Are Shih Tzus Aggressive?
Shih Tzus by nature are a very kind and loving . They make a great pet and are not usually aggressive. If your Shih Tzu has aggressive tendencies you’ll want to diagnose and correct the poor behavior right away.
There are many causes of aggressive behavior in Shih Tzu dogs. It might be due to a dominance related issue between you and the dog, or it might be a trigger that was never properly dealt with from puppyhood – such as an attack by a different dog. Whatever is causing your Shih Tzu’s aggression, however, you need to address it as soon as possible. The results of prolonged aggressive Shih Tzu behavior can be not only scary, but dangerous if not quickly taken to task.
The Source of Aggressive Shih Tzu Behavior
Dog aggression can start as young as 6 weeks of age, a crucial age when a puppy should be socialized with other dogs and given the necessary training that keeps them from biting other people. This period of socialization lasts until the dog turns 14 weeks of age and can extend even further beyond that.
Watch this example of how Doggy Dan teaches you to train your dog not to be aggressive around the food bowl in his online training course.
This means several things. First, never take a puppy away from its litter before 8 weeks of age. Never use harsh discipline with your Shih Tzu puppy between 8 and 10 weeks and make sure the dog is very gently treated in that time. Hitting, yelling or other harsh punishments at a young age can cause aggressive Shih Tzu behavior over time.
A Shih Tzu needs to be properly socialized with people and other dogs by the time he reaches 14 weeks to avoid any future aggression issues.
Actual aggression in a dog can be triggered by any number of factors. Heredity and genetics are certainly factors in some breeds, but are not usually an issue with the Shih Tzu breed. Furthermore, dogs that have not been neutered or spayed are more prone to aggressive tendencies.
By far, however, the most important factor in creating aggressive behavior in dogs is their environment. A dog that has poor living conditions, harsh masters, no socialization, or that has been frightened or attacked by another dog is far more likely to be aggressive as it ages.
Aggression can grow from the need to establish a pack pecking order. This is probably the most common reason for aggressive Shih Tzu behavior. Biting, posturing, and other aggressive tendencies are often the result of a dog testing for dominance. You’ll need to establish dominance at a young age and maintain that position throughout the Shih Tzu’s adolescence to ensure it doesn’t get a chance to take control of the household.
Stopping and Controlling Aggressive Shih Tzu Behavior
If your Shih Tzu exhibits aggressive behavior after 14 months of age, when it has reached sexual maturity, especially after it has been altered, you should address the problem immediately. First, make sure you have established yourself as the pack leader. Don’t reward your dog for aggressive behavior, even if it is scared (especially in this case).
Train your dog to respond to your commands, control feeding and walking times, and make sure the dog has a strong leader in the house. If you defer to the dog or allow it to take liberties in your home, it will exhibit stronger aggression toward others.
If your Shih Tzu is defensive-aggressive, they may strike out at a person in fear. These dogs may not have been properly socialized. Keep them away from small children (which they may see as direct threats) and attend a training session or behaviorist who can slowly acclimate the dog to a social atmosphere. Most large pet store chains offer puppy training and socialization classes.
Aggressive Shih Tzu behavior can be a huge problem that many owners have, but it can be controlled, even as your dog gets older. If your Shih Tzu’s aggression ever advances to violence, consider hiring a professional to intervene before someone gets hurt and you are held responsible. There are companies that will come to your home and work with you and your dog. Or to save money you can do it yourself by learning advanced techniques that you can implement on your own. Here is a training series that I found quite good and may be able to help with your aggressive Shih Tzu behavior.