and consistency, your furry friend will learn to go potty outside at night as well as during the day.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue that many Shih Tzu owners face during the potty training process. This occurs when the dog becomes distressed or anxious when separated from their owner or when left alone in the apartment. If your Shih Tzu is struggling with separation anxiety, here are some tips to help:

  • Desensitization: Gradually increase the time you spend away from your Shih Tzu, starting with short periods and gradually working up to longer durations. This will help them become more comfortable with being alone.
  • Toys and Treats: Provide your dog with toys and treats that are only given when you are leaving the apartment. This will help them associate your departure with something positive.
  • A Calm Departure: When leaving the apartment, avoid making a big fuss or saying goodbye in an overly excited tone. Your Shih Tzu can pick up on your emotions and become anxious themselves.
  • Establish a Routine: Establishing a routine can also be helpful in reducing separation anxiety. This routine can include exercise, playtime, and potty breaks before you leave.
  • Seek Professional Help: If your Shih Tzu’s separation anxiety is severe, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide more specialized advice and support.

Remember, patience and consistency are key when dealing with separation anxiety. With time and the right approach, your Shih Tzu can overcome this challenge and become a successful potty-trained apartment dog.


After following these tips and techniques outlined in this article, potty training your Shih Tzu in an apartment should be a much smoother process. Remember that preparation is key, and having the right supplies, schedule, and designated potty area will make training much easier.

Utilizing crate training or bell training, coupled with positive reinforcement, will make a significant difference in potty training success. It’s important to remain consistent throughout the process, even when accidents happen or obstacles arise such as nighttime training and separation anxiety.

With patience and understanding, you and your Shih Tzu can overcome any challenges during the potty training process. Remember to celebrate each success, no matter how small, and continue reinforcing good behavior.

Overall, potty training a Shih Tzu in an apartment can be challenging, but with the right preparation, techniques, and mindset, it’s definitely achievable. Keep in mind that every dog is unique and may require different methods, so stay flexible and adapt as needed. With dedication and perseverance, you’ll have a fully potty trained Shih Tzu in no time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Shih Tzus be potty trained?

Yes, Shih Tzus can be potty trained using consistent training techniques and positive reinforcement.

Is it harder to potty train a Shih Tzu in an apartment?

It can be harder to potty train a Shih Tzu in an apartment because of limited space and access to outdoor areas.

What supplies do I need for potty training a Shih Tzu?

You will need puppy pads, treats, a leash, a crate, and cleaning supplies to potty train a Shih Tzu.

How do I create a schedule for potty training my Shih Tzu?

You can create a schedule by taking your Shih Tzu outside or to their designated potty area at regular intervals throughout the day, such as every 2-3 hours.

What is crate training and how does it help with potty training?

Crate training involves teaching your Shih Tzu to view their crate as a safe and comfortable space. This can help with potty training because dogs have an instinct to not soil their sleeping area.

How does bell training work?

Bell training involves hanging a bell near your door that your Shih Tzu can ring to signal when they need to go outside. You can train them to ring the bell with a command phrase such as “Go potty.”

How important is positive reinforcement in potty training a Shih Tzu?

Positive reinforcement is essential in potty training a Shih Tzu. Praising and rewarding them for going in their designated potty area can encourage them to continue that behavior.

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

Clean up the mess thoroughly and immediately with an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate any lingering scents. Avoid scolding or punishing your Shih Tzu, as this could create anxiety and damage the potty training progress.

How can I help my Shih Tzu with nighttime potty training?

Limit water intake before bedtime and take your Shih Tzu out for a final potty break right before bed. If accidents continue to happen, consider setting an alarm to take them out in the middle of the night.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu experiences separation anxiety during potty training?

Gradually acclimate them to being alone by starting with short periods of time and gradually increasing. Provide them with toys and treats to keep them occupied during your absence.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make Doggolab a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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