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Growly Shih Tzu pup ... and other issues!

(12 Posts)
Dieu Fri 14-Aug-15 00:40:11

Hi. We have a 13 week old Shih Tzu pup, and have had him now for 4 weeks. It's been an up-and-down time for me, with moments of enjoying it and moments of wishing my life could go back to the relative ease of how it was before. He is absolutely gorgeous, but it's hard work and no mistake. The toilet training is just awful. I'd say it ends up on the puppy pad 50% of the time, rest of the time on the floor. My mum recently visited and commented that she thought we had too many puppy pads out; there was maybe one or two in each room. It's difficult because we're in a flat (with its own garden) all on one level, so it's not like I can shut off the upstairs or anything like that. So he probably does have too much of a run of the place (albeit under a watchful eye!). Any advice on where to go from here?
However the main reason for my post is his growling. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't just look at us and growl, so there must be a reason in his head! It happens often when he is picked up (he's still very little, so sometimes obviously has to be gently picked up) and pretty much every time his harness is put on. It goes without saying that he is treated very well, gently and with kindness. My daughters are aged 14, 9 and 6 and all are very good with him ... and adore him. I am worried that one day he will snap. Ironic really, as I picked this breed for their soft personality, yet the wonderful Staffies that we had as kids never once growled at us confused
Lastly, his separation anxiety. If he's sleeping on the sofa, and I leave him to fetch something from another room, he will wake and bark to be let down. He hates being left on his own, and it's exhausting.
I sometimes wonder if he's happy with us. He loves meeting new people, but is quite a serious wee chap. He doesn't tend to get excited to see me, and a tail wag has to be worked for!
I do love him, but sometimes just don't feel very bonded, and these issues aren't helping. I've sometimes wished over the past few weeks that I could go back and do things over, in an improved way. I've probably made so many rookie mistakes and this hasn't helped things either. A puppy is a lot of work for a single mother of 3 kids with no family living nearby, a home to run, also a cat etc. Still, this is what I signed up for and I'm determined to make it all work. I'm not ashamed to admit that it's just harder than I thought it would be and I have a bit of depression, which may be clouding my thoughts and judgement a bit.
Any thoughts or advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

Dieu Fri 14-Aug-15 00:44:45

Oh, and he will also sometimes growl when being removed from something fun but naughty/dangerous, which he wants to keep on doing. Is this normal, and how should it be dealt with? I'm just a bit uncomfortable with it. Thanks again.

sandgrown Fri 14-Aug-15 01:12:55

I have a Shih Tzu who nipped my grandson. He is great with older children and adults but growls at young children so I have to keep s very close eye on him. The vet thinks he has been hurt by a young child as he was fine when he was a puppy. We had him castrated but not really made a difference. He looks very cute though and I have to warn people he is not cute at all but a grumpy little dog!

WhereAreMyDragons Fri 14-Aug-15 02:54:43

Wrt toilet training, the best thing to do is have him on a lead the entire day and attached to you, or crated. That way you will be able to spot the signs of when he is about to go, and either whip him over to a puppy pad or outside, and make a fuss (either a treat/ praise ) every time he goes on the pad. He will have gotten the hang of it withing about a week, and you don't need to physically hold the lead at all times, you can tie it to your jeans or something. This method worked a treat with my now 7 month old pup.

WhereAreMyDragons Fri 14-Aug-15 02:59:41

Sorry am on the app so can't see your original post when typing and had to go back and check!
Do you have a crate? I really recommend one, and training him to go in it will make a huge difference to him being happy when you leave the room. I know it's not always practical to put them in every time but it's handy. He will stop the crying, my pup went through a stage (and still does sometimes) of howling at the bottom of the stairs whenever I went up to do something. Ignore, ignore, ignore! and reward the pup with attention only when they have stopped and are calm.
About the growling, especially when picked up, have you seen a vet just to make sure the pup doesn't have a pain somewhere? Best of luck, it's a hard road but will be worth it.

daisydotandgertie Fri 14-Aug-15 08:24:22

Not sure I'd attach a clingy pup to me for toilet training!

Dig out a stair gate or two and keep the pup with you in one room. Ditch all puppy pads and concentrate on giving him the very clear message that all toiletting is to be outside.

Take him outside every half hour, after every meal, after every sleep and every game. Praise like mad for success and completely ignore a failure.

The pads inside are giving a very, very mixed message and will extend house training significantly.

With regard to the puppy wailing on the sofa if you walk away - ignore him. He is not a baby - he's a puppy. He needs to learn it's OK to be on his own, and that you don't come running every time he squeaks. He's not going to learn that if you respond to his demanding barks. If you could see a mum interacting with her puppies, you'd see that's exactly what she does. She ignores 95% of their noise - the barks, the growls, the wails - and responds to just what's necessary.

I'd not be concerned about a generally growling puppy - especially one who seems quite vocal. Jolly hockey sticks voice with him when he growls when he's taken away from something he doesn't want. I would get him checked out at the vet though - a couple of things you've said would make me want to be certain he didn't have pain anywhere.

MaitlandGirl Fri 14-Aug-15 09:08:09

Our 9wk old papillon puppy is very vocal - he gets very grumbly when you're holding him if he wants to get down and play but it's just his way of talking to us. We just ignore him and put him down the instant he's quiet.

Lilcamper Fri 14-Aug-15 09:53:30

Leaving them to cry proves to him no one will listen when he is distressed and can actually cause separation issues.

insanityscatching Fri 14-Aug-15 12:49:17

Eric's a growly dog, I think it's the shih tzu in him. His growls don't mean he's angry though it's just part of the repertoire of noises he makes over the course of the day. He growls when he is very happy to see us, he growls when he has had something nice to eat, he growls when you hit the spot behind his ears that he loves rubbing. His angry growl that we very rarely hear, because he's a chilled out dog, is very different. He also makes a noise like a miaow which means "oh yes I do want whatever you have in your hand" (lead/toy/ titbit) a specific bark to get out and whines for your attention or help when he can't reach something. As your pup gets older you will start to recognise what his noises mean as well.
I too would ditch the puppy pads and devote the next week or two to going out every 30 minutes and watching obsessively to pick up on his cues that he needs to toilet. With Eric once his nose went down and he started to circle that was the time to take him out. Have you noticed any behaviours before he goes? I think puppy pads confuse them Eric's breeder advised against them saying that she thought it delayed house training. As it was Eric was fully house trained in less than a fortnight and we've had no accidents since.

Focusfocus Fri 14-Aug-15 13:16:01

Puppy pads, that too in every room is the absolute wrong thing to do. Puppy pads are telling him it's okay to go indoors.

When we got our shih tzu x last year (she'll be 1 yr old in 5 days). We had a crate in the living room, which was lovely and comfy. She spent the first few weeks either sleeping inside the crate, or being carried outside to toilet, or playing with us under supervision or eating under supervision.

Toilet trips outside were as follows -

1. Before and after the crate,immediately before she had time to sniff around
2 before and after each feed and each play session
3. Every ten minutes

Every toilet done outside was rewarded with tons of praise and cuddles. Accidents indoors were ignored. Puppy pads were never provided.

She was toilet trained at 12 weeks or so.

You need to completely eliminate the pads, restrict him to one room.

And yes lots of attention and cuddles and bonding when he his quiet.ignoring when wailing. If you follow what one PP said about responding to wails to prevent separation anxiety, all you will create is separation anxiety.

Also let the crate be a lovely pleasant place, comfy blankets, stuffed KONGs, soft toy, and a treat when he goes in there.

MakingBaking Fri 14-Aug-15 14:25:55

We have a very confident 11 month old pup now. He never minds being left alone but will follow us around the house given the chance as he likes company. When he was younger he would whine when left alone even for a few minutes. We would wait until there was a gap in the whining and then open the door etc. This taught him that whining doesnt make people come to him but it means that he wasn't left crying by himself for long periods. We crate trained him a bit and he was left in there for increasing amounts of time with a kong after vigourous play and a toilet break so that he could have a nap in there too. This taught him that being alone is rewarding because he gets a tasty kong.

dillite Fri 14-Aug-15 14:33:56

I have a shih-tzu and I'm afraid to say that she did not stop peeing indoors until she was 8 months old. And even now She will pee inside every now and again, mostly when she can't have something she wants. She is fully cage trained, which helps a lot. When toilet training I did the whole keeping her next to me the whole time/ contained to one room/ in her cage, she would still do it. There were many, many, many times when I felt like sending her back, but because she's lovely otherwise she got to stay. Now I just need to make sure I take her outside every two hours and always after every nap. She also only pees/ poos when walking, she will not do it when just taken to one spot.

Neediness.... Well, she is needy! She's always at my side when I'm at home and will not tolerate being apart from me. She cries and scratches at my bathroom door when I'm in there. So, I'm afraid, no advice there. Funnily enough she is fine when I'm out, just sleeps in her cage. And even knows that I'm about to go out, as she gets in there as soon as she sees me putting on my shoes and just goes to sleep.

Growling, no advice, mine never did that. Well she does, but only when playing, like she will growl whilst chasing a stick or something like that.

Just remember that your pup is still very small and this breed are not known for their ease!

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