The Shih Tzu is a precious dog breed that will add life to any home but they can be known for excessive barking.
Fortunately, they are smart dogs and there are several things you can do and ways you can train your puppy to stop this behavior and we are here to help you!
Training your puppy is not rocket science, and there are simple methods that can be followed successfully by any committed Shih Tzu owner. In this article we will look at why your Shih Tzu barks and how you can train them to stop.
If you train your Shih Tzu puppy well and consistently from the beginning, their behavior will significantly improve.
Why Does My Shih Tzu Bark?
Barking is not really a bad thing since that is what dogs do. However, it may become a nuisance when your puppy barks all the time and is loud and aggressive. In this sections, we will outline the reason why your dog might be barking in the first place.
- When Happy Or Excited
- As A Way Of Getting Attention
- As A Response To Other Dogs
- When They Feel Threatened Or In Danger
- Due To Boredom
- Lack Of Sufficient Exercise
- Due To Separation Anxiety
- Need To Relieve Themselves
- When They Feel Insecure
When Happy Or Excited
Your Shih Tzu may bark because they are happy. Dogs are generally a happy species of animals especially when treated well and your Shih Tzu is no exception. It may be because they have picked your scent or seen you arrive home. Your Shih Tzu will miss you even when you leave them for a few minutes, and when you come back, he will express his happiness by barking.
It is hard to calm a dog down when they are excited so you’ll just have to let him cool. They will also bark when they are playing or chasing after a stick or a tennis ball, and we all know a playful dog is a happy dog.
As A Way Of Getting Attention
A Shih Tzu will bark when they want attention. You cannot expect your pet to stay still while you are seated on the couch or laying on your bed. They need to be loved and will bark their heart out until you give them what they want – just like when a baby cries when they want to feed.
They know that you will attend to them when they bark and that will be their way of getting your attention. It is not a bad thing for your pet to want your attention because they also have feelings but letting them get used to this mode of attention seeking will not end well for you or your neighbors.
As A Response To Other Dogs
It is a dog’s instinct to bark when it hears other dogs barking. Your Shih Tzu will most likely start barking when they hear their brothers and sisters or even the neighbor’s dogs barking. Barking is a way for dogs to communicate, and they may even be planning to take over the world because the Shih Tzu is royalty after all ;p.
They will also bark when they see another dog and maybe as a way of greeting it or making their presence known. They might not be pleased when you bring another dog and will bark to make this known to both you and the dog.
When They Feel Threatened Or In Danger
Your pet will bark when they are warning you of impending danger or things they consider as a threat. Dogs are naturally aware that they need to protect their humans and the house and were programmed from the beginning to bark whenever they are in dangerous situations.
Your Shih Tzu will bark at a stranger or a thief who has broken into your house, and even at another dog that seems to pose a threat to either or both of you. They may also bark at people and cars passing by because they see them as a threat, and when they walk and drive away as he barks, he will know that barking caused them to be scared and move away from you and the house.
They will also bark to alert you about a situation, for example, when a person is in need of help. Do not just pass it off as a bad behavior when your dog barks restlessly or tries to pull you towards a specific direction because chances are you are really needed there.
Due To Boredom
Your pet will start barking when they have nothing fun or exciting to do. It may come as a surprise to you, but dogs do get bored. This might easily become a habit of theirs and they will always bark when they have nothing else to do or when you refuse to play with them.
Lack Of Sufficient Exercise
You will not have a peaceful night if you don’t take your dog for a walk or let them play during the day. They need to utilize their energy because they will not go to sleep with excess energy coursing through their body.
Due To Separation Anxiety
Your Shih Tzu may develop separation anxiety when you leave them alone at night but are always with them during the day. They may also become distressed when you are preparing to go to work and will start to bark because they don’t like being left alone.
Need To Relieve Themselves
Your dog may bark when they need to go outside to relieve themselves. As they get older, they will not be able to hold themselves through the night and will require potty breaks at some point during the night. This is a good thing though because they know that it is bad manners to go to the toilet inside the house.
When They Feel Insecure
Dogs can be startled by even the stupidest things so don’t be surprised when you see your dog barking at a door stopper or a new toy. They may be frightened by fireworks, gunshots, and strange noises they hear outside. When seated by the window they will sense birds and squirrels which they will want to chase, and this will automatically cause them to start barking.
If you just recently adopted your Shih Tzu or moved into a new home they may feel insecure in a new environment especially during the night. They will start to bark if you are not with them in order to bring them back.
How To Stop Your Shih Tzu Barking
- Teach Them To Obey Commands
- Desensitize Your Dog
- Avoid Shouting Or Yelling
- Encourage Interaction
- Pay Attention To Routes You Use During Your Walks
- Familiarize Your Dog With New Things
- Get A Toy For Your Shih Tzu
- Avoid Situations That May Be A Trigger
- Build A Door Flap Or An Indoor Toilet For Your Dog
You first need to know what is causing your dog to bark and work from there. We already know the reasons why your dog barks and some of them are not reasons for concern. For the less desirable reasons, however, there are several ways you can easily follow when training your Shih Tzu at home to stop barking and we will suggest these strategies for you below.
Teach Them To Obey Commands
You need to start training your Shih Tzu from the moment they are a puppy so they can grow knowing how to behave. Puppies usually have a short attention span, and you need to be gentle and patient with your dog and let them learn at its own pace.
When the puppy starts barking, place your hands around its muzzle gently and say “Quiet” or “Hush” in a firm and commanding but not an angry voice. Praise the puppy by calling it a good boy and giving it a treat if it continues being quite after you’ve released its muzzle. There is a lesser chance of a puppy biting you when you do this because it is still innocent and vulnerable.
Desensitize Your Dog
Teach your Shih Tzu to speak by choosing a simple word for the “Speak” command. Come up with a situation that will trigger your pet into barking and the best method is having someone knock on the door or ring the doorbell when you say speak. Hold a treat in front of your pet’s nose and say “Speak” while it is sniffing the treat. When it barks, award it the treat but if it does not get the process, continually repeat it until it does.
Be patient and consistent with the training because although it belongs to an intelligent breed of dogs, your Shih Tzu may take longer to learn. Once it learns the “Speak” command, you may then proceed to teach it the “Quiet” command. Tell your dog to speak and when it barks say “quiet” and award it with a treat once it stops barking. Practice this method regularly until their no longer bark when there is a knock on the door.
It takes patience and perseverance but you will get there in the end I promise!
Avoid Shouting Or Yelling
Try as much as you can not to yell at your dog when they start to bark. They may pick up the wrong idea when you yell if they start barking at a stranger as they might think you are helping them bark at the stranger.
Your Shih Tzu is a sensitive animal and might get more stressed if you keep yelling at them. You can instead gently command it to stop barking if you have already taught the first step mentioned above or use it as a learning opportunity for your dog.
Allow your dog to interact with other people and animals by taking him for daily walks and to the dog park and allow them to pet him. This will allow your dog to get used to people and reduce their tendency to bark at every stranger they meet or see walking by and they will become more friendly to people. You also need to make sure they get enough exercise during the day in order to use up their energy so that all of you can sleep peacefully at night.
Pay Attention To Routes You Use During Your Walks
Your Shih Tzu has a really heightened sense of smell and will bark at dogs that are not even on the sidewalk. It would be easier to teach your dog to socialize if they are face to face with the other dogs but in this case, their instinct is at work, and there is little you can do to change that.
What you can do, however, is take note of the route where there are houses with dogs inside and when you are walking your dog, cross the street before reaching these houses so that they don’t get close to these other dogs. Give them the “Quiet” command when they start to bark and reward them with a treat if they obey.
This, however, is not a guarantee that they will stop barking the next day because other dogs are a definite trigger. You may have to consider finding a different route to walk your dog.
Familiarize Your Dog With New Things
When your dog barks at cars, you need to take them to a quiet street that does not have many cars driving by. Keep walking when a car drives by and firmly give them the quiet command when they start to bark. Again, avoid yelling when issuing this command. You may even use loving and comforting words as your dog will see this as a type of reward.
It is important that you also relax when you see a car approaching since your Shih Tzu will easily notice your reaction and body language. Do not tense up even after they are out of control with the barking, and let them see that you are not worried about the car and that it poses no threat.
This will help them become familiar with the cars, and they will eventually stop barking at them and will be ready to face more vehicles on busy streets.
Get A Toy For Your Shih Tzu
Get your dog a toy they can chew and play with when you are away. The toy will prevent your dog from getting bored and also make them feel safe, and it will prevent them from developing a bad habit of always barking.
You can incorporate your scent into it so it feels like you’re close to your dog even when you are not. This is great if your dog has separation anxiety and they will be able to get through the day without getting stressed out. You can also get a dog sitter to look after your dog until you pick them up after work.
Avoid Situations That May Be A Trigger
If possible, try to keep your dog away from conditions that may trigger them into barking. Close the curtains, so they don’t see the squirrels and take them inside the house when the noises and activities that are happening outside make them uncomfortable. If they don’t respond well to visitors, place them in another room.
If they have trouble stopping, stand in front of them to block their view until they stop barking. Praise them by calling them sweet names and give them a treat once they do so.
Build A Door Flap Or An Indoor Toilet For Your Dog
Instal a door flap for your dog so that they can let themselves out at night when they want to relieve themselves or build him an indoor toilet if you live in an apartment and don’t have a backyard. The Shih Tzu is not a big dog breed and will easily fit into small door flaps so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to instal. This way he won’t have to wake you up, and he will also not get stressed over trying to hold it in.
If you are considering buying a door flap for your dog then you might like to read our article – Dog Flaps For Small Dogs. You’ll find some good information about everything you need to know about getting a dog flap and some recommendations and reviews of what ones we think are the best.
Ignore Your Dog’s Barking
Sometimes all you have to do is to ignore your Shih Tzu’s barking until they stop. When they bark looking for your attention turn your back towards them and only turn to face them when they stop barking and then praise and reward them with a treat.
Do this repeatedly, and they will realize that when they do not bark it is a good behavior and they will receive delicious treats from you. This will also teach them not to make a habit out of barking in order to get attention.
You may have to get help from a professional dog trainer if your dog just can’t learn what you have trained them. That doesn’t mean you are a terrible dog owner – some dogs just need more time and effort. Sometimes you may also lack the time to train your dog due to work and other commitments. You can take them to obedience classes or have them trained one-on-one at home.
Luckily, the Tzu is an intelligent animal who likes learning and is good in obedience classes, and once he learns, he will always be a good dog. It is important to make sure that there are dog treats which you will use to reward them when he behaves well during training.
However, in my experience, it’s uncommon to no success in training your dog yourself. As I’ve said before it just takes commitment and patience and you will get there eventually.
Good luck and much love to you and your Shih Tzu 🙂 Elliott.