They may be small in size but they make up for it with their big personalities! Those big personalities can manifest in big ways. If you have a new person in your life your Shih Tzu will certainly make his opinion known, and possible this opinion will not be favorable!
Shih Tzu can get jealous. They are generally a trusting and friendly breed, but can at times be possessive of their owners. They may get jealous of anything that they feel is threatening to take your attention away from them. They show this by getting between you and others, whining, barking, and nipping.
It could also be a change in routine that may have triggered this jealous behavior. They will show you this jealousy through their body language, not only by snarling or nipping but anything they can do to get your attention off of someone or something else and back on them.
If this has happened to you and your pup, don’t despair there are things you can do to help your fur baby get used to and even love the new person or animal in your life just as much as you do!
Can Shih Tzu Really Get Jealous?
Jealousy seems like such raw human emotion, it’s strange to think that our unconditionally loving K-9 companions could be so connected to us that they experience this emotion as well. I read through, this interesting research study by the University of California to understand just how much dogs do experience jealousy.
In the experiment. Dog owners were asked to pay attention to and give affection to three different objects in plain view of their dogs. The first object was a book, next a Jack-O-Lantern (plastic pumpkin) and the last was a stuffed dog toy that could bark and walk.
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The owners were told to interact with these objects as if they were real dogs. They talked to them as if they were talking to their own dog. They also completely ignored their own dog while doing so.
The researchers took note of any jealous behaviors in the dogs as well as asked their owners if they could tell by reading their dog’s body language if they were jealous. Interestingly enough the toy dog received the biggest reaction from the dogs as they displayed many of the behaviors that were considered signs of jealousy.
I really wasn’t all that surprised with how the dogs reacted, I mean let’s be honest our Shih Tzu live for our attention I’m sure they would react the same way.
So if you think your Shih Tzu has gotten jealous then yes you are probably right. It’s important to be aware of and recognize the signs as early as possible. The earlier you intervene the easier it will be to help correct any aggressive behaviors before it goes too far. Here are some signs to watch for.
Are Shih Tzu Possessive?
Most dogs have a desire to protect things that they think are valuable, Shih Tzu are no different.
Shih Tzu can be possessive and protective of their owners, their family members, their toys, other pets in the household, and even food. This can make Shih Tzu a very alert watchdog, but has to be closely monitored and trained so that it doesn’t turn into something that is damaging and unhelpful.
Signs of a Jealous or Over Protective Shih Tzu
Aggression – Whether it’s growling, nipping, barking, or chasing, if your Shih Tzu is being aggressive to others it could be a sign that they don’t like the attention that you are giving away to that person, thing, or animal. They may also feel like they need to protect you from someone or something.
Getting your attention – If your Shih Tzu is getting in your face, whining and crying, trying to get in between you and the other person or object, barking at you to look at them, nuzzling you with his nose, or even being blatantly destructive right next to you he’s likely trying to bring your attention to him and away from the object he’s jealous of.
Being extra clingy – It’s likely your Shih Tzu lives to follow you around anyway, so it may be hard to notice if he’s gotten even more clingy than usual, but if he’s being even more blatant about it like Jumping on your chest putting his face in-between you and your phone, sitting on your computer following you EVERYWHERE (I know they already do this, but if it’s even worse) then you could have a jealous Shih Tzu on your hands!
Chasing things away – Whatever it may be if he’s jealous of the baby, toddler, new puppy, cat, girlfriend, he’s probably going to try and be dominant of them and stake his territory by chasing them away, this could include barking, growling, pacing in circles, or anything he can do to guard his precious owner against the perceived threat.
One Shih Tzu owner shared her experience of her Shih Tzu pushing the other dog off the couch so that he couldn’t come between him and his owner.
Accidents in the house – If your dog is well-trained and they start to have accidents in the house this is a red flag that something is up. Dogs are historically social animals and always run with a pack, whenever someone or something is threatening a member of their pack they mark their territory as a signal for others to stay away. Your Shih Tzu could be trying to take a stand by making his claim through urinating all over his property.
Ignoring- A more subtle sign of jealousy you may see from your Shih Tzu might be that they sulk off to another part of the house and pout. They could become withdrawn and depressed (after all isn’t this the same reaction some of us humans have when dealing with this emotion as well?)
What May Be Causing Your Shih Tzu to Be Jealous
Dogs are social and pack animals. They are also creatures of habit, so even if your sweet innocent little Shih Tzu is well socialized as a puppy he could still have problems when his routine is interrupted by a perceived threat to his pack.
Adding a new person or pet to your household is most likely the cause of this sudden jealous behavior.
(Thinking of getting a friend for your Shih Tzu? Check out this article I wrote about Shih Tzu pairs.)
There can be other reasons too, however. If your dog is bored and he sees you engaged with other people of things it could cause him to react with jealousy.
If your Shih Tzu sees or perceives that you are giving more of your attention and love to someone or something else this may cause him to feel insecure and cause feelings of jealousy.
Shih Tzus are generally really great with kids, but sudden changes can still upset a particularly sensitive dog.
A suddenly mobile toddler or baby could also be alarming to your Shih Tzu. If your child has recently learned to crawl or walk it could be unsettling to your Shih Tzu and he may not know how to react to it. He could also feel very threatened since he’s so little and the new mobility of your child is endangering his space. Here is an article I wrote about toddlers and dogs that will be very helpful to you if you are in this situation!
Feeling possessive of you or his toys or other resources like his food or water can make a Shih Tzu act in an aggressive jealous way. This is a natural instinct for all dogs as many are bred with the intention of protecting their owners from threats.
How to Stop Jealous or Over Protective Behavior in Your Shih Tzu
Find out the Root Cause of the Jealous Behavior and Address it
If it’s a change in routine try to figure out how you can ease into it, or associate it with positive things. If it’s a new person or animal, work on the steps below (outlined in train your dog to love the new person or thing).
Noticing how your dog feels is the first step to helping him overcome his jealousy before it becomes dangerous aggression. Figuring out why he feels that way may take a little more investigative work.
Keep a diary or notebook and write down any time he shows signs of jealousy or other out-of-the-ordinary behaviors that may show signs of stress such as licking, eating things they shouldn’t, or crying and whining behavior. Note what he was doing and why you may think it happened, soon you will start to notice a pattern.
Train your Dog to Love the New Person or Thing
If it’s a new person like a boyfriend or girlfriend or new roommate, enlist their help to shower your dog with lavish attention! Let them feed your dog, give them praise and treats, let them bond with your pet, and be their new best friend for a while while you…. (gulp) ignore them!
Yes! You heard me right, I know it will be hard, but if your dog is jealous of the attention you give this other person you need to help them see that it’s not this person is on their side and it’s really not that bad.
Trying out a fun training program together like this widely popular program Brain Training for Dogs can help unlock your dog’s hidden potential and help them learn how to avoid problem behaviors.
Your Shih Tzu is Jealous of the Baby
If your Shih Tzu is jealous of your new baby you may have your work cut out for you. The best time to prepare your pooch for a new baby is… well before that precious bundle arrives. Dogs like routine and predictability none of which describes life with a newborn. If you are able to slowly prepare your home and your Shih Tzu for life with a new baby then you will be less likely to see jealous behaviors.
If you missed that opportunity or your pup is still having problems all is not lost. It will take some time, but your pup can find peace again. Some tips to help with a new baby are:
- Never leave your baby unattended around your dog.
- Keep your dog’s toys and baby’s toys separated. This helps to prevent resource guarding.
- Make sure your dog has a solid understanding of basic commands.
- Keep a safe and quiet place for your dog to escape to (his crate or bed in a different room) when the baby gets too much for him.
- Give him treats and praise for all positive interactions so he can learn to associate a new baby with pleasant things.
- Let your dog get used to the baby on his own terms. Never force him.
- Include him in walks and playtime.
- Give your dog an item of clothing or blanket that smells like your baby and reward him for being around it.
- Seek professional help if your dog gets aggressive.
Your Shih Tzu is Jealous of a New Pet
When your Shih Tzu is jealous of a new pet you may think that it’s because he wants to assert dominance over the new pet, but more often than not its’ because he’s feeling insecure about his place in your house with the arrival of this new pet.
Besides following some of the same pointers above you should also try and keep their food and water separated as well as toys and other items that your Shih Tzu may feel like belongs to him. Keeping this separate space can resolve some of the natural instincts animals have to protect their food source.
Also, give him a safe place to retreat away from the new pet if he needs it. I have this dog crate from Amazon for my small dog Bear.
Learning to deal with an energetic puppy or even just a new furry friend can feel overwhelming and your Shih Tzu will need some time and space to himself so he can rest and relax without the stress of a new curious critter all over him.
Take them on walks together. Dogs are pack animals and will enjoy getting out of the house and peeing on stuff as a fun bonding activity. Of course, I don’t recommend this if your new pet is a cat.
Give them treats whenever they are together. This will help then create positive associations with being together.
Try and make your attention even to both of them. Don’t give all your attention to the new puppy or cat and scold your older dog for acting out. That will create negative associations towards the new pet and won’t help him to create the bond he needs.
Go Back to the Basics
Work on all the basic training commands such as sit, stay, drop, down. You will need a solid foundation and accurate execution. When you run into problem behaviors and you need to redirect with something else use these commands, and you should have a stronger chance of seeing compliance.
It may be helpful to also attend obedience lessons with your dog or get help from a personal trainer. Even if you have done this before, it could be a great refresher as well as save you from having to make heartbreaking decisions if his aggression were to get out of hand later on.
Lavish with Praise When Appropriate
Whenever your dog is showing good behavior that you want to see make sure to give him plenty of love and affection as well as a healthy treat (link to healthy treat options on Amazon) or two. This will help to reinforce positive behaviors and teach your Shih Tzu the things that will get him the attention he craves.
It’s also important to take note of how much attention you may or may not be giving him. For mild cases of jealousy, it can often be cured with a dose of a little extra attention, playtime, and love.
If your pet is extremely attached to you and you tend to coddle or baby him it may cause him to view you as his and no one else’s. This could make the problem much worse and create resource guarding with you as the resource. If you think this is the problem you may want to read this article from preventive vet for some extra help and tips on how to solve it.
Know When to Get Help
If you feel like you have tried everything and you are still worried that your sweet canine companion may act out aggressively it’s a good idea to seek help from outside sources. (link to how to choose a dog trainer on AKC website)
Even if you haven’t tried everything, but are feeling overwhelmed with the challenges that you are facing (being a new parent is one that comes to mind) don’t feel bad or like you are a failure for reaching out.
Asking a trusted friend or neighbor to take some time working with your pet or maybe babysitting for a few hours so you can give the attention you need to yourself and your dog is nothing to feel ashamed of. Taking care of a small dog as well as many other responsibilities can be overwhelming for a lot of people.
Even little changes like hiring a dog walker or having your little pooch go to obedience school can make a big difference.
In the end, it will be better for everyone if your dog is learning that others can give it the love and care it needs just as much as you can.