Most dog trainers seem to be of the common opinion that Shih Tzus are among some of the hardest dogs to train. While some dogs can learn tricks almost immediately, these dogs tend to take months to learn one trick. This is not to say that these dogs are stupid, they are just very stubborn and stuck in their ways. Shih Tzus enjoy being with people but like to choose the way they interact with them. They are very strong spirited and independent dogs and like to exercise their right to be so, often. This begs the question on what to do if your Shih Tzu puppy should start to bite people.
Is This Biting or Teething?
Before you allow yourself to become overly concerned you must determine whether or not your puppy is teething or actually biting. All puppies mouth the people around them when they are getting their teeth. The difference is in the body language you are seeing when this occurs. Is your pup playing too rough or is he/she becoming agitated and biting to hurt you? If your puppy is just teething then the best you can do is gently correct her or him and continue doing so until he/she catches on.
Act Like Another Dog
If you have a young puppy then one of the things that puppy may not have had a full chance to learn was how not to bite. When puppies are born they learn things like how to play gently and how not to hurt their littermates from their mother and from their siblings. If you have ever watched two puppies play together you may have noticed how every so often one would make a loud squealing noise and the other would let up a little and even lick the area he/she had been biting. If you have a mouthy puppy then you may need to use these same tactics to teach him/her some limits. If your puppy bites you too hard while playing, yelp in a high pitched voice. Yes, other people around you may think you have gone mad but your puppy will benefit from an important lesson. If you keep that up long enough your pup will learn not to bite too hard when playing.
What If the Dog Is Actually Aggressive?
While it is not common to find a Shih Tzu that is extremely aggressive, every dog is different and therefore has a different personality. You may wind up with a snappy little firecracker and it will be up to you to train your dog not to hurt people. The good news is you probably won’t have as much trouble managing your little dog’s aggression issues as much as you would if dealing with a large and powerful breed. However, make no mistake, all dogs can bite and break skin. Do not be fooled by the small size of your dog. If an adult were to be bitten by your Shih Tzu then the results could be a few stitches but think of the damage a little dog could do to a small child. Always manage aggressive dogs responsibly. Try to determine what it is that sets your little dog off, if he/she does not like seeing strangers then do your best to desensitize him/her to them by having a lot of different people give her/him treats.
Withdraw Affection and Love
One of the things you may need to learn early on is not to reward negative behavior. If your dog is biting and behaving badly then the last thing you want to do is show him/her any display of affection whatsoever. Instead totally withdraw your love and affection and turn all of your attention away from your dog. You must show your dog that you will not tolerate being hurt by him/her. If your dog does not have some sort of psychological problem then this should work after some time to show your dog the kind of behavior stops the party. If your dog continues this behavior no matter what efforts you make to correct him or her then you may want to face the possibility that you have an unsound dog who suffers from some sort of aggressive disorder.
Contact a Behaviorist/Dog Psychologist
Just like some people, dogs have mental and emotional disorders. Sometimes these disorders could be caused by hereditary factors or by some trauma that occurred when he/she was a young puppy. Dog behaviorists and psychologists are trained to evaluate the body language of dogs to determine what it is that is going on with them. There are even some dogs who wind up on prescription medications for anxiety, depression and a series of other mental conditions. For example, a dog who suffers from storm anxiety may be given small doses of Xanax just before a storm hits. Of course, a veterinarian would be the one to determine whether or not your pooch could benefit from medicine or not and you should never take medicating your dog into your own hands.
Your Dog Reacts to Your Emotions
One huge mistake that dog owners with “difficult” dogs make is that they get too stressed out when dealing with the dogs. If you have a dog that you know has a history of becoming agitated when strangers walk up then you are bound to tense up at the first sight of a stranger. This will set your dog off. You must learn to remain calm and train yourself not to react in a negative way around your dog. This is not easy to do, especially if you are already a high strung person but you must try. Your dog will stay calmer if you do so you mist work on your own emotions as well when dealing with a Shih Tzu that has a tendency to bite.
Most people overlook the fact that small dogs can bite as well as large dogs. This seems to be because large dogs can do such severe damage. They coined the term “ankle biters” for a very good reason. Small dogs actually have more of a tendency to become aggressive and mean than larger breed dogs. The only problem is that it is normally seen as funny or cute. Unless you are on the receiving end of a bite from a small dog, you may also believe it is humorous. In reality no dog that bites is a joke and should never be taken as one. As a dog owner it is up to you to keep your dog and the people your dog comes in contact with safe.