At first, needy behavior might be cute and endearing, but it doesn’t take long before it can become annoying and frustrating.
Although very mild forms of clinginess isn’t usually an issue, this behavior can progressively get worse if owners aren’t reacting in the correct ways.
If you’ve got a needy Shih Tzu, this article has absolutely everything you need to know about it. I’ll cover the reasons why, how to fix it, and the opinions of canine behavior experts.
Let’s get into it!
The Shih Tzu Breed: A Brief Overview
Before we delve into the whys and hows, it’s important to understand the Shih Tzu breed. Originally bred to be a companion dog for Chinese royalty, Shih Tzus thrive on human companionship. This breed is known for its friendly nature and love of attention.
As the American Kennel Club notes, Shih Tzus are “affectionate, happy, outgoing house dogs who love nothing more than to follow their people from room to room.” So, don’t be surprised if your Shih Tzu follows you around like a shadow!
Already, it’s fairly obvious that Shih Tzus are a breed prone to being hyper attached to their owners.
Understanding Shih Tzu Needy Behavior
Let’s run through the main four reasons why Shih Tzus are needy or become clingy. Take note of number four as this is one of the most common causes!
1. It’s in Their DNA
Genetics play a significant role in your Shih Tzu’s needy behavior. They were bred for companionship, and their ancestors spent centuries in palaces, always close to their human friends. This has led to a genetic predisposition to be close to their human companions.
2. They’re left on their own too much
Shih Tzus are incredibly social animals. They love being around people, and they often perceive their human family as their pack. Isolation is distressing for them, and they’ll seek your company as a source of comfort.
3. Separation Anxiety
If your Shih Tzu seems excessively needy, they might be suffering from separation anxiety . This is a condition where a dog becomes extremely anxious and distressed when separated from its owner. PetMD provides a detailed look at this condition and its potential triggers.
4. Accidental Reinforcement of Needy Behavior
Sometimes, needy behavior can be inadvertently reinforced by the owner. For example, if your Shih Tzu whines or paws at you for attention and you immediately respond, they’ll learn that this behavior gets them what they want. Over time, this can contribute to increased clinginess and neediness, as your dog will keep seeking your attention using the same methods.
To avoid accidentally reinforcing needy behavior, be mindful of how you respond to your Shih Tzu’s demands. Reward calm and independent behavior, and avoid reinforcing clingy actions by only giving attention when they are relaxed and not seeking it.
What Can I Do About My Needy Shih Tzu?
Having a needy Shih Tzu can be both a blessing and a challenge. While their affection can be endearing, it can also be overwhelming. Here’s what you can do:
Spend Quality Time Together
Shih Tzus crave companionship, so spend quality time together. Play games, go for walks, or simply cuddle on the couch. This can reassure your dog that they are loved and part of the family.
Training and Socialization
Training and socialization are crucial for any breed, and Shih Tzus are no exception. Teach your dog to be comfortable even when you’re not around. Start by leaving them alone for short periods, gradually increasing the duration.
Also, expose your Shih Tzu to different environments and people. This can help them understand that they’re safe, even when you’re not around.
Provide Mental Stimulation
Keeping your Shih Tzu mentally stimulated can help reduce their neediness. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and new tricks can keep their minds busy.
Consult a Professional
If your Shih Tzu’s needy behavior is causing distress or affecting their quality of life, it might be time to consult a professional. A professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist can provide personalized guidance. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a useful resource on finding the right professional for your pet’s needs.
Rule Out Medical Issues
Sometimes, clingy behavior can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. If your Shih Tzu’s neediness is sudden or out of character, consult your veterinarian. They can help determine if there’s a medical reason for the change in behavior. The RSPCA offers helpful advice on keeping your dog healthy and recognizing signs of illness.
Create a Safe Space
A safe space can help your Shih Tzu feel secure when you’re not around. Set up a comfortable area with their bed, favorite toys, and a piece of your clothing to provide a sense of familiarity. This can help reduce their anxiety when you’re not nearby.
Be Patient and Consistent
Changing your Shih Tzu’s needy behavior takes patience and consistency. Stay firm and consistent with your training, and remember that it may take time for them to adjust. It’s important to be patient and provide plenty of love and support throughout the process.
Expert Opinions on Needy Shih Tzus
Many pet experts acknowledge that Shih Tzus can be quite needy.
Dr. Mary Burch, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, explains that Shih Tzus’ need for companionship stems from their history as lapdogs in Chinese palaces. She emphasizes the importance of spending time with your dog, training, and socialization to manage their neediness.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an animal behavior expert, suggests that Shih Tzus’ need for human contact is a result of their breeding for companionship. He also points out that they can be prone to separation anxiety, which can contribute to their clingy behavior.
VCA Hospitals also note that while Shih Tzus are known for their loyalty and devotion, it’s essential to establish a healthy balance to avoid potential behavioral issues.
It’s normal for Shih Tzus to be needy due to their genetics, social nature, and potential separation anxiety. However, you can manage this behavior by spending quality time together, training, socializing, providing mental stimulation, and consulting professionals when necessary.
Remember to be patient and consistent, and soon your Shih Tzu will learn to balance their need for companionship with a healthy level of independence. So, cherish your Shih Tzu’s loving nature and use the tips provided to ensure a happy and well-adjusted