13 Ways to Keep Your Teddy Bear Dog Active

Shih Tzu Bichon Frise crossbreed

Teddy Bear Dog Overview

Many small dog mixed breeds exist because of how playful and energetic most small breed dogs are. One especially delightful mixed breed is the Teddy Bear Dog hybrid, a combination of a Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise dog breeds.

Teddy Bear puppies get their name because their size and fur make them appear similar to a stuffed animal. Even the adult version of a Teddy Bear dog is a relatively small dog with adorable teddy bear-like fur. 

Any dog lover can easily see why this small breed is popular with so many people. Their button nose and perky personalities draw in many different types of families. However, this mixed breed also requires quite a lot of care to keep up with all its basic health needs.

For example, a dog with such soft fur needs regular grooming to prevent it from knotting or matting. These dogs also need activity to stay healthy, so owners should create regular habits to get their pets plenty of exercise. 

Cute little bichon frise shih tzu mix young adult dog in the studio on a colourful background

13 Ways to Keep Your Teddy Bear Dog Active

1. Take a Walk

The easiest way to ensure a dog stays active and healthy is by taking regular walks. Dogs are creatures of habit, so it is best for dog owners to work in a walk every day to help their Teddy Bear dogs stay physically active.

This tiny dog breed doesn’t need a ton of activity to keep busy. A daily walk of between 10 and 30 minutes will help the pet maintain peak health. Be sure not to overwork the animals. They do not have as much endurance as larger dog breeds.

Dogs cool themselves off by panting and breathing. The longer a dog‘s nose, the more quickly they can cool down. Since this dog breed has much smaller snouts, owners should keep this in mind during exercise.

When you take your Teddy Bear Dog for a short walk, you should bring treats and poop bags. This breed is half Shih Tzu, and while Shih Tzu is a wonderful breed, these dogs have many unfortunate habits. One is that they can be hard to train and tend to eat their poop.

Owners should discourage the development of these habits by training their pets as often as possible and cleaning up their waste as soon as possible. Owners can use treats to encourage their dogs to develop better habits.

2. Go on a Short Hike

Hiking is a fun and rewarding way to spend time with your dog. Many dogs⁠—even small dogs⁠—love the outdoors and the smells, sights, and sounds it offers. A wilderness hike will physically and mentally stimulate your Teddy Bear Dog.

If you want to take your dog for a hike, you have to make sure they’re strong enough and willing to do a hike. This will mean walking your dog more regularly to help them build up their endurance prior to the adventure.

Owners can research local outdoor recreation areas to find shorter hiking trails that would be less taxing for the hiker and his canine companion. Remember to bring some treats, poop bags, water bowls, and dog kibble so you are ready for any need that arises. Don’t forget a healthy snack and water for yourself, as well. You probably won’t need a poop bag.

The U.S. National Park Service’s website encourages dog owners to be “BARK rangers” by following a few simple rules and principles that take care of the pet’s needs, respect nature and other park users, and stay safe.

“B.A.R.K. stands for: Bag your pet’s waste, Always leash your pet, Respect wildlife, Know where you can go,” The Park Services states on the nps.gov site.

It is always best to research the hikes you want to do with your dog before you go on them. Make sure you are prepared to carry your pup back just in case they aren’t as ready for a hike as you thought they were. In general, smaller dogs aren’t built for hikes. While some of them may thrive and enjoy the activity, others may need more rest breaks.

Teddy Bear dog hanging out in the grass

3. Doggy Play Date

If you have any dog-owning friends, schedule a playdate for your pets. Many Teddy Bear Dogs can happily get along with other pets, as long as both animals are well-trained and socialized. You can spend time with your friend while the dogs get to hang out and play with each other.

Watch your pet to be sure how social they are and how receptive they are to the furry guest. The fact is that some dogs, regardless of breed, don’t like any other dogs while others like some kinds of pups but not others. Then you have those who seem to love every dog they meet.

Sounds a lot like people, don’t they?

Be aware that even a dog that gets along well with other pups can become aggressive when food is involved. To avoid that possibility, put away any treats or food bowls where the animals will be playing. If you want to keep the water bowl out to refresh the animals, be an eye on them just to be sure nobody gets to possessive.

4. Take Them to the Beach

Dogs can enjoy a lot of the same activities as humans. If you have a local beach, lake, or pond, consider taking your Teddy Bear dog there for some fun in the sun. When you take your pet to the beach, practice safety rules to ensure your pet stays as active, healthy, and safe as possible.

Most dogs aren’t great swimmers, and smaller dogs especially can struggle with swimming because they have such little legs. To ensure your pet is safe if they swim, equip them with a dog flotation device.

These floaties help protect your pup in case a wave crashes near them or if they get tired while swimming. These floatation options are also an excellent idea for your pet if you like to take them boating, kayaking, or anywhere else they can jump into water that’s deeper than they can stand up in.

While this floaty is a great way to keep them safe, you should still make sure you keep a close eye on your pet. Don’t let them go into water that is deeper than you are tall. Unless you take your dog out a lot and are confident in its ability to stand in and swim in water, try to keep them near the shore.

Bring some fresh water and portable water bowls so your pet can stay hydrated. 

Teddy Bear dog at the beach with owner

5. Go to a Public (Non-Dog) Park

Dog owners often grow fond of parks since these open spaces provide plenty of green areas with fresh air and new smells. Your Teddy Bear Dog may love going to a park if you make it a regular part of your routine. Small dogs may also be afraid of new environments and unfamiliar smells because of their small size. Their owners can counter that tendency by showing their dog that the new environment is safe and exciting by maintaining a watchful supervision of the pet to avoid any unpleasant situations that might spoil the outing⁠—like a bigger dog, kids playing loudly, etc.

When you take your Teddy Bear Dog to the park, try to bring portable dishes for food and water so your pet stays healthy and has plenty of water and nutrition. Dogs can quickly overheat in the summer if they don’t have enough water to drink.

It is also a great idea to bring some of your pet’s favorite treats and toys to the park and to keep him on a leash unless the park rules explicitly state it allows off-leash animals. If they must be leashed, you can bring a longer leash to give the dog more running room.

6. Practice Obedience Training

A great way to get your dog active is with obedience training. Obedience training is beneficial for any dog, including small ones.

The Teddy Bear Dog breed is a mix of two dog breeds whose members are considered to be very smart, but tend to be headstrong. For that reason, your pup may take a while to become an obedient companion. 

Well-trained dogs are likelier to remain calm in potentially dangerous situations. For example, if your untrained dog accidentally gets out of the house, it could run into traffic whereas a well-trained dog would obey your command to “Stop”. 

Another perk of training is that it allows you to bond even closer with your pet while providing the mental and physical stimulation the dog needs to stay healthy.

It is a good idea to practice obedience training with once or two short sessions every day. These exercises in practicing commands should be no more than 15 minutes each. The classes should be as positive as possible because dogs learn much quicker and respond to commands more efficiently if training is associated with positive reinforcement rather than punishment for failure.

Be ready to give your pet plenty of treats and praise when they follow your commands. You may also have to train yourself a little bit to overlook your dog’s disobedience and learn to move past that problem to get your pet to refocus on something positive.

For example, if you give a command you know the dog understands but he refuses to obey, don’t chastise him for that disobedience. Give him a different command, change your position or just end the training session at that point.

Since the dog cannot tell you if he’s feeling “blah” or has a back pain or some other issue going on his head, the owner may have to try a few extra things or just cancel class until tomorrow.

Just as in teaching children, the best way to gain success is for education to be fun and to make your Teddy Bear Dog love learning. Once they learn that training sessions are fun, treat-filled times with their owner, they will quickly come around to obedience training.

Puppy receives obedience training

7. Give Them a Puzzle Toy

Traditionally, most puzzle toys are stationary games where dogs sit or lay down while figuring out their toy. However, many puzzle toys vary and require physical activity from your pet, like digging puzzle toys.

Whether you choose to get a more traditional puzzle toy or a more physical one, your dog can get plenty of mental exercise from these games⁠—which is just as important as physical activity for many dog breeds

Puzzle toys vary in size and difficulty levels. Make sure you start with basic toys so your pet stands a chance of solving the puzzle. In the beginning, you will need to supervise your pet with the toys. Follow the toy’s instructions to slowly teach your dog how the toy works. This might require plenty of patience and treats to help your pet use these fun toys successfully.

8. Play Hide and Seek

One of the most fun games you can play with your pet is “hide and seek.” Dogs are excellent at hiding and are stimulated when they find their owners. The hardest part of this game is teaching your pet how to play, which usually involves two people.

To play hide and seek, owners should have a second person watching over their dog so that someone can keep the dog away as their owner hides. Once the owner has found a hiding place, the other person should release the dog and command them to find its owner.

Dogs are naturally drawn to their owners and will often follow them around. Even though the first time playing this game will be the hardest, it should get easier and more fun after the dog learns what is expected. It is also best to hide in easy-to-see places, such as behind a curtain or in the middle of the floor with a blanket over you.

Hiding in more obvious spots will make your dog more likely to find you and get excited when they do. The more you play, the more difficult it can be to create the hiding spaces. You could also use some smelly treats to hide with as an incentive for your dog to find you and positive reinforcement so your dog will learn to enjoy the game more. 

9. Play Tug of War

A popular way to keep dogs active is to play fun games like tug-of-war. This game is easy, fun, and beneficial for a dog‘s physical and mental activity. This game is shown to help dogs become more confident in themselves, happier and calmer. The game requires an object like a rope or old towel that the dog can grab onto and try to pull away from you. Remember, your Teddy Bear Dog is little, so you might need to find a small rope or even a sock for this game.

10. Go to a Dog Park

A dog park is fun for social pets who like other dogs. If you want to take your Teddy Bear Dog to a dog park, ensure your pet gets along with all dogs and has no signs of aggression. A dog park can be a super fun way for your pet to get plenty of activity with little energy needed from you. Of course, you need to supervise your pet in a dog park. Your pet will probably do most of the work as they run around with their new furry friends. 

A bunch of dogs of different breeds running around a dog park

11. Try an Obstacle Course

Similar to obedience training, obstacle courses can benefit your dog. If you try doing obstacle courses with your Teddy Bear Dog and enjoy them, you can grow your bond and build trust with your pet. At the same time, you can help them become more obedient and stimulate them physically and mentally.

Obstacle courses require a lot of treats, attention, and patience. Not all owners will enjoy this activity and, likewise, not all Teddy Bear Dogs will be interested in running up and down ramps. It is worth trying an obstacle course to see if you and your dog would want to include this in your regular routine, but there are plenty of other options if you don’t.

12. Go to the Dog Store

While shopping isn’t the most physically straining activity, it is an enjoyable activity to do with your pup. If you are looking to buy your pet new treats, toys, or beds, you should take them to your local pet store. Your Teddy Bear Dog can get some active time outside the home and you can see what your pet enjoys. 

13. Play Fetch

There is always the old stand-by⁠—fetch. Throw the ball, the dog chases it and brings it back to you.

Despite what we were probably taught as a child, not all dogs enjoy this game. Remember, small dogs might have trouble fitting a tennis ball in their mouth, so find an appropriate size object as the item to be retrieved.

Teddy Bear dog running across grass

Conclusion

While the American Kennel Club does not acknowledge mixed breeds like the Teddy Bear puppy, many fans of  Teddy Bear Dogs work to give this hybrid a voice. A Teddy Bear Dog can go by a mixture of names like a Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu puppy, Shih Tzu-Bichon mix, Zuchon, and Schichon. 

This hybrid might get compared to breeds like the Miniature Poodle, Boston Terrier, Miniature Goldendoodle, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or Cocker Spaniel. While all of these breeds are similar in size and personality, every dog breed has unique traits. 

In the same way, every individual canine has a unique personality. If owners of Teddy Bear Dogs, try the activities we have presented with their their dogs, their pet will let them know which are their favorite activities.

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