The world of small dogs is a different one compared to most humans. This is because things are so much bigger and more frightening to a small dog such as a shih tzu. Particularly when they are out and about in the world. Whether meeting other, larger dogs or simply having to negotiate around people, places, and things, small shih tzus in particular feel vulnerable and afraid and for good reason.
It is the natural instinct of all dogs to be curious, to explore, and to socialize with other dogs along with people. That process is subverted when the dog itself is too small. This means that such small dogs, particularly shih tzus are caught between their natural instincts and the fear associated with being so small.
The intimidation factor becomes considerable and that can greatly affect the personality of your shih tzu. To better understand their world, you will have to get inside it for a while.
Shih Tzus and Other Dogs
Bigger dogs can be quite intimidating for shih tzus, so you need to redirect their concern to something that helps them associated better.
Play a Game: If you are in the dog park or at home play a game with your shih tzu. A good tug of war or finding treats is a good way to begin. Let them become comfortable playing alone before introducing another dog.
When Another Dog Approaches: When another dog is nearby, play the game again. Your shih tzu should be focused on the game and not the other dog.
If your shih tzu is still uncomfortable around larger dogs, you can pick them up and provide protection. This at least will help them stay calm in this situation.
Shih Tzus and Humans
Since humans tend to be considerably larger than other dogs at least in the eyes of shih tzus, that intimidation factor may be even more relevant. This means that the shih tzus themselves need to be trained to accept humans coming into their personal space. After all, while you cannot always predict the behavior of strangers, you can train the dog to know how to react when the unexpected occurs.
Pet & Treat: This is one of the most common tactics. Leaning over the shih tzu and feeding them with one hand while petting them with the other. This helps the shih tzu become more comfortable in an otherwise intimidating situation.
Bring in the Friend: Now that the shih tzu expects to be treated well, bring in the stranger. Let them give the shih tzu a treat and pet them gently as well. It is best to take your cues from the dog. If they growl or otherwise look fearful, then back away and slowly re-approach.
One at a Time: This greeting process should be done one at a time so as to not overwhelm your shih tzu.
A little patience goes a long way to make your small shih tzu feel more comfortable in the world. Start slowly and let your dog work up its confidence. This hopefully will end the “small shih tzu syndrome” at least for your pet.