How Much Exercise Do Shih Tzu Need?


Shih Tzu daily walk on a leash
EverythingShihTzu.comWalking is a great exercise for a Shih Tzu

When it comes to exercise, it’s an important part of life for anyone, whether you’re a Shih Tzu or a human. However, since all animals and humans are not the same, exercise routines can be highly varied.

For pups, what works for one won’t work for another, and the activity level of a dog depends on several factors like age, breed, and size.

When it comes to the Shih Tzu, their exercise needs are relatively minimal. A couple of 20 to 30-minute brisk walks each day would keep them active and healthy. However, keep in mind your dog's energy level, and the weather will play a significant role.

Shih Tzu are first and foremost a companion animal.

Their relaxed role in the home, coupled with their small size, makes the exercise needs of Shih Tzu minimal. Yet, these pups love to play and be with their humans, so a combination of short walks and playtime are usually all that these dogs need to be happy.

If you’re looking for a pup with low-exercise needs, then a Shih Tzu is a great option. Still, be prepared to engage in some form of regular activity. 

Below you'll discover some of the best exercises to do with your Shih Tzu, but first, here are some of its' benefits.

What Benefits Do Shih Tzu Get from Exercise?

Just like humans, dogs enjoy a number of benefits from proper exercise, like:

  • Exercise maintains a healthy weight and metabolism.
  • Exercise strengthens and supports bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Exercise provides mental stimulation.
  • Exercise helps with better sleep.
  • Exercise improves behavior due to the release of energy and proper stimulation.
  • Exercise improves heart health and blood circulation.
  • Exercise can help strengthen the immune system and potentially increase your pup’s lifespan.

Now that you can see how exercise benefits your Shih Tzu, it's time to discover the best ways to keep your pup active.

What Are The Best Exercises For A Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu playing with

Your Shih Tzu wants to spend time with you, so almost anything you can think of will turn into an amazingly fun playtime as long as you're doing it together. 

Some ideas for things you can do with your pup to give her ample opportunities for exercise and play are:

Daily Walks

Your Shih Tzu gets a lot out of her daily walks; she spends time with you, she’s treated to all sorts of different sights and sounds, she can explore, and she expends some energy.

You also benefit because walking with your pup is an excellent way to bond and offers an opportunity for training (not to mention you get some exercise out of the deal too).

Ideally, two walks per day will do the trick, but you can adjust as needed for your pup’s own individual needs and personality.

If your pup, for any reason (age, health, or it’s just really hot outside) can’t do a 20-30 minute walk, you can break your daily walk up into shorter, more frequent walks.

No matter what schedule you decide on, try to keep it as consistent as possible. 

Playtime with You

If your Shih Tzu is with you, anything is fair game for play, whether it’s tossing a ball, hiding a treat for them to find, “dancing,” or any other number of games that you can create.

Playtime with Other Dogs

Shih Tzu, like many dogs, benefits from proper socialization, and being able to interact with other dogs is a huge advantage.

Work with your dog from early on to get her used to mingle with other pups and let her blow off some steam with her canine pals.

Playtime Alone 

Sadly, you most likely can't always be with your Shih Tzu as much as you might like to be.

Therefore, provide your pup with an adequate amount of varied toys to keep her engaged (and out of mischief) while you’re away.

There are a number of different interactive and self-playing toys that can keep your pup entertained, as well as dog toys that can satisfy her need for natural instincts like chewing, self-soothing, and for young puppies, teething. 

Activities That Offer Mental Stimulation

In addition to keeping your Shih Tzu in shape physically, exercise and playtime should also give her an opportunity to flex her mental muscles.

Make sure that her toys include things like puzzle toys and other elements that cause your pup to use her cognitive skills.

Proper mental stimulation combined with adequate physical activity will help keep your Shih Tzu from getting bored and into trouble.

When Should Shih Tzu Start Exercising?

As soon as your pup is strong enough, you can start to play with her, but you should wait until she has had all of her puppy shots before bringing her outside for walks or to other public places.

Starting as soon as you can help establish good routines with your pup and can set up lifelong habits that keep her healthy and in good shape.

If you have any reservations about your puppy being ready for more activity, consult with your vet. 

Tips for Exercise and Shih Tzu

When you're playing with your pup or letting her get some exercise, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure she stays happy and safe:

  • A Shih Tzu does not tolerate heat very well; therefore, it's best to make sure playtime happens indoors when it is hot outside. Also, try to coordinate walks during the day's cooler periods and always bring some fresh drinking water. It's also important to keep in mind the surface that your pup is walking on and adjust as necessary based on the temperature, in case the ground gets very hot (or very cold). 
  • Although there are many dogs that like to swim for exercise, a Shih Tzu is not one of them. Their short snouts and faces make them prone to breathing issues that can make swimming a little uncomfortable and scary.
  • Keep opportunities for play and exercise fun and positive (as play should be). Let playtime be playtime and always end on an upbeat note. These times of activity with your pup should always be associated with feelings of positivity, both for you and her.
  • When you walk your Shih Tzu, use a harness instead of a collar. Shih Tzu are prone to tracheal collapse (something fairly common in small dogs), so a harness will take the pressure off of the windpipe during your walks. 

Now that you know how much exercise your Shih Tzu needs, you can grab her favorite toy and start playing! She'll be the happiest dog around, which will make you pretty darn happy too!

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Posted 2/26/2021