Shih Tzu’s are very intelligent dogs. The most important thing for them is to please their owners, so they are very aware of their success and failures in terms of training. However, unlike most other breeds, they are flighty and easily distracted up until about 10 weeks of age. You can begin training most puppies right away, but you need to wait until your Shih Tzu puppy is 10 to 12 weeks old before beginning any serious training.
Shih Tzu puppies are highly excitable and have little to no bladder control until they are 10 weeks old. Up to this point you are better served by keeping them in a controlled area with newspapers on the floor and regulating their eating and drinking times of the day. When you find they are urinating or defecating at regular times of the day then it is time to begin their potty training. For example, you should find your puppy will want to defecate right as they wake up and then again within 10-15 minutes after they eat their morning meal. Do not try and limit when they go by only giving them water twice a day. Your puppy needs access to lots of water throughout the day. Feed them once in the morning and once about 3 hours before bedtime.
Because they are high energy pets, you need to spend lots of time playing with them in these early weeks. While this may not seem like training, it does serve to establish a bond between you and your pet. Because you control where they can go in the house (perhaps by putting up a child safety gate), they will quickly understand you are the “alpha” in their pack. So, when it comes time to train them they will be ready to accept your commands and eager to please. When you do start training, avoid negative feedback. Again, your Shih Tzu is very sensitive to your desires and displeasing you can cause them a great deal of grief.
Praise your puppy when they do something right. A simple but firm “no” should suffice when they do something wrong. Or try using a loud rattle to startle the puppy; a tin can with marbles in it works really well. This should stop them from doing what they are doing and you can lead them to doing it somewhere more appropriate. For more ideas on how to train your Shih Tzu visit http://dogstylenetwork.com/puppytraining.htm.