Puppy proof your home

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy

Make your new home safe for all pets by being mindful of, or providing a secure place for, hazards that can…

  • poison—such as cleansers, insect sprays and pesticides, medications, chocolate, certain plants, and antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
  • burn—such as plugged-in appliances, boiling liquids, open flames
  • electrocute—such as worn lamp cords
  • strangle, choke, or obstruct breathing—such as choke collars, small balls, sewing thread and needles, pantyhose, and bones
  • topple or crush —such as precariously placed appliances, top-heavy filing cabinets, and lamps
  • allow escape or theft —such as loose screens and inadequate fences. Never leave your pet unattended on a balcony or chained in a yard.

For more information about pet hazards, check out our pages on foods potentially poisonous to pets, common household dangers and common poisonous plants.

Veterinary Care
As soon as possible, choose a veterinarian and take a practice drive to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Trying to find it when you really need it can waste precious time. Also, learn basic pet first aid.


How to trim a Shih-Tzus nails

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy

Nail trimming:
Keeping your Shih Tzu’s nails trimmed is very important. Without regular trimming, your Shih Tzu’s nails may grow so long that they actually throw the Shih Tzu off his or her natural balance and act as a source of irritation. Neglecting to trim your Shih Tzu’s nails also detracts from the look of an otherwise well-groomed Shih Tzu.

Nail trimmers and techniques:
Guillotine type nail trimmers are the best to use on your Shih Tzu. Hold the trimmers vertically. Grasp the foot of the Shih Tzu firmly, hold the leg up towards you, carefully trim each nail of your Shih Tzu. It may sometimes be unnecessary to trim the nails on the hind feet of your Shih Tzu as they seem to grow much slower than the fore feet. If dewclaws are present on your Shih Tzu, trim the dewclaws as well. The shorter you keep your Shih Tzu’s nail, the better, and frequent trimming will help tighten the feet and improve the dog’s balance. Be careful about the “quick.” The “quick” is a vein that can be easily observed in most white and light-colored Shih Tzu when the toenails are “white.” The “quick” is more difficult to identify in toenails of darker colored Shih Tzu. More often that not, these are black rather than white in the darker colored Shih Tzu.
Nail bleeding:
If the nails of your Shih Tzu bleed after trimming, or if you trim them to close to the “quick,” there is no need for alarm. Always have on hand one of the antiseptic coagulants which you can purchase through any pet supply manufacturer for your Shih Tzu. These substances will stop quickly any bleeding. Use a cotton swab and dab a little of the powder on the bleeding toenail of your Shih Tzu and hold it with a little pressure for a few seconds. The bleeding should stop quickly.

The best time to trim the nails or clean the ears is before you bath your Shih Tzu so that all traces of blood or powder will be washed away. However, the nails of your Shih Tzu will be softer right after bathing.


Training a Shih-Tzu

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy
Training a Shih Tzu can be both an amusing and a frustrating experience. “Bad dog” generally elicits much tail wagging, many kisses, and lots of “Who, me?” looks of injured innocence. “How could you possibly be angry when I’m so charming?” seems to be the general approach. While all of these antics make the Shih Tzu a delightful and unique companion, you have to steel yourself to avoid succumbing to your pet’s charms. Most breeders know of a home in which the situation escalated until the owner had a chubby, less-than-completely-housebroken dog that roused him at 5 a.m. and had kissed and charmed its way out of being groomed so often that it was a smelly, matted mess. This isn’t fair to you or your dog, so be firm when necessary. Rest assured, your Shih Tzu will love you just as much if you teach it to be well behaved.

How do I get my puppy to stop barking when I leave him, especially at night?

While a young puppy is often distressed when he no longer has the company of his littermates, one of the first things your dog must learn is that he cannot receive attention upon demand. Going in and saying “quiet” or petting him when he barks is rewarding him for being noisy, so you must steel yourself not to react, or to provide only a mild correction from out of sight to interrupt the barking, such as shaking a few coins in a soda can. NEVER reward the dog by letting him out when he barks or cries; wait until he is quiet to release him. To alleviate anxieties, which aggravate the barking, begin with short departures, and gradually lengthen the amount of time that you are away.

Why is crate training recommended?

The crate should not be a place of punishment, but a sanctuary where your dog can retreat to rest and be secure. Provide toys and treats to make the crate a pleasant place. It helps to put the crate where people are during the day, or in the bedroom at night. This way the dog will be safe but not lonely. A radio or television can help to keep the dog quiet when you are out. Play with your puppy and take him out to eliminate before you confine him to his crate, and do not leave him there for such a long time that he has no choice but to eliminate in the crate. If you will be out for extended periods, you may want to puppy-proof a small room or use an exercise pen to reinforce your dog’s natural desire to keep his bed clean. Crate training is also useful when you need to board your dog or keep it safe while traveling.

How do I housebreak my dog?

Shih Tzu are often considered difficult to housebreak. The most critical thing is to avoid giving your puppy opportunities to have accidents inside, and to praise him profusely whenever he eliminates where you want him to, be it on newspaper or “piddle pads” in his puppy-proofed area or outside. This means that your puppy should be constantly supervised inside the house until he has not eliminated indoors for at least four to eight weeks. You must also go outside with him, so that you can praise him when he eliminates outdoors. Watch for signals, such as sniffing and circling, and be sure to take him out every few hours, especially when he first wakes up, immediately after eating and before and after playtime. Suddenly, the light will dawn! A puppy has a very short attention span, so punishing him after the fact is useless and may instead teach your dog not to eliminate in your presence. You can gradually extend the time between outings as the puppy has greater control over his bladder. Some Shih Tzu owners teach their dogs to eliminate on paper indoors as well as outside all their lives, so they don’t need to walk them in bad weather or rush home to take them out. You may want to associate a command such as “hurry up” or “go potty” with the act of elimination; this is useful later when you want the puppy to eliminate quickly in an unfamiliar place. If you are housebreaking an older dog, you may want to use piddle pants or (for males) a belly band with a sanitary napkin inside when the dog is inside, being sure to remove it and take the dog outside on a regular basis. After a few accidents, the dog will decide to go outside rather than be wet and uncomfortable. A classic book on housetraining is Shirlee Kalstone’s How to Housebreak Your Dog in Seven Days.

How can I train my Shih Tzu to have its feet groomed (or just about anything else)?

Hold the dog’s foot for five seconds, and then give it a tiny treat and lots of praise. Do this again for a little longer, again finishing with a treat. Gradually increase the time the dog must allow whatever behavior is desired, and decrease the frequency of the reward. Training Shih Tzu often entails tricking them into thinking that you are doing something for them, rather than vice-versa. If they think they are manipulating you to give them a reward, they will eagerly perform the behavior. For this approach to be effective, you have to ask your Shih Tzu to do just a bit at a time in a gradual manner—especially if he already objects to the project at hand. Handle and brush him regularly, and re-ward him for compliance. While you should not stop when your puppy is misbehaving, do not force things to the point where he becomes overly stressed. Instead, pause briefly to murmur reassuring words, then continue a bit, reward, and take a break.

Do “time outs” help discipline Shih Tzu?

Giving your dog a “time out”—separating it from you as a negative response to its behavior—works really well for this breed, because Shih Tzu crave human companion-ship. Yelling at or physically punishing a Shih Tzu usually just makes it more stubborn. Instead, get your Shih Tzu’s attention by holding it by the scruff of the neck or the moustache and saying firmly, “No bite!” “No growl!” or whatever is appropriate. Follow this immediately with closing the dog out of the room so that it is separated from you (and from other dogs, if there are any). Pretty soon just the spoken correction will be sufficient, and you will have a much happier and more loving dog.

What about children and my puppy?

Shih Tzu puppies are small. Children should sit on the floor to play with the puppy. When walking in its vicinity they should do the “puppy shuffle,” sliding their feet across the floor to avoid accidentally stepping on or kicking the puppy, which loves being underfoot! Also, children should be cautioned to keep their fingers away from the puppy’s eyes, which are easily injured, to avoid sudden movements or loud noises, and to let the puppy rest when it is tired.

What should I feed my puppy?

Initially, you should use the food recommended by your breeder to avoid stomach upsets. If you change foods later, do so gradually. Do not leave food down all day. Small biscuits and bits of raw vegetables, chicken, or hot dogs are favored treats. Pigs’ ears and rawhide are NOT recommended. They can make your ShihTzu sick or pose a choking hazard.

What about traveling with my Shih Tzu?

Most Shih Tzu love to travel, but you should crate or otherwise restrain your dog so that it will not be injured in case of an accident or a sudden stop. NEVER leave your dog unattended in a parked car; it could be stolen. On a warm day the temperature can rise to fatal levels in just moments, and short-faced breeds are particularly susceptible to heat stroke.

How do I socialize my puppy?

From the beginning, try to expose your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and situations. As soon as he has had all of his shots, take him out into the wider world. If a new stimulus creates fearful behavior, do not reward the fear by giving treats or cuddles; you are then reinforcing fearfulness. Instead, build up to whatever frightens the dog gradually, giving rewards only when the dog is being non-fearful.

How do I keep my puppy from chewing and other destructive behaviors?

Play with your Shih Tzu so it can work off its excess energy and provide plenty of toys, rotating them frequently so they remain interesting. Provide your puppy with a “puppy-proofed” area (perhaps behind a baby gate) that is safe for him to explore, and do not allow him unsupervised opportunities to get into mischief. It is much easier to reinforce desirable behavior than to break bad habits.


Grooming tips for a Shih-Tzu

Posted by: mprough  /  Category: Grooming tips

Since the Shih Tzu is a longhaired species, it will require great grooming care. However, they are also extremely lovable and hence, it will be be a pleasure to groom them. These dogs have a very proud demeanor and they really take pride in how they look – which makes it even more rewarding to keep them sparkling clean and well groomed.

The following are some Shih Tzu Grooming expert tips which will help make the grooming session a more pleasurable one as well as more efficient:

1. When you find the hair matted, the Shih Tzu Grooming experts advise that you detangle it carefully before you give the dog bath, because water will further aggravate it. In case it is badly matted, then it is better to cut it off rather than try to free it because it can be very painful for the dog – it can even tear the skin.

2. Use the right brushes for the particular coat – use the slicker (a soft brush with flexible pins), a metal comb with both wide and narrow teeth as well as a rattail comb alternatively as per the condition of the hair. Expert groomers suggest that the comb’s teeth should be about three to four inches long so the whole coat can be combed at length.

3. Combing a dry coat will cause the hair to slip and break. Whenever you want to comb your Shih Tzu, dampen the hair and then groom it. There is a certain style of combing – learn the procedure well before you comb your Shih Tzu – it starts the end of the hair and work up to the roots, not the other way round. Be very patient.

4. Pay great attention to the areas where hair is likely to be matted, i.e. the neck, the back of the legs and around the ears. Be careful when you comb in these areas because they are overly sensitive.

5. The Shih Tzu Grooming does not mean only combing, though it does form the majority of the work – it also involves bathing. Bathing the Shih Tzu is not too difficult, since this dog is patient and fully cooperates with you because it loves to look its best. When you bathe it, expert grooming tips dictate that you should be keep the head for the last and always be careful about the eyes and ears of the Shih Tzu.

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