If you have a Shih Tzu, it’s likely are they are the center of your universe. Their unconditional love and affection is what we live for. When they look at us with those puppy dog eyes we melt and are ready to give them whatever their heart desires.
But when does our attention and willingness to always give in go too far?
If you have noticed your Shih Tzu has started whining and crying a lot then you may have your answer.
Shih Tzus whine or cry when they are trying to get your attention or communicate something to you such as hunger, excitement, pain, separation anxiety or they want to play. Their whining may also indicate something is wrong. Their crying may be reinforced by your constant attention.
If your Shih Tzu is whining and crying a lot it’s because he is trying to communicate something to you or it’s a learned and reinforced behavior.
Shih Tzus are usually pretty easygoing, but that doesn’t mean they can be bossy and take up whining as a way to get something, especially when she’s been unintentionally trained to do so.
If you are like the other Shih Tzu owners that I’ve talked with then your dog is whining all the time you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
Or if you are thinking of getting a Shih Tzu and want to know how to train it not to whine keep reading for some deeper insight, and to find out some interesting reasons Shih Tzu owners gave for why their dogs whine.
Here is a Quick Solution Guide to Solve Your Shih Tzu Problematic Whining (Find more details below)
Reasons for Whining
Find and reduce Stressors
Remain Calm, Praise for quiet behavior
Ignore unwanted attempts for attention
Take them to the vet
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Why is My Shih Tzu Crying and What to Do About It
If you love your Shih Tzu, then there’s nothing more heartbreaking than listening to its forlorn cries get louder and louder. It can be really hard and frustrating not knowing what your dog is trying to communicate to you and how to correctly handle your dog’s whining to get it to stop and help them be happy and healthy.
Here are 7 reasons your Shih Tzu might be whining.
1. Your Shih Tzu is Stressed
Learning to read your dog’s body language will be a very important step in understanding their crying. Knowing what they are trying to communicate to you will help you know how to proceed.
When you are looking for signs of stress look to see if your dog is doing any of these things as well. They will likely not be showing all of these signs at the same time.
How to Tell:
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- Licking lips
- Raised Hackles
- Whale eyes (When they show the whites of their eyes)
- Freezing or very stiff and tense body. Be very careful if this is the case, it’s most likely that your dog has gotten to the point he is so stressed his next move will be to bite.
Is your Shih Tzu overwhelmed, or in a new situation?
Is he not understanding you or something you are trying to teach or communicate?
Did this come on suddenly, when someone or something came close?
Can you figure out a way to remove the stimuli that are causing him stress in order to help him calm down?
What to do:
Try and change the environment.
Be calm and reassuring.
Avoid too much stimulus.
Make sure that you are clear with training and giving commands.
Don’t use harsh punishment.
Try to figure out the trigger and avoid it, or work on training to tolerate it better.
2. Your Shih Tzu is Excited
Shih Tzu’s are loving and loyal. They make great watchdogs and will happily take on a challenge. This means that they can go from resting to excited and lively in seconds flat. This breed exudes energy in the heat of the moment. At times they can also be high energy that can be perceived as excitement.
How to Tell:
Displaying zoomies (a sudden release of energy when your dog seems to go wild and is running around at high speed).
What is your energy level?
Have you just come home from work and they want to greet you?
Maybe your Shih Tzu is meeting someone new or wanting to play. If you are feeling high stress or excitement your dog will feed off your emotion and most likely be showing that behavior as well.
What to do:
You can redirect his energy by taking him for a run, playing a game of fetch with a toy.
Get him to burn some energy then reward him when he’s calm.
Make sure that you have calm energy about yourself.
Dim lights, or use some of this therapeutic aromatherapy spray from Amazon (affiliate link) to help calm her down.
3. Your Shih Tzu Wants Attention
This is the #1 reason other Shih Tzu owners give for why their dog cries or whines.
Raising and caring for a puppy is no easy task. Shih Tzu can sometimes be even more challenging since they can build such strong attachments to their owners and because they are so smart they know how to tug at your heartstrings with their adorable little whimpers!
How to tell:
Similar to when they are excited, but more direct eye contact with you with intentions of trying to get something.
Has your dog had enough exercise and mental stimulation today.
Most Shih Tzu need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day as well as plenty of mental stimulation.
What is he trying to get your attention for?
Is it worth giving the attention or not?
Is your Shih Tzu whining to get food?
Do you have a new pet, person, or situation in your family? Perhaps your Shih Tzu is jealous?
What to do:
Your first task is to make sure they’ve had enough exercise and mental stimulation.
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.
Remember you only want to reinforce behaviors you would like to see repeated. If she’s whining because she needs to go outside to go to the bathroom, then yes you should respond.
If she’s whining to get you to share your dinner then don’t reinforce that behavior.
Even telling your dog “it’s ok”, or to “calm down” in a loving voice is giving them the attention they are wanting. To truly get this behavior under control you need to completely ignore them.
4. Your Shih Tzu Has Separation Anxiety
For little dogs like our Shih Tzus, they can easily get used to going everywhere with us. I don’t find that to be a big deal, except for when it comes to a time that for some reason we can’t take them and they have to stay home alone.
If your Shih Tzu is not prepared to handle the separation from you the crying can become extreme!
How to Tell:
Your dog constantly jumps and whines for you to touch them pet them or cuddle them. Cries or howls when you leave them alone destroys things when you are gone, is overly excited when you return.
How much exercise has my dog had today. How long have I been gone? Have I trained my dog to be ok without being near me every hour of the day?
What to do:
You need to teach your dog that it’s not a big deal when you leave. When you leave, make it subtle and no fussing or kisses goodbye. Make your return no big deal and ignore your pup until they are calm.
When they are puppies it’s best to start with small increments of absence like 5 minutes at a time until they learn to stop crying then move to longer times.
Try not to leave your dog alone too long if you can manage it. If you need to be away for more than 3-4 hours and your dog does not do well then it’s a good idea to find someone that can come and let them out and give them some attention and exercise during your absence.
5. Your Shih Tzu is Fearful
Puppies are very impressionable and teaching them and socializing them starts in the very beginning stages of their life. Because of this, it’s important to only support reputable breeders who take good care of their puppies.
Unfortunately, there are many people that run puppy mills (link to information on how to stop puppy mills) that are breeding Shih Tzu purely for the money and do not take very good care of them when they are young.
When a puppy starts their life in this type of environment it can be very damaging and set them up for a lifetime of fear or aggression. Thankfully there are things that you can do to help if you do end up with a puppy that has been treated this way, it will just be more difficult to get them feeling and behaving confidently.
How to tell:
Tucked tail, shaking, lowered ears and or head, trying to hide behind you or something else.
How was your Shih Tzu treated as a puppy? Is your Shih Tzu a rescue? Was your dog properly socialized when they were young?
What to do:
If your dog seems overly fearful of many things and you suspect that your Shih Tzu is whining or crying a lot because of this, you will need to work very hard at building a solid foundation of trust between you and your dog.
Once this foundation of trust is established it will be easier for you to teach your dog that the rest of the world is not as fearful as they suspect it may be.
DO NOT use any coercive methods of training or yell or be too firm with your Shih Tzu.
You may also need help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who has experience working with fearful dogs. They will help you come up with and implement a training plan.
If you think their fear is a one-time circumstance that has been brought on by something unexpected in his environment, like sudden fireworks or the sound of a car misfiring, then you can isolate that particular thing and work towards training them to tolerate it.
I always encourage my students (check out my classes) to play sound recordings of fireworks starting quietly in the background and working up to very loud and life-like in order to prepare their dogs for coming celebrations like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July.
You could also try something like this anxiety wrap from Amazon (affiliate link) that has been useful for dogs afraid of loud noises like thunder.
6. Your Shih Tzu is Bored
When our dog Bear (a Maltese Chihuahua mix) gets playful he lets us know by barking and whining and begging us to play. Most dogs will let you know when they are tired of laying around and not doing a whole lot.
While Shih Tzus are fairly low key they do still need some mental stimulation.
How to tell:
Short high pitched whines, usually accompanied by a sigh, may seem lazy or disinterested in their favorite toys or games.
He could be digging in the yard, getting into things they shouldn’t like the trash, or chewing up your favorite things like shoes or furniture, or hiding and burring his food.
Again you need to think about how much exercise and mental stimulation your Shih Tzu is getting. Shih Tzus do better when they have something to do to occupy their time. It helps if they are constantly learning new things.
When was the last time you taught your Shih Tzu a new command, game, or trick?
What to do:
Provide your dog with some mental stimulation. Teach them some new tricks, work on training, or give them a fun new toy like this fun crinkle toy from Amazon (affiliate link).
Try not to leave all their toys available all the time. If you keep all but 2 or 3 put away and rotate them that will keep your Shih Tzu from getting bored too easily.
You can also try this awesome program called Brain Training that can give you a huge boost in your training methods and plans.
If you are on Facebook I would suggest that you join a group like this Canine Enrichment group where you will find a plethora of great ideas from other dog owners. While you’re at it feel free to join our Dog Group and follow me on my Facebook page at Paws and Learn for fun ideas and new announcements.
7. Your Shih Tzu is in Pain
Shih Tzu needs to be taken good care of especially as they age. They can be a healthy breed, but they can also have problems with their joints or hips or other health issues. If you have a rescue or your Shih Tzu is aging then pain or discomfort may be a reason your pup is whining.
How to tell:
How old is my Shih Tzu? Has his energy been waning? Are there other red flags such as growling or biting when handled a certain way or untouched food?
Has your dog had a recent dental exam? Poor dental health can cause pain for your Shih Tzu.
What to do:
If you suspect your dog is in pain take him to your vet right away. If you can’t figure out the cause of the whining and it doesn’t appear to be any of the above reasons then you will want your dog to have a complete checkup as soon as possible!
If your Shih Tzu Puppy is Crying
You can expect Shih Tzu puppies will whine more than adult Shih Tzu, but puppies, in general, may whine for different reasons than adult dogs. If you just brought a Shih Tzu puppy home and he’s whining a lot, it’s most likely because he misses his mother and littermates.
Shih Tzu puppies should not be brought home before they are at least 8 weeks old it’s even better if they are 10 to 12 weeks. The younger the puppy the more you can expect to deal with crying.
If you are trying to crate train a puppy and he whines a lot when he is in his crate it is most likely because he is lonely and scared. A crate all by himself is a scary dark place and if it’s new to him you can expect he’s going to have a hard time at first. When you first bring your puppy home learning how to properly crate train is important, don’t give in to your dog’s cries if he’s just wanting attention.
How to Help Your Shih Tzu Puppy to Not Cry
A dog’s sense of smell is extremely powerful. Their sense of smell is 40 times better than ours and much more refined. We can use this power to our advantage in two ways.
Before it’s even time for your Shih Tzu puppy to come home take a blanket or Sweatshirt that smells like you and give it to your puppy’s breeder to put in your puppy’s bed, so they can get used to your smell and create positive associations.
The second way this will benefit your Shih Tzu is it will allow the scent of his mother and littermates to get on the item so when you bring him home it will smell like them and help make the transition easier for him.
Another great tool to help your little puppy miss his family less is to get a stuffy like this one from Amazon (affiliate link) that mimics the heartbeat of his mama. Having a comfort item like this can be extremely useful and can make a huge difference those first few weeks you have your new puppy.
It’s a new environment and it’s going to take time for him to get used to it. Make sure that he has a small area (Crate or Playpen) to stay in, this will help him feel more safe and secure.
Your puppy’s natural instinct is to find a den that will help him feel safe. This small area with a crate inside (about 8 sq feet for a small Shih Tzu and 12 sq ft for a large Shih Tzu ) will help your dog feel more safe and secure.
At night you can keep his crate near you so you are able to comfort him, it might make a few sleepless nights for you, but will go a long way in reassuring your puppy that he’s not alone.
It may be tempting to let your puppy sleep with you, but be sure that’s what you want before you go down that path. The following article may help you decide.
Pro Tip: Do you know how much sleep is normal for your puppy? Check out this article to find out! Shih Tzu Complete Sleeping Guide (Timeline, Problems, Solutions)
When using the crate at night don’t take your puppy out just because he is whining, that will only reinforce the behavior. You can take him out for bathroom breaks, but when his bathroom break is over put him back in. If you get him out for a cuddle or let him sleep in bed with you, crate training is going to be a lot more difficult.
Most Shih Tzu puppy owners said that they would let their puppy cry it out for 10-15 min. and if they didn’t stop after that they would take them out to get a drink or use the bathroom, but then promptly put them back in.
Whatever the reason for your Shih Tzus whining the best thing you can do is make sure that your dog knows you are in charge! That doesn’t mean yell at your dog or be mean, but be firm and consistent in the ways that you respond, let them know that you expect them to be well behaved and they will.
If you continue to have problems with your Shih Tzu crying please seek help from a professional dog behaviorist or a Vet.