Exercising has always been one of the most important aspects of dog care.

This is true for all dog breeds—even for the irresistible Shih Tzu dogs.

Unfortunately, a lot of Shih Tzu owners don’t focus enough on their exercise needs.

And we want to change that.

Like any other breed, these toy dogs still have daily exercise requirements that you, as a dog owner, must give.

So, if you are a Shih Tzu owner or are just planning to adopt one, then this is for you!

In this article, we'll discuss what you need to know about the Shih Tzu exercise.

We’re not just going to talk about how much exercise a Shih Tzu needs; we’re also going to discuss:

  • How much exercise does a Shih Tzu need at a certain life stage
  • Types of exercise for Shih Tzus
  • Benefits of exercise for Shih Tzu dogs

Stick with me to the end because I’ll also give you actionable tips on exercising Shih Tzus at a given season.

Now, are you ready to learn how to exercise your Shih Tzu?

If your answer is yes, then let’s start!

shih tzu exercise

How Much Exercise Does an Adult Shih Tzu Need?

Shih Tzus are small breeds with moderate to low stamina levels.

Because of their size, they only need 70 minutes of exercise every day.

Now, 70 minutes may seem like a short time, but trust me, it’s more than enough to make your dog physically sound and healthy!

Overexercising your dog will do more harm than good.

Because of their small bodies, they are at risk of muscle soreness and joint injuries compared to bigger dog breeds.

You also need to be careful with how vigorous the exercise is for your Shih Tzu pals.

Lacking a muscular build, this breed will have a hard time absorbing the force and impact during intense exercise.

RELATED: 8 Signs Your Dog Is Experiencing Joint Pain

shih tzu puppy exercise

How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Puppy Need?

If a full-grown Shih Tzu needs 70 minutes of exercise daily, how about the youngsters?

How much exercise does a Shih Tzu puppy need?

Unlike in its adult stage, a Shih Tzu puppy doesn’t require a lot of exercise.

Thanks to its small body, it only needs 20 minutes of daily exercise.

Any more than that, and you’re also overexercising your Shih Tzu pup.

Overworking your dog at this delicate life stage may lead to bone and joint complications as it grows old.

RELATED: 7 Things Every Puppy Parent Should Know

shih tzu senior exercise

How Much Exercise Does a Senior Shih Tzu Need?

How much exercise does a senior Shih Tzu need?

On average, a senior Shih Tzu needs 30 minutes of exercise daily.

30 minutes looks like an arbitrary amount of exercise, so allow me to expand on it.

To senior Shih Tzus, physical activities are essential more than ever.

They help counter lost muscle mass, keeping them in shape even as they grow old.

But do take note that Shih Tzu seniors also become weak as they grow old.

When they age, their bones become brittle, and the joints become less flexible, so being careful is definitely still a must.

The bottom line: Senior Shih Tzus need more exercise than Shih Tzu puppies but less than healthy adult ones.

RELATED: 8 Vet's Tips on How to Care for Senior Dogs

shih tzu exercise requirements

Best Exercises for Your Shih Tzu

There are a lot of ways to exercise dogs.

But before you try all of them with your Shih Tzu, you should first check if the activity matches your dog’s needs.

After all, some exercises have levels of intensity that your Shih Tzu can’t do.

Also, some exercises may just fit both your lifestyles better than other exercises.

So, what are the best types of exercise for Shih Tzu?

Let’s get to know them below!

RELATED: 7 Ways to Turn Daily Activities Into Exercise for Your Dog


Walking is one of the easiest exercises and the most common activity pet owners do with their Shih Tzus.

This activity only includes taking your dog outside and walking to a destination or just around the neighborhood.

This is the perfect Shih Tzu exercise because A, it's not a demanding activity, and B, it's not an intensive exercise.

But as easy as it sounds, walking still provides a lot of health benefits for you and your dog (which we'll talk about more later.)

RELATED: How to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash

Enrichment Activities

Another Shih Tzu exercise that you can try is enrichment activities.

These are activities meant to engage your dog’s senses and stimulate their mind.

Simply put, you’re not just exercising your Shih Tzu dogs physically but also mentally.

However, the typical enrichment activities are only puzzles and challenging dog toys.

So, if you want your Shih Tzu to still move around, try some that will induce obedience and physical exercise, like:

These are more demanding than walking, mind you. So, I recommend doing these for no more than 25 minutes.

RELATED: Top 50 Best Interactive Dog Toys


Playtime sessions make great exercise for Shih Tzu dogs, too.

By picking the right game to play, you can adjust to make it more intense or relaxed for your dog.

Many of these playtime activities require training, as your Shih Tzu will need to learn how it goes before he can play with you properly.

But the best thing about playtimes is how they help you bond with your dog; they help foster closer relationships between you both.

On average, Shih Tzu owners spend 25 minutes playing with their dogs.

Some of the recreational doggy activities that you can do with your dog are:

  • Tug-of-war
  • Fetch
  • Frisbee
  • Hide and Seek
  • Tag Chase Game

RELATED: 7 Best Games to Play With Dogs

Dog Agility

Want to take your recreational activity to the next level?

Then you might want to consider gearing your Shih Tzu up for dog agility!

Dog agility is a sport where your pet goes through sets of obstacles in the shortest time possible.

This sport is also an enrichment activity since it needs your dog’s cooperation and responsiveness to commands.

Most dog owners try to follow the sport’s format of finishing the obstacles as fast as their dogs can do it.

But if the fast-paced formats are too vigorous for your Shih Tzu, you can also choose to finish the course as cleanly as possible.

In this way, you focus on how your dog moves around the obstacles rather than finishing it fast.

RELATED: Agility Training For Dogs: The Ultimate Beginners Guide

shih tzu exercise needs

Tips to Exercise a Shih Tzu

For any novice dog owner out there, exercising a Shih Tzu can be an overwhelming task.

And if you’re a Shih Tzu lover and an aspiring owner, then you’re in luck!

You can start here if you want to know how to exercise this breed.

Here are some tips to make your Shih Tzu exercise activities smoother and more effective.

1. Stick to an exercise schedule. Following an exercise schedule helps build routine and anticipation for your dog.

2. Train your dog to respond to basic commands. Command cues like sit, stay, come, and down are useful during off-leash exercise activities.

3. Prepare your dog items before the exercise. Always bring important dog items like treats, water, and waste bags to better tend and care for your Shih Tzu pets.

4. Use a dog harness instead of a collar. Collars constrict the soft windpipe cartilage of brachycephalic breeds like Shih Tzu.

5. Follow a routine during your walk. This helps build familiarity, anticipation, and a sense of security for your dog during your daily walks.

6. Teach your dog to heel. Heeling is when your dog walks beside you—not behind or in front of you. This command is important to control your dog’s actions during walks.

7. Add breaks to your exercise. For dog walks, you can divide the 70 minutes of exercise into two parts: one in the morning and one before the sun sets.

shih tzu summer exercise

Shih Tzu Exercising Tips During Summertime

Dogs favor warm seasons like summer.

It’s a great season for them to go outside, feel the gentle warmth, and exercise.

But sometimes, the heat can be too extreme for your dogs to enjoy.

It's not only uncomfortable; it could also be a health hazard for them.

So how will you exercise your Shih Tzu dog during the summer season, then?

Here are some tips to help you with that.

1. Keep your dog hydrated. Always bring water during exercise, as dogs are susceptible to dehydration during summer.

2. Schedule outside exercises before 9 AM or after 5 PM. These are the periods of the day when the weather is cool but still has sunlight.

3. Avoid hot pavements and concrete. These concrete pathways can reach a temperature of 48° C, which burns your Shih Tzu’s delicate paws.

4. Avoid direct sunlight. Direct exposure to the sun causes skin sunburn, irritation, and even heatstroke.

5. Check your Shih Tzu for signs of overheating. General discomfort, excessive panting, stressed eyes, and redness are symptoms of overheating.

RELATED: How to Prepare Your Dog for Summer

shih tzu winter exercise

Shih Tzu Exercising Tips During Wintertime

A cold environment during winter lessens your dog’s opportunities to go outside.

But just because there is less time in winter doesn’t mean that your Shih Tzu should stop working those muscles!

Here are some tips to help your Shih Tzu exercise in the winter season.

1. Keep your dog warm. Make sure that your dog wears its weatherproof coat before they venture outside.

2. Check your Shih Tzu’s paws. The in-between spots in your dog’s paws should be free of salt, grit, dirt, and snow.

3. Make your dog visible. You can either attach a light to your Shih Tzu’s harness or buy a dog harness with a built-in light to make them visible in foggy weather.

4. Get inside when it’s too cold. If the weather starts turning bad, don’t hesitate to seek warmth and shelter.

5. Skip going outside entirely. Don’t risk going outside when there is precipitation, sudden temperature drop, and snowstorms.

RELATED: 7 Winter Safety Tips for Pet Owners

shih tzu indoor exercise

Shih Tzu Exercising Tips Indoors

When outdoor exercise isn't possible, you can just have them do it indoors—at your house, an indoor dog gym, or an indoor dog park.

If done right, indoor exercise can be as effective as outside activities.

So how do you do it? What can you do to make your dog’s indoor exercise fun?

Here are some tips to make indoor exercise effective for your Shih Tzu:

1. Socialize your dog. Since indoor locations are smaller, the chance of your dog interacting with other dogs or humans is high.

2. Time the duration of the session. Sometimes you can’t see the outside environment, so you’ll lose track of time inside the place.

3. Bond with your dog. With a lesser source of stimulation inside, they’ll focus more on you and how you entertain them.

RELATED: Indoor Games For Dogs

shih tzu exercise benefits

Benefits of Exercise for a Shih Tzu

I can’t emphasize enough how exercise is important when caring for a Shih Tzu.

Here are some of the known benefits of exercise to a Shih Tzu:

  • Stimulates your dog’s mind
  • Releases excess energy
  • Alleviates your dog’s boredom
  • Improves your dog’s heart health
  • Lowers glucose levels and reduces the risk of developing diabetes
  • Strengthens your dog’s bones, joints, and muscles
  • Helps manage your dog’s metabolism
  • Burns calories, and fats,
  • Prevents obesity and other health complications that come with it
  • Improves your dog’s blood circulation
  • Stimulates appetite

Shih Tzu Exercise: Final Thoughts

Every aspect of dog exercise is important in keeping your Shih Tzu happy, healthy, and entertained.

From the intensity of the activity to the type of exercise, there are a lot of factors that Shih Tzu owners must consider before starting.

But let’s not get too specific and science-y about it!

The key here is knowing what exercise works for your Shih Tzu and how long.

Age or the life stage also comes into play when picking an exercise for your pet.

And one other thing to remember: always take an extra level of care and attention as your Shih Tzu exercises.

They're a Brachycephalic breed, so pay attention to their breathing.

Be sure to follow the tips in this article, and you are on your way to making your Shih Tzu strong and fit!

Want to learn more about taking care of your Shih Tzu? Check out our recommended articles below!