Home Shih Tzu Dog Food and Treat Recipes When to Seek Professional Help for Your Shih Tzu’s Anxiety

When to Seek Professional Help for Your Shih Tzu’s Anxiety

by Scott Lipe
When to Seek Professional Help for Your Shih Tzu's Anxiety

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing anxiety, it’s important to know when to seek professional help. Anxiety in dogs can be distressing for both the pet and the owner. This article will provide guidance on recognizing the signs of distress in your dog and offer advice on how to effectively deal with anxiety.

Understanding Shih Tzu Anxiety: Causes and Symptoms

Shih Tzu anxiety

Shih Tzus, like any other breed, can experience anxiety. It is important for Shih Tzu owners to understand the causes and symptoms of anxiety in order to effectively address this issue. Common causes of anxiety in Shih Tzus include fear, separation, and aging. Separation anxiety, sound anxiety, and travel anxiety are all specific forms of anxiety that can affect Shih Tzus.

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Recognizing the symptoms of anxiety is crucial in understanding when professional help may be necessary. These symptoms can manifest in various ways, such as aggression, urinating or defecating in the house, drooling, and destructive behavior. It is important to note that anxiety symptoms may vary from dog to dog. Understanding the underlying causes and recognizing the symptoms can help Shih Tzu owners determine when professional intervention is required.

Anxiety Causes:

  • Fear
  • Separation
  • Aging

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Destructive behavior

Behavior modification is often recommended to address anxiety in Shih Tzus. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes of anxiety, owners can help their dogs overcome their fears and anxieties. This may involve desensitization and counterconditioning techniques, training, and independence training. It is important for Shih Tzu owners to be patient and consistent in implementing these behavior modification strategies.

Understanding the causes and symptoms of anxiety in Shih Tzus is the first step in effectively managing and addressing this issue. With the right knowledge and approach, owners can provide their Shih Tzus with the necessary support and guidance to lead happy and anxiety-free lives.

Behavior Modification Strategies for Shih Tzu Anxiety

behavior modification strategies for Shih Tzu anxiety

When it comes to managing Shih Tzu anxiety, behavior modification can be a highly effective approach. By implementing specific strategies, you can help your furry friend overcome their anxiety and lead a happier, more relaxed life. Two commonly used techniques in behavior modification for Shih Tzu anxiety are desensitization and counterconditioning.

The Role of Desensitization

Desensitization involves exposing your Shih Tzu to the triggers that cause their anxiety in a controlled and gradual manner. This process allows them to become accustomed to the stimuli without experiencing overwhelming fear or stress. For example, if your Shih Tzu becomes anxious during thunderstorms, you might start by playing recorded sounds of distant thunder at a low volume and gradually increase the intensity over time. Pairing this exposure with positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, can reinforce calm behavior and reduce anxiety.

The Power of Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning aims to change your Shih Tzu’s association with the triggers that elicit anxiety. Instead of responding with fear or distress, they learn to associate the triggers with positive experiences. For instance, if your Shih Tzu is afraid of strangers, you can introduce them to new people in a controlled environment and reward them for remaining calm and relaxed. Over time, your furry friend will start to associate meeting new people with positive outcomes, diminishing their anxiety response.

In addition to desensitization and counterconditioning, training and independence training can play a significant role in reducing Shih Tzu anxiety. Through structured training sessions, you can help your pet build confidence and develop coping mechanisms for stressful situations. Independence training, which involves gradually increasing the amount of time your Shih Tzu spends alone, can also help alleviate separation anxiety.

Behavior Modification Strategies for Shih Tzu Anxiety Description
Desensitization Exposing your Shih Tzu to anxiety triggers in a controlled and gradual manner, reinforced with positive experiences.
Counterconditioning Changing your Shih Tzu’s association with anxiety triggers by pairing them with positive experiences.
Training Structured training sessions to build confidence and coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
Independence Training Gradually increasing the time your Shih Tzu spends alone to alleviate separation anxiety.

Professional Help: When to Consult a Veterinarian or Trainer

consulting a veterinary or trainer

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing severe anxiety or if their anxiety is causing significant distress, it may be time to seek professional help. Consulting a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can provide you with the guidance and support needed to address your dog’s anxiety effectively. Here are some situations when it is advisable to consult a professional:

  1. If your Shih Tzu displays severe separation anxiety, which can include excessive panting, pacing, and destructive behavior when left alone.
  2. If your dog’s anxiety disrupts their daily routine, causing them to refuse food, have trouble sleeping, or avoid social interactions.
  3. If your efforts to manage your dog’s anxiety through behavior modification and natural remedies have been unsuccessful.

When consulting a veterinarian or trainer, they will assess your dog’s anxiety symptoms and behavior to provide a proper diagnosis. Based on their evaluation, they may recommend a combination of strategies, including behavior modification techniques and, in some cases, medication.

A professional trainer or veterinarian can help create a personalized training plan tailored to your Shih Tzu’s specific needs. This plan may include desensitization exercises, counterconditioning techniques, and training sessions to improve your dog’s confidence and reduce anxiety triggers. Additionally, they can guide you on proper socialization methods and teach you how to establish a structured routine that promotes a sense of security for your Shih Tzu.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of failure but rather a proactive step towards ensuring your Shih Tzu’s well-being. With the right guidance and support, you can help your dog overcome anxiety and lead a happier, more relaxed life.

Natural Remedies and Supplements for Shih Tzu Anxiety

Shih Tzu Anxiety

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing anxiety, there are natural remedies and supplements that can help alleviate their symptoms. These options can be used alongside professional guidance and behavior modification techniques to provide holistic support for your furry friend.

Natural Remedies

  • Hemp Oil: Hemp oil has calming properties and can help reduce anxiety in Shih Tzus. It contains compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. You can find hemp oil specially formulated for pets, ensuring safe and effective use.
  • Calming Herbs: Certain herbs like chamomile, passion flower, and valerian root have soothing effects on dogs. These herbs can be used in the form of herbal supplements, teas, or tinctures to promote calmness and relaxation.


Supplement Benefits
L-Tryptophan Helps regulate mood and promote relaxation by increasing serotonin levels.
L-Theanine Reduces anxiety and promotes tranquility by increasing the production of calming neurotransmitters.
Melatonin Helps regulate sleep patterns and reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing hyperactivity.

When considering natural remedies and supplements for your Shih Tzu, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the right dosage and suitability for your pet. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog’s specific needs and overall health.

Remember that natural remedies and supplements are not a substitute for professional help but can be valuable additions to your dog’s anxiety management plan. They can help promote calmness and relaxation, making your Shih Tzu more comfortable and at ease.

Behavior Modification Tips for Shih Tzu Owners

As a Shih Tzu owner, you play a crucial role in helping your dog manage anxiety through behavior modification. By implementing these tips, you can create a calm and secure environment for your furry friend.


Consistency is key when it comes to modifying your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Set clear rules and boundaries, and make sure everyone in the household follows them. Dogs thrive in predictable environments, so sticking to a consistent routine will help reduce anxiety.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your Shih Tzu for desirable behaviors. Whenever your dog displays calm behavior or successfully copes with a trigger, praise and reward them with treats or verbal praise. This will reinforce positive behaviors and encourage your dog to repeat them in the future.


Establishing a routine can greatly benefit dogs with anxiety. Create a daily schedule for feeding, exercise, playtime, and rest. Consistent routines help your Shih Tzu feel secure and provide them with a sense of stability.


Regular exercise is essential for managing anxiety in Shih Tzus. Engaging in physical activities not only helps release pent-up energy but also promotes mental well-being. Aim for daily walks, interactive play sessions, or engaging in dog sports to keep your Shih Tzu mentally stimulated and physically fit.

Creating a Calm and Safe Environment

Creating a calm and safe environment is crucial for helping your Shih Tzu cope with anxiety. Provide them with a designated space where they can retreat and feel secure, such as a cozy corner with their bed or a crate. Minimize exposure to triggers that may cause anxiety and ensure your home is a peaceful and stress-free place for your dog.

Avoiding Triggers

Identify the triggers that cause anxiety in your Shih Tzu and take steps to avoid or minimize their exposure to them. Common triggers include loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, and certain situations. When possible, gradually expose your dog to these triggers in a controlled manner, using positive reinforcement techniques to help them overcome their anxiety.

By implementing these behavior modification tips, you can provide your Shih Tzu with the support and structure they need to manage their anxiety effectively. Remember, patience and consistency are the key to helping your furry friend overcome their fears and live a happier, more relaxed life.

Preventing Shih Tzu Anxiety: Socialization and Obedience Training

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to anxiety in Shih Tzus. By focusing on socialization and obedience training, you can significantly reduce the risk of anxiety-related problems in your furry companion.

Socialization: Setting the Foundation for a Confident Shih Tzu

Socialization plays a crucial role in shaping a Shih Tzu’s behavior and emotional well-being. Exposing your dog to new people, animals, and experiences from an early age helps them become confident and adaptable. Gradually introduce your Shih Tzu to a variety of environments, such as parks, beaches, and busy streets, while ensuring their safety and comfort.

“Socialization is not just about exposure; it’s about creating positive associations with new experiences. Use treats, praise, and play to reward your Shih Tzu’s calm and confident behavior during socialization sessions.”

Observe your dog’s body language during socialization and intervene if you notice signs of fear or stress. By providing a supportive and nurturing environment, you can help your Shih Tzu develop the social skills necessary to navigate the world with ease.

Obedience Training: Building Trust and Confidence

Obedience training is another essential aspect of preventing anxiety in Shih Tzus. Teaching your dog basic commands, such as sit, stay, and come, establishes a strong foundation for communication and builds trust between you and your pet. Consistent and positive reinforcement methods, such as rewards and praise, are key to successful obedience training.

Training sessions should be short, fun, and engaging to maintain your Shih Tzu’s interest. Incorporate obedience training into daily routines to reinforce good behavior and establish a sense of structure. This structured environment provides a sense of security for your Shih Tzu, reducing the likelihood of anxiety-related problems.

By prioritizing socialization and obedience training, you can take proactive steps to prevent anxiety in your Shih Tzu. These strategies not only promote a happy and well-balanced dog but also foster a deep bond between you and your furry companion.

Strategies for Calming Your Shih Tzu’s Anxiety in the Moment

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing anxiety in the moment, there are several calming strategies you can try to help alleviate their distress. By diverting their attention, providing interactive toys, utilizing pheromone diffusers, and using lavender essential oil, you can create a soothing environment for your pet.

One effective strategy is attention diversion. This involves using interactive toys, such as treat-dispensing toys or puzzle toys, to engage your Shih Tzu’s focus and redirect their thoughts away from their anxiety. These toys provide mental stimulation and can help distract your dog from their anxious state.

Pheromone diffusers are another helpful tool in calming Shih Tzu anxiety. These diffusers release synthetic pheromones that mimic the natural scent that mother dogs emit to comfort their puppies. The calming effect of these pheromones can help reduce anxiety and create a sense of security for your pet.

Lavender essential oil has long been known for its relaxation properties. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser or using a pet-safe lavender spray in your dog’s environment can create a calming atmosphere. However, it’s important to note that essential oils should always be used with caution and in moderation, as some dogs may be sensitive to certain scents.

Calming Strategies for Shih Tzu Anxiety:

  • Utilize attention diversion with interactive toys
  • Use pheromone diffusers to create a calming environment
  • Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser or spray

“By using these calming strategies, you can provide immediate relief for your Shih Tzu during anxious moments.”

Interactive Toys Pheromone Diffusers Lavender Essential Oil
Engage your dog’s attention and divert their focus from anxiety Release synthetic pheromones that mimic a mother dog’s comforting scent Create a calming atmosphere with the relaxing properties of lavender
Provide mental stimulation and distraction Help reduce anxiety and create a sense of security Use with caution and moderation, as some dogs may be sensitive to scents

The Role of Medication in Treating Shih Tzu Anxiety

While behavior modification techniques and natural remedies can be effective in managing Shih Tzu anxiety, there are some cases where medication may be necessary. Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial to determine if medication is appropriate and to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Commonly prescribed medications for Shih Tzu anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants. These medications work by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain to help reduce anxiety symptoms. SSRIs, such as fluoxetine and sertraline, are often used to manage anxiety disorders in dogs. Antidepressants, such as clomipramine, may also be prescribed to help alleviate anxiety-related behaviors.

It’s important to note that medication should always be used under the guidance of a veterinarian. They will determine the appropriate dosage and monitor your dog for any potential side effects. Regular check-ups and adjustments to the medication may be needed to ensure its effectiveness.

In addition to conventional medication, there are also natural therapies that can be considered as alternatives or supplements. Pheromone diffusers, which release calming pheromones similar to those emitted by mother dogs, can help create a soothing environment. Homeopathic remedies, such as herbal supplements or flower essences, may also be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.

Table: Common Medications for Shih Tzu Anxiety

Medication Function Recommended Dosage Potential Side Effects
Fluoxetine (SSRI) Regulates serotonin levels in the brain to reduce anxiety Varies based on weight and severity of anxiety Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite
Sertraline (SSRI) Helps balance neurotransmitters to reduce anxiety symptoms Varies based on weight and severity of anxiety Loss of appetite, drowsiness, restlessness
Clomipramine (Antidepressant) Regulates serotonin levels in the brain to alleviate anxiety Varies based on weight and severity of anxiety Dry mouth, constipation, sedation

Medication should always be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.

The use of medication in managing Shih Tzu anxiety can be a valuable tool in alleviating symptoms and improving your dog’s quality of life. However, it is important to remember that medication alone may not provide a complete solution. It should be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques and regular veterinary care for the best results.

The Importance of Patience and Consistency in Managing Shih Tzu Anxiety

When it comes to managing Shih Tzu anxiety, patience and consistency are key factors in achieving success. Dealing with anxiety in your beloved pet requires a dedicated approach and a commitment to behavior modification. By implementing consistent training techniques and strategies, you can help your Shih Tzu overcome their anxiety and lead a happier, more balanced life.

Behavior modification takes time and effort. It is important to understand that progress may not happen overnight. Patience is crucial in allowing your Shih Tzu to adjust to new coping mechanisms and learn alternative behaviors. Keep in mind that every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another. By remaining patient and persistent, you can find the right approach for your furry companion.

While it can be tempting to seek immediate results, remember that managing Shih Tzu anxiety is a gradual process. It is recommended to seek professional guidance from a veterinarian or professional dog trainer who specializes in anxiety-related issues. They can provide valuable support, assess your dog’s specific needs, and guide you through effective behavior modification techniques.

In addition to professional guidance, consistency is crucial in managing your Shih Tzu’s anxiety. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability, so establishing a consistent training schedule can help create a sense of security and stability. Consistently reinforcing positive behaviors and avoiding triggers that may cause anxiety are essential in helping your Shih Tzu overcome their fears.

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