Your Shih Tzu is an athlete, admittedly an extremely cute one.
To stay in shape, it needs to be exercised every single day. Yet, there is a tendency among some to overfeed and under exercise their Shih Tzu.
You’ve got a responsibility to ensure that you Shih Tzu gets the exercise that it needs. This article will show you how to do it.
As a responsible dog lover, you don’t want to fall into that trap.
Exercise: How Much and How Often
Your Shih Tzu requires two walks each day. Each walk should take about 15-minutes and they should ideally be done in the morning and again at night.
You should also play games with your dog. If you can spend about an hour each day engaging your Shih Tzu in this way and he’ll sleep better in his bed.
Why You Must Exercise Your Shih Tzu
It is often said that a tired dog is a happy dog.
That’s as true of Shih Tzu’s as it is of any other breed. When your dog is sleeping or resting, he’s contented.
When he’s frantically scurrying around the house, whimpering or scratching up the furniture, he’s not a happy dog.
Exercise is as good for your Shih Tzu as it is for you personally.
It will improve their cardiovascular system, keeping the heart pumping strongly. It will also improve the vital organ functioning of the lungs and kidneys.
It will also keep your dog’s muscles and joints strong and healthy.
Just like humans, dogs get a feel good endorphin hormone response to exercise. Giving your dog a daily workout will also help keep your pooches’ weight in check.
Another major benefit of giving your dog daily exercise is that it gets them outside and allows them to do the things that dios do – sniff out new and different stimuli, explore the world outside your four walls, run, play and breathe in the fresh air.
Your Shih Tzu relies on you for everything, including keeping it healthy. Regardless of how cute your dog looks, it is not a stuffed toy that should sit on the couch all day long. They need the stimulation of the outside world to thrive and be happy.
Shih Tzu’s generally love going for a walk with their owner, so you should have no problems getting your dog motivated for exercise.
As well as burning calories and exercising the cardiovascular system, taking your Shih Tzu for walks on a leash will teach the dog how to walk beside you on a leash without straining. It will reinforce that you are their boss and they are your follower.
If you find that your Shih Tzu is being annoying by chewing things around the home, it’s probably a sign that it has pent up energy and needs to be exercised more often.
In addition to scheduled exercise, your Shih Tzu will need some playtime every day.
Your dog is unique and will have its own games that it loves more than others.
But nearly all Shih Tzu dogs will enjoy playing ball games.
You may find it a little frustrating, though, if you are expecting your pooch to return the ball to you.
Shih Tzu’s are more likely to chase after the ball with abandon than to retrieve it!
Other games that most Shih Tzu enjoy are tug of war with a soft rope, chasing a soft toy and learning tricks.
There are plenty of other games you can play with your Shih Tzu right in your lounge room or your backyard. These will provide plenty of exercise for your dog.
Playing games with your dog brings a lot more energy and interactiveness to the relationship between you and your Shih Tzu than walking does.
You can start introducing play time by getting your Shih Tzu interested in a soft ball.
Start teasing the dog with the ball and getting him fascinated by the shape, feel and sound of it.
You can also introduce a toy or other object that can have little treats out inside of it.
Allow your Shih Tzu to figure out how to get to the treat – but make sure that he eventually can get to it.
When you have got the dog sufficiently fascinated in the object, roll it away from him and then say, ‘Fetch.’
As mentioned previously, Shih Tzu’s seem to struggle with the concept of bringing an object back.
But that doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. You just have to persevere.
If the dog steals the ball and runs off, stop playing the game. After a while retrieve the ball and put it way until you are ready to play again.
When your Shih Tzu successfully retrieves the ball and brings it back to you, heap plenty of praise on him.
Then throw the ball out again, this time a little further.
You can keep playing until either of you gets bored.
If your dog is a puppy, you can enjoy about an hour’s worth of play together each day.
Older dogs may get tired after 40 minutes or so. Keep in mind that the Shih Tzu is not as active as many other dog breeds.
Clear signs that your pet has had enough are constant panting and signs of difficulty in breathing.
Always have plenty of fresh water available for your dog, especially when you come back from a walk.
You should also avoid taking your Shih Tzu out for a walk in extremely hot weather conditions.
Hide and Seek Games
Playing hide and seek games with your Shih Tzu will give your pooch an excellent cardiovascular workout – and be fun for both of you!
It’s a good idea to introduce hide and seek games with food.
You should use a small, easily chewable healthy treat such as a piece of popcorn. Show it to the dog, allowing him to smell it. Then command your Shih Tzu to sit and stay.
Next place the piece of popcorn a short distance away but out of sight. It might be behind a chair leg or under a rug.
It doesn’t matter if the dog watches where you put the object – you’re just gettting him used to the concept of the game.
Now, give your Shih Tzu the command ‘Find It’.
When he does so, he will get the reward of eating the piece of food. Be sure to give the extra reward of plenty of praise.
As the dog gets used to the game, add difficulty by placing multiple pieces of popcorn around the room.
Do not, however, put down so many or hide them in such obscure places that your dog will not be able to find them.
The dog may try to get up and begin seeking the food before you’re ready for him to do so.
If this happens, simply take him back to his sitting position. Instruct him to sit and remain standing alongside him until you give the command to ‘find it.’
Once your Shih Tzu is used to playing hide and seek with a planted piece of food, you can take the game to the next level by having the dog sit and stay while you go to another part of the house and hide with the food in your hand.
When you are in position, call out ‘find me.’
If it’s taking too long for the dog to locate you, call out to her in an excited voice. When she locates you, give her the treat and heap plenty of praise upon her.
You should play hide and seek with your Shih Tzu a maximum of two times per day.
Dance as Exercise
Your Shih Tzu will, more than likely, get excited when you begin to dance and will want to join in with you.
If you’re a dancer and your dog likes it, then this is another great form of in home exercise that you can both indulge in.
You may choose to hold the dog by the paws in order to help him move to the beat or simply let him scurry round while watching you break out your own moves.
How Often Should a Shih Tzu Walk?
There is no set answer to this question.
Every dog has its own energy needs that are unique to it.
If you have more than one Shih Tzu you will soon discover this.
Generally, however, the Shih Tzu is considered to be an average energy job. The main way to exercise your Shih Tzu is to take it for a walk.
Walking should be an enjoyable time for both you and your Shih Tzu.
You need to train the dog to walk nicely by your side without pulling on the leash. However, your dog should still have enough freedom to sniff and explore the neighborhood.
Not only is walking a good form of cardiovascular exercise for both of you, it is also a great way for you to bond with your Shih Tzu.
You should take your Shih Tzu for a walk a minimum of two times per day. Each walk should be around a half mile in distance. If your dog is a puppy, you should try to give it a third walk.
You should teach your dog to go to the toilet before you begin your walk.
This will allow the dog to view the exercise as the reward. If you constantly bring the dog inside immediately after every toilet outing, he may hold on in order to get the walk in.
Most people walk their Shi Tzu twice per day around their work schedule.
This means an early morning walk and an evening walk. If you are a working person, your dog is going to be alone for several hours after the early morning walk.
For that reason you should help your Shih Tzu to release as much energy as possible during that morning walk. Let her sniff,explore and greet other dogs.
Use a long leash to allow for as much freedom of movement as possible. When you need control, reel the leash in.
If you are able to take your Shih Tzu to a park or other area where it can run free, you should do so, especially on the morning walk.
Vary your walking route by going in different directions, walking on different sides of the street and walking down new streets. This will keep your Shih Tzu stimulated to new and different environments.
The evening walk is also very important. Your dog has been cooped up in the house all day long and, naturally, has a lot of pent up energy.
If you’ve been working all day long, taking the dog for a walk may be the last thing you want to do, but it is a responsibility you need to do. If you feel you’re not up to the task, then you should hire a dog walker.
Ideally you should give your Shih Tzu a short walk as soon as you get home that lasts for just 5 to10 minutes. Then, later in the evening, go out for a longer walk that lasts for 15-20 minutes.
You should plan to be out walking the dog for 15-20 minutes each time.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to walking your dog is that Shih Tzus have a tendency to get their coat matted more easily than other dog breeds.
This may require you to bathe the dog more frequently. If you are taking your Shih Tzu for a walk through wooded areas, you should check that burrs haven’t become embedded in the coat.
What Courtesy Rules Do I Need to Follow When Walking My Shih Tzu?
Always clean up after your Shih Tzu
It doesn’t matter how cute your dog is, if you are leaving deposits all over the neighborhood, both you and it are quickly going to become unpopular.
Use a plastic bag to cover your hand then scoop up the doggie deposit.
Now turn the bag inside out, tie it up securely and throw it in a trash can.
Keep your Shih Tzu on leash
Keeping your dog on a leash is a legal requirement in most areas. It is also a safety precaution for your dog and others.
Keep the Dog Under Control
Even when your Shih Tzu is on the leash, you should still keep a close eye on what’s going on around it.
If you see a person approaching who seems uncomfortable with your dog, or who has another dog which is unhappy, you should reel the leash in and possibly even pick up your dog until you have passed by.
When you are out with your Shih Tzu, you need to be constantly aware of potential dangers.
Be especially mindful of other dogs.
Not every dog is as friendly as your pooch. And many of them are likely to be much larger than your Shih Tzu.
A dog’s greeting behavior can quickly turn aggressive.
If another dog appears excited you should probably avoid approaching it. Ask the other owner if their dog is ok with other dogs.
Even if they say ‘yes’, you should approach the other dog with caution.
Cross with Care
Be especially cautious when crossing the street. Obey all street signs, even when you cannot see any oncoming traffic.
Should I Let My Shih Tzu Go Off Leash?
Yes. Keeping any dog on a leash is never an ideal situation.
Of course, it is a necessity.
Dogs are meant to wander at will and explore their environment, but doing so in modern urban environment just isn’t practical.
Most parks nowadays even have leash laws.
A movement began about a decade ago to set aside special areas of parks and dog runs where dogs could be allowed to go off leash.
Most large cities have a number of these leash free areas available.
Many parks also have set times when dogs are permitted to go off leash.
This is usually early in the morning and in the evening.
Beaches will often also allow you to let your Shih Tzu run off leash during certain hours of the day.
Make sure that you stay within a fenced in area when you take your dog off-leash.
If you’re not sure how your Shih Tzu will react when you take him off leash, keep that harness on him.
Can A Shih Tzu Walk Two Miles?
We don’t advise walking your Shih Tzu for an entire two mile stretch.
Shih Tzu’s don’t require as much exercise as many other breeds.
They will probably find a two mile walk very demanding.
It would be better to walk your dog for half a mile, which should take about fifteen minutes.
Do this twice per day.
Even though they are nowhere as active as some other dog breeds, Shih Tzu’s still require daily exercise.
You should take your pooch for a walk twice daily, in the morning and again in the evening. Spend 15-20 minutes out on each occasion.
You should also play games with your dog in the home.
Fetch and Hide and Seek are excellent options, but both will require a bit of patience to train the dog how to play properly.
The effort involved will strengthen the bond between you and your Shih Tzu, leading to a happier, healthier pet.