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5 Signs Your Shih Tzu is Stressed

Written by: Scott H
Scott Haiduc is the Director of Publishing for iHeartDogs, iHeartCats and The Hero Company. When not working, Scott spends his time on the farm, taking care of his animals and crops.Read more
| Published on December 9, 2016

Shih Tzus are an affectionate and outgoing breed. However, they can definitely get stressed and anxious about the world around them. Being an effective dog parent includes knowing when your Shih Tzu is nervous or fearful, so you can help them to relax. The following are 5 signs that your Shih Tzu is stressed:

Image Source: Kevin Long Via Flickr
Image Source: Kevin Long Via Flickr

#1 – Whining

If your Shih Tzu is stressed, he may whine. Usually the whining is paired with pacing if the stressor is something like thunder that your dog can’t get away from. Otherwise, he may be sitting and whining for what seems like no reason. If your Shih Tzu is not whining because he needs out or is in pain, it’s probably stress. (Of course, pain causes stress, so stress can still be present in that case).

#2 – Tucked Tail

Shih Tzus normally carry their tail over their back. However, when stressed, that tail will drop. In instances of severe stress or fear, your Shih Tzu’s tail may even be clamped down, hanging straight along her back legs. She may also hunch her body and even cower or try to hide.

#3 – Whale Eye

This is something most dogs will do when stressed. “Whale eye” is when your Shih Tzu’s eye bulge and the white around the iris is visible. This is a clear indicator that your Shih Tzu is stressed or anxious.

Image Source: Angela N. Via Flickr
Image Source: Angela N. Via Flickr

#4 – Shivering

Many little dog breeds shiver when they are frightened. It’s usually paired with a tucked tail, cowering and other signs of stress on this list. If it’s not cold and your Shih Tzu is shivering, something is wrong. If you’ve ruled out any medical issues, she is stressed.

#5 – Lip Licking

Lip licking is a common sign of stress. Your Shih Tzu may lip lick and yawn when she is stressed. It’s usually a slower lip lick than when they are tasting something good. It can also look like a “flick” where the tongue comes out and goes back in without actually touching their lips.

Frequently Ask Questions

Like many small dog breeds, Shih Tzus tend toward anxiety, especially separation anxiety. Small dogs live in a world built for large people, and often, the hugeness of everything overwhelms and irritates these tiny bodies. Continue reading for a better understanding of your canine companion and find out how to teach your highly intelligent pet how to deal with anxiety.

Do Shih Tzu’s Have Separation Anxiety?

Yes, because they are companion dogs, they not only want but also need to be with humans. Some dogs become highly unhappy when their people go away, which can lead to the condition known as separation anxiety in Shih Tzus. Separation anxiety is not healthy for your Shih Tzu, despite the fact that you may feel flattered by the godlike status you hold in your dog’s life.

How Do I Know If My Shih Tzu Is Stressed?

Stress can lower Shih Tzu’s immune system and quality of life; if he goes into a panic because of your absence, he could even injure himself. He is more likely to hurt himself than anybody else. You will recognize a stressed pup by the following symptoms:

Excessive barking

Damage to items in the home



Excessive yawning



Stress urination

Dilated Pupils or frequent blinking

Excessive shedding

What Can I Give My Shih Tzu For Anxiety?

Your Shih Tzu is perfectly capable of surviving without you, at least for relatively short amounts of time. Although he should turn to you for direction and care, it is important for him to develop sufficient self-assurance and independence so that he may occasionally enjoy spending time on his own. Establishing strong routines, daily exercise, and a safe place for your pup are the best ways to help with anxiety.

In addition, you can give an anxious Shih Tzu several herbal remedies, including Hemp, pheromones, and herbs like chamomile. Dogs can also benefit from diffusers, white noise, and a stuffed animal. If you have other pets in the home, they are less likely to feel abandoned when you leave for the day.

What To Do When Shih Tzu Is Stressed?

You can alleviate dog anxiety in several ways, starting with rewarding her for good behavior. There is also the excellent option of using rewards or treats, as the dog will be more motivated to train if it means getting food. Treats are a great way to boost their calorie intake without sacrificing their normal diet.

Next, make conscious choices when you leave the house to combat anxiousness. If your Shih Tzu has trouble adjusting to your absence, try convincing her that you are leaving for the best. Do not rush off with a new puppy; if it seems restless, take it easy. Then, applaud their efforts.

Another helpful strategy includes taking a walk with your dog before leaving to tire them out. They will likely be exhausted and ready for a nap once you leave. Also, keep your emotions calm and sedate as dogs pick up on human emotions and often mirror them back to us.

One of the most effective methods of reducing your dog’s anxiety is to eliminate the source of that anxiety. Alternatively, you could consult a professional trainer or your veterinarian to mitigate the effect of the trigger. Avoid situations that cause your dog stress, such as fireworks displays.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Scared Of Everything?

Shih Tzu’s are known for being an energetic, curious, and confident breed of dog. Many Shih Tzu’ are friendly and adapt easily to new environments. In spite of this, it is not unusual for a Shih Tzu to be afraid of the rain or thunder or anything larger than themselves.

Next, Shih Tzu’s are extremely small dogs, and it’s hard to be little in a world made for big people. It is possible that everything in the room, from the furniture to the people in it, and even the family cat, may appear to be enormous and menacing. They do not even have a mouth that is large enough to cause harm to the majority of other animals, nor do they have claws that can assist them in protecting themselves; instead, they have to make a lot of noise to frighten away potential threats and make a lot of erratic movement in order to protect themselves.

Furthermore, if a dog has experienced trauma, he may continue to associate that event with something else, causing him to develop irrational fears. Last but not least, some dogs are terrified of seemingly harmless sounds like the vacuum or the dishwasher. Or even walking surfaces like pavement or grass. Adopted and rescued dogs often exhibit this behavior because they were never exposed to these stimuli in the first place.

What To Do About Separation Anxiety In Shih Tzu?

Get a handle on separation anxiety early with your Shih Tzu for an easier life. Start training your dog from when they come into your home and move on forward. In addition, giving your dog some exercise before you go to work is beneficial by taking him or her on a walk. Also, ensure plenty of toys and other things to divert them.

Next, physical activity is essential. Little dogs need to get enough exercise for both enjoyment and good health. Generally speaking, dogs who suffer from separation anxiety get less activity than their peers who do not have this issue. You can get a pet camera with two-way audio and treats, as this will allow the dog to see and hear you when you are not there. Extra treats are always welcome. Whatever it takes to help your dog feel safe and secure when you are not around will help him overcome his anxiety.

Are Shih Tzu Puppies Prone To Separation Anxiety?

It is not uncommon for many breeds, including Shih Tzus, to develop separation anxiety. Because they are developed to be companions, Shih Tzu’s have an insatiable need for constant attention. This breed may be genetically inclined to dog separation anxiety due to their petite size and companionship breeding. Due to their devotion to humans, Shih Tzu puppies can suffer greatly when left alone.

Can I Give My Shih Tzu Dramamine For Travel Anxiety?

Dramamine works for both humans and animals to treat motion sickness. However, you need to talk to your veterinarian about the correct dosage for your tiny pup. Small dogs should take around 12.5 milligrams.

Does Shih Tzu’s Get Itchy When Nervous?

Unfortunately, when your dog gets anxious, they may resort to little ticks like itching out of compulsion. Anxiety about being left alone can manifest in a variety of behavioral changes in your dog, such as itching, chewing, or biting at the skin. After ruling out more serious problems, boredom, anxiety, and depression are usually responsible for your Shih Tzu’s itching and scratching.

How To Bathe Your Shih Tzu Without Him Getting Scared?

Bath time makes for great bonding time if you can create a positive experience. Your tone of voice and responses will fuel your Shih Tzu’s emotions. Try to be upbeat and excited to help them do the same. Also, start with frequent baths when they are young to encourage bathing as part of their normal routine. Finally, use a smaller tub instead of the bathtub, like the sink, or even consider taking them in the shower with you.

How To Train Separation Anxiety, Shih Tzu?

The best way to keep your Shih Tzu from worrying while you are gone is to keep him occupied. You also need to maintain a strong routine your dog can rely on for stress relief. Finally, set up a cozy place just for your pup while you are away with toys, water, food, a radio, and a stuffed animal to snuggle.

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