All dog breeds have a purpose. Historically, the purpose of the Shih Tzu was to be a companion — and that’s just what he wants to be. He simply desires to be with you. So don’t expect him to hunt, guard, or retrieve; that’s not his style. Affection is his dominant characteristic, and your lap is his favorite destination. He is happiest when he is with his family, giving and receiving attention. That said, the Shih Tzu is not a total couch potato. He’s alert and lively and may bark at newcomers to his home. Don’t worry, though; he’ll make friends with your guests the minute they walk inside.
The Shih Tzu doesn’t really mind where he lives, as long as he’s with you. He’s a very adaptable dog who can be comfortable in a small city apartment or a large suburban or country home. He is definitely a housedog and should not be kenneled outside, though he enjoys a bit of backyard play. The Shih Tzu is content with short walks each day. He is not an extremely active dog; he’s content to sit in your lap, wander around the house, play with his toys, or run to the door to greet visitors. Like other breeds with short faces, the Shih Tzu is sensitive to heat. He should remain indoors in an air-conditioned room (or one with fans) on hot days so he doesn’t suffer from heat exhaustion. No, the breed cannot fly; but owners commonly report that their Shih Tzu thinks he can. It not unusual for a Shih Tzu to fearlessly jump from a bed or a chair. While they may not seem high to you, these heights are towering to the small Shih Tzu. And, unfortunately, these jumps often end in injury. The breed is front heavy and crashes forward, causing injury or even a concussion to the head. Be very careful when carrying your Shih Tzu. Hold him securely and don’t let him jump out of your arms or off furniture. Even though he’s naturally docile and friendly, the Shih Tzu needs early socialization and training. Like any dog, he can become timid if he is not properly socialized when young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Shih Tzu puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Shih Tzus are often considered difficult to housebreak. Most important is to avoid giving your puppy opportunities to have accidents inside — you don’t want him to become accustomed to using the carpet. (Some Shih Tzu owners teach their dogs to use a doggie litter box so they don’t need to walk them in bad weather or rush home to take them out.) A Shih Tzu puppy should be carefully supervised inside the house until he has not eliminated indoors for at least four to eight weeks. Crate training is helpful for housetraining and provides your dog with a quiet place to relax. A crate is also useful when you board your Shih Tzu or travel.
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