shih tzu separation anxiety

2023 Techniques For Soothing Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety

Shih tzu separation anxiety can be tough for both pet and owner. Learn how to identify signs and provide comfort to an anxious shih tzu.


Separation anxiety is a common behavioral issue among dogs that occurs when they are separated from their owners or left alone. Shih Tzus are particularly prone to separation anxiety due to their close bond with their owners and tendency to become easily attached. The condition can be distressing for both the dog and the owner, with destructive behavior and physical symptoms being common signs of the disorder.

Definition of Separation Anxiety in Shih Tzus

Separation anxiety is a condition that affects dogs when they are apart from their owners or left alone. In Shih Tzus, this can manifest as a range of behaviors such as excessive barking or howling, destructive behavior such as chewing furniture or doors, digging at carpets or floors, and urinating or defecating indoors. These behaviors can be distressing for both the dog and its owner.

Importance of Recognizing and Addressing Separation Anxiety in Shih Tzus

Recognizing separation anxiety in Shih Tzus is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it can significantly impact the quality of life for both the dog and its owner. For example, if a dog experiences severe separation anxiety, it may need to be crated or confined to prevent destructive behavior while its owner is away.

This can lead to further stress for both the dog and its owner. Moreover, untreated separation anxiety may exacerbate over time, leading to more severe symptoms such as aggression towards humans or other animals.

Additionally, some physical symptoms associated with separation anxiety can indicate underlying health issues if left unchecked. As such, it is important to recognize the signs of separation anxiety early on so that appropriate measures can be taken before the behavior worsens.

Overview of the Article

This article will provide an in-depth exploration of Shih Tzu separation anxiety, including its signs and causes. Additionally, it will outline several coping strategies that can be employed to help dogs overcome the condition.

These include training techniques such as positive reinforcement and desensitization, as well as lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and play. By the end of this article, readers should have a clear understanding of what separation anxiety in Shih Tzus is, how to recognize it, and how to address it effectively.

Signs of Separation Anxiety in Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu dogs are known for their loyalty and affectionate nature towards their owners. But when left alone, they may exhibit signs of separation anxiety that can cause destruction and harm to themselves and their surroundings. As pet owners, it is important to recognize these signs, understand what causes them, and learn how to cope with them.

Destructive Behavior

One common sign of separation anxiety in Shih Tzus is destructive behavior. This may include chewing or scratching on furniture or doors, digging at carpets or floors, or excessive barking or howling.

Shih Tzus may resort to these behaviors as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety caused by being alone. Chewing or scratching on furniture or doors is one of the most common destructive behaviors exhibited by dogs with separation anxiety.

This can cause significant damage to the house as well as injury to the dog if they consume harmful materials like wood splinters or chemical finishes. Similarly, digging at carpets or floors can also pose a risk of injury if the dog’s claws become damaged during the act.

Excessive barking or howling is another sign of separation anxiety in Shih Tzus. They may bark uncontrollably throughout the day while their owner is away which can lead to noise complaints from neighbors and even influence social isolation.

Physical Symptoms

In addition to destructive behavior, Shih Tzus with separation anxiety may also exhibit physical symptoms such as panting and drooling excessively due to high levels of stress hormones like cortisol that are released when they feel anxious due to social isolation from their loved ones. Loss of appetite during times when a dog feels anxious due to being alone could be because they are worried about not having enough food if left unattended for long periods.

Urinating and defecating indoors may also be a sign of separation anxiety. Pet owners who notice these signs in their Shih Tzus should consult with a veterinarian to rule out underlying medical conditions, but it is essential to identify whether the dog is experiencing separation anxiety and what strategies may best alleviate it.

Causes of Separation Anxiety in Shih Tzus

Separation anxiety is a common issue among Shih Tzus, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. It is important to identify the cause of your dog’s separation anxiety in order to address it effectively. In this section, we will explore some of the most common causes of separation anxiety in Shih Tzus.

Lack of Socialization as a Puppy

A lack of socialization as a puppy can contribute to separation anxiety later in life. If a puppy is not exposed to different people, animals, and environments during their critical socialization period (between 3 and 14 weeks), they may develop fears or anxieties when faced with new situations as an adult. This can include being left alone or separated from their owner.

To help prevent separation anxiety caused by lack of socialization, it is important to expose your Shih Tzu puppy to as many new experiences as possible during their critical socialization period. This can include introducing them to different people (with different ages, genders, and appearances), animals (both other dogs and other species), and environments (such as car rides or trips to the park).

Changes in Routine or Environment

Another common cause of separation anxiety in Shih Tzus is changes in routine or environment. Dogs thrive on consistency and predictability, so when something changes abruptly (such as their owner’s work schedule or a move to a new home), they may become anxious and distressed when left alone. To help prevent separation anxiety caused by changes in routine or environment, it is important to gradually introduce your dog to any changes that may occur.

For example, if you know you will be starting a new job with different hours soon, gradually adjust your dog’s alone time to reflect the new schedule. Similarly, if you are planning a move, try to acclimate your dog to the new home slowly by gradually increasing their time spent there and introducing them to the new surroundings.

Traumatic Events such as Abandonment, Neglect, or Abuse

Traumatic events such as abandonment, neglect, or abuse can have lasting effects on a dog’s mental and emotional well-being. Dogs who have experienced trauma may be more prone to separation anxiety as a result.

This can manifest in destructive behaviors (such as chewing or scratching furniture) or physical symptoms (such as panting or drooling). It is important to approach dogs who have experienced trauma with patience and understanding.

A positive reinforcement training approach can help build trust and confidence in these dogs, which can in turn help alleviate separation anxiety. It is also important to work closely with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist when dealing with dogs who have experienced traumatic events.

Coping Strategies for Shih Tzu Separation Anxiety

Training Techniques: Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training is a powerful tool to help alleviate separation anxiety in Shih Tzus. This technique involves rewarding your dog for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior.

When your dog displays calm, positive behavior when you depart or return home, reward them with treats and praise. Over time, your dog will learn to associate your comings and goings with positive outcomes, which can help reduce their anxiety.

It’s important to note that positive reinforcement training requires consistency and patience. It won’t be effective overnight, but with time and effort, it can significantly improve your Shih Tzu’s separation anxiety.

Training Techniques: Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Desensitization involves gradually exposing your Shih Tzu to the triggers that cause their anxiety in a controlled environment. For example, if your dog becomes anxious when you pick up keys or put on shoes before leaving the house, start by picking up the keys or putting on shoes without actually leaving.

Reward calm behavior during these practice sessions with treats and praise. Counterconditioning involves changing the association between a trigger (such as you leaving) and an emotional response (anxiety).

Instead of being associated with fear or anxiety, we want our dogs to associate our departures with happy experiences such as playing with toys or getting special treats. Both desensitization and counterconditioning require patience and consistency over several weeks or even months before significant improvements are seen.

Lifestyle Changes: Increasing Exercise and Play

Shih Tzus are known for being relatively sedentary dogs that enjoy lounging around the house. However, increased exercise can help reduce stress levels in dogs by promoting physical health as well as mental stimulation. Adding playtime activities such as fetch, tug-of-war, and interactive toys can also provide your Shih Tzu with mental stimulation and help keep them occupied while you’re away.

It’s important to gradually increase physical activity levels to avoid injury or exhaustion. Start with short walks or play sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the activity.


Separation anxiety is a common problem in Shih Tzus that can cause stress for both the dog and their owner. However, there are effective coping strategies such as positive reinforcement training, desensitization, counterconditioning, and increasing exercise that can help alleviate this problem. It’s important for dog owners to remember that addressing separation anxiety requires patience and consistency over time.

It’s also important to seek guidance from a veterinarian or professional dog trainer if significant improvements are not seen after several weeks of implementing these techniques. With dedication and effort, it is possible to help your Shih Tzu overcome their separation anxiety and lead a happy, healthy life.

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