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TRAINING LULU THE SHIH TZU
IN THE BEGINNING
Ah...puppies. I love puppies... sweet, cuddley, balls of fur...energetic roly-poly clowns ...nature's perfection...until they squat and pee on my new carpet.
After thirty years of raising children (four of them boys), as well as a variety of pets (domesticated and wild), I am content to be without dependents. And although I like animals I have never felt the need to own one. I have made this declaration to mark the beginning of my journey into owning and training a Shih Tzu.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Shih Tzu (pronounced sheet - sue), means "lion." In Buddist Tibet the Snow Lion was a sacred celestial animal. It was eternally cheerfull, energetic, and wise. The Snow Lions regal posture, fearlessness, courage, and honor made it the perfect protector of Buddha. In most paintings and sculptures the Snow Lion will be seen holding up the Buddha's throne.
The sacred Lions are on the Tibetan Flag, they form the insignia of the Dalai Lama of Tibet, and the Snow Lion is on the government seals, coins, and stamps.
The original ancestors of today's Shih Tzu were bred by Tibetan Lamas to resemble tiny lions. It is believed that Tibetan "lion dogs" were given as a tribut to the Chinese imperors during the Quing (Ch'ing) Dynasty, between 1644 and 1662, and the Chinese interbred them with breeds imported from the west. This became a favorite pastime of the Chinese Imperial rulers.
These little lion dogs became the treasured and constant companion of the Emperors. The dogs were highly prized and guarded by the court guards.
Today the Shih Tzu can be found in a variety of colors, and although they are all small, some are smaller than others. They still resemble the Snow Lion and exhibit all the characteristics they were originally bred to possess.
Two years ago, my husband Jack (who loves dogs), happened across a five month old female, black and white Shih Tzu puppy. Need I say it was love at first sight? Well, as fate would have it the owner wanted to sell her. That evening and a short car ride later, we were gathering up our new baby Lulu, and all her belongings.
Lulu was our first house dog, and I soon discovered I had a lot to learn about house-breaking a puppy. The job turned out to be a little more challenging than potty training a toddler... maybe.
HOUSE TRAINING A PUPPY
(1) Make sure your puppy has constant access to toilet area.
(2) If you are not home confine your puppie to a dog proof area, and line the entire area with papers. I used puppy training pads (much easier clean up).
The old playpen came out of storage and became Lulu's den. Her bed was on one end and toilet area on the other. She slept in her den at night, and was confined to her den, when I had to be out of the house.
Lulu was in a new place with new people, so I expected our first night to be a sleepless one. I was surprised that she went to bed without a fuss and did not whine or yelp once during the night. I was impressed.
During the day Lulu was allowed the freedom of a specific room, as long as I could be with her. There were training pads everywhere, but she would find the the spaces between them more often than I liked. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees scrubbing up accidents from my brand new carpet.
(3) If your puppy has to be placed outside, never leave it unprotected from the elements or without water.
(4) Do not allow your puppy to eliminate on your floors.
(5) When elimination is performed correctly (on paper or pad),always reward and praise.
(6) Feeding your puppy at regular times will help you establish a more scheduled elimination, hence fewer accidents.
(7) Be patient. House training a puppy takes awhile. Most dogs are not fully house trained until they are six month old.
Lulu however, came with a very exasperating problem...She insisted on eating her feces. Well, naturally I was disgusted with this behavior and at my wit's end trying to figure out how to break her of this horrible habit. Nothing seemed to work. She loved the stuff.
I consulted our vet and discovered this condition is called Coprophagia. It seems that eating feces is natural for puppies and dogs; however, the behavior should go away as the puppy matures. The vet checked her for worms and asked about her eating habits (other than feces). Lack of nutrients and parasites can be a cause for this behavior. She cheked out fine, so he gave me a product called Forbid - a dry granule substance I was to sprinkle on her food. It was supposed to make her feces distasteful. Not so for Lulu...didn't even slow her down.
DON'T EAT THE POOP
Another method of stopping this behavior is to supplement the dogs diet with a spoonful of spinach or pineapple.
Lulu is a very picky eater and refuses to eat dry dog food of any brand, form, or flavor. She also refuses all canned dog foods except one - Purinia's Mighty Dog, Gormet Dinner. No surprise that she refused to eat pineapple or spinach. I tried to sprinkle her feces with hot sauce and had some success, however if I missed an event, we were back at square one.
(1) Always have your puppy/dog checked out by a veterinarian.
(2) Make sure your puppy/dog is provided with proper nutrition.
(3) Take dog out on leash and walk him/her by prior deposits of feces gifted by one of the neighbor pooches. When he/she shows an interest, say no or off and gently pull the dog away.
(4) Aways reward correct behavior.
(5) Keep pet area clean and free of feces.
These methods did not work well for me. I think the fact that she was five months old when we got her was the biggest problem. This bad behavior had already become a habit.
I finally resorted to the method I used to potty train my granddaughter Haylea. She was also a little stubborn and hard to train.
Haylea loved candy. Candy was almost an obsession with her, and a source of much discord in our house on occasion. I was at my wit's end trying to potty train her when I decided to let her obsession work for me. I placed a clear glass container of Hershey Kisses (her favorite) on a shelf in the bathroom. She could see it clearly while sitting on the potty chair. I told her when she used the potty, she would receive a piece of candy. Three days later she was completely potty trained.
I put Lulu's favorite treat in my pocket when I took her out to relieve herself. As soon as she pooped I would tug on her leash, tell her no when she turned to devour her recent droppings, and hold out a treat for her. She had to leave her deposit and walk to me to receive her treat. It took more than three days, but I am happy to say within a reasonable amount of time she gave up the poop snack. Although a treat is no longer necessary I give her one anyway...she is just so proud of herself.
I admit we have spoiled Lulu, but she has spoiled us too. She is true to her breed in every way. She is always cheerfull and can be such a little clown. If she makes us laugh she will repeat the behavior over, and over again. When she isn't clowning around she is lavishing us with affection.
I don't consider Lulu high maintenance. Shedding is miminal and typical of the breed, so I don't have to drag out the vacuum every day. Daily grooming is not for me, so we keep her in a "puppy cut," otherwise her wavy black and white double coat would sweep the floor. Her fur is hypoallergenic which my allergies appreciate. Lulu is happy, playful, and outgoing, but she can also be a little obstinant when she is trying to tell us something. She is wonderful with children and loves everybody, although she can be distrustful of some people on occasion. She considers herself a watchdog and barks to let us know when visitors, strangers, or squirrels are on the premises. Lulu is a constant companion. She is always in the room with me or Jack - at our feet, in our laps...our bed.
Life with Lulu has been trying at times. I have bemoaned the spots on my carpet and the chewed heels of my favorite pair of shoes. I stress over the fact that she thinks everyone who knocks on the door has come to see her personally (which we are working on). I am not much of a huggy - touchy person, so her constant attention is sometimes difficult for me; however over the past several months she has begun to demonstrate a respect for my space more often. I don't believe she considers herself just a pet, but rather a family member with all the rights and privileges thereof.
I never thought I would say this, but she is right. So, does this mean I now feel the need to own a pet? No. But I am glad we own Lulu.