Shih Tzus are small fluffy dogs that are known for quickly scurrying around a home with the self-assurance of a Pit Bull or Great Dane. These adorable dolls are known for their fluffy fur, quirky personalities, and loyal nature. But do Shih Tzus bark a lot, or is this just a myth?
Unfortunately for many owners, it’s not just a myth. Shih Tzus are known to bark a lot. Something that isn’t uncommon with dogs their size. Perhaps it’s a Napoleon complex, or it’s just part of their nature as canines.
Shih Tzus will typically bark to alert you of something that may be out of the ordinary, such as a visitor at the door or someone trying to break into your home. However, you can also hamper your Shih Tzu’s barking if it is becoming a nuisance or if you live in an apartment complex and are getting complaints from annoyed neighbors.
Most Common Reasons Why Shih Tzus Bark
There are numerous reasons why your Shih Tzu may bark incessantly. These can range from it simply being excited, distressed, or injured and crying out for help. Take a look at the most common reasons for the barking and how to curb it.
Sometimes these dogs will bark simply because they’re excited – like really excited. This isn’t uncommon with most dogs, and a lot of excited barking and jumping when seeing a loved one after a long absence is normal. You may also notice barking when you’re putting on the leash, and your dog is ready for a long-awaited walk. Dogs communicate their excitement to their pack by barking and yipping.
While this type of barking event may not bother most owners, you can curb this barking by using voice or visual commands such as “Quiet” or a hand gesture. You can also turn off the lights (if indoors) until the dog grows quiet, and then turn them back on. Be sure to give your dog a treat afterward to reward its good behavior (this’ll help cement the response in its mind).
It Wants Something
This could be anything from attention and food to wanting to use the bathroom, go for a walk, or get a belly rub. If your Shih Tzu is trying to grab your attention, it will bark at your face. This barking is usually a string of single barks interspersed with pauses. It helps to try to figure it out.
Anxiousness or Boredom
Another reason why your dog may bark is good old boredom. Like humans, these little energetic dogs can grow bored easily, especially when they have a lot of pent-up energy. Shih Tzus are active and lively dogs that, while they need a lot of sleep, also require enough stimulation to keep them busy and from engaging in destructive behavior.
Ensure that your dog gets at least one hour of exercise every day. Your dog will bark more if they are not exercising enough. They may also be more destructive and troublesome, such as obsessively chewing or licking.
Fear or Alertness
Your Shih Tzu may be barking because it is scared or surprised by something. This can be a loud noise, someone startling them, or them being fearful of a stranger that has entered your home. So, you can think of this as more of a protective bark than anything. You can also take a look at the dog’s posture to gain some insight into why it’s working.
If its ears are erect and its tail is not wagging, chances are that it’s a protective bark. If it is barking as it’s backing away from something (such as someone banging on a door or fireworks outside a window), it may be frightened. Depending on the reason for the bark, you can minimize this by socializing your dog around people and getting them used to certain sounds in or around your home.
Sometimes your Shih Tzu may be barking because it has a bit of separation anxiety from you being gone. Oftentimes, dogs don’t really care to be left alone, and if your pup is young, it may act out. So, if you come home to your dog barking or howling through the door, this is likely why.
You may also notice that your dog becomes agitated or visibly upset when you are preparing to go to work. It sees the signs of you ironing your clothes or preparing your briefcase, signs that it’s about to be left alone – hence the barking and howling.
If this becomes an issue with your neighbors, you can consider getting a dog sitter, daycare, or even placing an automated treat dispenser in your home. You can also consider giving your dog several toys to play with while you’re away.
A Shih Tzu that is barking constantly may also be experiencing some sort of pain or physical discomfort. Dogs can’t actually speak to us in human language, so all they have to use is their “dog language.” Barking can be an effective way for your dog to communicate with you that it’s hurt or has other issues.
If you notice your dog suddenly starts to bark or whine a lot in your presence, it’s helpful to give it a bit of a physical examination and note any areas that seem to be tender on the dog.
Also, try to check for any limping or trouble getting on top (or off) of furniture. Though sometimes, you won’t be able to actually see the symptoms, such as with a toothache or if the dog is having an upset stomach, in which case, it’s best to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.
Tips For Training Your Shi Tzu Not to Bark
Here are two great methods you can try to train your Shi Tzu to bark less!
Method 1: The Speak/Quiet Method
One method that you can use to teach your dog to stop barking is to teach it “Speak” and “Quiet” voice commands. Here are the steps.
1. Get an Assistant
Have a friend or neighbor knock on your front door and wait for your dog to start barking.
2. Give Command
Once your dog begins barking, say the command “Speak”. This process should be repeated several times until your Shih Tzu can associate the word “speak”with the barking sound.
3. Try Command with a Treat
You can also try issuing the command without the actual trigger. Instead hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose. If the dog remains quiet while sniffing the treat, issue the “Speak” command. If your dog barks, give it the treat.
4. Teach the “Quiet” Command
Once your Shih Tzu is able to bark on cue, you’re now ready to teach your dog the “Quiet” command. To do this, wait for the dog to start barking (you can have a friend knock at the door again) and then give the “Quiet” command. Once your dog quiets down, give it a treat. Do this several times until it’s reinforced.
Method 2: The “Ignore” Method
For this method you’ll need to build up your courage to actually ignore your Shih Tzu – that’s the only way it’ll be effective.
1. Trigger Your Dog to Bark
First, you’ll need to give your dog a trigger sound to get it to bark. Consider having someone ring your doorbell or knock on the door. It’s best to try an activity that normally happens in your home.
2. Turn Your Back
Now here’s the hard part. Once your dog starts to bark, simply turn your back away from it and ignore it completely. Keep ignoring the dog until it stops barking. Eventually, your Shih Tzu will get the hint and stop barking. When the dog quiets down, only then should you turn around. And don’t forget to give your dog a treat and a bit of praise.
3. Practice and Repeat
This is definitely a technique that you’ll need to practice several times for a few weeks. Your Shih Tzu will soon realize that barking is not the best way to get attention. You can even try holding a treat in your hand and making eye contact with your dog until it stops barking. Once it does, give it the treat and a pat on the head. This will teach the dog patience.
Wrapping Things Up
So, to answer your question, yes, Shih Tzus are a breed that’s known to bark a lot. However, you can train your Shih Tzu not to bark with persistent and regular training. You can also train your dog to bark only for certain occasions. Shih Tzus are pretty smart dogs that take to training easily, so teaching them not to bark shouldn’t be hard; you’ll just need to be consistent.
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