How Often Do You Need to Walk a Shih Tzu?
The Shih Tzu is primarily an indoor dog, preferring to spend it’s time with his parents. They do…however…enjoy the outdoors especially with you along for company.
It was originally bred in Tibet as a companion dog to the royal families. This breed is the ideal choice for those who live in small apartments but it can also do well on an expansive farm.
It does require a brief period of physical activity daily. Even though they are small, they can be quite active and need to release energy.
Although the breed does not need a house with a yard, it is recommended to provide daily exercise that can be done both indoors and outdoors.
Studies show that Shih Tzu that do not release energy daily can end up with behavioral issues such as excessive barking.
Another consideration is that if you do not provide regular walks your dog can become obese and frustrated. Each Shih Tzu is different so you must figure out the suitable exercise regimen that suits you and your companion.
Importance of Physical Activity
Always bear in mind that good health is not just a necessity for humans but also for your furry companions. As a Shih Tzu owner, it is vital to provide your companion with regular exercise or activity.
This can help keep your dog active, avoid obesity as well as keeping it in a healthy state. In addition, a dog who regularly exercises can lead to a longer lifespan and a higher quality of life.
As a bonus it will also help improve your health and well-being.
For those who live in urban areas or work outside of the house most of the time, you might think that it is impossible to provide your dog with the exercise he needs.
However, Shih Tzu require minimal activity so it should be fairly easy to provide the necessary exercise for your dog.
Aside from taking short walks in your neighborhood, playing indoors can also count as exercise.
You may have to give your dog a bath more often depending on where you walk your dog outdoors. Since the hair of Shih Tzus is susceptible to mats and tangles what your companion interacts with may result in some extra grooming.
You should also take the necessary precautions while walking in wooded areas to prevent burrs from becoming entangled in the fur.
In case you prefer to keep your Shih Tzu indoors, you should engage it in a variety of activities. Always remember to ensure that your dog is active and try to spend quality time on this type of activity.
Being with your companion will not only keep him healthy but it’s also a great way to bond with your dog. In no time, your Shih Tzu will become accustomed to this daily routine and will look forward spending time on it’s daily walk(s) with you.
Ideal Walking Schedule for a Shih Tzu
Generally, 30 minutes of walking every day is enough for a small to medium-sized dog. It is not necessary for this to be done in a single session though. Furthermore, the dog does not require consistent walking. The dog will naturally take brief breaks for toileting and sniffing around the environment.
Some Shih Tzu owners find it more convenient to divide the daily 30-minute exercise regimen into 2 shorter sessions of walking. You can take your dog out for 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the evening. This splits the schedule to allow enough time for toileting opportunities for your dog.
Generally, Shih Tzu tire relatively quickly since their legs are short and they must take several steps. Once your dog starts to pant heavily, drags its walking pace or lies on the ground and refuses to walk, this means that the walking session is too long.
Outdoor activity for your Shih Tzu is essential to its general health, both emotionally and physically as well as increasing its lifespan.
A daily session of up to 30 minutes a day is the suggested minimum requirement. It is best to walk at a stride that is energetic for your Shih Tzu whether it is a puppy, adult or elderly.
Always bring water along using a suitable canine travel container. Take a break at a halfway point to provide a brief period of rest…in the shade if possible…as well as giving a chance for the dog to re-hydrate.
Exercising your Shih Tzu outdoors does not need to be limited to the neighborhood. These dogs love to walk along the beach or run through wide fields.
Another advantage is these are perfect spots to play catch with your pet.
For those who live in areas with cold weather and snow, there may be a need to limit outdoor activities. You will want to ensure that your pet is able access the areas it likes to frequent. If necessary you may have to shovel some some snow to clear a path.
Avoid using any chemicals that melt the ice since it can harm the paws of your Shih Tzu.
While walking outdoors during the winter months, make sure that the paws are protected with wax or put on durable dog shoes. Applying a nose balm to protect its nose from the drying effect of the wind while being active outdoors is also a good idea.
During summer, be aware that Shih Tzu cannot tolerate heat very well. The breed can quickly end up overheated.
You can prevent this by avoiding long walks during warm weather, especially in the middle of the day. It is recommended to exercise early in the morning and late afternoon.
At any temperature, if your Shih Tzu starts to pant heavily or acts confused, move your dog to a cool environment and provide plenty of water.
If the weather is too cold or hot, it is important to provide a form of indoor activity for your Shih Tzu. Remember that a quick burst of energy on any activity for 30 minutes is enough.
There are various activities that you can provide your Shih Tzu with to keep him preoccupied and help release curbed energy
A simple approach is to walk your dog around the house. Your dog will likely follow you around from one room to another. If not, provide some encouragement by calling him to you.
Another option your companion will love is to play hide and seek. Start the activity by using a new toy that you will show to your dog. As their gaze watches your hand, hide the toy in an area that is easy to access such as beneath a cushion.
Encourage your dog to find the toy while you act enthusiastically and pretend to look for it as well. This will urge your Shih Tzu to walk around and search for the toy until they find it.
Once your dog successfully finds the toy, act excited and reward it with praise or even a treat. As the game progresses, choose more difficult hiding areas to keep your dog moving around the house.
Then there’s the old stand-by…playing fetch or tug-of-war. Dogs love both of these activities.
If you are planning to bring your Shih Tzu along during a hiking trip, there are considerations to bear in mind. Remember that the breed is brachycephalic and might have issues with prolonged activity due to it’s difficulty in breathing.
This simply means that you should walk at your dog’s pace, take frequent breaks and provide enough water to keep your companion well-hydrated.
Before taking your dog for a hike, some important things to bear in mind when preparing for the activity include:
- Encourage your dog to walk nicely on a leash
- Prepare your dog for the car ride
- Gather the necessary equipment such as a collapsible water bowl, poop bags and hand wipes especially for longer trails.
- Treats as rewards for good behavior during the trail
You will also want to check your Shih Tzu thoroughly after the hike for any ticks.
Do not forget to check the paw pads for any foreign objects and brush out the hair to get rid of any leaves, grass, or twigs that your companion might have picked up in the trail.
If your Shih Tzu has enough playtime around the house, garden or yard, specific daily walks might not be needed anymore.
In case your dog spends most of the day crated or confined to one room in the house while you are at work, make sure that he gets daily exercises outside the crate.
You can do this by playing fetch in the yard or running after toys inside the house. Always spend enough time to play actively with your Shih Tzu daily.
The flat face of this breed makes it difficult for it to breathe in humid or warm conditions. Forcing your Shih Tzu to exercise during warm weather can put them at risk for heat stroke.
Lower the chances of overheating by choosing a summer haircut for your companion.
Remember that if you do not provide your Shih Tzu with regular indoor or outdoor activity, it is likely to develop undesirable habits such as barking or destructive chewing.
We hope you find this information helpful. We’d love to hear your tips and experiences with your Shih Tzu Dog. Let us know in the comments below.
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