Can Shih Tzu Be Aggressive? (How to spot aggression and correct it before it gets worse)

WRITTEN BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM

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Shih Tzu dog with a butterfly landed on its nose

If you’re already the proud owner of a Shih Tzu, you might think that there’s no way that sweet ball of fluff could ever be aggressive.

Of course, as dog breeds go, Shih Tzu are known for being friendly, affectionate animals that make good family pets; basically, they’re the opposite of aggressive.

However, just like people, every dog has its own unique personality, history, and habits.

When it comes to Shih Tzu, although aggressive behavior is not the norm, it is not out of the question.

Shih Tzu are normally not an aggressive breed, but some of the cute “lion dogs” can exhibit an aggressive streak.  The severity of a Shih Tzu’s aggression varies from dog to dog, but no matter how mild or extreme a pup’s behavior is, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The odds are good that if you bring a Shih Tzu into the fold, your new furry family member will be a wonderful and loving addition to your flock.

Still, it is critical to never assume that signs of aggression are no big deal just because your dog is a Shih Tzu.

Aggressive behavior must be taken seriously no matter what kind of animal is displaying it.

How Aggressive Are Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu, as a rule, are not known to be aggressive dogs, but there are always exceptions to every rule.

If your Shih Tzu is showing aggressive behavior, it can range from mild to severe, and how serious your situation will depend on how often your pup acts on her aggressive behavior.

For example, some dogs may only growl or try to stare you down as a display of aggression, while other animals will physically act upon their aggressive feelings, resulting in a dreaded dog attack.

No matter what category your pooch falls into, any aggressive behavior must be taken seriously, because even the things that seem like no big deal have the potential to become very serious.

Sometimes, since Shih Tzu are small in size, aggressive behavior may be ignored or dismissed as no big deal.

This is a mistake, because if this negative behavior is ignored, your dog will assume it is okay and keep doing it, and it will likely get worse over time.

The bottom line is, how aggressive your Shih Tzu is doesn’t matter because any aggressive behavior needs to be taken seriously and handled right away.

What Are the Signs of Aggression in Dogs?

Shih Tzu and Pekinese in what looks like a dog fightPlaying or aggressive behavior?

If a dog growls at you, your initial reaction is to probably back away, but did you know that dogs have different kinds of growls for different reasons?

It’s sort of how humans yell for different reasons; you can yell because you’re mad, but you can also yell because you’re cheering on your favorite team.

When it comes to recognizing aggression in dogs, it’s important to understand the difference between the actions that mean, “you better back off,” or “I’m nervous,” or even, “I want to play.

So, how do you know if a dog’s behavior might be dangerous? Here are some telltale signs that your pup might be aggressive:

  • Rigid posture
  • Pinned back ears
  • Growling
  • Baring teeth
  • Snapping
  • Biting (from light nips to more serious bites)
  • Intense Stare
  • Rapid tail movement with tail straight up

None of these signs is a definite clue that your dog is aggressive.

In fact, many of these signs can indicate other issues and feelings; a dog that shows its teeth might actually be engaging in submissive behavior, especially if the teeth-baring is accompanied by an averted gaze or relaxed posture.

Therefore, if you notice your Shih Tzu engaging in any of these behaviors, take note of her overall demeanor.

If you notice your pup doing more than one of these things at the same time, aggression is more likely the case.

What Should You Do If Your Shih Tzu Is Aggressive

Three small dogs getting along

Ideally, if you get your Shih Tzu when she is a puppy, there are practices that you can put in place from the start to prevent aggressive behavior from developing in the first place.

Socializing your puppy is critical, plus it is important to watch for any type of dominant behavior and discourage it from the get-go, using positive reinforcement when training your dog.

For example, if your pup tries to nudge you out of your spot on the sofa, or growls at you when you reach for a piece of dropped food, it is essential to nip these actions in the bud right away.

Never assume that small displays of aggression are no big deal, these are the types of behaviors that, if left unaddressed, develop into more severe aggression later.

Of course, you may have adopted or purchased an older pup that is already set in her ways, so what do you do if your new dog already shows signs of aggression?

Many people assume that if their dog becomes aggressive, then the dog has to be given up or even worse, put down, and that simply is not the case.

Depending on the level of aggression, with proper training and behavioral therapy, many dogs can overcome their aggressive ways.

Still, even a redeemed pooch may make a better housemate for certain people over others.

Therefore, in these situations, the critical factor to consider is who else lives in the home with the dog.

For example, if your dog has a history of aggression, but has been re-trained, he still might not be a good fit for a home with young children or other dogs.

When it comes to the optimum place for your dog, your vet may be the best person to consult with for an honest, unbiased and realistic assessment of the ideal home for your canine pal.

Learn the Source of Your Dog’s Aggression

When you hear the term “aggressive dog,” you may immediately picture a dog that bites or worry that it is a dog that will attack.

However aggression comes in many forms, and some dogs will only display mild aggressive behavior.

If your dog shows any signs of aggression, no matter how mild, work with your vet or a professional trainer that specializes in dog behavior to uncover the root cause of your pup’s aggression.

Most often, tackling the cause of aggression is the best way to handle aggressive behavior.

Dogs can display aggressive behavior because they are:

  • Frightened
  • Establishing their dominance
  • Nervous
  • Protecting their territory (or even their owner)
  • Sick
  • In pain
  • Confused

If your usually calm and laid-back pooch is suddenly acting aggressively, then your first step should be a visit to your vet for a health exam to rule out any underlying medical conditions or hidden injuries that might be causing your Shih Tzu’s uncharacteristic behavior.

Once you know the reason for your dog’s undesirable behavior, you can put together an effective and appropriate plan to handle it, resulting in a happier pooch and a more relaxed you.

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By now, we are all be aware of the dangers of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and how it spreads from human to human, but what about pets?  

This is what the CDC has to say about it:

"The CDC hasn't received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, and no evidence that companion animals (pets) can spread COVID-19. 

However, if you are sick with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people"

Read more about pets health on the CDC's healthy pet website