Not all toy breed dogs fit the yappy little dog stereotype, but the Shih Tzu does. This little dog is prone to barking, and it does not take much for that barking to become a problem. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to get that barking under control.
The Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu stands between eight to eleven inches tall and weighs between nine and sixteen pounds. Despite being bred as a companion dog for royalty, this little dog is surprisingly sturdy for its size.
A family dog, the Shih Tzu is great with children, an affectionate companion, and good with other pets.
Shih Tzu Vocalizations
Like all dogs, the Shih Tzu uses various vocalizations to communicate, including barks, yips, howls, growls, and grumbles.
As a rule of thumb:
- Low-pitched growls and barking are a warning.
- A high-pitched yip-type bark is an exciting sound.
- A series of barks is an alert.
- A yelp is a sound of fear or pain.
- A whine is a request for attention.
As your dog’s parent, you will come to recognize their different sounds and what each one means. If you are a new dog owner, this may take a little time, but as you get to know your dog, and through a process of trial and error, you will be able to interpret Shih Tzu’s vocalizations!
Do Shih Tzus Bark A Lot?
The Shih Tzu can easily become a problem barker, most commonly problem barking occurs for one of the following reasons:
- Attention seeking
- Sounding alarm
Controlling Shih Tzu Barking
The key to controlling problem barking in your Shih Tzu is to identify the cause of the barking and address that cause directly.
Anxiety is a common problem in companion breed dogs that are left alone frequently. Since these dogs are bred specifically for their desire to be close to humans, they do not thrive when forced to spend any significant amount of time alone.
This type of anxiety prompts problematic and even destructive behavior, which includes repetitive barking.
Treating this type of anxiety often requires intervention from a trained behaviorist and may even require prescription medications.
Boredom is another common problem for dogs that leads to problem barking. Barking is a way for your bored dog to tell everyone that they are bored and call for someone to come and play with them!
Problem barking due to boredom is a relatively easy fix – keep your dog occupied!
- Give your dog some interactive toys to keep them busy while you are out of the house.
- Take your dog for a long walk before you leave for work and get them nice and tired so that they will sleep while you are gone!
Territorialism is another common cause of problem barking for dogs of all sizes. Territorialism is an instinctive behavior for dogs that their ancestors used to secure food resources and mating privileges. So, when another animal encroaches on their territory, they bark to frighten off them.
If your Shi Tzu is problem barking due to territorialism, you must approach their behavior with a professional trainer. A professional trainer can help your dog to understand when barking is acceptable and when it is not.
Another reason that dogs’ problem bark is that they are attention-seeking! If your dog is frequently left alone or if you are too busy lately to give them the attention that they deserve, this could be the reason for their yapping!
If your dog seems to be barking because they are looking for attention, there are two things you must do.
- First, if you have been slacking on spending time with your dog lately, do better! Shih Tzu’s are companion animals, and they need positive attention to be happy!
- Secondly, investigate other options to keep your dog from being so attention-starved. For example, you might hire a dog walker to come and spend some time with your dog while you are at work. Or you might try a doggy daycare facility!
Dogs often bark excessively out of fear. This fear may be due to a thunderstorm, a strange noise, or even a medical condition like cognitive dysfunction.
If your dog is exhibiting new signs of fear, it is always best to contact your vet for a thorough physical to rule out any illness or injury. If a physical exam does not raise any red flags, ask your vet to recommend a behavioral trainer who can work with your dog to overcome their fears.
If your dog responds poorly to behavioral training, your vet may recommend prescription medications for anxiety to relieve your dog’s symptoms.
Sounding the Alarm
Dogs naturally bark to sound the alarm to their pack – in your dog’s case, that pack is you. For example, if someone like the mail delivery person walks across your yard, your dog may sound the alarm to let you know that a stranger is approaching.
Sounding the alarm is normal behavior, but some dogs can get a little carried away and begin sounding the alarm at the slightest movement. If this becomes a problem for your Shih Tzu, it is best to contact a behavioral trainer to help you to teach your dog not to be so quick to sound the alarm.
Conclusion / Summary
Shih Tzu’s are very vocal dogs, but with proper training and by meeting their basic needs, you can prevent problem barking from becoming an issue and quickly address it if it does.