How To Train a Shih Tzu Puppy Not To Bark

A shih tzu puppy barking.

Before we go into how to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark let us consider why your puppy is barking in the first place. If we can understand the cause of the barking we may be able to take preventative or remedial action and perhaps not have to indulge in any training at all.

  • Shih tzu puppies develop their ability to bark at around eight weeks old. This is also the age many puppies are being introduced to their new home and these new, unfamiliar surroundings may lead to feelings of insecurity.
    • In this case try to reassure the little one with cuddles and comforting words. Granted, he won’t understand what you are saying but it is the soothing tone of your voice that will have a reassuring effect.
  • If your puppy is left alone for any length of time, say, for example while you are at work, his barking may be because he is suffering from separation anxiety.
    • Just before you leave your puppy alone try providing him with something to stimulate his mind for the first hour or two that you’re gone. This may be something like  a rubber toy stuffed with treats that he has to work out how to remove from the toy himself.
    • If cost isn’t a factor, have a dog sitter or dog walker call in to break up the time he’s left alone.
    • In our own personal case, my wife and I were worried about the amount of time we sometimes had to leave Bruno alone. That’s when we decided to get our second shih tzu, Charlie. At first Bruno was a little unsure of his new companion but they soon became inseparable.
How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark
  • Barking may also be caused by excessive pent up energy due to a lack of exercise, walking and stimulating activity.
    • Try to take your puppy outdoors more often, preferably somewhere safe where he can have a little runaround. For his safety and your peace of mind I recommend you keep him on the leash for this.
    • If you can’t get out, try playing some stimulating games indoors with him. Try hiding his favourite toy for him to sniff out or perhaps bounce a soft rubber ball for him to jump up and catch or chase.
  • If you have already house trained your puppy he may be barking because he needs to answer a call of nature.
  • Again, try to take him outside more. See my post “How Often Should You Walk a Shih Tzu” for more information.
  • If you just can’t get outside try allocating a space, maybe in the bathroom or perhaps on the balcony, where you can put down a puppy training pad for him to do his business on. You will probably have to show him where this is the first few times until he gets used to it being there.
  • He may just be barking to gain your attention. Be careful with this one. If you give him what he wants when he barks he will think he can get you to do what he wants every time. The bouts of barking will increase rather than stop.
    • This is known as “small dog syndrome”. Your dog is instinctively a pack animal and until you show him otherwise he thinks he is leader of the pack. Giving in to his barking will only reinforce this belief.
    • In this situation it may be better to employ one of the training methods set out below to control the barking rather than give in to his demands.

How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark

As with all shih tzu puppy training, start as early as possible, the same day you bring him home for the first time if you can. Remember that consistency is the key to achieving the required results from training. In the case of barking, for instance, if you aren’t consistent with your stop barking commands and use them every time your puppy barks then the poor thing will become confused and won’t know whether he’s supposed to be barking or not.

Training is more effective when your puppy is calm so avoid training during times when he is stressed or excited such as when you’ve just got home work or you’ve just brought home the shopping. During the text I often refer to giving your puppy a treat; bear in mind that giving a treat every time as a reward may not work. You may have to alternate rewards between treats, favourite toy, petting and praising.

Before training your puppy not to bark you need to decide whether or not you want him to bark in certain circumstances, say, when a stranger is trying to access your home, or whether you don’t want him to bark at all.

Never shout at your puppy while he is barking as he will just think that you are barking along with him.

Shih tzu barking
ID 81651387 © Daniel Malinowski |

How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 1

This first method gives you control over commanding your puppy to bark or not to bark.

  • Enlisting the help of a willing volunteer who your puppy isn’t familiar with will enable you to carry out this particular method more efficiently.
  • Have your volunteer go outside your front door and knock or ring the bell to start your puppy barking.
  • When your shih tzu barks give the command “speak”. You can use an alternative word if you wish but whichever one you choose you must be consistent and use the same one each time.
  • Repeat the knock on the door followed by the speak command action several times.
    • The aim is to train your puppy to bark just on the speak command.
  • So, try using the speak command without the knock on the door.
    • If your puppy barks, reward him with a treat.
    • If he doesn’t bark, repeat the whole process again and again until he does.
    • He will get there eventually!
  • Once your puppy has mastered the speak command it’s time to teach him the “quiet” command to stop him barking.
  • Have your volunteer knock on the door again to start your puppy off barking again.
  • Give him (your puppy, not the volunteer) another treat when he stops barking on the quiet command.
  • You may need at first to gently hold his muzzle closed get across the message that you want him to stay quiet.
  • Or, another trick would be to have prepared a spray bottle filled with plain water. As you issue the quiet command spray a little water on his nose.
    • The water spray method works for other behavioural problems, too.
  • Persist with the training and before you know it you will have an obedient shih tzu puppy who will bark only on the speak command and will stop barking on the quiet command.

How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 2

  • This method is solely concerned with stopping your puppy barking and is arguably the easiest to implement.
    • It also helps to rid your puppy of small dog syndrome.
  • Again, have a volunteer knock on the door or ring the doorbell, anything that will start your puppy off barking.
  • Make sure as the barking starts to turn your back to the offender.
  • Keep on ignoring your puppy until he stops barking.
    • When he does stop, give him a treat.
  • Repeat this training several times.
    • Eventually your puppy will realize that his barking will not gain your attention and hopefully he won’t do it anymore.

How to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark – method 3

  • This is another method solely concerned with stopping your puppy from barking.
  • Again, as in the previous methods, you need somebody to knock on the door to start your puppy off barking.
  • Give your puppy the quiet command and at the same time hold his mouth closed by the muzzle.
    • Don’t hold his muzzle for more than a few seconds.
  • When you release him and he doesn’t bark, give him a treat and plenty of praise.
  • After repeating this a few times
    eventually you will not need to hold his muzzle anymore as he will stop barking on just the quiet command.
    • When this happens make sure you give him an extra special treat and really pile on the praise.

So, these have been my best solutions for how to train a shih tzu puppy not to bark for both quick fix and long term situations. I hope that you have found them useful for trying out with your own shih tzu puppy and that they work for you. If, in the unlikely event that they don’t then you may like to consider the services of a professional trainer. You can either take your puppy to formal classes or there are trainers that make home visits. These days there are also some excellent online dog training courses.

Once again I hope that you have enjoyed this post. If you have any questions related to shih tzu please make a comment or use our contact us form.

See you in the next post.

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