How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Need?

Do you have a Shih Tzu? If so, you know that they’re adorable little dogs with big personalities. They love to play and are always up for an adventure; they are also really easy to train, making them ideal for first-time owners.

But did you know that their exercise requirements vary depending on age and general well-being? Let us help you with some tips to ensure your pup gets the right amount of activity every day.

The Shih Tzu breed needs a minimum of one hour’s exercise daily, split into two walks plus indoor activities and mental stimulation.

We all want our pets to be happy and healthy, but it can be difficult to figure out what type of exercise is best for them.

That’s why we created this guide – so we can help keep your Shih Tzu in tip-top shape!

Whether they need more or less activity than other breeds, we’ll examine how much exercise does a Shih Tzu need? Plus, look at some other tips to release pent-up energy. Let’s get started.

Why is Exercise Vital for Your Shih Tzu?

As the saying goes, “a tired dog is a happy dog” this is as true for Shih Tzus as it is for any other dog.

All dog breeds need daily exercise to keep their cardiovascular systems and muscles healthy; this is especially important for small dogs as they can be easily overfed and under-exercised.

Daily walks and exercise are also crucial for the mental health of your Shih Tzu. Keeping your dog indoors with little mental stimulation can lead to an unhappy dog prone to excessive barking and acting out.

Short walks and good quality play make for a happy, healthy Shih Tzu.

How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Need?

Due to their small size, a Shih Tzu requires less exercise than most dogs, but two short walks a day are necessary to keep your Shih Tzu’s health in check.

Find a walking route that takes around 15 minutes to complete and allow your dog to sniff and explore as a form of mental stimulation.

Two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, are ideal for Shih Tzu dogs and allow them to use their natural instinct to seek out stimuli that keep them happy and fulfilled.

Because of their short snouts, Shih Tzus can be prone to breathing issues if over-walked, so a short walk is a good exercise for these pups.

Best Types of Exercise for Shih Tzus

Alongside their daily walks, Shih Tzus need 30-45 minutes of play daily to keep them happy and healthy. Here are a few ways to play games and enjoy indoor exercise with your Shih Tzu.

Flirt Poles

Flirt poles are a great way to play with your Shi Tzu and satisfy his prey drive. Many dogs thrive on this type of play and love exercising by stalking and catching toys as they would animals in the wild.

A flirt pole can be used to deter your dog from chasing cats and other animals by satisfying their need to hunt in a fun and controlled way.

Although Shih Tzus were originally bred as companion dogs and have a naturally low prey drive, this instinct can still pop up, as your local squirrel population may have found out!

Either way, flirt poles are a great way to expend as much energy as your dog has in the comfort of his own home.

Agility Exercises

Agility exercises are ideal for small breed dogs as a simple course won’t take up too much room, and this exercise’s short intensity will give your dog a great workout.

Agility training helps to strengthen the bond between you and your Shih Tzu as he’s instinctually bred to follow your instructions.

Use treats and food to encourage your dog to follow the course and praise him for overcoming the obstacles.

It won’t be long before you hear his excited voice when it’s time for this play and exercising will become a much-anticipated part of your Shih Tzu’s day.

Check out our guide on building your own agility course


Doggie yoga is growing in popularity and is a fantastic exercise to include alongside a daily walk. The gentle stretches, which of course include the “downward dog”, put little impact on your pup’s joints, improve blood circulation and relieve stress which can be a problem with this breed.

Doga is a great way to burn off excess energy and check on your dog’s coat and paws for any signs of injury or lumps and bumps; it strengthens your bond and is a fantastic way of relaxing together.

Check online for local classes or find inspiration for doga exercises in this short video.

Puzzle Toys

Anybody with a Shih Tzu knows that they’re clever little dogs. As vital as physical exercise is to his daily routine, mental stimulation is necessary to keep him happy and fulfilled.

Puzzle toys are a great way to benefit physical and mental health simultaneously.

You can make a simple puzzle toy at home by cutting open a tennis ball and hiding food or dog treats inside; just make sure that your Shih Tzu can shake the treats free!

Alternatively, there are some great puzzle toys available in stores and online.

A Game Of Fetch

There’s a reason why fetch is the most well-known form of exercise for dogs, great and small.

The bonding aspect of responding to your instruction and the physical exercise of the chase combine to make fetch a perfect workout for all dogs.

Fetch also allows your Shih Tzu to enjoy time off his leash during your daily walk, so he can run off all of his excess energy before walking home for a nap! It’s a great way to ensure your dog enjoys physical play during a walk.

Can a Shih Tzu Have Too Much Exercise?

As crucial as outdoor exercise is for your Shih Tzu, their small size means they won’t need as much as other dogs to stay fit.

Over-exercising your Shih Tzu can be bad for his joints and cause breathing issues as he ages, so try to keep to a regular schedule.

Around 70 minutes a day is a good target to aim for, including walking and play. A 15-minute walk in the morning, and evening, with around 30-45 minutes of indoor play in short sessions throughout the day, is ideal.

How Much Exercise Does a Senior Shih Tzu Need?

As with other dogs, your Shih Tzu will need less exercise as he ages to become a senior dog.

Shih Tzus are considered seniors at around ten years old, so begin to look for signs of decreased mobility and lower energy levels around this age.

Your Shih Tzu will still enjoy a good walk and need regular trips outside to sniff and explore, but the more physical play he once enjoyed may be too much for his old joints.

It’s worth talking to your vet as your Shih Tzu nears old age to ensure his diet and exercise regimen suit his senior years.

How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Puppy Need?

Shih Tzu puppies are energetic little dogs, but they don’t need as much exercise as this stage as they will when they’re fully grown.

As a puppy, a Shih Tzu only needs around 5 minutes of exercise per month of age a day to keep him fit; any more can risk certain conditions like joint issues when he’s older.

Most Shih Tzu puppies will naturally get all the exercise they need from exploring their new home, so don’t worry about your new pup’s fitness at this stage.

You mustn’t take your Shih Tzu puppy for a walk until he’s received all of his puppy shots from the vet. He must be vaccinated against all common illnesses before you risk taking him out to explore the neighbourhood.

Last Word

A healthy, active dog is a happy dog. And that’s why we want to help you keep your pup fit and healthy for years to come. That’s why we created this guide full of tips on how much exercise your Shih Tzu needs daily!

The Shih Tzu is small but definitely not low-maintenance. They require regular grooming and whilst their exercise needs are not that of a Border Collie, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your dog entirely, look out for the signs of an under-stimulated pup!

Leash walking benefits their overall health in so many ways; it boosts the immune system, improves blood circulation and strengthens joints.

In fact, the Kennel Club recommends a bare minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity per day for dogs and playtime with dog toys to keep them from getting bored or restless inside.

Some other great exercises don’t take up too much time and can increase your pup’s physical activity.

As responsible dog owners, it’s our duty to ensure our furry friends get the correct exercise requirements for dogs, so clip on that leash and take your Shih Tzu for a walk in the park.

John Devlin

Blogger and owner of George and Henry. Two gorgeous goldens that couldn’t be more different. One is a dream loving and caring, and his sibling is as naughty as can be. When I am not blogging about dogs, I love watching sport and travelling with the family.
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