How are Your Puppy's Social Skills:  Shih Tzu Puppy Socialization

By Janice A. Jones     |Last updated 07-06-2021

Is Shih Tzu puppy socialization necessary for your new Puppy? 

The answer is a resounding YES!

You now have that wonderful bundle of furry joy, thought about her physical needs, but now it is time for a little socialization. 

How are your new puppy’s social skills?

Six Reasons we Must Socialize Our Puppy

Socializing Your Shih Tzu Dog
  • Puppy Socializing will eliminate many bad habits and behaviors that can occur in your breed of choice and assure that you dog will become a good canine citizen.

  • Many small breed dogs go everywhere with their owners; some in the luxury of a purse or stroller and others enjoy frequent walks on their own locomotion.  Wherever they go, they must learn how to respond appropriately in all situations from riding in a car to visiting the park.

  • Well socialized Shih Tzu puppies are easier to train, and trained puppies are easier to live with and enjoy. 

  • Very few well trained; socialized puppies turn into adult dogs that find their way to the local animal shelter or rescue organization. 

  • Socialized dogs won't be labeled with the term, Small Dog Syndrome, a set of behaviors seen in small dogs such as jumping up on guests, ignoring commands, making in the house, barking, chewing and anything else they can get away with. It is a small dog’s way of acting big, and it is usually the result of the way we treat our pets. 

  • Shih Tzu puppy socialization is also important because it helps prevent just those behaviors mentioned above that end up turning into major behavioral problems such as dog phobias, separation anxiety, aggression, and destructive behavior. 

Socialization SHOULD Begin the Moment Your Puppy is Whelped

Shih Tzu puppy socialization begins at birth, and if you have acquired your puppy from a reputable professional breeder, you can be sure that he or she has been hard at work, interacting, touching, holding and exposing your pup to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and routine household occurrences.

If the breeder raised the puppies in her home, your new puppy will already have heard and experienced the vacuum cleaner and other household appliances at work, the sounds of cats and other dogs, and felt and played on a variety of textures from wood and carpeting to tile, brick and stone. Please click on the link to learn more about puppy development.

Depending on the season, your pup will already have experienced the rustle of leaves, water from a wading pool, the clap of thunder, or the rain pounding on the windows or the thrill of running through new fallen snow. 

Shih Tzu Puppy Socialization to normal household sounds.Shih Tzu Puppy Socialization: Don't forget to Puppy Proof!

The puppy will have already had had some encounters with a wide variety of people, children, teens and adults, men and women, people that wear boots and hat and carry umbrellas. 

Some of those people will be tall, some overweight, and some that talk very loud.  This is how your puppy's breeder is helping in the Shih Tzu puppy socialization process.

The breeder turns over the task of socializing to you the minute you take your new puppy home. 

Socializing your tiny breed dog is not difficult and for most, the process of socialization is merely a matter of exposing your puppy to as many new situations as possible, taking note which situations may be troubling to your puppy, and working to eliminate any problems. 

Socialization goes hand in hand with training so the wise owner will want to make sure his little puppy learns right from wrong from a very early age.  Sounds easy? 

Well it can be and should be FUN.  As you begin your life with your new puppy, you will naturally want to show him off to friends, family and the community at large. Use our check-off list to expose your puppy to many new sights and sounds.

Think about all the different places you can take your dog.  Think about the people you know who will love to meet your new dog. The first few months of a dog’s life are critical for socializing, but Shih Tzu puppy socialization and training should be a life time project that strengthens the bond between the two of you.

Our Little Bit of Advice for Shih Tzu Puppy Socialization

Don’t “baby” your puppy or teach him to fear something such as a thunderstorm, loud noises, air horns, or other large animals.

The best approach you can take when you perceive your puppy’s fear is to approach them as any good canine mom would—matter-of-fact.  Do not cuddle, coo over, or hold your pet as you might a frightened child.  Simply say, “Oh, that is thunder,” and go about your business.  Your puppy will get the idea.

Socialize your puppy to other dogs.

Socialize Around Other Animals

Do Shih Tzu dogs need to be socialized around other dogs? Other animals?  Some owners say no and the reasons they give are numerous.

  1. My dog is an indoor dog.
  2. I don’t plan to take my dog to a dog park.
  3. I don’t plan to get another dog.
  4. I don’t plan to let my dog interact with other dogs.
  5. My dog will always be in my pooch purse.

These may be noble “plans” but situations change; people change, and our beloved pets must also adjust in response to our life changes. 

Socializing a puppy to other dogs is much easier when the dog is young rather than hoping for the best if your life situation changes and you must push your adult dog to change too. 

One of life’s greatest gifts is the bond and love that develops between a human and their pets.  Shih Tzu puppy socialization is one way to develop that bond and assure that the love will stretch into the next 15 plus years.

In 2002, Margaret Hughes from Positive Paws Dog Training, adapted Pat Schaap’s Rule of 7’s to expand it to 12 weeks of age.

She recommended that by 12-weeks old,  puppies should have had these 12 experiences by the time the puppy is 12 weeks old.

  • Experienced 12 different surfaces such as wood or carpet

  • Played with 12 different objects such as dog toys, plastic water bottles

  • Experienced 12 different locations: such as indoors and outdoors

  • Met and played with 12 new people such as people with hats, children, elderly

  • Heard 12 different noises such as trash removal trucks, babies crying

  • Seen 12 fast moving objects such as cars and trucks

  • Experienced 12 different challenges: climb on, in, off and around a box.

  • Been handled by owner such as 12 times a week and held in different ways.

  • Eaten from 12 different shaped containers: such as wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, 

  • Eaten in 12 different locations: backyard, in a crate 

  • Played with 12 different puppies  [This does NOT mean at the dog park.]

  • Been alone safely, away from family and other animals (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week.

  • Experienced a leash and harness 12 different times in 12 different locations.

If you are just picking up your puppy at 12 weeks of age, continue this routine for several more weeks.  When making plans to socialize your dog, do take into consideration the puppy's personality.  A very outgoing Shih Tzu puppy is likely to thrive in an environment where there are plenty of new sounds, sights and smells.  Shy puppies may find all of this too overwhelming.  

Best Takeaway:  Puppies need socialization and these skills will last a lifetime.  However, the first few precious months of a puppy's life should not be overwhelming stimulation after stimulation. 

Consider the Goldilocks Principle:  Not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of socialization.

Did You Find Shih Tzu Puppy Socialization Helpful?

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About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.