Shih Tzu Day 114: Housebreaking Setback

back to housebreaking 101

A shih tzu protests being accused of not being housebroken (subject: housebreaking)I said yesterday that we had accomplished a housebreaking goal by moving the training pads by the back door. The pads went back into the dining room this morning because two incidences demonstrated a housebreaking setback.

First, thinking that housebreaking was at a different level, we let Dottie and Flower come in the bedroom, and someone took the opportunity to pee on the carpet. Also, when I went downstairs, I saw that Flower had peed on the red blanket on her couch. They are again barred from coming in the bedroom, and Flower got couch privileges taken away. So we are not as far along in our housebreaking as we thought. I should have appreciated our accomplishments in housebreaking Joey. There is a big difference in housebreaking a Yorkie puppy and puppy mill dogs.

a shih tzu between two couch cushions.Housebreaking isn’t the only difference between Joey and the shih tzus: licking is another. She used to lick faces, arms, hands. Not the shih tzus, though, but the surprise me at times. Flower came up once today and licked my feet, then quickly walked away. No idea if that was affection or what. Maybe she was apologizing for the housebreaking problems.

The morning frolic

a shih tzu chewing on a yellow bear.I try to keep the shih tzus outside as long as possible, as part of the housebreaking plan. I think Candy wanted to play after breakfast, but Nigel ran in with the other girls. I opened the door later and she started to come in. Nigel started to go out the door, paused and then turned around and got behind her. I guess he was going to push her in if she changed her mind.

a shih tzu in someone's arms.Then the morning frolic started near the dining room table. When I started to clean off the table, Nigel wandered over to his dog bed and started loudly chewing on a bone. Flower rivaled the noise playing with Yellow Bear. Actually, she wasn’t playing with it. Yellow Bear has a round plastic thing attached to him, and Flower likes chewing on plastic, so that’s what was causing the noise.

While they chewed, Candy sat under a dining room chair making peculiar noises. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong. I got the impression she might have been trying to get Nigel’s attention, but I doubt if he could hear her over his loud chewing.

grooming goes better than housebreaking

shih tzu with ears up like a rabbit.At least we seem to be doing a little better with grooming than with housebreaking. We got the kids’ faces and paws trimmed today. We are growing out their hair a little, so we didn’t get out the clippers. They were much easier to manage because of that. We also cleaned all of their eyes.

shih tzu getting eye cleaned with warm water on a cotton ball.Candy ran to hide under the trailer after we were done, Dottie acted as if it was business as usual and Flower ran back to Shih Tzu Central. Flower used to get so stressed out after getting on the grooming table, but that must not have been the case, because she immediately started chewing on something.

Nigel discovers the basement

two shih tzus playing.

I had to make a trip to the basement after my discovery that Flower needs a lot more housebreaking work. My washer and dryer get quite the workout these days. Nigel never used to know where I went when I went to do laundry, and he used to scamper upstairs to look for me, not understanding that the basement stairs and other stairs are in opposite directions. However, he finally followed me far enough to see where I was going. He ran downstairs when I went down and wandered around until it was time for us to go back up.

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Shih Tzu Day 113: Chaos at the Shih Tzu Zoo

The shih tzu zoo

two shih tzus playingtwo shih tzus playingI was looking around at the kids this morning and thought, “This is a shih tzu zoo!” At the time, Nigel was snuggled up to my left side. Dottie was lying on the other side. Flower and Candy had come alive, after a nap in their dog beds, and were wandering around the floor. What is amazing is that I do fairly well as a zookeeper.

two shih tzus playingJohn has been surprised at that too. I was the one who really wanted a Yorkshire terrier and the one who picked out and named Josephina Ballerina, aka Joey. However, John was the one who gave her the most care. A lot was different when we had Joey. For the first several years, I worked full time out of the house. For the last eight years she was with us I did my newspaper editing worked at home, but my editing and writing duties were out of control, so I never seemed to have time for her. Luckily, she was John’s baby, so that didn’t matter so much. He got up in the morning and fed her and fed her when he got home in the evening. She sat on his lap whenever he was sitting down.

When I decided I wanted a shih tzu, I gave it a lot of thought, because I knew I would need to be more involved. I haven’t had such a hectic schedule since leaving the paper three years ago. The timing seemed to be right. Of course, I planned for one shih tzu, not for several to overrun the house! I do love my shih tzu zoo though!

shih tzu romp time

After the shih tzus ate their breakfast and did their business, Dottie, Flower and Nigel scurried inside. Dottie and Flower don’t seem to have a big desire to stay outside since the weather is getting colder. Nigel usually wants to go right back out, so I don’t know why he came in with them. I told him to go play with Candy, and he did go back out. They had a half-hour romp.

When they came inside, they started playing in the dining room, but I had the back door open a little, so they danced outside onto the patio again. Loud noises outside brought them back in, and Flower joined the other two shih tzus. Since we haven’t gotten the girls used to walks yet, I’m glad they are getting “Nigel exercise.”

Candy went back outside a little later and sat by herself. I know she always liked being by herself, and I think she still does. She still loves to wander around the yard. When she sits on the porch, though, she looks towards the door sometimes, like she is waiting. Maybe for the little boy shih tzu to come out and play? Maybe not, though. I have a tendency to read into things.

couch competition

two shih tzus sparring.two shih tzus sparringFlower has been sitting by Dottie and me quite a bit lately. However, she had a problem today. She came and sat in front of the couch and kept looking up at it, but Nigel and Dottie were sprawled out taking up all the room. Flower went over and checked out the dog steps I bought from Ross Dress For Less, which Nigel uses to get up on the male side of the couch. She sniffed them, and eventually tried to step on one, but it moved and scared her. She investigated them again later, but they might be a little short for her, because she didn’t try very hard to use them. Eventually she wandered back over to Shih Tzu Central.


two shih tzus sparringAfter that, Nigel carried a small bear and some treats up onto the couch. Flower decided she wanted one of the treats and took it. It was probably one the male shih tzu stole originally from the girls anyway. The result was another bone war. When Nigel tried to get it back, Flower started yipping at him and jumped off the couch. He followed her down, but then she jumped up on her couch to escape him. He responded by stretching his neck out and going “woo, woo, woo,” like he was howling at the moon.

The couch situation has also caused Dottie to often sit closer to me now than she used to, because of competition for the couch corner. Today I was typing and felt something at my side. Dottie was sitting as close as Nigel does, rubbing against my sweater and looking up at me. She didn’t appear to be in pain or to be wanting anything, so I thought maybe she just felt like being close. When I thought about it further, though, she could have just been trying to figure out why my sweater pocket smelled like the dog treats I had in them the other day.

Kong enjoys the outdoors

a shih tzu with a retriever rollWhen I was deciding what treats to give the shih tzus, I came across the Kong I had bought the girls. They weren’t very interested, but I thought Nigel might be. I filled it with peanut butter, but he wasn’t interested either. That was surprising, since I thought Kongs were all the rage with dogs. Maybe they aren’t all that to shih tzus. Later in the afternoon, though, I noticed that the Kong was outside, with the peanut butter still inside. I imagine Nigel smuggled it out when I wasn’t looking. He didn’t want the peanut butter, but he likes the act of smuggling.

The shih tzus are much more into their variety of bones. Candy’s main interest today was a retriever roll from the Dollar Tree. I love watching her eat them, because she handles them so gently, holding them delicately between her front paws and nibbling like a rabbit.

New Dog Bed Relocation

four shih tzusNigel doesn’t seem to like to keep his dog bed in one place. Today, he grabbed it with his teeth and moved it continually until he finally had it right in front of the door. Maybe he wants it there to be the first one to greet John. After he finally stopped and got in it, Flower went and sat next to him, off of the bed, for at least 10 minutes.

Training Pads

I might be getting somewhere with the training pads. I have moved them clear over by the back door now, so they are no longer in the living room or dining room, and the shih tzus have been using them. I counted three spots when I came downstairs this morning. Since the goal is to get them to do their business outside whenever possible, I positioned jingle bells above the training pads. My hope is that I will hear them and can get there before they do anything, so I can get them outside in time. I don’t think I have them positioned correctly yet, though, because I never hear them jingle. Either that, or the shih tzus are tiptoeing around.

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Shih Tzu Day 110: Dog Play and Dog Treats

Experimenting with dog treats again

a shih tzu near a dog bed.I experimented with dog treats again today. I still haven’t quite figured out which dog likes which dog treats. I threw several out on the floor, to see who would go for what. Flower and Nigel seem to be the most versatile as far as dog treats go. They all seem to like pig ears, and Nigel and Flower really like the bully sticks. It’s touch and go with the Greenbrier Kennel Club mini red and white rawhide bones, pressed rawhide bones and retriever rolls from the Dollar Tree. Sometimes these dog treats lie around for days, and then someone picks up one and begins to chew on it and all the other dogs want it. Then it’s back to bone wars.

a shih tzu pulling a sock off. Today, the other three grabbed a Beefeaters pig ear strip, but Candy chose a red and white rawhide bone. Dottie usually likes the rawhide bones too. Nigel doesn’t seem to discriminate between dog treats. He likes anything, and is expert at unraveling the Oinkies pig skin twists, but something has to be eliminated from his diet, because he has been stinking up a storm. My guess is the rawhide dog treats, which I have debated giving the dogs, because I have heard such mixed opinions about rawhide.

Overall, at the top of the dog treats list is a good-old fashioned, real dog bones from the meat department with real marrow in the middle. I bought some this week. Five minutes after I passed them out, Flower had collected three in her bed, so I had to confiscate two and redistribute. They are a little pricey where I found them, at five dollars for five small bone pieces. Not bad if you have one dog, but giving them to four dogs makes a difference!

A different life

a dog stretched out on a couch.I was thinking today how different life is from a year ago, when I edited or wrote alone in my quiet house, sometimes with the TV on in the background. Now, it’s normal to have to pet a dog on each side between making editorial corrections. I also used to worry about forgetting to take my eyes off the computer screen for long lengths of time.

a shih tzu chasing another shih tzu.Jumping up dozens of times a day to open the door when Nigel scratches at it, to either come in or go out, changes that. Plus, watching the shih tzus when they start playing also gives my eyes the opportunity to rest from the computer. Definitely, I laugh and smile more than I used to, because how can you help it with so much cuteness around?

My couch gets more and more use these days. While I worked on my laptop this afternoon, Nigel rested on one side of me and Dottie and Flower on the other. Dottie seems to be getting used to the fact that she can’t always have the very end of the couch. She didn’t growl today when Flower sat there. Flower stayed on the couch for some time. Their body language is so different. Dottie lies down, her head down, Nigel cuddles up right next to me and Flower looks like she is always on guard.

Nigel still seems a little put off at times that he can’t always get them to play with him. He especially can’t understand that when I get up in the morning, they want to play with me. That is “our” time, from when I walk out the bathroom door until when I go into the kitchen and start putting their breakfast together. He lunges at Candy and then Flower, but they ignore him or yap at him. I always think of Rudolph not being a part of the “reindeer games.”

Since the girls were ignoring Nigel this morning, and I had gathered up all the dog treats, he decided to look for attention elsewhere. He sat at my feet and began pulling a sock off my foot. Sometimes I let him take them off, but sometimes I stop him. Today, I allowed him to pull one off before I retrieved it.

Candy and Goo Goo Doll

I was watching Candy trot across the floor today. With her fur longer, she reminds me a lot of the Persian cat we used to have, Goo Goo Doll. They could have been good friends.

two shih tzus on a couch.We got Goo Goo Doll, named after one of my favorite bands, at the same time we got our Yorkshire terrier, Joey. About a year later, we brought home a Rottweiler for my teenage stepson, who was living with us. Bo, who came from a farm, seemed like he got along with both Joey and Goo Goo Doll. However, our son kept him downstairs in the day when we were gone. One day, however, Bo got loose. Goo Goo Doll was dead when we got home. It broke my heart, and Bo went to a home without cats.

I think Goo Goo Doll even had the same type of temperament as Candy. After thinking about the similarities, I picked up Candy, hugged her and carried her around a while, and then I sat down and put her on my lap. She lay there for a while before she got restless.

I knew she had answered Nigel’s call to play a little later when I heard a rapid pitter patter of little paws and looked up to see her running by, Nigel behind her, with Candy’s tail in his mouth.

Flying Flower

two shih tzusI have a lot of nicknames for Flower, but John gave her a new one: Flying Flower. He calls her that because of the way she flies across the floor and leaps up on the couches, and because of the way she leaps and dances when I come down the stairs, when she is going to get breakfast and when I come home from somewhere. Sometimes she twirls around in the air in a complete circle before touching her feet to the ground again.

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Shih Tzu Day 31: Leash Training with the Comfy Control Harness

I'm not budging from this spot.

leash training for Dottie

John woke up at 4:30 this morning and took Shiloh downstairs. I thought the shih tzus would come prancing up the stairs, but he was very quiet and they didn’t rustle. However, the shih tzu sisters did come up to get me at their usual time of 5:30. I tried to ignore them, but it’s difficult to ignore so much cute, even that early in the morning. I finally got up and took them outside. Then, I had mercy on them and fed them early too.

When we came inside, I sat Candy on the couch with me, and Flower jumped up too. As is the usual case lately, Candy didn’t fight me, but as soon I let her, she jumped down. Flower, however, sat in the corner of the couch and let me pet her. She didn’t leave until I stopped giving her all my attention.

Shiloh chose to sit in Dottie’s chosen spot, on the right side of me, so I had to help Dottie up to the other side of me, where John usually sits. She tried to sit on my lap, but I think it’s uncomfortable for her when I am stretching my arms out to type (my laptop sits on a TV dinner stand) so I moved her back to where I had set her down earlier.

Whatever you think you're doing, it's not working.

I decided it was time to do a little leash training and I chose Dottie as the guinea pig.

I got her in the Comfy Control harness and we took her outside into the exercise area for our leash training session. I asked John if I needed to give her a treat, but he thought we were just teaching her typical behavior and that she didn’t need one. I’m not sure I agree with that.

Giving me one of my favorite treats won't make up for what you did.Maybe the treat would have been in order if we had succeeded in our leash training session, but that didn’t happen. She didn’t shake, but she didn’t walk either. She sat down, stiffened up and wouldn’t move. John tried to encourage her by tugging on the leash while calling her name, but he ended up dragging her a few inches. He tried to lift her up on all fours, but her back legs froze. Flower and Candy came outside to see what was happening and started barking, believing that John was trying to hurt her.

This morning was exhausting. We decided to take Dottie out to the front yard to continue the leash training where her sisters couldn’t try to defend her, but we didn’t have results there either. It’s obvious that I have to do a little research on how to get a fearful dog to walk while on a leash, so I will be doing Google searches and viewing YouTube videos on the subject before we try any leash training again.

Dottie seemed remarkably calm 30 minutes later. I gave her one of her favorite treats, Canyon Creek Ranch apple and chicken wraps, for her troubles. The other girls calmed down too, but it was a step back in their relationship with John. It’s possible that I need to do the leash training, with him coaching, since they trust me more. I have just always looked at him as the dog trainer, but these girls obviously aren’t Joey, or the other dogs John has had.

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Shih Tzu Day 21: The Terrier Makes Himself at Home

Shiloh, the Terrier: There’s a Strange Dog Following Me

Back to our Terrier guest, Shiloh. Once he had sniffed out his surroundings, he followed me all over the house. I hate to say this, but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of this dog following me everywhere. I admit it. Partially, I felt disloyal. After all, Dottie, Flower and Candy don’t yet feel that secure, so usually only Dottie follows me. Very quietly. Very slowly.

Having three shih tzus sitting in their safe zone in the corner all day, to emerge for brief periods of time, is much different than having an energized dog following you. I was getting a little nervous. I envisioned him needed lots of attention — more than I could give. My vision was he could pal around with John, since the shih tzus won’t.

Shiloh took it upon himself to take John’s seat on the couch and also to sit on Flower’s couch. Flower must not have wanted to fight him over it. She jumped on the couch next to me and Dottie.

Shiloh Enjoys a Brief Walk and Invades Our Bed

When John got home, Shiloh ran up to the door and greeted him enthusiastically, wagging her tail and putting her paws up on his leg. John was surprised. Although Joey, our Yorkie, was his darling, lately, he’s used to mainly having three sets of shih tzu eyes stare at him from afar when he comes in.

John took one look at him and said, “That’s not a Boston terrier.” Okay, this is an honest blog, so I have to tell you that John thought Shiloh was kind of peculiar looking. He determined that he might be a terrier/chihuahua mix. I guess I have to look at pictures on line to see what other dogs look like him.

John hasn’t walked a dog since months before elderly Joey died, so he considered putting the leash on him and taking him out. I told him that the doctor at Clear Creek Animal Hospital said he loved to walk.

Shiloh eagerly accepted the offer and followed him out the door. He said Shiloh did wonderful on his ten-minute walk and that it was obvious that he was used to someone taking him for walks.

Once they got back, the shih tzus mainly ignored him, except Flower. Unless you can keep a constant watch, it’s hard to see who is causing trouble, but a few times, I heard Flower growling at Shiloh and saw them circle each other, and a few times, leap towards each other, mouths open. I put myself in alert mode, hoping I didn’t have to pull them apart. They backed away. Maybe Flower was trying to size him up, or maybe to tell him that she was the pack leader, and he’d better not try to take that role.

Shiloh goes into his kennel easily, so he must be used to it. He crawled in there before bed, so I thought he would be fine, but then he started whining. As soon as I let him out, he ran upstairs and jumped onto the end of our bed. I gave in and decided I would let him stay there. After all, he probably hasn’t slept on a bed for a while. I do admit, though, that I didn’t like it. My girls don’t even sleep on the bed, so I really hated a “stranger” coming in and taking that position.

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