Exercising your Shih Tzu is important for a number of reasons and here is why.
How Much Exercise Do Shih Tzu Need? The amount of exercise your Shih Tzu will depend on factors like the age of the dog, their character, their health but in general, a Shih Tzu will need a daily walk of about twenty to twenty-five minutes three times per day regardless of the age of the dog.
Most Shih Tzu will take plenty of brakes while you are out walking, they like to sniff every few gate posts and do a lot of peeing and pooping so make sure you take something with you to clean up after your dog.
Shih Tze tends to like a walk first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, early evening and one shorter walk for that last pee just before you go to bed.
Some people think this is high maintenance but it’s just a normal day for a Shih Tzu.
The thing with taking your dog out on a regular basis is they get into a habit, a routine of peeing at certain times of the day which stops them from messing up your home.
You can usually tell how long the walk will be by the amount of peeing your Shih Tzu does on the first part of the walk.
If your dog has a couple of big pees then the walk tends to be shorter, if there are lots of smaller pees then you may find you need to stay out longer to avoid coming home to puddles in your kitchen.
The Shih Tzu breed is a small lap dog breed and normally don’t need very long walks as there is a limit their little bodies can take.
If you think about it a normal person can walk a mile in twenty minutes, a mile might not seem that far to you but those little legs have to stride many more steps than you would cover that mile so won’t be able to go too far.
If you have more than one dog and especially if they are different ages, then you need to be careful that you don’t let the younger ones take you too far. The younger ones are full of energy and can run for miles while the older ones might not be able to keep up.
Like most dog owners you will have your regular routes when taking your dog out for a shorter walk, especially the morning one which is normally a toilet walk. Shih Tzu like variety and like nothing more than to run around a field or even the sand of a beach so give them some variety.
Shih Tzu tends to be an obedient dog, especially if they have been trained from an early age but once they get out into an open space they can have their moments when they just want to run around like crazy.
It would be easy to lose them in long grass and brush so you might want to think about investing in one of those extendable leads. These extendable leads are great because they allow your dog to run away from you while still under your control, especially if you are near traffic.
Having the extendable lead is also good when there are other dogs around. Shih Tzu tends to be good with other dogs while you are out exercising but they are not all the same.
I have seen smaller dogs like Shih Tzu go for larger dogs so just be safe it might be a good idea to have them on a lead, even though that lead does give them some freedom to run around.
At What Age Should You Start Exercising Your Shih Tzu
It’s very important that your Shih Tzu have their vaccinations before you take them out to any public place where there might have been other dogs or wild animals.
Most Shih Tzu puppies have had their shots by the time they are four months old and the last thing you want is for your new puppy to pick something up while they were out for a walk, best thing to do if you are not sure is to check with your vet first rather than risk the health of your dog.
What About Exercising Your Shih Tzu In The Winter
I don’t know about other Shih Tzu but mine loves playing in the snow, even though we do sometimes lose her if the snow is a little deep. There are precautions you can take when walking your dog in the winter, especially in the snow.
Depending on how long you allow your dog’s coat to grow will depend on how warm they stay but to be safe I always put a dog coat on just to keep them that little bit warmer in the winter months.
It’s important that even in the winter months you keep exercising your Shih Tzu because if you don’t it can impact their health and you do want to keep your dog healthy all year round not just in the summer.
Just like a regular person would go to the gym or take other forms of exercise to keep themselves fit a dog needs the same types of exercise.
They need exercise to maintain muscle, it helps to keep the heart healthy and helps with joints which some of the smaller dogs tend to suffer from.
Regular Exercise also helps calm dogs down who tend to be over-excitable, dogs with lots of energy so keeping the dog’s mood regular.
If the weather is that bad then you will need to create some playtime indoors to keep your dog healthy. If you have a hallway or a long room then using a play ball or a squeaky toy is great to get them running about.
Throwing dog toys get them to run in short bursts which gets their hearts pumping, it may not be as good as a thirty-minute walk outside but a twenty-minute run around in the house is better than nothing.
Summertime Exercise To Avoid OverHeating
Walking your dog in the long hot summer days can be tricky and more so for the Shih Tzu and other similar dogs.
Shih Tzu has a compressed skull causing smaller breathing passages so extra caution must be taken. There are measures you can take to avoid any issues and here are a shortlist.
Walk your dog early in the morning and when the sun has gone down. Not only can the heat be damaging but very hot roads or paths can burn the pads on your dog’s feet.
The Shih Tzu can grow a long coat to think about getting the coat trimmed to help dissipate the heat
If you live in a very hot state like Florida then try to keep your dog inside, preferably with air conditioning.
Keep your dog hydrated ensuring there is ample water available
If you have a shallow child’s pool then let your dog has a paddle or swims to keep them cool.
If you have to go out in the car open a window to ensure enough air is available to keep them cool
If you have to take your dog out for a walk in the middle of the day when the heat is higher try and walk your dog in a shaded area like a wooded area.
If you do go out during the day take enough water in a bottle to keep your dog hydrated.
Look out for signs of overheating like rapid panting
If at any time you feel your dog is suffering take them into the shade and give them water. If that doesn’t help consult a vet.
Does My Shih Tzu Need Daily Walks?
Keeping your Shih Tzu Healthy can be broken down into three simple tips
- Regular Daily Walks
- Play Time
- Mental Stimulation
Regular Daily Walks: We have already talked about how often you should exercise your Shih Tzu but I think it’s important just to go over the points once more in a condensed manner to ensure you get it right the first time.
You should walk your dog at least three times per day for about twenty to thirty minutes per walk. Shih Tzu loves to run around and is a very playful dog.
They have a lot of energy they need to get rid of when they are younger and by giving them regular exercise it not only keeps them healthy but they also learn a routine, especially when it comes to potty training.
By keeping the walks to a regular time of day and duration it teaches them to pee and poop while they are out rather than in your kitchen. Don’t forget to keep the streets clean by cleaning up after your dog.
Some dogs might prefer shorter walks on a more regular basis so take the lead from your dog. If they are happy to walk ahead of you for longer periods then go with that, if you find they start to stand still or fall behind then take them for shorter walks but on a more regular basis.
By taking your Shih Tzu our regularly get to meet other dogs, smell different smells and in general, get to know the world around them. This will help them to become more social animals when it comes to meeting other dogs in the future but not always the case.
Play Time: Shih Tzu is a very playful dog. There is nothing they like more than to run around after a toy indoors and out.
I know from experience that a family Shih Tzu loves toys that squeak when chewed on and also soft toys that can be thrown about.
Again using appropriate sizes toys can help to dissipate spent up energy and keep your dog fit and healthy even though they may not be outside exercising.
One thing that we have not mentioned before is having more than one dog. Households that have more than one dog are doing their pets a service as not only does it stimulates their well being by having a friend to play in our outside the house but again it also helps them to keep healthy.
Can A Shih Tzu Walk 2 Miles Or More?
The answer to this question is simple, yes they can but there are a few caveats.
The age of the dog can determine how far you can walk your dog. Younger dogs have more energy so will be able to keep up with you for longer periods where an older dog may need carrying after a shorter distance.
After all to walk two miles will only take about forty minutes and in my opinion, smaller dogs can go for longer than you think before they have had enough.
They will soon let you know if they are getting tired, they will start lagging behind, they will stop walking and refuse to walk, this is the point where it may be time to pick them up and carry them home.
Do Shih Tzu Have Walking Problems?
Shih Tzu can suffer from Hip Dysplasia but in most cases, it will be in larger dog breeds. However, many breeds and all sizes of a dog can suffer from this disease and if your dog does suffer from this you should consult with your vet on how often and how far you should walk your dog.
Smaller breeds like Shih Tzu can suffer from patellar luxation which is a common disease that can affect the back legs of lots of dog breeds.
The problem is with the kneecap that slides out of place and can be very uncomfortable so search the internet for more information on how to spot this problem and what to do to help your dog.
In conclusion here are a few tips for exercising their Shih Tzu
- Create a schedule for your dog and stick to it. It not only does it keep them fit it trains their potty times.
- When walking keep your dog safe with an extendable lead.
- In the summer keep your dog hydrated and if you have to go out during the day keep in the shade
- In the winter help your dog keep warm to a dog coat
- You can purchase paw wax to help your dog keep healthy paws by protecting them from salt and other irritants found on the ground