The exercise requirements for the Shih Tzu are relatively low. By and large, Shih Tzus get all the exercise they need by playing around the house or running around the garden. But there is an aspect of dog exercise that is often sorely neglected – mental stimulation.

While it is certainly true that the average small dog such as the Shih Tzu can effectively exercise themselves, they not only appreciate, but actually benefit from exercise in terms of a daily walk.

To begin with, it keeps them physically fit. Small dogs (as well as large for that matter) given too little exercise tend to put on weight, as do we all. That in turn not only jeopardizes their health and is likely to shorten their lifespan, but that extra weight gain is likely to make your Shih even more lethargic and even less inclined towards exercise. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Less exercise, more weight, increased lethargy, less exercise!

But another important element of keeping your Shih Tzu fit and healthy is mental stimulation. All dogs need mental stimulation just as do all humans. Without mental stimulation, your Shih Tzu will never fulfil his true potential. The greater the variety of mental stimulation you give your Shih, the happier he will be and the more he will appreciate life with you and your family.

So those daily walks are not just about giving your Shih Tzu fresh air. He could get that trotting around the garden, although once again that would be lacking in mental stimulation after a very short while. But those different sites, different sounds, different smells that your Shih Tzu encounters when being taken for a daily walk, all help to provide him with mental stimulation. Meeting people also helps to socialize your dog.

Shih Tzus are playful little dogs. Yes, they can be lethargic if you let them. But they are likely to be far happier and more content if you devise and play games with them.

In summary then, a good daily walk will benefit your Shih Tzu both in terms of his physical and mental wellbeing. Play games with him as well. Let off the lead in a secure area, you’ll be surprised at the enthusiasm your Shih Tzu will display for playing games, to say nothing of the speed he can reach when running for a stick or chasing a ball. And he’ll thoroughly enjoy the chance to forage and explore, which will once again increase his mental stimulation and enhance his general satisfaction with life.

For further help with the exercise needs of your Shih Tzu, we can highly recommend: Shih Tzus: a Complete Owner’s Manual by Jaimie Sucher.