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 WeinfurterWhen you first bring your new Shih Tzu home, there will likely be lots of excitement, but remember that the first day may not go as smoothly as you’d hoped. There are many things to prepare ahead of time and lots you can do to ensure your new Shih Tzu feels as at home as possible. Allow plenty of time for them to adjust to their new surroundings and don’t rush anything.
Pet Supplies to Have Ready
Before bringing your dog home, you should have already bought all their basic supplies. Have these items sitting out when your Shih Tzu arrives so that they can smell all their new stuff. Once they recognize that these supplies are theirs, it will help them to adjust better.
If you forgot any supplies or if you want to go buy your dog a few extra things, then don’t be afraid to take your new dog on a trip to the pet store. This way you can help your dog get used to riding in your car and they can help sniff out the items that most interest them.
If your dog seems uneasy in their new home, you may want to guide them to their area of the house to show them that it is okay to lie in their bed and play with the toys. If there are other pets in the house, you want to make sure that all pets understand that these new items are for your new dog specifically. Otherwise, your Shih Tzu may become scared or anxious if their items have some other dog’s scent on them.
Always have a bowl of fresh water out for when your dog gets thirsty. Especially since they may be nervous about their new home, they may pant a lot and need plenty of water to stay hydrated. Even if the dish is full, you want to change the water often to ensure it stays fresh.
Shih Tzu are typically good when walking on a leash, but if your dog for some reason pulls all the time, you will want to get a harness for them to prevent them from choking. It is a good idea to wait to buy a harness until you have your dog with you because this way you can try the different types on to find the best fit. Some harnesses can be tricky and make it hard to estimate size when your dog isn’t with you.
Another important supply to get either before or when your dog moves in is a name tag for their collar or harness. Include your dog’s name and your contact information on it in case the dog gets lost. People don’t usually expect their dogs to run away, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Another way to keep them safe is to get them microchipped as another form of identification if they get lost. What many people don’t realize is that it is not uncommon for a Shih Tzu to get stolen due to how friendly they are. If your dog does not have a microchip or tag, they could easily come across a person who will decide to keep them as their own. It is important for you to do everything you can to prevent this from happening.
The First Day Home
Bringing a new puppy home is a lot like bringing home a baby or a toddler. There will be so many new sights, sounds, and smells for your new puppy as well as for an older dog, which may cause them to not want to listen to you at first. You want to make sure everything is dog-proof to help keep your new dog out of trouble. You also want to be gentle and cautious around your new family member. This means that you should talk softly and slowly to your little Shih Tzu, just like you would with a child to help get them to feel safe around you.
When you first bring your dog home, they will either be extremely excited, extremely nervous, or a mixture of both. As much as you want the first day home to go perfectly, you need to remember that your dog will need some time to adjust. Don’t put too much pressure on the idea of your dog fitting in right away.
Remember to pick up any unwanted objects off the floor before bringing your Shih Tzu home. As a puppy, they may want to chew on everything in sight, so it would not be good for your Shih Tzu’s first experience home to have them accidentally choke on something. You want to ensure that everything is out of reach from your puppy or new dog when they come home to make sure that they don’t get too curious when exploring the house.
Even after being introduced to their new home and new supplies, your dog might still seem a bit unsure of it all. Give your dog some space after a while so they can explore the house for themselves. They will likely just need an extra chance to sniff all the areas and look out all the windows. While they are exploring, keep checking on them to make sure they are staying out of trouble.
In the house, be consistent with your rules and boundaries for your new dog. If you do not want them in certain rooms or on certain furniture, make those commands clear. Don’t allow them on the couch at first and then later scold them for being on the couch. These discrepancies in your orders can easily confuse them and make it harder for them to learn your expectations.
Taking your new dog for a few walks outside can help them as well. They can sniff the scents of all the neighbor dogs as well as leave their own scent. Walking may be able to distract them from all of the other changes. Shih Tzu typically enjoy smelling new scents outside, so sometimes a walk is all they need to cheer up a bit.
During the first few days home, keep things as normal to your daily routine as possible. A party or big group of people may scare your dog and you don’t want them to think that is what it will always be like in their new home. Try to keep things as easygoing as possible until your Shih Tzu has time to adjust.
The First Night
Dogs typically sleep on and off throughout the day, so when you go to bed, they may not understand that they need to sleep through the whole night. If they sleep in bed with you, you may want to close the door to your bedroom so if they do wake up, they’re not wandering around the whole house. If you are a light sleeper, you may wake up every time your Shih Tzu does, but don’t worry, over time your dog will slowly begin to adapt to your sleep schedule.
Deciding where your dog sleeps is entirely up to you, but if you are worried about your dog wandering around at night, even just in your room, you may want them to sleep in their crate or a sectioned off area of the house. This can help them to calm down and keep them in one place throughout the night. They may bark at first, but if you let them bark for a little while, they should eventually stop and realize that this is the time to sleep. However, many owners simply prefer to let their Shih Tzu sleep in bed with them since they are a small breed and do not take up much space.
If you have a puppy, they may not be able to hold their bladder throughout the entire night. If you hear your puppy whining in the middle of the night, instead of telling them to be quiet, try taking them out to make sure they don’t have an accident. As your Shih Tzu grows older, they should be able to hold it longer, allowing you to actually sleep through the whole night. However, be prepared to lose a little sleep the first few nights as your dog gets used to their new sleeping area.
Choosing a Vet
Because Shih Tzu are a common breed, all vets will likely have some experience working with them. However, you may want to visit the different vets in the area ahead of time to help decide which one would be the best fit for you. They will be able to answer any questions you have about vet visits and health ahead of time.
When you bring your new dog home, the breeder or rescue should have them as healthy as possible, but if you are unsure about your new dog’s health, you can always schedule an appointment yourself. This way you can become familiar with your dog’s vet and be given any health information that you may need for your new pet.
Your dog’s first vet visit will likely be a scary experience for them. While vets are kind and will give your dog treats to calm them down, there are still a lot of unusual smells at a vet’s office for your dog. Especially if they are a puppy, they will not want to sit still during their checkup, but it is important to remain calm and give your dog plenty of love and attention while at the vet so that they will be less worried. Reward them if they behave well during the checkup. Over time, the vet should become less frightening to your dog, making visits to the vet much easier.
To help make the process even easier for your dog, take them for car rides more often than just to the vet. Drive them to the park once in a while because otherwise they will only associate car rides with a negative result, making them resist even going into the car.
If the vet tells you that your new puppy happens to have some type of condition or disease, then this can become an issue. Shih Tzu breeder Joel Clark, from Puppy Love Shih Tzu, states that “if genetic, the breeder needs to know so that they don’t sell any more puppies from that mating pair.” Even if you had a great experience with your breeder, it is important to notify them if something went wrong in your dog’s genetics. Doing this will prevent future dog owners from getting the same unwanted conditions and traits in their future puppy.
Obedience classes are not for everyone, but it can’t hurt to give them a try if you need help training your dog. Since Shih Tzu are a stubborn breed, it may be difficult to get them to listen to you, so a professional class or trainer may benefit your dog.
If you adopt your dog from a rescue, they will typically have recommendations on helpful classes for your specific dog. Some shelters also hold their own classes at the location. Vets, groomers, and local pet stores will usually be able to give you good suggestions as well. Otherwise, you can simply search for obedience classes online, but you may find a wide variety.
Classes can benefit you and your pup because they can help the two of you to bond. The classes should be able to help get your dog to listen to you more often. They will also help your dog to be more well behaved overall and have better manners on a day-to-day basis.
Obedience classes can be pricey, but the cost varies based on the class you choose. More stubborn dogs such as Shih Tzu may need to take classes longer to be properly trained. Even though classes will take extra time out of your day, they could benefit your dog greatly, especially if it’s a puppy. If you feel that you can train your dog just as well on your own, then classes may not even be necessary. The decision is completely up to you and what you think is best for your dog.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Shih Tzu Dogs" by Molly Weinfurter, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: