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Exercise and Activity for Shih Tzus

by Scott Allen
Exercise and Activity for Shih Tzus
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Last Updated on November 21, 2023 by Scott Allen

Regular exercise is crucial for the physical and emotional wellbeing of Shih Tzus. It not only strengthens their heart and improves blood circulation, but also helps manage glucose levels, strengthens bones and muscles, and stimulates their appetite. Plus, exercise aids in sleep and releases pent-up energy, reducing behaviors like excessive barking or chewing.

Engaging in physical activity allows Shih Tzus to fully experience and explore their surroundings, promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In this article, we will explore the benefits of exercise for Shih Tzus, how much exercise they need, and provide tips for various types of exercise.

So, if you want to ensure the physical wellbeing of your furry friend, keep reading to learn all about exercise and activity for Shih Tzus!

The Benefits of Exercise for a Shih Tzu

benefits of exercise for Shih Tzus

Regular exercise has numerous benefits for Shih Tzus. It plays a crucial role in strengthening their heart and improving blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart-related issues and canine diabetes. Additionally, exercise helps keep their immune system strong, allowing them to better fight off infections and stay healthy. Engaging in physical activity also extends the lifespan of Shih Tzus and promotes better overall health and emotional satisfaction.

Exercise is not only beneficial for the physical well-being of Shih Tzus but also for their mental stimulation. It provides them with an outlet to release pent-up energy, reducing behaviors like excessive barking or chewing. Regular exercise allows Shih Tzus to engage their senses, explore their surroundings, and maintain a balanced state of mind.

“Exercise not only strengthens the body but also the bond between a Shih Tzu and their owner. It provides an opportunity for quality time together and strengthens the emotional connection.”

By incorporating exercise into their routine, Shih Tzus experience improved cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, and a longer, happier life.

Benefits of Exercise for a Shih Tzu Keywords
Strengthened heart exercise for Shih Tzus
Improved blood circulation exercise and immune system
Reduced risk of heart-related issues and diabetes exercise and life span
Stronger immune system
Increased lifespan

The Power of Exercise

Exercise has a profound impact on the well-being of Shih Tzus. It not only strengthens their physical health but also enhances their emotional and mental well-being. Regular physical activity enables Shih Tzus to live healthier, happier lives, and strengthens the bond between them and their owners.

How Much Exercise a Shih Tzu Needs

Exercise is essential for the overall health and well-being of Shih Tzus. Providing them with the right amount of physical activity will help keep them happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated. So, how much exercise does a Shih Tzu need?

For healthy puppies aged 6 months and older, as well as adult Shih Tzus, it is recommended to have at least one 20-minute walk per day at a brisk pace. This will help them burn off excess energy and maintain a healthy weight. However, the ideal daily exercise for Shih Tzus is two 20 to 30+ minute walks, supplemented with additional supervised and controlled cardio sessions 1 to 3 times per day.

Exercise Requirements for Shih Tzus:

  • Healthy puppies 6+ months: At least one 20-minute walk per day at a brisk pace
  • Adult Shih Tzus: Two 20 to 30+ minute walks per day
  • Supplement with additional supervised and controlled cardio sessions 1 to 3 times per day

It’s important to note that exercise should be tailored to the individual needs of your Shih Tzu. Factors such as age, health condition, and energy level should be considered when determining the appropriate amount of exercise. Consulting with your veterinarian can help you establish the right exercise routine for your furry friend.

Remember, regular exercise is not only beneficial for physical well-being but also for mental stimulation and behavioral management. Providing your Shih Tzu with adequate exercise will help prevent boredom, reduce unwanted behaviors, and strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.

When You Can Start Exercising a Shih Tzu

when to start exercising a Shih Tzu

It’s important to know when you can start exercising your Shih Tzu to ensure their safety and well-being. Young puppies should have all their puppy shots before being taken outside or into the yard for walks or exercise. Most puppy shots are complete by the 4-month mark, but it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for specific vaccination schedules. This ensures that your Shih Tzu is protected against common diseases and can safely enjoy outdoor activities.

Until your Shih Tzu has completed their vaccinations, you can engage them in gentle play and exercise indoors. This can include activities such as fetch or interactive toy play. It’s essential to provide mental stimulation and physical activity for your Shih Tzu, even if they can’t go outside yet. Remember to create a safe and controlled environment during indoor play sessions to prevent accidents or injuries.

Once your Shih Tzu has received all necessary vaccinations, you can gradually introduce them to outdoor exercise. Start with short walks in familiar surroundings, allowing them to explore their surroundings while keeping a watchful eye on their behavior. Monitor their energy levels and any signs of fatigue or discomfort. As your Shih Tzu adapts and becomes more comfortable with outdoor exercise, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of the activities.

Remember to always prioritize your Shih Tzu’s safety and well-being when exercising. Pay attention to weather conditions and adjust exercise routines accordingly. If you have any concerns or questions about when to start exercising your Shih Tzu, consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice based on your dog’s specific needs and health status.

Walking Tips

Walking Tips for Shih Tzus

Walking is an excellent form of exercise for Shih Tzus. It allows them to explore their surroundings, engage their senses, and release pent-up energy. However, there are a few important tips to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable walking experience for both you and your furry friend.

Selecting the Right Harness

When walking a Shih Tzu, it’s recommended to use a harness instead of a collar. A harness provides more control and distributes the pressure evenly, reducing the risk of neck injury. Choose a harness that fits snugly but comfortably, ensuring it doesn’t rub against their skin or restrict their movement. This will help prevent any discomfort or potential injury during the walk.

Establishing a Walking Schedule

Consistency is key when it comes to walking your Shih Tzu. Establishing a regular walking schedule will not only help them develop a routine but also provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they need. Aim for at least one daily walk, ideally in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler. This will not only make the walk more comfortable for your Shih Tzu but also reduce the risk of overheating during hot weather.

Taking Breaks and Bringing Water

During longer walks, it’s important to take breaks and offer your Shih Tzu water. Just like humans, dogs can get dehydrated, especially during physical activity. Carry a portable water bottle and a collapsible bowl to provide your furry companion with regular water breaks. This will keep them hydrated, prevent overheating, and ensure they have enough energy to enjoy the rest of the walk.

Walking Tips for Shih Tzus
Use a harness instead of a collar
Establish a regular walking schedule
Take breaks and bring water

Wintertime Exercise Tips

Exercise for Shih Tzus in winter

Keeping your Shih Tzu active during the winter months is essential for their physical and mental wellbeing. While colder temperatures and inclement weather may pose some challenges, there are several precautions and measures you can take to ensure your furry friend stays active and safe.

Firstly, consider investing in a warm coat for your Shih Tzu. Just like humans, dogs can feel the cold, especially those with shorter fur. A well-fitting and insulated coat will help keep them warm during outdoor activities.

In addition to dressing your Shih Tzu warmly, it’s important to bundle up yourself. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear to protect yourself from the cold. Remember, if you’re cold, your Shih Tzu is likely cold too.

Another winter exercise precaution for Shih Tzus is to apply paw wax before heading outside. Paw wax creates a protective barrier on your dog’s paws, guarding against ice, salt, and other potentially harmful substances on the ground.

Lastly, it’s important to use your judgment when it comes to outdoor exercise in extreme winter conditions. If the temperatures are dangerously low or the weather is severe, it may be best to limit outdoor exercise and find alternative ways to keep your Shih Tzu active indoors. This could include indoor play sessions, using interactive toys, or setting up obstacle courses to stimulate their mind and body.

Table: Winter Exercise Precautions for Shih Tzus

Precautions Explanation
Dress your Shih Tzu warmly A well-fitting and insulated coat will help keep them warm during outdoor activities.
Bundle up yourself Wear appropriate clothing and footwear to protect yourself from the cold.
Apply paw wax Create a protective barrier on your dog’s paws to guard against ice, salt, and other harmful substances.
Use judgment in extreme conditions Limit outdoor exercise if temperatures are dangerously low or the weather is severe.

“Winter exercise is crucial for Shih Tzus, but it’s important to take precautions to keep them safe and comfortable. Dressing them warmly, bundling up yourself, applying paw wax, and using judgment in extreme conditions are all essential for a successful and enjoyable winter exercise routine. Remember, keeping your Shih Tzu active indoors with play sessions and interactive toys is also a great way to ensure their physical and mental wellbeing during the colder months.”

Summertime Exercise Tips

In the summer months, it’s important to take extra precautions when exercising your Shih Tzu. Due to their brachycephalic (short-nose) nature, they are more susceptible to heat-related issues. Here are some tips to ensure your furry friend stays safe and active during the warmer weather:

1. Time your walks wisely

Take your Shih Tzu for walks during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Avoid walking them during the hottest hours, typically between 10 AM and 5 PM, when the sun is at its peak. This helps prevent overheating and reduces the risk of paw pad burns from hot pavement.

2. Protect them from the heat

During walks, provide shade whenever possible and avoid direct exposure to the sun. Consider using a sun-protective shirt or vest for your Shih Tzu to shield them from harmful UV rays. Additionally, prioritize walking in grassy areas instead of hot concrete or pavement.

3. Keep them hydrated

Always bring water along for both yourself and your Shih Tzu. Offer them frequent water breaks during the walk to keep them hydrated and cool. You can bring a portable water bowl or use a collapsible water dispenser for convenience.

4. Recognize signs of heat stress

It’s crucial to be aware of the signs of heat stress in dogs. These include excessive panting, drooling, rapid breathing, lethargy, and vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately find a shaded area, offer water, and seek veterinary assistance if necessary.

By following these summertime exercise tips, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu stays happy, healthy, and safe during the warmer months. Remember, their well-being should always be a top priority, and with proper precautions, you can enjoy outdoor activities together without compromising their health.

Tips for Playing Fetch

Playing fetch is a fun and engaging activity that can provide excellent exercise for Shih Tzus. It helps them burn energy, stay active, and stimulate their minds. Here are some tips to make fetch sessions enjoyable and effective for your furry friend:

Choose the Right Fetch Toy

When playing fetch with a Shih Tzu, it’s important to select a suitable fetch toy. Look for brightly colored toys that are easy to spot and retrieve. Soft, lightweight toys are ideal to prevent any injuries while playing. Make sure the toy is appropriate for the size of your Shih Tzu to ensure they can comfortably carry and retrieve it.

Be Energetic and Encouraging

Your enthusiasm and energy will greatly influence your Shih Tzu’s excitement for playing fetch. Use an animated tone of voice and gestures to encourage them to chase after the toy. Reward their efforts with praise and treats when they successfully retrieve the toy and bring it back to you. Positive reinforcement will motivate them to continue playing fetch.

End the Game on a Positive Note

“Playing fetch provides health benefits and mental stimulation for Shih Tzus.”

It’s important to end the fetch game while your Shih Tzu is still interested and engaged. This will leave them wanting more and ensure that the game remains enjoyable for them. Gradually reduce the frequency of throws, and when you notice their attention waning, reward them with praise and a final treat before concluding the session.


Playing fetch with your Shih Tzu is an excellent way to provide them with the physical exercise and mental stimulation they need. Remember to choose a suitable fetch toy, be energetic and encouraging during playtime, and end the game on a positive note. With these tips, you and your Shih Tzu can enjoy many fun-filled fetch sessions together!

Indoor Exercise Tips

Indoor exercise is essential for Shih Tzus, especially when outdoor activities are limited. Short play sessions and interactive toys can help keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Here are some tips to ensure your Shih Tzu gets the exercise they need indoors:

  1. Set up an indoor play area: Create a designated space in your home where your Shih Tzu can safely play and move around. Clear the area of any hazards, such as fragile objects or furniture with sharp edges.
  2. Use interactive toys: Interactive toys, such as puzzle feeders or treat-dispensing toys, can provide mental stimulation and physical exercise. These toys encourage your Shih Tzu to problem solve and work for their rewards.
  3. Play hide and seek: Hide treats or toys around the house and encourage your Shih Tzu to find them. This engages their senses and keeps them active while indoors.
  4. Try indoor agility exercises: Set up small obstacles like tunnels or low hurdles to create an indoor agility course. This can help improve your Shih Tzu’s coordination and burn off energy.
  5. Rotate toys: Keep your Shih Tzu interested and engaged by rotating their toys regularly. This prevents boredom and ensures they have something new to explore.

Remember to always supervise your Shih Tzu during indoor play sessions and ensure they have access to fresh water. Indoor exercise should be tailored to your dog’s age, physical condition, and energy level. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best indoor exercise routine for your Shih Tzu.

Table: Recommended Indoor Exercise Activities for Shih Tzus

Activity Description
Tug of War A game of tug can provide a fun and interactive workout for your Shih Tzu. Use a durable rope or tug toy and engage in a gentle tug session.
Staircase Training If you have a staircase at home, you can train your Shih Tzu to go up and down the stairs safely. This helps build their leg muscles and provides a cardiovascular workout.
Indoor Fetch Clear a safe area and play fetch indoors using a soft toy or ball. Make sure there is enough space to avoid any accidents or damage to household items.
Obstacle Course Create a mini obstacle course using items like cushions, tunnels, and low jumps. Guide your Shih Tzu through the course, rewarding them with treats and praise.

Indoor exercise is a great way to keep your Shih Tzu active and entertained, even when going outside is not an option. With the right activities and toys, you can ensure that your furry friend stays happy and healthy all year round.

Temperament and Training

The temperament of a Shih Tzu is known to be friendly and outgoing. They are generally social and enjoy spending time with their owners and other people. However, they can also have an independent streak, which can make training a bit challenging. Shih Tzus may be stubborn at times and require patience and consistent positive reinforcement methods to successfully train them.

When it comes to training tips for Shih Tzus, it’s important to focus on positive reinforcement. This means rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and affection. Shih Tzus respond well to rewards and positive attention, so it’s important to avoid harsh or punitive training methods.

Short, frequent training sessions work best for Shih Tzus. They have a relatively short attention span, so keeping the sessions engaging and fun will help maintain their interest. Breaking the training into small, manageable steps and rewarding them for each success can also help keep them motivated.


Socialization is an essential aspect of training for Shih Tzus. It helps them become comfortable and well-adjusted around different people, animals, and environments. Introducing them to new experiences, such as meeting other dogs or going to the park, can help prevent fear or aggression issues in the future.

Starting socialization early is crucial. Exposing your Shih Tzu puppy to various sights, sounds, and experiences from a young age will help them develop into confident and well-behaved adult dogs. Gradually introducing them to new situations and providing positive reinforcement for calm and appropriate behavior will help them navigate the world with ease.

“Positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency are key when training a Shih Tzu. With the right approach, they can become well-behaved and obedient companions.”

Training Tips for Shih Tzus Benefits
Use positive reinforcement methods Builds a strong bond between the owner and the dog
Keep training sessions short and frequent Maintains the dog’s interest and attention
Focus on socialization Helps the dog become well-adjusted and friendly
Start training early Allows for proper development of good behavior habits

Grooming and Health

Proper grooming is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of Shih Tzus. Their luxurious coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Additionally, regular baths and trimming of the hair around the eyes and ears can help prevent irritation and infections. It’s important to use dog-specific grooming products and consult a professional groomer for assistance, especially if you’re not confident in your grooming skills.

Shih Tzus are prone to certain health concerns that owners should be aware of. One common issue is luxating patella, a condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. Regular vet check-ups can help detect this and other health conditions early, ensuring prompt treatment. Dental hygiene is also crucial, as Shih Tzus are prone to dental problems. Regular teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings are recommended.

Furthermore, Shih Tzus are susceptible to eye problems, such as corneal ulcers and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular eye examinations are vital to detect and manage these conditions. Hormonal disorders, kidney issues, and respiratory problems are also common in the breed. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to their specific needs can support their overall health and well-being. Consult a veterinarian to determine the best dietary recommendations based on your Shih Tzu’s age, size, and activity level.

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