I Think My Shih Tzu has Lost Interest in Me -- Restoring the Bond

by Lisa

First I started working a lot of hours then I lost my job and I moved with a boyfriend who did not allow my puppy to be up on the bed with me.

Then my boyfriend moved out and now my puppy and I have moved 3 times in the last 6 months. He doesn't seem to want to play with me anymore or lay down and just let me love on him. I miss our friendship and my best friend.

Now that I live with my son he won't even let me take the dog with us in the car (Its his car). My puppys sad and I'm sad - what can I do to make it better thank you.

At this point I have to live with my son now and I don't have a job to take care of my dog like I use to get groomed every 45 days

I know once I find a job again we get our own place everything ok but I'm really worried about him.

Ed Answers:
Sounds like a lot of tough breaks but your dog don't have to be one of them. Dogs are very resilient and all she or he needs to feel better is lots of love and attention. They will adapt to any life style as long as they have lots of love, that is what they live for. Give him all the time and love you can and your friend will be back.

Our Answer

We’re sorry to hear about the difficult challenges you and your furbaby have been going through. Big life disruptions like changing homes and schedules can definitely affect a Shih Tzu’s emotional state. He may be suffering some mild depression and anxiety or feelings of separation.

We know these little guys can get upset when they’re not number one in your life because you are always number one in theirs! The good news is there are simple things you can do to restore the bond between you and start enjoying the love of your best friend again.

First, please make sure your Shih Tzu has a clean bill of health. It’s always possible that his sad demeanor is his way of telling you he doesn’t feel well. Is he eating, drinking and eliminating normally? Are there any other changes in his behavior that might indicate a health problem? A vet check is the best place to start the road to recovery.

Once you’re certain your pup is healthy you can start trying some different activities that will revive your bond. Since your letter states that employment is an issue we’ll focus on activities that are free or low-cost and easy to do.

A walk is truly one of the most effective ways to bond with your dog. Some people are under the misconception that because they’re small, Shih Tzu’s don’t need a daily walk. While it’s true the breed doesn’t require strenuous exercise, every dog benefits from a daily walk; a walk burns off nervous energy, lifts depression, adds a sense of regularity to the schedule and gives you the chance to reestablish yourself as the alpha in your dog-human relationship.

Even a short walk of 15 to 20 minutes can make a big difference. Start walking your Shih Tzu everyday – at the same time each day if possible – and very quickly he’ll be running to you with excitement when he sees you reaching for the leash.

Obedience Training
It doesn’t matter if he’s already the most well-trained Shih Tzu in town, practicing obedience skills will provide some much needed bonding time for the two of you. Keep the experience fun and positive, give him treats, but also use plenty of positive reinforcement. Start and end the training time with a super-easy command like “sit” so he can receive a reward at the beginning and close of the session.

Keep the session short, about 10 minutes. Longer sessions can lead to burnout and take the fun out of the experience. If your dog really enjoys the training and you want to do it more often cut the formal sessions to about 5 minutes. Once you’ve got his attention you can enjoy some free playtime without commands.

If possible, also join a group obedience class. It will give your Shih Tzu some much needed socialization time and you might meet a dog-loving friend who’s willing to take you and your furbaby to the dog park or on the occasional car ride. Big pet stores like PetCo frequently offer group training at affordable prices. Remember, in your case the point of the training is fun and bonding; he doesn’t need to be the star student.

Trips to the dog park, dog beach, pet store or even play dates at another dog’s house will lift your Shih Tzu’s spirits and put the spark back in your relationship. I mention this option last because it sounds like right now you’re dependent on your son for transportation and your dog isn’t welcome in the car.

Have you offered to keep the dog in a carrier or sit in the back seat with your Shih Tzu in a safety harness? If there is a way to have outings with your dog you’ll both benefit from the opportunity to have “adventures” together.

There are many things in life we can’t control, but providing a regular schedule that includes walks, playtime, socialization and positive attention will help our pets cope with change. Stay positive and trust that with time and effort your Shih Tzu and you will be enjoying a bond that’s stronger than ever.

And the next time you’re in the market for a new boyfriend say “bad dog” to any guy who won’t let your Shih Tzu sleep in bed with you!

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