Dog Potties in the House: Is My Male Shih Tzu Just Being a S***?

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By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

R.I.P. 1966-2014

Reader Question:

We have two male Shih Tzus. One is 5 years (Kili), the other 4 years (Buddy).  Buddy will pee in the house even if we have just witnessed him peeing outside.  He appears to do it because he’s mad or lazy.  Every carpet in my house has been ruined and some of the antiques, also which he has peed on.  He is very sneaky about doing it within minutes after we’ve left a room.  He has access to the outdoors at all times through a doggy door.  I am at my wits end and ready to send him away.  Do you have any helpful advice/tips?  Thank you for your help.

Debbie Baxter

Roy, UT


While it’s true that some Shih Tzu can be sneaky, dogs rarely have potty accidents out of anger or even spite. The real reason for these irritating accidents is that, like the toddler who knows that doing #1 in the toilet is really good but still needs to wear diapers, the dog doesn’t “get” that pottying should only occur in the preferred potty spots.

Some owners try to convey this message by reprimanding their canine when they catch him in the act. For a handful of dogs this works, but for many dogs it teaches them to avoid pottying in their owner’s sight. In other words, they learn to sneak an indoor potty break behind their owner’s back. Other owners try a broader strategy. If they just see a puddle of piddle, they drag their pooch over to let him know the wet spot is bad. Again, some dogs might learn that urinating in the house is “wrong”. Others learn that accidents of any kind, regardless of which household bowser is to blame, make humans mad. Even worse, many dogs just learn that their owners randomly go wacko.

So, how do you train your dog that the toilet is outside only and that you want the inside to be potty free? You have to go back to the basics. That means taking him out at regular intervals during the day and waiting until he does #1 and #2. Only then can he play and interact with you. Next, when he’s inside, he must have no chance to have an accident. That means he’s attached to you by leash at all times or in a comfy crate.

As with the child who suddenly has to go potty every time he gets into the car, or the adult athlete who regularly needs a bathroom break in the bushes even on short runs, the solution is to break the old habit and form a new one. That means you have to keep up the new plan of pottying in preferred areas fun and pottying in other areas, impossible until you have 30 days straight without an accident. To make the message clearer that the house is a toilet-free zone, you’ll also need to clean the carpets and other accident-prone areas. Use a specialized urine-killing rug cleaner to dissolve the reminders of the past. By putting these strategies together and pushing through with the plan, in about a month, both you and your Buddy will be happier and your antique runs will remain clean.

For more information on potty training read these past blogs too:

A Foolproof Potty-training Plan

What to Do When Your Puppy Potty Training Plan Fails

Yorkie Pup Has a Problem When Left in His Playpen

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36 responses to “Dog Potties in the House: Is My Male Shih Tzu Just Being a S***?

  1. You have all inspired me to focus on providing more informative and resource type link building posts in the future, so stay tuned for more soon.

    1. My shihTzu pees in the house ALL the time. I have done the basic training over and over and over and over again…he will pee outside until the cows come home, come indoors and in5 minutes or whenever, sneaks off and pees! I’m done!! Lol. I just clean it up and don’t do anything~ this has been going on for 6 years and I’m done.

      1. I have 3 male Shih Tzu’s, 9, 7 and 5 yrs. 2 of them won’t stop urinating in the house either. I feel your pain. We use human incontinence pads with a wide ace wrap with velcro. A little cost but worth it. Much less frustration than cleaning and scrubbing carpets all the time. But they still pooh in the house! My husband and I now have a ‘jingle’ that we sing to our Golden Retreiver, (yes, we love animals), ‘No more Shih Tzu’s, etc….’ but then I reasearched their life span….ugh…average live for 16 yrs!

  2. Hey,
    I was wondering about how you might train an older dog you adopt from a shelter not to do their business in the house? The last two older dogs we’ve owned came to us perfectly house trained, (although this was not guaranteed by the shelter) however in looking for a new dog I’ve realized that this will not necessarily be the case for all older dogs we might adopt – we were just very lucky.
    Is it extremely difficult? (That we might decide only to adopt a dog that’s ‘guaranteed’ to already house trained) How is it different to training a puppy?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. I had 2 dachshunds, that kept peeing during the night, so at 5 years they went to a big kennel in my room
      And every night that’s where they went
      (They gave me a hard time 1st week)

      They are now 15 years old and when I go to bed, they are cuddled up in the kennel (their bed) and I no longer have to lock them in

  3. It’s really the same as working with a puppy, except that older dogs can hold it longer. So you don’t need to take them out as frequently! Yay!

  4. I live on the third floor of an apartment building, and I would like to have our two 8 week old puppies learn to do their business on some papers in the bathroom. I’ll give them food and water at specific times, and then depending on which, wait the appropriate amount of time and take them to the spot or pick them up when they’re about to go and put them in the spot.

    They, however, seem to think that they are being punished or simply don’t want to go on the spot I need them to go. They’ll hold it as long as possible (I’ve waited over 2 hours on many occasions)..I don’t want them to think the spot is bad or that they’re being punished, but if I were to allow them to move from the spot they’ll go do their business somewhere else in the house…I praise and reward heavily when they finally do go, but this doesn’t seem to help get the message through… any tips?

  5. You have to reward your dog for going to the bathroom outside and outside only. Leave your dog outside more, or take your dog on more walks so he/she can be multiple times and then when you are at home the bladder is empty.

  6. i have a problem with my 2yr male cocking his leg after he has come in from being outside..if i got him fixed would that stop him from peein in the house

    1. I have a 6 month old male shih tzu and he has one spot inside where he hikes his leg and pees. I’m at a loss as to how to stop this.

  7. This is really helpful post for a dog lover like me. I learn a lot from this one. I must say, taking good care of our dogs is like having a new member in the family. Your dogs were really cute.

  8. we are moving to a house with carpet upstairs. my 4 year old shitz u sleeps with my duaghter and now that she will be upstairs with carpets – i worry he will pee on carpet at night while we sleep
    how do i prevent this?

  9. My issue, is that I cannot crate my dog or have her attached to me at all times, and she does not go potty when I take her out, even in the morning, outdoors. Most days, yes, she goes out when I walk her, then there are days she refuses because she is too busy trying to find food my nasty neighbors leave on the ground in my *apt* building or staring at squirrels. What occurs? I cannot take her out by the time she decides she cannot hold it any longer and she goes in the house. This is SO frustrating, and I cannot walk her beyond the designated area and have little time for walks, or physical ability to do so bc I am disabled. I watch my nephews during the day who are babies/toddlers to earn some form of income, and I cannot walk her again until they nap, she gets around 3 walks a day when they are here, days they are gone I take her out 4-6 times to attempt to walk her. HELP?? She’s spayed, in perfect health, has all of her shots and monthly preventatives, 1 1/2 years old. I am at my wits end, even if she is in training to be my SD I don’t know if I can handle the behavior any longer and stick it out until she’s fully trained! Tried to get a treadmill cannot afford one nor find a samaritan willing to donate one and deliver it. SMH having a bad week 🙁 HELP??!!

  10. my shih tzu is trained to pee outside but from last 2-3 days he is peeing anywhere while playing inside the house.

    what should i do

    1. Mine too! He almost never pees in crate never pees in car or during the night up to 10 hours! But will pee in-house 5 minutes after I just took him out watched him pee. Doesn’t go to door bark nothing I just see spot where he just went right out in the open too!! He’s about to go to pound !

      1. I’m having the same problem w/ my 8 yr old shih tzu I adopted 9 months ago. He’s partially house trained-goes on pee pads, poops next to them but also pees on my carpets. He goes to door, I let him out but he won’t pee. or I walk him and he pees and poops and still goes in my house. I’m not sure I can keep him. he’s ruining my house

  11. I have three shit tuz four-year-old female three-year-old male two year old female they Pee all in the house and poop wherever they want how do I stop them I love my dogs but this is getting irritating please help

  12. I have two poms! One will be outside for hours come in and pee in house! Sometimes he in and poops inside! I have scolded him while doing it inside doesn’t matter

  13. My precious daughter works so hard to give her family everything she can possiably give them. The same holds true for all her animals she has rescued. One of her fur kids is a 12y/o shot Zi. Robbie is taken out to do his business at regular times before school…work… and whenever in between. But it doesn’t seem to matter if he just peed 10 times outside and given a treat for having done so , when he will look them right in the face and pee all over her beautiful hardwood floors or on their bed or in shoes or on clothes. I don’t know how to begin to help her. She is at the end of what she can stand after a long hard day at work to have to clean puddles up all over. Robbie is about to loose his home and I worry that he would not survive this. I can’t take him because my apt bldg alllws no pets for this very reason. Can anyone help us or does anyone know of a proper place to rehome him. It’s a bad… heartbreaking situation.

  14. I came here looking for answers to my recent problem with my 5 yo male Shih Tzu. As a puppy we were consistent with his housebreaking training and he seemed to adopt the “rules” rather quickly. He has kept his training up until approx. July this year which at this time, he started slowly having “accidents” . At first, it was seldom, a pee in the living room carpet here a poop in the basement corner there, it was extremely frustrating, but I thought it was temporary and it would revert to normal doing bathroom things OUTDOORS only. Unfortunately, these accidents became frequent, and now it is happening 2-3 x per week (both #1/#2) when I accepted this “issue” was in fact no longer a “temp” issue and needed to corrected I started doing the following in hopes we would have some luck. I should mentioned, my shih Tzu is extremely needy, needs to be with me or someone he loves at all times, or expereinces high levels of separation anxiety. These “accident” setbacks originally started occurring primarily when it was raining outside or was “wet”, which I had read in other forums was common with these high maintenance pups (i included that info in hopes anyone reading this post will see their own pup and will help us all learn if this is common with these specific breeds.. which I guess from my research so far, it appears my Ryleigh is not the only Shih Tzu BY FAR that has been reverting to puppy behaviours, almost as if he has forgotten all training)
    Attempts to help the situation:
    -Daily walks before bed to ensure he #2’d
    -In the morning, I used to put him out in the yard BEFORE feeding him, he would be so excited to eat, he would just walk outside and come right back to the door to come back in, so I switched this up, feeding him first, and actually accompanying him outside to verbally instruct him to pee and then also provide him with verbal praises which he seems to greatly appreciate (tail wagging/big smiles (dog smiles))
    – When I would leave him alone, block him in the non-carpeted kitchen (he would somehow break through my original attempts at blocking and find a way to pee in one of his fav “accident” spots
    – At night makes sure my bedroom door is closed behind him ( before doing this he would often have accidents in the night) and please note, anytime I heard him jump off the bed even if it was 3 am I would take him out!) This is the one thing I have had some luck with, he NEVER pees in my room at night or ever for that matter as there is no carpet in this room and he favours carpet pees

    I would see some time pass, with no accidents, but then right when I thought I was in the clear, it would happen. I have read there is no point in punishing our pets as they do not even understand what you are meaning unless you catch them in the moment, and even then they can be confused and just understand you are pissed, but not sure exactly why, and I’m sure most would agree, you don’t want your beloved pet being afraid of you, or worrying you will yell at them.. I don’t want Ryleigh to be afraid of me, all I want is for this nightmare to be over.

    Okay, so I know this post is getting really long, but this next part is also important to mention and I never gave it any real consideration, but now that I feel as though I have tried everything (well not everything, but I have tried anything I thought would work, although I am very much interested in any advice!) anyways, I started dating my boyfriend in July (same timeframe when this set back started with my dog) as mentioned my Shih Tzu is very attached to me and sometimes I wonder if he is jealous. When my bf and I are on the couch , Ryleigh wants to be right on my lap, whereas if it’s just me and my dog, he never feels he needs to be on my lap and is often even on the floor or at the other end of the couch. Also – in bed, I allow Ryleigh to sleep in my bed with me (always have) now, my bf is most often in bed with us. The reason I am mentioning those details is maybe having a “third” addition to our little “pack” has thrown Ryleigh off? I am not sure how real the emotion of “jealousy” is for dogs or animals in general? I do know that if Ry sees me giving another animal ANY attention he has no issue letting me know how it makes him feel (crying, yelping, pushing to get the other animal out of the way) UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH I just don’t know what to do. I am going to start attempting to leave him in a crate (larger size though) when I leave (I should mention I work from home, and only leave Ry alone for a few hours at MOST) so the max time he will be left in the crate is a few hours, although I worry how he is going to react to that too. I love my dog so very much, and am willing to put any time and energy in to fix this issue. I have no option, I have to fix it. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I rescued a 3 yr old Shi Tzu. He is always pooping in the crate. He poops outside before we leave him in the crate. He does not poop in the house, only when we leave him in the crate .

  16. My 1 yr male Shih Tzu will poop or pee in the bedrooms. He sneaks off to do it. I also have a 5 yr old and he seldom has an accident. I trained them the same way!

  17. Hi how are u? My name is Angela I have a two year old puppy Maltese shitzu she has always been a indoor dog but during the day she is a outside dog, but for the last year and a half she will just poo anywhere especially during the night plz help as I don’t know why she does it I don’t know if it and we are getting frustrated waking up to poo in the bedroom… She has puppy pads in the bathroom and she know where her pads are as she does her weeks on them

  18. My Shiz U is terrible. He is almost potty trained for the house. That is a plus however he has many bad behaviors to take its place. I have trained the family dont leave the bathroom door open he tears up the toilet paper, kleenex. Dont leave him in the house by himself he gets in the trash cans. I live in the country 1 neighbor so i have always let my dogs out when they need to but this stupid dog doesnt want to come back in when you let him out. I am about fed up with this dog he is like taking care of a toddler but faster.

  19. We have a 10 year old male shih Tzu and I just read all the stories about peeing in the house. Ours recently began doing this. Even if he has been outside for an hour he will come in and pee where we can’t see him. He used to occasionally pee in front of us but it wasn’t a problem because it wasn’t often and we did not punish him. We started walking him on his leash again and that worked for a while. Now he just doesn’t pee but when he gets back inside we follow him and sure enough he finds a carpet to pee on. What can we do? He has never been crated and we are home all the time except occasional hour or so. He does sleep with us, has recently begun losing his hearing; could that be connected somehow? thanks for any advice.

  20. I have a 6-year-old Shih Tzu and 3 sweet little Shih Tzu Chiwawa puppies. Roxanne the mother always goes in the same spot every night. How can I fix this with her eating habits? Can I put her on a schedule? I want her to go to the bathroom outside before we go to bed as if we are going to bed we do not drink a lot so we can have a full night’s rest? How long should I be taking her out after her first meal in the morning? I also wanted to see if anyone has any ideas for these puppies. I will only be keeping one of them, but do not want him to also do his business in the house at night.

  21. Please help I am desperate I have rescued 2 Shih Tzu dogs Brother and Sister 4 months ago we are retired nearly 80 years old and are here all day. They are taken out to the garden open plan they are on Leashed about 8 times a day he is not too bad will pee am.but comes in after 15 mins and poos on the training pad ! but a leased it’s not on the floor She does nothing they are out there on leashes for 10 to 15 minutes she will pee all over the house and on two rugs or anywhere I close the bedroom doors but there is always some in the passage ways we are not sure which one it is please give me some advice, Thank You Elaine

  22. I have read most all of the comments about the ShihTzu’s. Mine is 6 and have had him 4 years. I read with curiosity because I have the same problem’s. I take Teddy out religiously 4/5
    times a day. He pee’s/marks everywhere outside. He is prone to kidney stones and
    has had two surgeries one procedure. The doctor told me to give him a cup of water a day to hopefully keep the stones moving through, which I do. But after 8pm I pick the water up with no more until the am. I take him out at 11pm every night, I live in a high-rise so I have to get out of bed get dressed and take him out… but I do. Despite this about a month ago he started peeing on my rugs sometime in during night, when I am asleep. He does not pee on the bathroom tile, the wood floors, the laminate floors, but instead pee’s on my most expensive wool rug in the dining room, the furthest away from my bedroom we he we sleep. I have learned the trick is to sleep in the bedroom with the door closed, with a peepad available for him which he does not use. When I open the door in the morning we go out immediately. That solves the problem however much I dislike sleeping with the door closed but seems to be working. He has extremely high anxiety when I leave the house and is extremely jealous of me petting other dogs/giving my attention to them. I keep peepads in house for him to use. Taking him out for walks in late at night is no problem. So at least for me, lesson learned; I guess I now have to sleep with my bedroom door closed every night from now on…. I sincerely hope this helps somebody else with a similar problem.

  23. I have a mix, who is 1/3 shihtzu, and the other thirds, poodle and chihuahua. I am told Shihtzus are notorious for being difficult to housetrain. I’m not totally successful with my 2-yr-old, but he has an accident 1 or maybe 2x a month. He doesn’t like to go out when it’s cold or wet, but will use the puppy pads I trained him on when he was 2 months old. I put them down near the dog door under those conditions and at night when he comes in to sleep in my bedroom, which is really too far from the dog door. I’ve also drastically limited the space he has to roam in with doggie gates. Sometimes he’ll pee when the cat brings in a bird or mouse–too excited–or when I’m gone more than 4 hours. I put on dog TV. I take him out on schedule unless I’m gone. I think now I’ll leave a puppy pad near his dog door no matter what the weather. The vet tells me that a familiar texture of the floor prompts them to pee. Every day I pick up his poop from outside (no accidents there) and reward him with a treat after showing him why he’s getting the treat. He’s extremely happy with that. I am still annoyed by the lapses, but the oriental rug is no longer in the TV room and is safe.

  24. My Shitzu is 10. We got him 4 years ago and when we did he was perfectly fine went potty and poo outside. For the past 2 years he’s been peeing in the house. Same thing he pees outside on everything, comes indoors and pees on everything also. I don’t know what do to. Its driving us crazy. What can I do? He has access to the outside also (doggy door).

  25. Wow! So many Shih Tzu’s that appear to be stubborn😥
    Our first Shih Tzu was trained to potty outside by the breeder. He NEVER had an accident in the house. He died last May. I had a hard time finding a new puppy. Very expensive and many breeder-scammers online. I finally found one but now ALL breeders do the pee pad “training”. Ugh! I hate pee pads, as they’re trained to go inside! My new Shih Tzu is 3 months old and is learning to pee and poop outside most of the time. But we do catch him trying to hide and pee anywhere. We’ve been using a bell just before taking him out but he never goes to the bell on his own. I’ll take him out every 30-45 minutes during the day and he seems to pee at least once. Now poops outside but I have to see him sniffing around to get him out on time. He never pees in his crate at night but I do take him out once or twice at night. I always praise him when he goes outside. I see so many others who are having issues with their Shih Tzu but no answers☹
    We are also struggling with him biting our feet, hands and trying to bite my face. He has a loud almost vicious bark then too. How are we to train these little guys who can be sweet but lately just devilish?😫

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