Shih Tzu Potty Training Tips: Housebreaking Your Dog Made Easy

Shih Tzus are adorable, affectionate, and loyal companions, but potty training them can be a challenge. These small, stubborn dogs require patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement to learn where and when to go to the bathroom. In this article, we’ll explore some effective tips and techniques to help you successfully potty train your Shih Tzu.

Understanding Your Shih Tzu’s Needs

Before you begin potty training, it’s essential to understand your Shih Tzu’s unique needs. These dogs have small bladders and may need to go to the bathroom more frequently than larger breeds. They also have a strong instinct to keep their living area clean, which can work in your favor during training.

Establishing a Routine

Consistency is key when potty training your Shih Tzu. Establish a regular feeding and potty schedule to help your dog learn when to expect bathroom breaks. Take your Shih Tzu outside first thing in the morning, after meals, after naps, and before bedtime.

Choosing a Potty Area

Outdoor Potty Area

If you have a yard, designate a specific area for your Shih Tzu to use as a bathroom. Choose a spot that’s easily accessible and visible from your home. Always take your dog to this same spot during potty breaks to help them associate the area with going to the bathroom.

Indoor Potty Area

If you live in an apartment or don’t have easy access to an outdoor space, you can create an indoor potty area using puppy pads or a litter box. Choose a quiet, low-traffic area and gradually train your Shih Tzu to use the designated spot.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Praise and Rewards

Whenever your Shih Tzu successfully goes to the bathroom in the designated area, immediately praise them and offer a small treat. This positive reinforcement will help your dog associate going potty in the right place with good things, encouraging them to repeat the behavior.

Avoiding Punishment

Never punish your Shih Tzu for accidents. This can create fear and anxiety, making the potty training process more difficult. If you catch your dog in the act, calmly interrupt them with a gentle “no” and immediately take them to the designated potty area.

Supervising Your Shih Tzu

Keep a close eye on your Shih Tzu during the potty training process. Watch for signs that they need to go, such as sniffing, circling, or whining. When you notice these signs, quickly take your dog to the designated potty area.

Dealing with Accidents

Accidents are a normal part of the potty training process. When they happen, clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to remove any odors that may attract your Shih Tzu back to the same spot. Never rub your dog’s nose in the mess, as this is an ineffective and harmful punishment.

Crate Training

Crate training can be a useful tool in potty training your Shih Tzu. Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, so a properly sized crate can help teach your dog to hold it until they’re taken outside. Ensure the crate is just large enough for your Shih Tzu to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Gradually Increasing Freedom

As your Shih Tzu becomes more reliable in their potty habits, gradually increase their freedom in the house. Start by allowing them access to one room at a time, always under supervision. If accidents occur, go back to restricting their access and reinforce potty training basics.

Maintaining Good Habits

Once your Shih Tzu is consistently going to the bathroom in the designated area, continue to maintain their good habits. Stick to a regular feeding and potty schedule, and always praise your dog for going in the right place. If you notice a regression in their potty training, go back to the basics and work on reinforcing the desired behavior.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re struggling to potty train your Shih Tzu or if your dog has persistent accidents, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A certified dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist can provide personalized guidance and support to help you and your Shih Tzu overcome potty training challenges.

Looking for helpful tips on Shih Tzu potty training? Check out our articles on potty training in apartments, best times for potty training, house training tips, overall training tips, and crate training for potty training to ensure success in training your furry friend!


Potty training your Shih Tzu requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By understanding your dog’s needs, establishing a routine, and using effective training techniques, you can successfully teach your Shih Tzu where and when to go to the bathroom. Remember to celebrate your dog’s successes and maintain their good habits to ensure a happy, healthy, and well-trained companion.

Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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