Is it a mop? Is it a wig? No, it’s a Shih Tzu! These unique little dogs are covered in a long silky coat and have been bred for Chinese royals for hundreds of years. Buddhist monks regard them highly as they represent holy lions but the everyday pet owner has fallen in love with their spunky personalities too.
If you keep your Shih Tzu happy and healthy they can live as long as 18 years and this 9-pound doggy will bring you tons of joy. They have a few health concerns including eye conditions, joint problems, and breathing difficulty so giving your Shih Tzu the right exercise is crucial. You need to understand that their needs are more complex than a lower maintenance dog and you will have to take extra care when getting them active. In this article, we will be looking at the best exercises for Shih Tzus.
Their coats are very long and many owners choose to keep them at floor length. At only 10 inches high, that isn’t a hard goal to reach either! Even if you choose to trim their coat, they are still incredibly fluffy. This limits them with the number of outdoor activities they are suitable for. Neither you nor your dog will want to spend hours combing grass out of their fur or having to take a bath every time they venture outside. So how can you keep your Shih Tzu in good shape? Here is some awesome exercises for Shih Tzus to ensure their peak physical form.
How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Need?
Shih Tzus are part of the toy dog group of dogs and this comes with a set of stigmas attached. People often think because the dogs are so small they get plenty of exercise on their own by running around the house. This is simply not true. Exercise is not only for the physical health of your dog but it also gives a chance for you to enforce a routine with this stubborn breed and bond with your furry friend.
The dog does only need a short walk and some playtime every day but you must make time for this. Shih Tzus are companion dogs through and through and playtime will be their absolute favorite. They will love your undivided attention and a chance to entertain you. They are always looking for opportunities to spend time with you and complete tasks but this needs to happen from a young age.
They have an independent and cheeky streak that needs to be roped in. Even though they are small and some disobedience won’t cause massive destruction, it is never advisable to let your dog do what they want. There needs to be some firm rules in place to ensure you have a happy and healthy relationship with your pet.
You should combine cardio and agility exercises to involve all their muscle groups. On the downside, Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic breed. This means they have a shortened head and snout which makes it difficult for them to breathe. While exercising, this can become a problem and you always need to monitor your dog for any warning signs. They do not fare well with over exhaustion and extreme heat so pick your exercise spots well. Always carry extra water with you or be willing to carry your dog home if they get too tired.
How do you mentally stimulate a Shih Tzu?
These dogs are incredibly sharp and witty. They love to stick to your side and have a firm reputation for being great lap dogs. This will give you lots of opportunities to work on tricks and commands with your dog. They will be very eager to learn from you and interact with you as much as possible.
Mental stimulation will also tire out these busy little dogs. You won’t always be able to partake in many physical exercises but mental stimulation will always be appropriate. They learn very fast and are formidable tricksters.
Shih Tzus have a special aptitude for dancing. This is one of the many fun tricks you can teach your dog. They will sit on their hind legs and “dance” with their front paws in the air. You can also teach them other fun tricks such as giving high-fives or even go as far as to use the toilet. These bright pooches are ready to take on almost any challenge head on and will love to learn new commands from you.
Best Exercise for a Shih Tzu
Walking remains one of the best exercises for your Shih Tzu. Your Shih Tzu won’t need hours of walking and around 20-minutes per day will suffice. The short legs will always be moving at a brisk pace to keep up with you which will get their heart rate up. A body harness is the best option and a collar and a leash can restrict their breathing too easily.
Taking your dog for a walk also gives them a chance to get out of the house and explore some new sights and sounds outside. This also mentally stimulates them as they can learn something new every day. Try to stick to a schedule for walks to get your dog used to a routine.
2. Agility sets
Given the convenient size of these dogs, getting an indoor agility set is a perfect exercise for Shih Tzus. You can set up these sets right in your living room and have them complete various courses in a small space. You should combine these agility exercises with various commands to keep their brains active too.
Later, you can switch up the order of the activities or make them do it backward. The options are limitless with one of these sets if you take the time to teach your dog how to use them correctly.
Shih Tzus are popular dogs in dog sport contests and there are many clubs you can join if you want to take your dog to bigger courses. They learn fast and complete these obstacles quickly with their agile bodies. If you prefer the comfort of your own home, invest in one of these nifty home sets.
3. Puzzle toys
Shih Tzu’s are highly intelligent and they love puzzle toys. These toys range from basic puzzles with food rewards to high-tech gadgets with remotes, lights, and sounds. It is up to you which toy suits your budget. Your dog will love the food reward at the end and these toys can keep them busy for hours.
Fetch is another classic game that suits almost all dog breeds. Shih Tzus are particularly fond of it as they are rewarded with tons of encouragement when completing the task. What is great about it is that you can play it indoors and outdoors, depending on what you have available. It is also suitable for all-season which is great for more sensitive breeds like this.
5. Hide and Seek
This game is not only for children, you and your dog can have tons of fun playing it too! When your dog is pre-occupied you can hide somewhere in the house and start calling their name. It is up to them to search around your house to try and find them.
Hide and Seek is one of the top exercises for Shih Tzus because they are curious little dogs and will always want to be by your side. This means they will quickly focus their attention on trying to find you as soon as possible. Hide and seek lets your dog run around the whole house but also puts their mental fitness to the test. How acutely can they listen and smell? Hide in the closet and find out!
I hope that this article on the best exercises for Shih Tzus was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Dog Category!