Why Does My Shih Tzu Howl? Reasons and Solutions

Why Does My Shih Tzu Howl

Shih Tzus are known for their adorable looks and friendly personalities, but sometimes they can exhibit strange behaviors. 

One of these behaviors is howling, which might be problematic for owners unfamiliar with this breed’s habits. Although howling is not inherently harmful, it is crucial to understand why your Shih Tzu might be doing it.

There are several reasons why Shih Tzu howls, such as loneliness, boredom, or seeking attention. With appropriate training and care, most Shih Tzus can learn to regulate their howling and transform into content, well-mannered pets.

However, it is essential to note that excessive howling can also be a sign of underlying behavioral problems or medical issues. As such, owners need to pay attention to their dog’s behavior and seek the advice of a veterinarian or professional dog trainer if they are concerned.

Why Do Shih Tzus Howl?

Shih Tzus, known for their gentle nature, may sometimes howl, which can concern their owners. Howling can indicate separation anxiety or serve as communication. If there’s no obvious reason for howling, it might signify loneliness or boredom.

In this section, we will examine various reasons behind the howling behavior of Shih Tzus.

Instinct and Ancestry

Shih Tzus are believed to be closely related to wolves and have retained some of their ancestral instincts. 

One of these instincts is howling. Like wolves, who howl to communicate with their pack members, Shih Tzus may also howl as a means of self-expression.

Communication and Alert

Shih Tzus may also howl to communicate with their owners or alert them to threats. For example, a Shih Tzu may howl if they hear a loud noise or sense danger nearby. This behavior is a natural response to perceived danger or the need for attention.

Attention Seeking and Separation Anxiety

Shih Tzus may also howl to seek attention from their owners. If a Shih Tzu is left alone for extended periods, it may develop separation anxiety, leading to excessive vocalization, destructive chewing, inappropriate urination, and other behavioral problems.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can also cause a Shih Tzu to howl. If a Shih Tzu feels stressed or anxious, it may howl to release its emotions. This behavior can be particularly prevalent in Shih Tzus, who have experienced trauma or have been mistreated.

Medical Issues

Finally, medical issues can also cause a Shih Tzu to howl. If a Shih Tzu is in pain or discomfort, they may howl to express their distress. 

Some medical issues that can cause excessive vocalization in Shih Tzus include dental, respiratory, and neurological disorders.

Shih Tzus may howl for various reasons, including instinct and ancestry, communication and alertness, attention seeking and separation anxiety, stress and anxiety, and medical issues. 

If a Shih Tzu exhibits excessive howling or other behavioral issues, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian. This will help rule out any underlying medical concerns and address potential behavioral problems.

How to Stop Your Shih Tzu from Howling

Shih Tzus are famous for their tendency to be vocal, but excessive howling can be a problem for the dog and its owner. Fortunately, there are several ways to curb this behavior.

Training and Behavioral Modification

Training and behavioral modification are crucial to stopping excessive howling in Shih Tzus. 

By applying positive reinforcement tactics, such as giving rewards for proper behavior, your dog can be effectively trained to stop howling. On the other hand, punishment and scolding are not recommended as they may increase anxiety and fear in your dog.

It’s crucial to identify the root cause of your dog’s howling. Separation anxiety, boredom, or fear can all contribute to excessive howling. 

Addressing these underlying issues through training and behavioral modification can help reduce howling.

Environmental Changes

Creating a calm and comfortable environment can reduce anxiety and stress in your dog. This can be achieved by providing a cozy bed, creating a designated space for your dog, and minimizing loud noises. Environmental changes can also help reduce howling in Shih Tzus.

Additionally, providing toys and puzzles can keep your dog mentally stimulated and reduce boredom, which can also lead to excessive howling.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Consistent physical activity and mental engagement can aid in decreasing howling in Shih Tzus. Ensuring daily walks, play sessions, and training activities can assist in expending surplus energy and alleviating anxiety.

Mental stimulation, such as puzzles and training exercises, can help keep your dog’s mind active and relieve boredom.

Socialization and Companionship

Socialization and companionship are essential for Shih Tzus. Encouraging your dog to meet new people, explore different places, and experience new things can assist in reducing anxiety and fear, subsequently curbing excessive howling.

Additionally, providing a companion pet can help reduce loneliness and 

anxiety in your dog.

Stopping excessive howling in Shih Tzus requires training, environmental changes, exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and companionship. 

By knowing the root cause of your dog’s howling and providing a calm and comfortable environment, you can help reduce this behavior.

When to See a Veterinarian or Behaviorist

If a Shih Tzu howls excessively or displays unusual behavior, it may be necessary to seek advice from a veterinarian or behaviorist. 

It is essential to eliminate any medical problems causing the howling. A veterinarian can conduct a physical examination, blood tests, and various diagnostic tests to ascertain if there is an underlying medical issue.

If there are no medical issues, a behaviorist can help identify any behavioral problems causing the howling. 

They can provide training and behavior modification techniques to help reduce the howling and improve the dog’s overall behavior.

Genetics may sometimes play a role in Shih Tzu’s howling behavior. If this is the case, a behaviorist can work with the dog and its owner to develop a management plan considering the dog’s genetic predisposition.

It’s essential to seek professional help if a Shih Tzu’s howling is causing problems for the dog or its owner. 

A behaviorist can help identify the root cause of the problem and provide practical solutions to manage the behavior.

If a Shih Tzu’s howling behavior is excessive or unusual, it’s essential to seek advice from a veterinarian or behaviorist. They can help determine if there are any medical issues or behavioral issues that need to be addressed. 


Shih Tzu howling can signify various things, including separation anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or a medical issue. It is crucial to understand the underlying cause to address the behavior correctly.

Shih Tzus are bred to be human companions and thrive on love and attention. Therefore, spending quality time with them and ensuring they feel loved can help reduce the likelihood of excessive howling.

Consistency in daily routines can help combat separation anxiety and boredom; interactive toys and puzzles can ensure mental stimulation and prevent howling due to a lack of engagement.

It is crucial to pay attention to a Shih Tzu’s behavior and seek veterinary attention if necessary. A medical condition can cause excessive howling; it is essential to rule out any underlying health problems.

Understanding Shih Tzu’s behavior and needs can help prevent excessive howling. 

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