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Why Is My Shih Tzu Whining: 10 Reasons & What to Do

If your Shih Tzu has started whining it can be both worrying and confusing.

You’ll want to know what’s causing them to whine, and of course what you can do to stop it.

I’ve been helping Shih Tzu owners overcome whining for the last few years now, and the following information is going to be of upmost importance if you want to fix this behavior.

Let’s get into it!

shih tzu whining

Are Shih Tzus a Whiny Breed?

First things first, let’s address a common question:

Are Shih Tzus inherently a whiny breed?

Well, not exactly.

Although each dog is an individual, Shih Tzus are not generally known to be more whiny than other breeds.

However, their strong bond with their humans can sometimes make them more expressive when they want to communicate something.

10 Reasons Why Shih Tzus Whine

There are several reasons why your Shih Tzu might be whining. Let’s explore some of the most common ones:

1. They’re in Pain or Discomfort

Just like humans, dogs can whine when they’re in pain. It’s one of their ways to communicate that something is wrong. If your Shih Tzu is whining more than usual, it might be worth a trip to the vet.

Check for signs of injury or illness like limping, lethargy, or loss of appetite. The American Veterinary Medical Association has an excellent resource on what to expect during a vet visit.

2. They’re Stressed or Anxious

Shih Tzus are known for their sensitive nature. Changes in their environment, loud noises, or separation from their favorite humans can all cause stress, leading to whining. It’s their way of saying, “I’m not comfortable with this.” PetMD has a great article on how to help your dog with anxiety.

3. They Want Something

Sometimes, your Shih Tzu is just trying to tell you they want something. It could be attention, food, or playtime. They’ve learned that whining gets your attention, and they’re using it to their advantage.

4. They’re Seeking Attention or Affection

Shih Tzus are known to be affectionate and social dogs. Sometimes, they whine to get your attention or to ask for some cuddle time. If your Shih Tzu is whining and looking at you, they might be seeking your attention, especially if they haven’t had much interaction with you recently.

5. They’re Bored

Boredom can also cause a Shih Tzu to whine. If your dog isn’t getting enough physical and mental stimulation, they might resort to whining to express their frustration. Ensure your Shih Tzu has enough playtime, exercise, and engaging activities to prevent boredom.

6. They Need to Go Potty

Whining can be a sign that your Shih Tzu needs to go outside to do their business. If you notice your Shih Tzu whining and pacing near the door, it’s a clear signal that they need a bathroom break.

7. They’re Hungry or Thirsty

Your Shih Tzu might whine when they’re hungry or thirsty. If it’s close to mealtime or if you notice their water bowl is empty, try feeding them or refilling their water to see if the whining stops.

8. They’re Overstimulated or Excited

Sometimes, Shih Tzus can whine when they’re overstimulated or excited. This can happen during playtime or when they see someone they love. In this case, the whining is an expression of their enthusiasm and joy.

9. They’re Feeling Fearful

Fear is another emotion that can cause a Shih Tzu to whine. Loud noises, unfamiliar situations, or even the presence of other dogs can trigger fear-related whining. It’s essential to identify the cause of your dog’s fear and help them feel safe and secure.

10. They’re Experiencing Changes in Their Environment

Shih Tzus can be sensitive to changes in their environment. A new home, new family members, or even rearranging furniture can cause stress and lead to whining.

In these cases, providing reassurance and helping your Shih Tzu adjust to the changes will help reduce their anxiety.

4 Things To Tackle Shih Tzu Whining

Now that we understand some of the reasons why your Shih Tzu might be whining, let’s look at what we can do to help them.

Rule Out Medical Issues

First and foremost, you should rule out any potential medical issues. As I mentioned earlier, a sudden increase in whining could indicate pain or discomfort. If you’re in doubt, always consult with a vet. Websites like the RSPCA offer comprehensive advice on dog health and when to seek veterinary help.

Create a Calm Environment

If your Shih Tzu is whining due to stress or anxiety, creating a calm, stable environment can help. This might mean reducing exposure to loud noises, providing a safe space for them to retreat to, or spending more time with them if they’re suffering from separation anxiety.


Training can also be beneficial, especially if your Shih Tzu is whining for attention or because they want something. Reward-based training, where you reward your Shih Tzu for quiet behavior and ignore whining, can be effective. Remember, consistency is key! VCA Hospitals provides a detailed guide on how to manage barking and whining through reward-based training.

Consult with a Professional

If your Shih Tzu’s whining persists or if it’s causing significant distress to your dog, consider consulting with a professional dog behaviorist. They can provide tailored advice and strategies to manage your dog’s behavior. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers offers resources on how to choose a professional trainer or behaviorist.

Tips to Prevent Whining

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent whining in your Shih Tzu:

  • Socialize your Shih Tzu: Socializing your Shih Tzu from a young age can help them become more confident and less prone to anxiety. This means exposing them to a variety of people, places, and situations in a positive way.
  • Maintain a Routine: Dogs thrive on routine. Keeping a consistent schedule for meals, walks, and playtime can provide a sense of security for your Shih Tzu, reducing the chances of stress-related whining.
  • Physical and Mental Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and keep your Shih Tzu happy and healthy. This includes both physical exercise and mental stimulation, such as training or puzzle toys.
  • Positive Reinforcement Training: Training your Shih Tzu using positive reinforcement methods can help them learn to communicate in ways other than whining.

Final Thoughts

Understanding why your Shih Tzu is whining and knowing how to address it can greatly improve the quality of life for both you and your furry friend. Remember, your Shih Tzu isn’t whining to annoy you – they’re trying to communicate.

It’s essential to approach the situation with patience and empathy. The bond between you and your Shih Tzu is unique and understanding their way of communicating will only strengthen that bond.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional. Your Shih Tzu is depending on you to understand their needs and ensure they’re happy and healthy.

So, the next time you hear your Shih Tzu whining, you’ll have a better understanding of what they might be trying to tell you. Just remember, when it comes to your Shih Tzu’s health and happiness, you’re their best advocate.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.