Shih poos are an adorable combination of a Shih Tzu and a miniature poodle, with the looks and personalities of each. If you've recently added a Shih Tzu poodle mix to your family, you know that these dogs may be small in size but have larger-than-life personalities. This makes them fun lap dogs and companions, but it also makes them a little stubborn, especially when it comes to training. That's why it's important to keep them motivated using positive reinforcement in the form of praise and treats.
When training your Shih poo, his small stature allows you to train him to go outdoors for potty breaks or to eliminate indoors. This is especially convenient for apartment dwellers who may not have easy access to a yard. As long as training is consistent and positive, your little Shih poo should be housebroken in no time.
Start training Shih poo puppies young
Although you can housebreak your Shih Tzu poodle mix at any age, it's best to start training your dog as early as possible. Starting your pup's training around 12 to 16 weeks of age is ideal, according to WebMD. At this age, your little pup can hold her bowels and bladder for at least short amounts of time.
Starting your little one's training early is especially important because Shih poo puppies can be a bit stubborn just like Shih Tzus and poodles. You'll also want to be consistent with your potty training. Expect the housebreaking process to take between four and six months with daily training, although some dogs may take a few months longer.
If you plan on training your pup to eliminate indoors, consistently bring your little pup to her litter box or potty pad. For outdoor potty training, pick one spot outdoors and always carry your pup to that spot.
Choosing the perfect potty spot
Shih poos are small dogs, between 7 and 20 pounds, according to Vetstreet. That makes them susceptible to extreme weather conditions, so choosing a covered place as their potty spot in your yard is essential to protect them from rain, snow, and excessive sun. You also want to make it easy to get to, away from prickly plants and other obstacles that tiny paws might have difficulty with.
Because of their diminutive size, you may want to train your pooch to go indoors, and unlike larger breeds, you can litter-box train a Shih poo. Set up a litter box in an easy-access spot in your home that your pup can always get to so he can eliminate. You can find dog-specific litter boxes in pet supply stores along with dog-specific litter, too, according to Animal Planet.
Train Shih-poo puppies on a schedule
To ensure that your Shih Tzu poodle mix dog is successful in her potty training, you'll need to give her plenty of opportunities to do her business. For puppies, this means taking your pup out for breaks as often as every hour at the beginning of their training during the day. And you may need to get up at least once during the night, too.
It's especially important to take your pup out for a potty break five to 30 minutes after she eats, according to Cesar's Way because she's most likely to want to eliminate after a meal.
Potty breaks first thing in the morning and when you arrive home are also a good idea. And if you aren't going to be home during the day, you may want to have someone stop by to provide your pup with at least one potty break. For pups who have been litter-box trained, she can visit the box herself when she's older but will need prompts until she understands where she needs to go until then.
Visiting the potty spot and training
Once you've chosen the spot you want and the schedule to follow, you'll need to begin the training process. Take your Shih poo to the spot you want him to go and say a phrase like "go potty," then wait for him to do his business. Once he does, praise him and reward him with a treat or a bit of playtime. Shih poos are active little dogs, so a walk around the block may also be a great reward for them.
If your pooch doesn't go within a few minutes, it's best to return inside, if you're outside, and come back within 10 to 15 minutes to repeat the process. When training your pup indoors, take him away from the box for that amount of time before returning. Wait until your pup goes, and then praise him.
Note that it's normal if your little pup wants to sniff around for a few minutes before eliminating. That's because he's attracted back to the scent of his urine and feces and will typically want to go again in the same spot.
Dealing with accidents
Expect accidents during the training process because your pooch isn't perfect. If you find a surprise, simply clean it up. When you find feces, pick it up and place it wherever you want your pup to go, indoors or outdoors. The smell of the feces will attract her to the spot she's supposed to go.
When cleaning up accidents, use an enzymatic cleaner to do so. This gets rid of the smell of the urine or feces completely. That's important because the odor can attract your pup back to the spot to eliminate again, which is something you definitely don't want, especially on your carpet or couch.
If your pup is quite enthusiastic when using an indoor litter box, you might notice that urine or feces falls outside the box. To prevent this, choose a box with higher sides, but one that still has a low entrance your dog can easily access due to her small size.
No punishments, just praise
It's imperative that you don't punish your Shih poo for accidents. This will only cause your dog to fear you and will likely set his training back. If you catch your pup in the middle of an accident, make a sound, such as clapping your hands, to interrupt her. Once she's stopped eliminating, quickly pick her up and transport her to the desired potty spot to finish.
When your pup does eliminate appropriately in the desired place, reward her as usual.
No yelling, hitting, rubbing your pup's nose in accidents or other punishments. These won't teach her that what she has done is wrong, but will teach her that you are scary. It's important to stay positive in your interactions with your dog and during the housebreaking process.
Incorporating a crate into housebreaking
Crates can be a great training aid during the housebreaking process. They help prevent accidents because they act like a dog's den in the wild; a spot where dogs usually won't eliminate, according to PetMD. A crate also gives your little Shih Tzu poodle mix a safe space to hang out in. You'll want to choose a crate that isn't too big with just enough room for him to sit up, turn around, and lay down in.
It might seem like a great idea to give your small pooch a big crate to hang out in, but that will only encourage him to eliminate in the crate, which is just what you don't want. By giving him less space within the crate, he won't have a spot such as a corner, to eliminate and sit away from his accident. This encourages him to hold his urine or bowels until his potty break.
Crates are also a great idea when your little pooch isn't quite trained to go to his indoor potty spot or litter box. It prevents him from sneaking off into a corner and eliminating, instead of doing so in his potty spot.
Crate training your Shih poo
To get your diminutive dog used to her new crate, introduce her to it slowly by showing her the crate and encouraging her to enter it by tossing a few treats inside. You'll also want to place the crate in a nice, warm spot in your home where you and your family hang out; for example, the living room. This way, your pooch can feel like she's part of the family in her safe den.
Feeding your pup her dinner in her crate is a great way to make her associate spending time inside the crate with good things like food. Praise her when she goes into the crate on her own and put a few of her favorite toys inside to play with.
When it comes to locking your pup inside the crate, you can do this overnight or for short periods throughout the day, but not for hours and hours. Consider that a 6-month-old puppy can't hold her urine and feces for more than six hours at a time, according to the American Kennel Club. Shih poos have small bladders and tummies so they can't hold their urine and feces for long periods, even as adults. That's why frequent potty breaks are so important.
Watch for signs your Shih poo needs to go
In addition to giving your Shih poo regular bathroom breaks outdoors or prompts to go to the bathroom indoors, observe your little one for signs that he needs to eliminate. If you see him scratching around, sniffing the floor, circling, or headed off to a secluded corner, he likely needs to go.
When you see any signs that your pooch needs to eliminate, immediately pick him up and bring him to his potty spot. Give him the command "go potty" and let him do his business before praising him. This helps him understand that the spot you take him to is the only spot he is supposed to go and will positively reinforce his desire to go there.
Maintaining the litter box
If you are litter box training your Shih poo indoors, it's important to keep that box clean. When your Shih poo eliminates in the box, remove any feces after she goes as quickly as possible and regularly change the litter. For clumping litter types, scoop the box at least once per day.
Although the slight scent of her urine and feces will help attract your dog back to the box to go again, you don't want it to be overtly dirty. After all, no one likes having a dirty bathroom to use. Remember, a dirty box will actually discourage your dog from going in that spot and she may pick an inappropriate spot somewhere else in your home to do her business.
Shih poo grooming and housebreaking
Depending on their genes, your Shih poo may have curly hair like a poodle or straighter fur like a Shih Tzu. Most have a wavy coat somewhere in between, but it requires regular grooming, especially in the genital area. Have your groomer trim the hair around the genitals and lower belly area to keep it free of mats. You can also brush and spot clean this area regularly to keep it odor free.
Without regular grooming, your little pup could get urine and feces caught in his coat, along with painful mats, making it uncomfortable for him to eliminate. This could negatively affect his housebreaking training due to the discomfort, so it's best to keep up with his grooming to prevent any issues.