Getting “Shih Tzu Ready” – Ensuring your Home is Organized and Safe for your new Shih Tzu Puppy

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Shih Tzu Dogs" by Molly Weinfurter. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: Molly Weinfurter

Once you begin the search for a new Shih Tzu, prepare your house ahead of time. If you are not used to having a dog in your home, there may be things about your home that need to be adjusted to be more comfortable and safe for your furry friend. It is important that your Shih Tzu has plenty of space and supplies ready to welcome them during their first day home.

Preparing Space for Your Dog

When you bring your Shih Tzu home, it is normal for you to want to spend as much time with them as possible, but you need to remember that it may take them a while to adjust. They could be playful and energetic at first, but if they prefer to keep to themselves while they get comfortable, then you need to respect that too.

Shih tzu bed
Photo Courtesy – Brittaney Rosenmayer

No matter how close you become to your new dog, every Shih Tzu will need some occasional alone time. Therefore, make sure they have a space in the house that is specifically for them. This could simply be a crate with some comfortable bedding in it or a corner of the house to keep some of their toys and supplies. Just an area that they can retreat to if they need to be by themselves for a little bit. Having their own area of the house will help them to feel more at home quicker.

Since Shih Tzu do not need a ton of space to run around inside, you do not need to have a big house to own one. They are typically content with whatever space they are given, no matter how large or small the house may be. Since they are a small, more relaxed breed, they make good apartment dogs—but they’ll need to be trained not to bark too often. As long as your Shih Tzu has a designated place to lie down and a window to look out of then they should be more than happy with their living situation.

Larger, more active dogs typically require a fenced in yard or a large outdoor area to run around in, but for a Shih Tzu, that is not necessary. They enjoy exploring outside, but do not need a designated outdoor area. If you live in an apartment or a house with a small yard, you can always take them to the dog park occasionally if you feel that they need more space outside. Otherwise, if you have a porch or patio, your Shih Tzu may enjoy simply sitting out there and admiring the sights. This way they can be lazy and enjoy the outdoors all at once.

Adjusting Current Pets and Children

Even if your Shih Tzu is typically good around children and other dogs, it is still a good idea to slowly introduce them to these other family members. It can be a bit overwhelming for them to have a bunch of unfamiliar kids and dogs running at them all at once. If there are multiple kids and pets in your household, introduce them to your new dog one at a time. This can help make the process more comfortable for your new family member. Meeting all of them at once can be a bit scary, especially if the kids and other dogs have a lot of energy.

If there are children in the household, they likely have already met the new dog ahead of time, but it is still a good idea to be careful, especially with younger kids. Children often have a hard time understanding the boundaries of a new dog and will constantly follow them and give more love and affection than the dog really wants. Shih Tzu can become startled if a kid with too much energy comes running toward them or won’t leave them alone. Remind children to be gentle around their new family member. Make sure the kids don’t smother your new Shih Tzu with too much attention. This will help your new dog to become more comfortable around all family members.

Kids often do not understand a dog’s warning signs and this is why they can sometimes get hurt. Make sure to teach kids how to properly treat their dog and how to tell if their dog wants to be left alone. Even simply petting a dog can go wrong, so remember to advise kids to keep their hands away from the dog’s face to avoid accidentally startling the dog or poking them in the eye. Shih Tzu often dislike their feet being touched too, so if you notice a child messing with your Shih Tzu’s paws, please warn them so they can learn.

Shih tzu puppy cut
Photo Courtesy – Kelly Wallace

If a Shih Tzu dislikes the way kids are acting or if their energy becomes overwhelming, they may snarl or growl. This is not to be mean and aggressive, but instead to warn others that they are upset or uncomfortable. Make sure kids know that a snarl is a cue to back off. That way, the kids will be able to avoid upsetting the dog, making it easier for them to bond.

Another way to help your dog bond better with your children is to allow the kids to help you train the dog. Dogs typically will not listen to kids as well as they would adults, so try to show your dog that they should see the kids as equals to you. Training a dog together can also help the dog to grow closer to the entire family in general.

When it comes to other pets, it can be difficult for them to understand that they need to be careful around their new friend. If there is more than one dog, introduce them one at a time and allow them enough time to sniff each other. If a dog becomes too playful at first, some Shih Tzu will become uneasy and may snarl or snap at your other dogs. This does not mean that they dislike each other, but it may take your Shih Tzu a bit to become comfortable with these new dogs. Once your Shih Tzu has spent some time around the other dogs, the Shih Tzu will no longer react negatively toward them. Not all Shih Tzu will want to become best friends with other dogs, but over time they will learn to at least tolerate them.

If there are cats in the house, keep an eye on your Shih Tzu when they are around them. Shih Tzu tend to be fairly curious, which can be scary for the cats. The new dog might try to follow the cats around to smell them, but try to teach your Shih Tzu to leave the cats alone. Dogs typically do not understand why cats don’t want to smell them and play with them and will be unhappy when the cat finally claws and hisses at them in response.

Dangerous Things to Look Out For

Shih tzu on sofa
Photo Courtesy – Mallory Duffy

When there’s a dog in the house, it is important to never leave food unattended. Even though Shih Tzu are much shorter than most dogs, they can gain an extra skip in their step if they see food sitting out. Keep any food or substances that you don’t want your dog getting a hold of far out of reach from them because many human foods can be harmful to dogs, such as grapes and chocolate.

Compared to other breeds, Shih Tzu are not heavy chewers. They may occasionally rip apart something you don’t want them to, but they are not likely to destroy the whole house when you’re not looking. However, if you do have any problems with chewing, you can buy specific toys so they can have something to chew on. If toys do not interest them, you can always buy them different edible chews to keep them occupied such as bully sticks or antlers. If something has an exciting flavor to it, they will be much more interested in chewing that than any shoes or pillows.

Dogs can be very curious when in a new location, so it is important to keep an eye on your pet when they first explore their new home. If there are specific rooms or areas of the house that you want to keep your dog out of, leave the door closed or put a gate in the way to keep them out. At first, your dog may whine and wonder what’s behind the mysterious door, but after a while they will gradually lose interest.

One thing to keep an eye out for is kitty litter. If there is a cat in the house, there is a good chance that your Shih Tzu will try to eat the kitty litter. As disgusting as it is, this is a difficult habit to stop. So, if you cannot seem to teach your Shih Tzu to stay away, you can buy a door strap for whatever room the kitty litter is in. This way, the door will be able to open just wide enough for a cat to slip through, but a Shih Tzu will not be able to squeeze their way in.

Pet Supplies to Purchase

Before bringing your Shih Tzu home, it is important to have all of the basic supplies ready ahead of time. It can be difficult to know your dog’s preferences on certain toys and treats, so you can wait until your dog actually arrives to buy more of the extra supplies. Just make sure to have necessities such as a leash and some dog food.

Shih tzu on carpet
Photo Courtesy – JSandy Cobb

No matter where you get your dog from, there is likely already a certain kind of food that they are eating. Rescues and breeders will inform you about their food brand when you purchase your dog. If the food brand that your dog is used to is not the same brand you’d prefer to give them, you can switch it, but be careful. Try gradually switching the foods by mixing them together for a few days before giving your dog only the new food. This will help to ensure that the sudden change in food does not upset your dog’s stomach. If you are unsure which brand of food is best for your dog, try visiting a small, local pet store because even though they have fewer options, their selection is typically only the healthiest brands. They can also help give you advice on which food will benefit your dog best.

When picking out a leash for your dog, choose a shorter one. The longer the leash, the easier it is for your dog to wander away from you and get in the way of other people. A lot of people like the extendable leashes for their dog, but these leashes are more dangerous than the traditional ones because it is harder to control your dog. An extendable leash is also much thinner and can be difficult to see, so it is easy for other people and dogs to trip over it. Extendable leashes have also been known to leave nasty burns on people’s legs when their dogs get out of hand. This is why a traditional leash will make walking with your dog much easier.

Have either a bed or crate ready for your dog so that they have a place to lie down when they need some space. A crate is really only needed if you want to train your new dog to stay in a crate when you’re not home. Otherwise, a bed will do just fine as a safe space for your dog. If you do decide to go with a crate, make sure it is big enough for your dog to move around and that it has some padding to keep your dog comfortable.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Shih Tzu Dogs" by Molly Weinfurter, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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