If adorable dogs are your thing, a Shih Poo pup could be your dream come true. With their huge brown eyes, sweet natures, and fuzzy coats, they’re the very definition of cute. But be warned: behind their cutie-pie exteriors lurks a stubborn nature. Although they’re highly intelligent, training can be a challenge… and the less said about the struggles of housebreaking the better! They also come with some very specific care requirements. If you’ve recently welcomed a new little friend into the fold, be sure to check out our 10 tips for taking care of Shih Poo puppies.
1. Be patient with housebreaking
One of the very first things you’ll need to teach your Shih Poo pup is where they should go to the bathroom, and where they really shouldn’t. Like most small dogs, Shih Poos can struggle to get to grips with housebreaking. But they’re smart, and with the right training techniques, they will eventually get the message, even if it does take a little longer than you imagined. Perseverance and patience are key: never scold them if they have an accident, and only ever use positive reinforcement. Reward them for each and every success, no matter how minor, and all your efforts will pay off (sooner or later).
2. Get them used to being groomed
As petguide.com notes, a Shih Poo’s coat can be anything from long and silky to short and curly. Regardless of its type, regular grooming is a must. Get your pup used to the process as early as possible by scheduling twice weekly grooming sessions. Use a gentle, soothing motion and a brush that suits their coat type. Although some pups can take a little longer to get used to being brushed than others, most will eventually grow to love it.
3. Introduce them to a toothbrush
Over half of all dogs under the age of 3 suffer from periodontal disease. Make sure yours doesn’t join them by introducing your pup to the joys of having their teeth brushed. As Shih Poo’s have tiny jaws, you might find a brush that attaches to your fingertip a better option than a regular brush. Use a gentle technique and be prepared to invest in some great tasting doggy toothpaste – you’ll be surprised at how much happier they’ll be if their twice-weekly dental routine comes chicken-flavored.
4. Socialize them
Shih Poo’s are naturally friendly, but as with all pups, early socialization is key if you want them to turn out as well-adjusted and sociable as they can be. Get them used to meeting a wide variety of people (both adults and kids) and other pets as soon as they’ve finished their last round of vaccinations.
5. Plan out their diet
Shih Poo’s are tiny. A fully grown adult will typically reach a maximum height of 8-13 inches and a maximum weight of 8-18lbs. A Shih Poo pup is even smaller. Although they might be eager enough to take any table scraps or treats off your hands, don’t let them. A fat Shih Poo may still be cute, but obesity comes with the kind of lifelong problems no conscientious pet owner wants for their dog. As per dog-learn.com, stick to about ½ cup of premium dry food spread over three meals a day until the pup is around six months of age. If you’ve any concerns about how much or what type of food your pup should be getting, don’t be afraid to speak to you vet – it’s what they’re there for, after all.
6. Avoid the stairs
If you live in a multi-story building, prepare to be your pup’s escalator, at least for a little while. Until your pet reaches the age of around 8 months old, they should avoid climbing stairs or engaging in too many energetic activities that involve running or jumping. Doing either could damage their developing bones and joints, leading to a lifetime of mobility issues.
7. Establish a regular exercise schedule
Although strenuous activity should be discouraged in young pups, they are going to need some outlet to burn off all that energy. Very young pups will typically get all the exercise they need through play. Once they hit their third month, start getting them used to regular, planned exercise. Short walks are best to begin with (5-10 minutes should do). As the pup begins to get older and more confident on the leash, gradually increase the duration and frequency of the walks until they’re getting around 30-45 minutes of exercise per day.
8. Get them used to a leash
The sooner you can get your pup used to a leash, the better. Shih Poo’s are naturally curious: combine that with a love of adventure and a spunky disposition, and you’re looking at a lifetime spent chasing their tail. Avoid the trauma of having your pup run off by getting them used to wearing a leash whenever you leave the house.
9. Make friends with your vet
Other than making sure they get their full course of vaccinations, Shih Poo’s will require regular checkups at the vets. A yearly visit for de-worming treatments are par for the course with any dog, but considering the range of health problems Shih Poo’s can develop (including ear infections, spinal disc disease, portosystemic shunts, anemia, retinal atrophy, heart disease, Cushing’s disease, and epilepsy), it’s worth getting them used to having a routine physical as soon as you can.
10. Get them fixed
Unless you seriously intend on breeding your Shih Poo, speak to your vet about de-sexing them as soon as possible. Not only will it protect them from any unplanned pregnancies, it’ll also help safeguard them against certain diseases such as mammary cancer. As Wikihow notes, the recommended age for de-sexing a dog varies according to the vet you speak to, but most recommend females are neutered from four to six months of age, and males are spayed between six to ten months of age.