Teaching Your Shih Tzu to Stop Biting and Nipping

Imagine you’ve just brought home your adorable Shih Tzu puppy who is full of energy and curiosity. However, you soon notice that they keep biting and nipping at everything they can get their teeth on– from your fingers to your favorite shoes. It’s natural to feel frustrated and overwhelmed by this behavior, but don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many Shih Tzu owners have struggled with this issue, and the good news is that there are steps you can take to teach your furry friend to stop biting and nipping. In this guide, we will delve into the reasons behind this behavior and provide you with effective techniques to train your Shih Tzu to be well-mannered and playful without resorting to biting and nipping. So, let’s get started!

Understanding the Behavior

Understanding The Behavior
Understanding why your Shih Tzu bites and nips is a crucial step in addressing this behavior. Many pet owners unknowingly promote this behavior, but with proper understanding, you can train your furry friend to stop biting and nipping. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the reasons behind your pup’s actions and identify when they tend to bite or nip. By understanding the behavior, you’ll be one step closer to successfully curbing your dog’s biting habits. If you’re interested in learning more about addressing specific behavioral issues in Shih Tzus, check out our article on Shih Tzu aggression tips.

Why Shih Tzus Bite and Nip

Shih Tzus, like any other dog breed, use their mouth for various activities, including communication and exploration. However, they might also resort to biting or nipping in certain situations. It’s important to understand why Shih Tzus bite and nip to tailor training techniques accordingly.

Here are some possible reasons why Shih Tzus can exhibit biting and nipping behavior:

  • Teething: Puppies go through a teething phase where their gums and teeth are sore, and they may bite to alleviate discomfort. Providing them with chew toys and frozen treats can provide relief.
  • Play: Shih Tzus, especially young ones, might bite and nip during play as a way of interaction. They might not have learned yet how to inhibit their bite force or read human body language.
  • Fear or anxiety: Shih Tzus can resort to biting when they feel scared or threatened. This behavior can be triggered by various factors, such as loud noises, new environments, or strangers. Separation anxiety is also a common cause of biting behavior in dogs.
  • Aggression: In some cases, a Shih Tzu may become aggressive and bite as a way of asserting dominance, protecting their territory, or expressing frustration. This behavior can be dangerous and require professional intervention.

Understanding the reason behind a Shih Tzu’s biting behavior can help identify the best way to approach training. For example, if the dog is biting due to separation anxiety, the focus should be on addressing the anxiety through desensitization and counterconditioning. On the other hand, if the biting is due to play or excitement, redirecting behavior and providing alternative toys or activities can be effective.

When Shih Tzus Bite and Nip

It’s important to understand the different scenarios in which your Shih Tzu may bite and nip. Whether it’s due to fear, anxiety, territorial behavior, or just plain playfulness, identifying the reason for the behavior is key to addressing it effectively. Here are some common situations where your Shih Tzu might be more likely to bite or nip:

SituationPossible Reason
During playtimeMaybe overly excited or playful, may not have learned proper play manners yet
When being groomedUncomfortable with being handled, or had a bad experience during grooming
When scared or in painMay bite when feeling threatened or in pain, or may nip when scared or startled
When possessive of food or toysCan display territorial behavior, or may become possessive of their toys, food, or other resources
When feeling over-stimulated or overwhelmedMay bite or nip when feeling over-excited or overwhelmed in crowded or over-stimulating environments

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu’s biting or nipping is due to anxiety or fear, it’s important to address those underlying issues first. You may find the article on Shih Tzu fear and anxiety helpful. Similarly, if your Shih Tzu is displaying territorial behavior, the article on managing Shih Tzu possessiveness with food and toys may provide valuable insights.

Training Techniques

Training Techniques
Teaching your furry friend to stop biting and nipping is an essential aspect of training your Shih Tzu. These little dogs have big personalities, and they may nip and bite out of excitement, fear, or boredom. To stop this behavior, you need to use effective training techniques that reinforce good behavior while discouraging bad behavior. Here are some useful methods you can use to train your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping, and to build a healthy relationship with your pet. But first, let’s examine why your Shih Tzu may bite and nip in the first place. If your Shih Tzu’s biting and nipping is accompanied by other problematic behavior, such as destructive tendencies or excessive possessiveness, be sure to check out our corresponding guides: shih-tzu-destructive-behavior, shih-tzu-excessive-attention, and managing-shih-tzu-possessiveness-food-toys for more information.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a training technique that rewards good behavior with treats, praise, or attention. This technique has been proven effective in teaching dogs to stop biting and nipping. To implement positive reinforcement, follow these steps:

1Start with basic commands: Train your Shih Tzu to follow basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” This will establish a foundation for more advanced training.
2Identify good behavior: Observe your Shih Tzu’s behavior and identify moments when they refrain from biting or nipping.
3Reward good behavior: When your Shih Tzu exhibits good behavior, immediately reward them with a treat, praise, or attention. This will reinforce the behavior and teach them that good behavior is rewarded.
4Ignore bad behavior: When your Shih Tzu exhibits bad behavior, such as biting or nipping, ignore them. This will teach them that bad behavior is not rewarded with attention.
5Be consistent: Consistency is key in positive reinforcement. Reward good behavior every time it occurs and ignore bad behavior every time it occurs.

It’s important to avoid punishing your Shih Tzu for bad behavior, as this can lead to fear and anxiety. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior to encourage your Shih Tzu to repeat it.

Remember that positive reinforcement may take time and patience, but with consistency, your Shih Tzu can learn to stop biting and nipping. If you’re having difficulty with compulsive behavior in your Shih Tzu, check out our article on Shih Tzu Compulsive Behavior for more insights and advice.

Redirecting Behavior

Redirecting behavior is a useful technique to teach your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping. As a pet owner, redirecting the behavior of your dog is a crucial aspect of training. Instead of punishing your dog, you need to redirect their attention towards something more positive. Here are some ways that you can redirect your Shih Tzu’s behavior when they start biting or nipping:

TechniqueWhat to Do
Offer a Toy or ChewWhen your Shih Tzu starts to bite or nip, give them a toy or chew that they can bite instead. This will help redirect their attention and prevent them from biting you or someone else. Ensure that you have plenty of toys and chews available so that your dog has a variety to choose from.
Use a CommandTeach your Shih Tzu a command that tells them to stop biting or nipping. When they start to bite or nip, use the command to distract them. Some common commands used are “no”, “stop”, or “enough”. Be sure to use the command in a firm but gentle tone.
Provide AttentionIf your Shih Tzu is biting or nipping for attention, redirect their behavior by giving them positive attention. Play with them, pet them, or take them for a walk. This will help them realize that they don’t have to bite or nip to get your attention.
Ignore the BehaviorYour Shih Tzu may be biting or nipping to get your attention or to play. If this is the case, simply ignore the behavior. Turn your back and walk away, or put them in a time-out. This will show them that biting or nipping will not result in any positive attention or rewards.

Remember to use positive reinforcement and consistency when redirecting your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Praise them when they do the right thing and redirect them when they’re misbehaving. By using redirecting techniques, you can teach your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping.

Discouraging the Behavior

When it comes to discouraging biting and nipping behavior in Shih Tzus, there are a few techniques that can be effective. Remember, it’s important to discourage the behavior without using physical punishment, which can breed fear and aggression in your dog.

1. Use a Firm Voice: Using a firm, deep voice can help your Shih Tzu understand that their behavior is not acceptable. When they bite or nip, say “No” or “Stop” in a commanding tone to interrupt the behavior.

2. Avoid Rough Play: Rough play can encourage biting and nipping behavior, so it’s important to avoid it altogether. Instead, play with your Shih Tzu using toys that they can chew and bite on without hurting anyone.

3. Time-Outs: If your Shih Tzu continues to bite or nip, a short time-out can be an effective way to discourage the behavior. Place them in a quiet, isolated area for a few minutes after the biting incident to help them understand that their behavior is not acceptable.

4. Spray Bottles: Some owners find that a squirt from a spray bottle filled with water can deter their Shih Tzu from biting or nipping. This method is not for everyone, however, as some dogs may become fearful or anxious.

5. Seek Professional Help: If your Shih Tzu continues to display biting or nipping behavior despite your efforts to discourage it, seek professional help from a qualified trainer or behaviorist. They can help you address the root cause of the behavior and develop a customized plan to correct it.

Remember, it’s important to be patient and consistent in your efforts to discourage biting and nipping behavior in your Shih Tzu. With time and dedication, your furry friend can learn to be a well-behaved and happy member of your family.

Preventing Biting and Nipping

Preventing Biting And Nipping
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. This saying holds true when it comes to biting and nipping behaviors in Shih Tzus. Rather than waiting for your furry friend to develop such habits, it’s much easier to prevent them from occurring in the first place. By taking proactive measures, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu remains a well-behaved and lovable companion for years to come. In this section, we will discuss some effective strategies for preventing your pup from biting and nipping. So, let’s dive in and explore these techniques in detail.


Socialization is crucial for Shih Tzus to learn appropriate behavior around other people and animals. Socializing your Shih Tzu involves exposing them to different environments, sounds, and experiences from an early age. This helps them develop emotional stability and confidence, which in turn reduces the likelihood of biting and nipping behavior.

Here are some tips to help you socialize your Shih Tzu:

  • Start socializing your Shih Tzu as early as possible. This generally means introducing them to new people, places, and objects between 3 and 14 weeks of age.
  • Expose your Shih Tzu to a variety of people, other dogs, and animals. This can be done through playdates, dog parks, and obedience classes.
  • Allow your Shih Tzu to experience different sounds and sights. You can do this by playing different types of music, having friends over, and taking your dog on walks in different neighborhoods.
  • Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior during socialization. This could mean giving your Shih Tzu a treat, toy, or verbal praise when they interact with others in an appropriate manner.
  • Avoid overwhelming your Shih Tzu during socialization. Gradually expose them to new experiences and monitor their behavior to ensure they feel comfortable and safe.
  • Be patient and consistent with socialization. It may take some time for your Shih Tzu to become comfortable in new situations, so take it slow and celebrate small successes.

By socializing your Shih Tzu, you can help them develop into a well-behaved and sociable pup who is less prone to biting and nipping. Remember, socialization is an ongoing process that continues throughout your dog’s life, so be sure to continue exposing them to new experiences and people as they grow older.

Proper Toys and Chews

When it comes to preventing biting and nipping in Shih Tzus, providing proper toys and chews can play a significant role. These toys will not only keep your pet occupied but also help in their teething process. However, it is crucial to choose the right kind of toys and chews for your furry friend.

Proper toys:
Choose toys that are made of durable and non-toxic materials, such as rubber or nylon. Avoid soft toys or those with small parts that can be easily torn or swallowed by your pet. Puzzle toys are a great option as they require your dog to work for their treats, keeping their minds stimulated and redirecting their biting behavior towards the toy.

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and providing them with appropriate chews can help reduce their biting and nipping tendencies. Rawhide chews and bully sticks are popular options, but it is essential to supervise your dog while they are chewing as they could accidentally choke on a small piece. Another alternative is dental chews, which help clean your dog’s teeth while satisfying their urge to chew.

Here is a table summarizing the types of toys and chews that are appropriate for Shih Tzus:

Proper ToysChews
Durable rubber toysRawhide chews
Puzzle toysBully sticks
Nylon bonesDental chews

Remember to always supervise your dog while they play with their toys and chews. With proper toys and chews, your Shih Tzu can redirect their biting and nipping behavior towards their toys, and you can have peace of mind knowing they’re satisfied and entertained.

Exercise and Stimulation

Ensuring that your Shih Tzu gets enough exercise and stimulation is a vital part of preventing biting and nipping behavior. Without adequate physical and mental stimulation, your furry friend may become bored and resort to nipping or biting as a means of entertaining themselves or gaining attention.

Here are some exercises and activities you can try to keep your Shih Tzu entertained and active:

WalkingTake your Shih Tzu for daily 20-30 minutes walks. This will not only help them burn off energy, but also aid in socialization and reinforcing obedience training.
Interactive ToysInvest in interactive toys, such as treat-dispensing toys, that will mentally stimulate your Shih Tzu while also providing entertainment.
Chew ToysProvide a variety of chew toys for your Shih Tzu to chew on. This helps with teething and keeps them entertained.
Agility ExercisesSet up agility exercises or play games that involve jumping over obstacles, tunnel runs or retrieving toys. This will provide both physical and mental stimulation for your Shih Tzu.
FetchPlaying fetch is a great way to keep your Shih Tzu active while engaging in bonding time with you or other members of the household.

Remember to vary the activities to avoid boreness and allow Shih Tzu to try new things. By keeping your Shih Tzu engaged, you can help prevent biting and nipping behavior while also improving their overall well-being.

Making Progress

Making Progress
Seeing progress while teaching your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping can bring a sense of relief and accomplishment. It’s important to remember that training takes time and effort, and progress may not happen overnight. However, with consistency and patience, you can make strides towards changing your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Here, we’ll cover some important tips for making progress in your training sessions.


Consistency is key when it comes to training your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping. If you want to see progress, it’s important to stick to your training plan and not give up when progress is slow. Here are some ways to incorporate consistency into your training:

  • Establish a routine: Incorporate bite inhibition training into your daily routine so that your Shih Tzu knows what to expect. This could include training sessions, playtime with appropriate toys, and supervised socialization time with other dogs.
  • Use the same commands: Use the same commands consistently when training your Shih Tzu. This helps your dog learn what is expected of them and what behaviors will get rewarded.
  • Reward good behavior every time: Consistently reward your Shih Tzu for exhibiting good behavior, such as playing with appropriate toys or interacting calmly with other dogs. This reinforces positive behavior and helps your dog understand what is expected of them.
  • Discourage biting and nipping every time: Whenever your Shih Tzu exhibits biting or nipping behavior, consistently discourage it. Use a firm but gentle voice and redirect your dog’s attention to an appropriate toy or activity.

By incorporating consistency into your training, you’re setting your Shih Tzu up for success. With patience and perseverance, you’ll start to see progress over time. Remember: consistency is key!


Teaching your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping can be a challenging process, and it requires a great deal of patience. As much as you might want to see immediate results, it’s important to remember that training takes time and consistency. Here are some ways to practice patience when training your Shih Tzu:

  • Stay calm: Shih Tzus are sensitive dogs, and they can easily sense your frustration or anger. If you become annoyed or upset during a training session, your dog may become anxious or afraid, which can make the behavior worse. Take deep breaths and stay relaxed during training.
  • Break it down: Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, focus on one behavior at a time. If your Shih Tzu is biting and nipping excessively, start with the most problematic situations and work your way down the list. Stay patient and don’t expect your dog to change overnight.
  • Reward progress: It’s important to recognize even small improvements in your Shih Tzu’s behavior. When your dog shows progress, reward him or her with praise, treats, or affection. Positive reinforcement is a key part of successful training.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to training your Shih Tzu. Set a regular training schedule and stick to it. Remember to use the same techniques and behaviors every time you train. This consistency will help your dog understand what is expected and remove any confusion that could slow down your progress.
  • Be patient with yourself: Remember that training your Shih Tzu is not only about changing your dog’s behavior, but it’s also about changing your own behavior. If you make mistakes or struggle with the process, be patient with yourself. Keep practicing and stay committed to the process.

By practicing patience and consistency, you can successfully teach your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping. It may take time and effort, but the end result will be a happy and well-behaved dog.

Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to training your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping, making mistakes is a common occurrence. However, certain mistakes can actually hinder the training process, making it harder for your furry friend to learn and grow. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

1. Using physical punishment: It’s important to avoid physical punishment during training as it can actually cause your Shih Tzu to become fearful and aggressive, making the biting and nipping worse.

2. Ignoring the behavior: Ignoring the behavior might seem like an easy way out, but it won’t teach your Shih Tzu right from wrong. If your dog bites or nips, it’s important to immediately address the behavior and show them what is appropriate.

3. Giving up too soon: Training takes time and consistency, so don’t give up too soon. Even if it seems like your Shih Tzu isn’t making progress, keep at it and eventually you’ll see improvement.

4. Not socializing enough: Shih Tzus are social creatures and need plenty of interaction with other dogs and humans to properly develop their social skills. Without proper socialization, your dog may not understand how to interact with others and resort to biting and nipping.

5. Using inconsistent training techniques: It’s important to use consistent training techniques throughout the training process. Switching between positive reinforcement and punishment or using conflicting methods can confuse your Shih Tzu and make it harder for them to learn.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can help to ensure a successful training process for your Shih Tzu and ultimately teach them to stop biting and nipping. Remember to stay patient, consistent, and positive throughout the process, and always seek the advice of a professional if needed.


After reading through this guide on how to teach your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping, you should now have a better understanding of why this behavior may occur and what techniques can be used to correct it. Remember, biting and nipping can be a normal part of a puppy’s development, but it’s important to train them early on to prevent this behavior from continuing into adulthood.

One of the key takeaways from this guide is to use positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards and praise to encourage desirable behavior. Whether it’s redirecting their teething habits to a toy or discouraging inappropriate behavior with a firm “no,” consistency and patience are key.

Socialization, proper toys and chews, and exercise also play a critical role in preventing biting and nipping. By exposing your Shih Tzu to different people, places, and experiences, you can help them develop into a well-adjusted and happy dog.

It’s important to keep in mind that training a puppy takes time and effort, and progress may not happen overnight. Mistakes may be made, but the key is to stay consistent and keep practicing the techniques that work best for you and your pup.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to teaching your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping. With patience, perseverance, and a little bit of creativity, you can help your furry friend become a well-behaved and happy companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best age to start training my Shih Tzu?

The best age to start training your Shih Tzu is between 8-12 weeks old, while they are still in their socialization period.

Will my Shih Tzu stop biting and nipping as they get older?

It depends on the cause of their biting and nipping behavior. Consistent training and socialization can help reduce the frequency and intensity of biting and nipping.

What are some common reasons why my Shih Tzu bites and nips?

Shih Tzus may bite and nip due to teething, feeling anxious or stressed, and lack of socialization or training.

Can I use punishment to stop my Shih Tzu from biting and nipping?

No, punishment can create fear and aggression in dogs. Positive reinforcement and redirection are more effective and humane training techniques.

What toys should I provide for my Shih Tzu to prevent biting and nipping?

Provide toys that are safe and durable, such as chew toys, puzzle toys, and interactive toys. Avoid toys that can easily be destroyed or have small parts that can be swallowed.

How much exercise does my Shih Tzu need to prevent biting and nipping?

Shih Tzus need daily exercise and mental stimulation, such as walks, playtime, and training sessions, to prevent boredom and excess energy that can lead to biting and nipping.

Why is socialization important in preventing biting and nipping behavior?

Socialization helps your Shih Tzu become comfortable and confident around people, other dogs, and new environments. This can reduce fear and anxiety that may trigger biting and nipping behavior.

What should I do if my Shih Tzu continues to bite and nip despite training?

Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to assess the underlying cause and develop a tailored training plan for your Shih Tzu.

How long does it take to train my Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping?

The timeline for training your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping can vary depending on their age, personality, and the consistency of training. It may take weeks or months to see significant progress.

Can I train my Shih Tzu to not bite or nip on my own?

Yes, it’s possible to train your Shih Tzu to stop biting and nipping on your own with proper techniques and consistency. However, consulting a professional trainer can provide additional guidance and support.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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