Are Shih Tzus Good Guard Dogs?

Are Shih Tzus good guard dogs? This is a question that many people ask, and the answer is not always clear. Shih Tzus are known for being friendly and lovable, but they can also make great watchdogs.

However, there is a difference between being a good watchdog and a good guard dog. We will discuss the pros and cons of using Shih Tzus as guard dogs.

We will also look at some of the best ways to train your Shih Tzu to be a good watchdog.

Watchdog or Guard Dog

When it comes to Shih Tzus, there is a difference between being a watchdog and being a guard dog. A watchdog is trained to bark at any strange noise or person that comes near the home. They are not necessarily aggressive, but they will make enough noise to alert the owners.

A guard dog, on the other hand, is trained to be more aggressive. They will not only bark, but they may also attack intruders. Guard dogs need to be well-trained and socialized so that they can distinguish between a real threat and a friendly visitor.

Given the above, would a Shih Tzu make a good guard dog? Probably Not. A good watchdog? Yes.

My girl was a very good watchdog.  If she heard anything out of the ordinary or if someone, she didn’t know came by she would bark. She would start with this low sounding kind of growl which would then get louder.

It was kind of cute actually, but I did feel safer having her around.

Temperament of Shih Tzus

The typical temperament of a Shih Tzu is loving, friendly and outgoing. They are not naturally aggressive dogs and do not have a strong prey drive.

This means that they are less likely to attack someone who comes into your home, even if they are strangers.

They would love nothing more than to sit on your lap and be petted and cuddled all day long. This is not the temperament of a dog that is going to make a good guard dog.

However, this does not mean that Shih Tzus cannot be trained to be good watchdogs. Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs and have great hearing which would makes them very alert to their surroundings.

With the right training, they can learn to bark at strangers and alert you to their presence.

Training a Shih Tzu to Be a Good Watchdog

There are several steps you can take to start training your Shih Tzu to be a good watchdog.

Step 1. Basic Commands

The first step is to make sure your Shih Tzu knows some basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down.

Step 2. Socialize With Other Dogs and People

It is important that your Shih Tzu is well-socialized with other dogs and people. This will help them to understand that not all strangers are a threat.

Let them explore and become familiar with the different sounds, smells, and sights in your neighborhood.

Step 3. The Bark at List

The first thing you should do when teaching a watchdog is to establish what and what not to bark at. Make a list of things that you want your watch dog to notice.

When your dog barks at anything on this list, praise them! It’s critical that you discourage this behavior when your dog barks at something that shouldn’t be barked at.

Your watchdog will learn to only alert you of potentially harmful circumstances over time.

Step 4. Teach Impulse Control

One of the most important things you can teach your Shih Tzu is impulse control. This means that your dog will learn to control their impulses and not bark at everything they see or hear.

They should also maintain control when meeting new people.

You can start teaching impulse control by asking your dog to sit and stay before you open the door. Once they have mastered this, you can ask them to stay while you walk out of the room.

Step 5. Teach Property Boundaries

You’ll also need to teach your Shih Tzu the boundaries of his territory, as well as any other areas that he is allowed to enter. This means that they should only bark when someone is on your property and not when they are walking or driving by.

You want them to learn what and who they are protecting.

Step 6. Test Your Shih Tzu’s Skills

Once you’ve taught your Shih Tzu all the above, it’s time to test their skills. You can do this by having a friend or family member come over and ring the doorbell.

If your Shih Tzu starts barking, praise them!

The most important thing is to be consistent with their training and praise them when they do an excellent job.

Shih Tzus are smart little dogs and with the right training, they can make great watchdogs.

Step 7. Practice Daily and Be Patient

It is important to practice these steps on a daily basis so that your Shih Tzu doesn’t forget what they have learned.

Remember to be patient and consistent with their training, and eventually, you will have a great watchdog.

What Type of Dogs are Best to Be Good Guard Dogs?

Not all dogs make good guard dogs. The best guard dogs are typically large breeds with a strong prey drive.

Breeds that are commonly used as guard dogs include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Dobermans
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Pit Bulls

Even though large dogs are typically the best guard dogs, this does not mean that small dogs cannot be trained to do the same job. If you put in the time and effort to properly train, smaller dogs can probably do the job.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, when it comes to being a good guard dog, Shih Tzus are probably not the best choice. If the main reason for getting a dog is for protection, consider getting a larger breed dog as mentioned above.

While you certainly can train your Shih Tzu to be a good watchdog, remember their natural temperament is to be a lap dog and not a guard dog. Shih Tzus are simply not bred for this type of work.

If you are set on getting a Shih Tzu, the best thing you can do is to train them properly, be consistent and hope for the best.

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