Understanding Shih Tzu Peeing In House Issues
A shih tzu peeing in house is a common problem, You think you’ve successfully house-trained your puppy or dog, and then you start noticing he or she is peeing indoors.
There are several causes and reasons why this may be happening. These causes can be split into two main categories, medical or behavioral.
In most cases, it will be a behavioral issue. However, if it is a medical issue, it can quickly develop serious complications. Most medical issues can be improved if recognized and treated early enough.
It is therefore best to first make completely sure that it is not a medical problem resulting in your shih tzu peeing in the house before attempting to correct any possible behavioral issues.
Because of their potential seriousness, I’ll talk about the possible medical reasons first. However, if you are sure that your shih tzu’s indoor peeing actions are behavioral, you can click here to jump straight to the behavioral section.
Medical Issues That May Result In A Shih Tzu Peeing Indoors
If your shih tzu goes to the toilet as normal when out walking but still has little accidents in the house in the form of a few spots rather than little puddles, it could be a sign of incontinence.
This inability to control the bladder adequately is further indicated if the dog is peeing on himself or his bed, something shih tzus rarely do if it is a behavioral issue.
In puppies, incontinence is often caused by birth defects such as an ectopic ureter, a condition where the urine bypasses the bladder, or pelvic bladder, a displacement of the bladder from its normal position. The latter can also be acquired by obese dogs.
Once diagnosed, it is possible to correct these conditions, though it requires the hands of a highly-skilled veterinary surgeon.
If your shih tzu is an adult female, though some neutered males can suffer, that has just been spayed, she can suffer from urinary sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI).
This affects around 8% of spayed females, much less so in neutered males, where their bladder control is impaired by low blood levels of sex hormones.
Females can usually be successfully treated with medication. Only half of affected males respond to medication. The other half require surgery to lengthen the urethra.
Also known to vets as overflow secondary to increased urine output. This is an increase in the dog’s urine output caused by a primary medical condition.
You will notice your shih tzu drinking much more than normal to compensate for fluid loss and subsequently discharging large puddles of urine. The urine is usually clear and odorless unless there is also a bacterial infection.
Symptoms of the primary medical condition are also likely to be present. The most common of these symptoms are weight loss, and either an increase or loss of appetite.
Weight loss implies either Addison’s disease, diabetes, or kidney failure is present. Addison’s disease or kidney failure could be responsible for loss of appetite, while Cushing’s disease or diabetes could be the cause of increased appetite.
If your shih tzu is experiencing excessive thirst, he should be taken to a vet for a thorough examination as soon as possible. I speak from experience here.
Lower Urinary Tract Disease (LUTD)
LUTD is an umbrella term for many conditions that may affect the bladder, or the urethra in male and female shih tzus, plus the prostate gland in males.
A shih tzu with a LUTD will probably be urinating more often, and that urine may have an unpleasant odor, or may even have blood in it.
Most LUTDs will cause a certain amount of irritation to a shih tzu, who may then seek comfort by licking their genitals more frequently than usual.
There are various possible causes of LUTDs, It may be a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. It may be that urinary stones or a tumor are present. If not any of these, it could be a condition called detrusor atony, where the bladder and the urethra fail to work in unison.
For male dogs only, a perineal hernia could be the cause. If this is the case there will be a small but noticeable swelling under the tail.
Once the exact LUTD is diagnosed by a vet, treatment will vary from antibiotics for a bacterial infection, to a lifetime special diet for stones, to medication for the detruser atony, to surgery for the hernia.
This concludes the brief look at the common medical problems that may be behind why your shih tzu is peeing in the house. Let’s now move on to the behavioral issues.
Behavioral Issues Why Your Shih Tzu May Be Peeing Indoors
A Potty Training Problem Or Territorial Marking?
Assuming that you have eliminated all medical possibilities, your shih tzu must be peeing in the house over a behavioral issue. Behavioral issues can be split into two categories. These are a lack of housetraining understanding or territorial marking.
So that you may resolve the problem, it is important to identify which of these categories your dog’s misdemeanors fall into. This is reasonably easy to do.
Potty Training Issues
If your shih tzu is peeing in the house because of bathroom needs, the urine is usually discharged in large puddles on the floor, This can occur all over the house or only in certain areas. The dog will most probably be pooping indoors as well. This can happen with either neutered or intact dogs.
Does this describe what is happening with your shih tzu? Then check out my blog post “Are Shih Tzu Easy To Potty Train” for help.
Don’t worry if your dog isn’t a puppy anymore. It may take a little longer to learn the new rules, but if you are persistent with the training your shih tzu will get into the habit of going to the toilet outdoors only eventually.
With territorial marking, the pee is usually only discharged a few drops at a time rather than in puddles.
This is commonly done again and again in one or more noticeable areas, usually on vertical surfaces, often the legs or sides of furniture, lamp standards, and floor-length drapes.
Territorial marking is usually not accompanied by poop, this is still done outdoors.
Although marking is mostly the work of intact dogs, there are cases of it happening with neutered or spayed dogs.
What mostly causes a dog to start a campaign of marking is the need he feels to claim his territory because of an insecurity issue of some sort. Often this insecurity is initiated by a new addition to the house such as a baby, a new dog or other pet, or even some new furniture or appliance.
Fixing The Territorial Marking Problem
To be totally successful with completely removing the territorial marking issue from inside your house, you need to follow all of the following ten actions and guidelines.
1. Do Not Make A Fuss
If you catch your dog in the act of peeing in the house, it’s important not to shout at him or hit him in any way. Above all, do not “rub his nose in it”. These actions will only make him frightened and drive him to pee “in secret” somewhere where you can’t see him. Instead, try to distract him by calling him, or by making a noise such as clapping your hands together or squeezing an empty plastic bottle.
2. Revisit The Principles Of Potty Training
Choose one easily accessible area outside of your house that you can assign to your shih tzu for his potty needs. Ideally, this area should be somewhere you can bring him whatever the weather brings you.
Put on your shih tzu’s leash, and take him to the designated potty area first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, and around twenty minutes after feeding times. In addition to this, other visits will have to be made depending upon the age of the dog. This varies from every hour for a very young pup, up to every four hours for an adult.
When you have taken your shih tzu outside, stand in the center of the designated area and, still on the leash, allow him to roam around within the area to find his ‘spot”. Each time he pees or poops within the designated area, reward him with one of his extra special treats.
3. Restrict Your Shih Tzu’s Movement Indoors
It will prove very difficult to end indoor peeing if you allow your shih tzu freedom of movement throughout the house. For this period of retraining, your shih tzu should be given his own little space and largely kept within it, especially at times when he is left unattended.
For this purpose, a dog crate or pet playpen is the ideal solution, though you can improvise by re-arranging the furniture. Whichever option you choose, it should be situated in your main living space so that the dog has as much company to interact with as possible.
At times when you are present, you can let your shih tzu out of his area under your supervision and on a leash. At the first sign that he may want to go to the toilet, you must rush him to the outside designated area. Over time and as the training becomes effective, you can let him out more and more often.
At all times that your shih tzu is left unattended, and this includes bedtime, he must be confined to his restricted area. This will not only help end the peeing inside the house problem but will also help with any separation anxiety issues that your shih tzu may have.
4. How To Set Up The Restricted Area Correctly
For the restricted area to work, it needs to be set up in a certain way. By “work” I mean for your shih tzu to pee only in a dedicated area.
First of all, the size of the area. If you are crate training a puppy from scratch, the crate should be just big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around inside. However, for this training, the area should be just big enough to fit in four shih tzus arranged in a 2 x 2 formation. For the average shih tzu 3-feet (1m) square is most suitable.
The inside of the area will need to be arranged in a certain way to ensure that if your shih tzu needs to go to the toilet while you are out or asleep, that he goes in the right place.
In one of the corners opposite the entrance, place your shih tzu’s favorite bed. As this is where he will be sleeping, make it as comfortable as possible.
One of the corners adjacent to the bed should be occupied by the dog’s food and water bowls. Make sure the water bowl is topped up with clean water at all times but especially last thing at night and when you are going out leaving your shih tzu behind. If you are going to be out for a long time, consider using a treat-dispensing toy to make the food supply last longer and to keep your shih tzu occupied.
The other corner adjacent to the bed should contain a selection of your shih tzu’s favorite toys. I recommend that this selection includes one or two interactive toys and one comfort toy, all to help avert boredom and anxiety.
That leaves one vacant corner opposite the bed. Most dogs will not urinate on, or defecate on their own possessions, so the vacant corner should become their toilet area of choice.
For hygiene purposes, I recommend using puppy training pads placed in a puppy litter tray to help reduce the chances of the pad being destroyed in play. Do not put sand or absorbent granules in the tray, just the puppy pads.
5. Assert Your Position As Pack Leader
You may think that you are in charge of your shih tzu, but he may have other ideas. His territorial marking could be his way either of displaying his perceived position of pack leader, or of challenging for the position. If he’s peeing on your bed or your possessions, it’s his way of protecting his pack, that is you, from potential predators by masking your scent.
It’s relatively easy for you to establish yourself as your shih tzu’s pack leader. You just need to be in control at feeding times, be in control of the pace and direction of walks and to make sure that you pass through the entrances to your house in front of your shih tzu.
You can read about this in a little more detail in my PDF guide “7 Steps To A Happy Shih Tzu”. If you are a subscriber to my free newsletter, you will already have received the link to download the guide for free as a bonus for signing up. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here:
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Once you are fully established as pack leader, apart from helping to end the indoor peeing, you will find your shih tzu is more eager to obey your commands and to please you any way he can. Your shih tzu will also feel happier and more secure knowing his place in the pack.
6. If You Have Other Pets, Establish Order With Them
Marking can become an issue if you have two or more pets in competition for food, toys, space, and beds. By establishing an order you eliminate the need for this.
If you have more than one dog, you may notice that one dog is more dominant over the other(s), or at least tries to be. This is usually, but not always, the older dog. This is your Alpha dog. Show all of your dogs that you recognize which is the Alpha.
The way to do this is to give the Alpha everything first. Make all dogs sit before feeding and make sure the Alpha gets his bowl before the others. When giving out treats or toys, again make sure the Alpha receives his (or hers) first. When going out for a walk, put the Alpha’s harness on first and clip on his leash first, also. As you pass through the entrance before all of your dogs, make sure that it is the Alpha that follows next after you.
This may go against your human sense of fairness, but in the canine world all dogs are happier, calmer, and more secure knowing where they stand in the pack. It is not knowing where they stand that makes them nervous and anxious.
If your other pet is a cat, eliminate competition between the two by giving each their own separate eating, sleeping, playing, and grooming areas.
7. Avoid Contact With Neighbours’ Pets
Other animals close by can trigger territorial marking. Try and keep your neighbours’ pets and any passing wildlife such as foxes out of your shih tzu’s sightline. Avoid close contact with these animals as much as possible.
8. Don’t Let Your Shih Tzu Near Objects Frequently Marked
If there are one or two pieces of furniture or parts of the house that your shih tzu most often uses to mark his territory, try and block his access to these for the times when he is let out of his pet playpen, or whatever device you are using.
Baby gates are ideal for this, but you can improvize with old pieces of furniture or whatever you can find.
If it just isn’t possible to implement this, try to deter marking in these areas by making them happy places where you give treats or new toys, or interact with your shih tzu by playing games, teaching new commands or engage in grooming.
9. Thoroughly Clean Marked Areas
You’ve probably noticed when walking your shih tzu that he will often pee in places where he has peed before or other dogs have peed.
This is because canine urine contains enzymes that produce scents that gives off a signal to any dog that says “this is a potty area”.
To prevent repeat peeing in your house it is therefore essential to remove all traces of these enzymes. Everyday floor and carpet cleaners, upholstery and furniture cleaners will not eliminate these enzymes.
Although they may have the area looking and smelling clean to you, to your shih tzu and his more sensitive nose the scents are still there luring him in to do his business, even if you have acted on all of the previous guidelines.
What will clear the area of all traces of the scents from these enzymes is a good quality, pet-friendly enzyme cleaner. If you seriously want your shih tzu to stop peeing in your house, you will certainly need to clean up with one of these.
10. Optional: Consider Neutering or Spaying Your Shih Tzu
The neutering or spaying of a shih tzu is known to have a remarkable effect in reducing the incidences of marking or of ending them altogether.
However, I have made this an optional choice as complete success is not guaranteed and you may not want to neuter or spay your dog. In this case, I suggest reserving this option as a last resort if all else fails.
For more advice about neutering and spaying, see my post:
What Are Your Chances Of Success?
If your shih tzu is peeing in the house because of a medical reason, then success depends upon what exactly the condition is and whether it can be effectively treated. In some case you may need the help of doggy diapers or puppy pads to keep the household hygienically clean.
In the case of behavioral issues, follow all the above ten guidelines and you have every chance of successfully terminating household potty problems.
Going through the basic potty training again, restricting your shih tzu’s space in the household, supervising your shih tzu’s free movement, asserting your position as pack leader and all that cleaning up may seem daunting, time-consuming and perhaps unnatural to you, but stay with it and you could possibly see improvementa within a week.
As the days and weeks progress, you should find that you can let your shih tzu out of his playpen more often when you are home. You will subsequently be able to let him out without a leash, and after that, leave the door of his pen open.
The day will come when he lets you know he wants to go outside to his potty area, That’s when you know you’ve won the peeing indoors battle!
I hope that this post helps you out with your shih tzu peeing in house issues. If you have any questions or comments about this subject or, indeed, anything pertaining to the shih tzu breed, please leave a comment below or use the contact us form.
I strive to answer within 24-hours, but this is not always possible, so please be patient.
Shih Tzu Steve.