The Dos and Don’ts of Shih Tzu Potty Training

Getting a new Shih Tzu puppy can be a joyful and exciting experience, and while it’s understandable to focus on showers of love and companionship, addressing the importance of potty training can’t be ignored, especially if you don’t want to be cleaning up messy accidents every day. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right approach and unwavering patience, your Shih Tzu can be potty trained in no time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be covering the dos and don’ts of Shih Tzu potty training, along with some troubleshooting tips to make your life easier. So, buckle up and let’s get started!


Successfully potty training your Shih Tzu requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Implementing the proper techniques can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of training. In this section, we will cover the essential dos of Shih Tzu potty training, including establishing a routine, using positive reinforcement, being patient, and taking them out often. By following these guidelines, you can set your Shih Tzu up for success in their potty training journey. For more information, check out our guide on potty training your Shih Tzu.

Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine is crucial in successfully potty training your Shih Tzu. These little pups respond well to routines and are quick learners when it comes to recognizing a set schedule.

Firstly, create a potty schedule and stick to it. This may involve taking your Shih Tzu outside every few hours, after meals, and before bedtime. Consistency is key in establishing a routine for your Shih Tzu.

Secondly, choose a consistent potty spot for your pup outside. This will help them associate that spot with going potty, and make the training process easier.

Thirdly, create a consistent feeding schedule as well. This will not only help with potty training but also keep your Shih Tzu healthy and on a set routine.

Fourthly, remember to consistently give your Shih Tzu access to water. Keeping your pup hydrated is important, but it’s also important to control intake near bedtime to avoid accidents.

Using a routine to establish positive potty habits for your Shih Tzu will make the training process smooth and effective. For more information on Shih Tzu potty training, check out our guide on the dos and don’ts.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement is crucial when it comes to Shih Tzu potty training. Dogs respond better to positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Using treats or verbal praise when your Shih Tzu goes potty outside will encourage them to continue doing so.

Here are some tips for using positive reinforcement effectively:

Give your Shih Tzu a treat immediately after they go potty outside.Wait too long to reward your Shih Tzu.
Use verbal praise, such as “good boy/girl” or “good potty.”Use physical punishment or yelling when your Shih Tzu has an accident inside.
Be consistent with your rewards.Use punishment as a way to discourage accidents.
Continue to use positive reinforcement even after your Shih Tzu is fully potty trained.Scold your Shih Tzu if they don’t go potty outside.

It’s important to note that positive reinforcement works best when combined with a consistent potty schedule and crate training. When your Shih Tzu knows what to expect and is rewarded for going potty outside, they will be more likely to continue to do so.

Be Patient

When it comes to Shih Tzu potty training, one of the most important things to remember is to be patient. It’s essential to understand that accidents will happen, especially during the early stages of training. But with time, persistence, and positive reinforcement, your furry friend will understand what’s expected of them.

Here are some tips that can help with patience during the potty training process:

  • Keep a positive attitude and avoid getting frustrated or angry when accidents happen. Shih Tzus respond well to positive reinforcement, not punishment.
  • Remember that every dog is different, and some may take longer to train than others.
  • Be consistent with your training routine and avoid making drastic changes, which can confuse your pup.
  • Take breaks if you’re feeling frustrated, and avoid scolding your dog.

It’s also essential to keep in mind that potty training a Shih Tzu doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort, but with patience and consistency, it’s possible to train your pup effectively.

If you find yourself getting discouraged, remind yourself of the progress your pup has made, no matter how small. And if you feel like you’re not making any progress or your pup is regressing, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a professional.

Remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity, and with patience and perseverance, your furry friend will master potty training in no time.

If you want to learn more about common mistakes to avoid during Shih Tzu potty training, check out our article on Shih Tzu Potty Training Mistakes to Avoid.

Take them out Often

One important aspect of successful Shih Tzu potty training is taking them outside frequently. When first starting the training process, it’s recommended to take them outside every 30-60 minutes as well as after they wake up from a nap, after they eat, and after a play session. Over time, you can gradually increase the time between potty breaks as they become more reliable.

To make sure you don’t forget to take them out, set a timer or reminder on your phone or computer. It can be easy to get caught up in other tasks throughout the day, but consistency is key for effective potty training.

When taking your Shih Tzu outside, be sure to use a leash to keep them safe and under control. Take them to the same spot each time so they learn that’s where they should do their business. This will also help them recognize the difference between potty time outside versus playtime.

Remember that accidents can still happen, especially during the early stages of training or if your Shih Tzu has a small bladder. Don’t get angry or punish them – simply clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate any odor and reduce the chance of future accidents. If you’re struggling with accidents, check out our article on Shih Tzu Accident Potty Training for more tips.

By taking your Shih Tzu outside frequently and consistently, they will begin to understand the proper place to go potty. Avoid relying solely on potty pads, as this can lead to confusion and make the training process longer. For more information on potty pads versus going outside, check out our article on Potty Pads vs Shih Tzu Outside. Keep up with a routine and patience, and before you know it, your Shih Tzu will be fully potty trained. For more tips on successful potty training, check out our article on Shih Tzu Potty Training Time or our tips for those living in apartments in our article on Shih Tzu Potty Training Apartment Tips.


When it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do. Avoiding certain common mistakes can help ensure that your furry friend learns the appropriate behavior as quickly and effectively as possible. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some key “don’ts” of Shih Tzu potty training to keep in mind as you work with your pup. Remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one dog may not work for another, so be sure to keep an open mind and an adaptable approach.

Use Punishment

It can be tempting to scold or punish your Shih Tzu when they have accidents inside the house, but this approach is not effective for potty training. In fact, punishment can actually worsen the problem and lead to negative associations with the act of going potty altogether. Here are some reasons why using punishment is not advisable:

Reasons to avoid punishmentExplanation
It can cause fear and anxietyWhen you punish your Shih Tzu for having an accident, they may become afraid of you or anxious about going potty in front of you. This can make it more difficult for them to learn where they should go.
It doesn’t address the root of the problemPunishing your dog after the fact doesn’t teach them where they should be going potty. It’s important to focus on positive reinforcement and teaching them the right behavior, rather than just punishing them when they don’t do it.
It can damage your relationship with your dogIf you’re constantly punishing your Shih Tzu, they may start to associate you with negative experiences. This can harm your bond and make it harder for them to trust and listen to you in the future.

Instead of punishing your Shih Tzu, focus on using positive reinforcement when they go potty in the right place. This will help them learn where they should be going and build a positive association with the behavior. Remember, potty training takes time and patience, and it’s important to approach it with a positive and encouraging attitude.

Leave them Alone for Too Long

Leaving your Shih Tzu alone for too long can be detrimental to their potty training progress. These dogs have small bladders and may need to go outside as often as every hour when they are young. Here is a table that outlines how long Shih Tzus can be left alone based on their age:

Age of Shih TzuMaximum Time Alone
8-10 weeks30-60 minutes
11-14 weeks1-3 hours
4-6 months4 hours
7-12 months5 hours

It’s important to keep in mind that every dog is different and may have unique needs. If you need to leave your Shih Tzu alone for longer than the recommended times, make sure to provide them with a safe and comfortable area to rest in, such as a crate or gated-off section of your home. Be sure to also provide plenty of toys and water.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to potty training your Shih Tzu, and leaving them alone for too long can disrupt the routine and slow down their progress. If you are unable to be home with your Shih Tzu for extended periods of time, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to ensure they get the attention and care they need.

Rely Solely on Training Pads

While relying solely on training pads may seem like a convenient solution for potty training your Shih Tzu, it can actually hinder their progress in the long run. This is because dogs may become too dependent on the pads and not fully understand that they should be going outside. Additionally, training pads can give off a scent that can confuse your Shih Tzu, causing them to think that any soft surface is appropriate for eliminating.

Why You Shouldn’t Rely Solely on Training Pads

Can slow down the progress of your Shih Tzu’s potty trainingProvides a convenient temporary solution for the times when you can’t take your dog outside
Can lead to confusion regarding where it is appropriate to eliminateCan be useful in conjunction with outdoor potty training
The scent from used training pads can encourage your Shih Tzu to eliminate on soft surfacesCan save time and money on cleaning up indoor accidents

While training pads can be useful in certain situations, it is important to not rely solely on them for potty training your Shih Tzu. Instead, focus on establishing a routine and taking them outside frequently. Gradually decrease the use of training pads and start transitioning them to exclusively eliminating outside. This will ensure that your Shih Tzu understands that outside is the proper place to go potty, leading to quicker and more effective potty training.


Despite following all the dos and don’ts of Shih Tzu potty training, accidents can still happen. It’s important to know how to handle these situations and what to do if your furry friend experiences a regression in their training progress. In this section, we’ll explore some common troubleshooting scenarios and provide solutions to help you overcome any obstacles in your Shih Tzu’s potty training journey. So, let’s dive in and address some of the most common issues that arise during potty training.

What to do if they Have an Accident

It’s important to remember that accidents can happen during the potty training process, even with the most well-behaved Shih Tzus. What’s important is how you react and handle the situation. Here are some steps to take if your Shih Tzu has an accident:

  • Stay calm: It can be frustrating to see your hard work go down the drain, but it’s important to stay calm and avoid scolding or punishing your dog.
  • Clean up the mess: Immediately clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner, like Nature’s Miracle, to eliminate the scent and discourage your dog from going in the same spot again.
  • Don’t punish your dog: As mentioned before, punishing your Shih Tzu will only make them fearful and hinder the training process. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement when they do go potty in the right spot.
  • Revisit the routine: If your dog has an accident, it may be a sign that they need more frequent potty breaks. Make sure you are taking your Shih Tzu out regularly and on a consistent schedule.

Remember, consistency and positive reinforcement are key during the potty training process. With patience and perseverance, accidents will become less frequent and your Shih Tzu will become a potty-trained pro.

How to Handle Regression

Shih Tzu potty training can experience regression due to various reasons like a change in routine, illness or anxiety. It’s important to handle this regression with patience and consistency rather than punishment or negativity. Here are some tips on how to handle regression during Shih Tzu potty training:

1. Go back to basics: If your Shih Tzu is experiencing regression, it’s vital to take them back to the basics of potty training. Increase the frequency of potty breaks, use positive reinforcement, and establish a routine once again.

2. Reinforce good behavior: Positive reinforcement is essential to encourage good behavior during Shih Tzu potty training. If your dog does their business in the designated spot, praise them, and offer a treat. This way, they will associate good behavior with positive outcomes and repeat it.

3. Identify triggering factors: Shih Tzu potty training regression can happen due to specific triggers like anxiety, fear, or a change in their routine. Identify what causes your dog’s regression and address those factors to avoid further setbacks.

4. Consult a vet: If you notice any physical changes or health issues in your dog, then it’s wise to consult a vet. Sometimes, regression can be due to an underlying health condition, and a vet can assist you in identifying the issue and addressing it.

5. Be consistent and patient: Shih Tzu potty training is a gradual process, and regression is not uncommon. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key to ensure your dog succeeds in potty training. Don’t give up or use punishment, as it can have adverse effects on your dog’s behavior and well-being.


Go back to basicsUse punishment
Reinforce good behaviorLeave them alone for too long
Identify triggering factorsSolely rely on training pads
Consult a vet
Be consistent and patient

Regression is not uncommon during Shih Tzu potty training. However, it can be addressed with the right approach and with consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. Avoid punishment and seek help from a vet if there are any underlying medical concerns. With time, your Shih Tzu will learn and succeed in potty training.


After following the dos and avoiding the don’ts of Shih Tzu potty training, you should begin to see progress in your furry friend. Remember, establish a routine, use positive reinforcement, be patient, and take them out often. As tempting as it may be, do not use punishment or leave them alone for too long. Training pads may be helpful, but do not rely solely on them.

Of course, accidents happen and regression may occur. If your Shih Tzu has an accident, clean it thoroughly and try to catch them before it happens next time. If your furry pal regresses, go back to the basics and reinforce positive behavior.

Potty training can be a challenging task, but with consistency and positivity, it is achievable. Remember to celebrate successes and be patient with setbacks. Your Shih Tzu will thank you in the long run for teaching them proper potty habits. Happy training!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is potty training important for Shih Tzus?

Potty training is important for Shih Tzus as it ensures appropriate elimination behavior, reduces the risk of accidents, and creates a healthy routine.

What is the best age to start potty training a Shih Tzu puppy?

The best age to start potty training a Shih Tzu puppy is between 8 and 12 weeks old, when their bladder control is improving.

How often should I take my Shih Tzu puppy out for potty breaks?

Take your Shih Tzu puppy out every 1-2 hours, as well as after meals, naps, and playtime.

What are some signs that my Shih Tzu needs to go potty?

Signs that your Shih Tzu needs to go potty include sniffing, circling, restlessness, and scratching at the door.

What are some positive reinforcement techniques I can use for potty training?

You can use treats, verbal praise, and petting to reinforce good bathroom behavior in your Shih Tzu.

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

Clean up the accident area immediately with an enzymatic cleaner and avoid scolding your Shih Tzu, as it can cause anxiety and confusion.

Is it okay to use training pads for potty training Shih Tzus?

While training pads can be useful in certain situations, relying solely on them can lead to confusion and prolonged potty training.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu is regressing in their potty training?

Reassess their routine and be patient, as well as provide positive reinforcement for good bathroom behavior.

Can punishment be used for potty training Shih Tzus?

No, punishment should not be used for potty training Shih Tzus, as it can harm the bond between owner and pet and cause anxiety or fear.

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

It can take up to 6 months or longer to fully potty train a Shih Tzu, but consistency and patience can help speed up the process.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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