11 Ways To Help Your Shorkie Overcome Stress

Happy Shorkie dog standing in the grass

Stress is your body's reaction to pressure, new and unexpected experiences, and things you perceive as threats. Well, it works the same way with your Shorkie. However, you can talk things out to a friend or therapist, but this little dog has a limited understanding of how the world works. Still, there are things you can do to make them feel more comfortable and safe. From herbal medicine to special toys and clothing and even changing their diet, here are 11 ways to help your Shorkie overcome stress.

Shorkie? What's that?


According to the American Kennel Club, the Shorkie is a mix between a Yorkshire terrier and a Shih Tzu. As there isn't currently a standard for these pups, the outcome is as difficult to predict in all mixed breeds. That is, what parent it will take after regarding appearance and temperament. Because these are two wonderful breeds, your Shorkie ideally will have the best of both.

Yorkshire terriers are significantly smaller than the sturdier Shih Tzu, so that a Shorkie size can vary anywhere from five to 15 pounds. They'll probably have a round head with a slight underbite and the floppy ears of a Shih Tzu with the teddy bear coloring of the Yorkie. These small dogs are often more anxious and stressed since they live in a giant world. It can often lead to aggression, so it's important to tend to their stress as part of their regular puppy care.

Because of this, they make perfect miniature watchdogs for small spaces since they bark at any little sound or movement they detect. Thus, it's important to socialize them, even with bigger dogs. Don't worry; in your Shorkie's mind, he's the biggest dog there. He needs to know he's safe to avoid aggressive behavior. It also applies to children who tend to treat dogs more roughly and can easily scare a Shorkie.

Napoleon complex, or small dog syndrome, is usually blamed for small dogs' misbehavior and aggressiveness. However, this isn't real, and they're simply just that: misbehaved dogs. Don't let their size keep you from exposing them to the world. Like with any dog, you need to establish strict boundaries and basic obedience commands and give them a job (or a toy). It will result in a less stressed dog.

These dogs are extremely active but get tired easily due to their small size. A 30-minute walk or vigorous play can quickly satisfy them. Do keep their small size in mind if you're leaving them unattended outside since they can easily get lost or fall victim to a predator such as a fox or a hawk. Furthermore, keep in mind that your lap is their preferred napping spot even when playtime is over.

Shih Tzus have short snouts and are similar to Pugs. Both often experience brachycephalic airway syndrome and other breathing problems. There's a chance your Shorkie will inherit this, in which case, you should be careful about how vigorously you play with them. Also, consider other factors such as heat exposure, which is sensitive. Sweaters will keep them comfortable during the winter.

These dogs' fur needs much maintenance as they don't shed. You might need to tie it up from their face so they can see. They'll need a trim during the summer months to avoid overheating. A comfortable dog is a less stressed dog.

closeup photo of a Shorkie dog

11 Ways To Help Your Shorkie Overcome Stress

These sensitive dogs receive stimulation from all around, and as we mentioned above, exposure and training are the best ways to get them to become more comfortable with their surroundings. All dogs can experience separation anxiety, jealousy, and discomfort and be scared of strange sounds and people. However, some dogs have more extreme cases of stress or anxiety.

You can usually tell a shorkie is stressed when it starts barking. It is generally trying to warn you or scare off a threat. Other indicators are shaking, whining, drooling, or excessive licking. Their posture and ears can also tell a lot about their feelings. Furthermore, excessive shedding or panting and abnormal bodily functions are extreme cases of dog anxiety and stress. So, let's look at some things you can try to help them.

1. Remove Them from the Stressor

Taking your Shorkie away from what's stressing them is the easiest way to help them calm down. However, be careful not to pamper or reward them afterward because they'll begin to associate anxious behavior with good behavior. For example, if your dog is barking at your scary, dangerous neighbor, picking them up and holding them (Wow! Every dog's dream) will assure them that barking means cuddles.

Dogs, especially intelligent breeds like Shorkies, respond well to routines and rewards. Taking them away from the stressor needs to be followed up by a different activity and a treat. You can do it when your dog is stressed by distracting them with their favorite toy and making them sit or give you their paw. It will desensitize the animal to what they perceive as a threat.

Furthermore, every dog should have a safe place to go whenever they feel stressed. It could be their crate if you've crate trained them or their bed in a quiet, safe place. During a thunderstorm, your Shorkie might try to hide under whatever piece of furniture is closest, leading to more stress since they're not sure they'll be safe there. It is why it's important to provide them with a safe place to hide and teach them where it is.

closeup photo of Shorkie dog

2. Desensitize Your Shorkie

We talked about desensitization by using a distraction when a stressful situation occurs. However, this is what you should do from the moment you adopt a Shorkie. It's a big stressful world out there for such a tiny dog. They'll quickly depend on you for protection, and the idea of losing you might be their biggest fear. After all, who else will feed them and put a sweater on them when it's cold? But, just like with a human child, it's important to set boundaries while giving them some freedom and independence.

Separation anxiety is probably one of the biggest causes of stress for any dog. Some even need to lick your face to make sure you're alive constantly. Slowly, your dog will pick up cues such as you putting on your shoes or picking up your keys and start associating it with you leaving them forever. However, the more you do it, the more they'll realize that forever is usually just a few hours. Furthermore, you can speed up the process by leaving and coming back a few minutes later over and over. They'll soon start to get bored of the anxious behavior and relax.

This technique also works, so they don't have to anxiously follow you around the house. A relaxed dog should be wherever they feel most comfortable, which means they should be able to peacefully take a nap in the sun on the living room couch while you're working at your desk. They have the peace of mind to know you're not going to abandon them anytime soon.

Desensitization also means socialization. Many people tend to overprotect small dogs such as Shorkies from bigger dogs. While it's true that even a bigger friendly dog could accidentally hurt a little one during play, this doesn't mean you should deprive them of exploring and meeting new friends. Just keep an extra eye out for them. It is also true when playing with small children. Frequent trips to the dog park where your Shorkie can be off-leash is the best de-stressing activity you can give them. They might be freaked out at first by all the giant dogs but will slowly get used to them and may even start playing.

Shorkie dog sitting on walkway

3. Exercise

You are waiting for the nurse to call your name at the dentist's office, sitting in traffic, waiting for it to be 5 o'clock so you can leave the office. What do all of these have in common? You're probably bored and anxious, waiting for the next thing to happen. It's the same with Shorkies. A bored dog is a nervous dog, and an anxious dog is a naughty dog. So, how can you ensure your brand new couch is still in one piece when you get home from the office? Exercise is the key!

Physical activity burns up the adrenaline produced by stress. Furthermore, it's beneficial in preventing various other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems, and joint pain. However, the most significant benefit is they'll be sleepier longer. Going outside also provides a lot of mental stimulation, making them tired. Consider hiring a dog walker if you're unable to take them out yourself. You should also provide your dog with various toys while you leave them alone so they don't think your favorite houseplant needs a haircut.


4. Mental Stimulation

Mental exercise is just as important as physical. Many dogs had specific jobs, and your Shorkie's parents had two very distinct tasks. Yorkshire terriers hunt rats, and Shih Tzus warn of the presence of unwanted visitors to the Chinese Emperor. These instincts remain ingrained in their behavior, and you should give them activities to satisfy them.

Many dog toys can keep a Shorkie entertained for hours. The little hunter inside of them will enjoy chasing and playing with a little plush rodent or trying to get a treat out of a ball. However, they'll enjoy playing with you the most. Teaching them new tricks such as fetching will be the best stimulation.

Shorkie dog standing on the sidewalk

5. Aromatherapy

Your dog smells 10 to 100 thousand times better than you. Well, that's what they think (you're too clean). But, by smell, we mean the ability to smell. Your dog's nose is a powerful tool that guides their days, and the amount of information they can pick up with it is incredible. Scientists are still unsure of how it works, though. As a result of this heightened sensitivity, aromatherapy can be a fast and effective way to reduce stress.

This type of therapy targets the limbic system responsible for regulating emotions and moods. It can be a powerful tool for tackling anxiety, fear, and stress. You can do this in two ways, applying and massaging it directly onto their body where they have less fur, such as the belly and inner thighs. The other way is by using an oil diffuser to disperse the oils into the air. It is a good option because you and your Shorkie can reap the benefits.

The oils you use must be 100 percent organic. Otherwise, they could be more harmful than beneficial. Remember, your dog's nose is extremely sensitive, and you should be vigilant if they start to sneeze or seem uncomfortable with the smells. Furthermore, if you're doing a topic application, keep an eye out for any skin irritation.

You could also try these calming inserts to help your pup relax when they're feeling anxious or stressed. These are wonderful for enhancing your dog's quality of life by improving their well-being.

6. Acupuncture

It is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine based on the philosophy that illness results from an imbalance of vital energies in the body. In other words, acupuncture helps the body heal itself by correcting energy imbalances. It requires the insertion of fine needles into your Shorkie's body. Don't worry; a professional knows the exact spots and methods to use without causing any pain. These needles will enhance blood circulation and guide the energy to where it needs to be. Furthermore, it stimulates the nervous system, allowing your dog's body to release the substances necessary to relieve stress. Acupressure is a similar technique but less invasive as it doesn't use any needles.

7. Massage

Massages are a great way to relieve tension. Although there are services where you can get your Shorkie a nice massage, you can do it yourself right on your couch! Petting is a massage, and your dog will love you rubbing their head or chest. Just knead their skin gently and apply some pressure. Avoid areas where they feel uncomfortable and go for where they love, such as under the chin.

Brushing and grooming are also great massaging activities. Shorkies have long hair, and it'll become a tangled mess if you don't take care of it. Furthermore, the brush will stimulate their skin, making them less anxious and stressed. They'll be so calm they might even begin to snore if you do it right!

8. Music

These little dogs are also very sensitive to sounds. They might start to bark if they hear a neighbor outside or a thunderstorm. It might be much worse while they're alone. So, playing music to distract them is a great strategy. Play it while you're at home so that they start to relate the music with the comfort of having you nearby.

Other sounds work well too, such as the radio or television, especially if they're used to the chatter of people talking. As for music, play something soothing as the vibrations sync up to their heartbeat. Furthermore, switch up the playlist from time to time as studies have shown that dogs become bored with the same song and start to experience signs of anxiety after seven days.

9. Diet and Supplements

A Shorkie diet determines their mood. Talk to your veterinarian about the right amount of food to feed them, as hunger or being full can cause stress. There are a variety of foods out there that have either a sedative or calming effects, such as blueberries, kale, beef, oily fish, and brown rice. You might want to add some of these to their regular kibble if you're noticing that your dog is more anxious than normal.

Although you can get powerful anti-stress drugs, it's always best to use natural sources. Supplements can also play a key role in helping your Shorkie relieve stress. Many treats contain melatonin which releases the happy hormone in a dog. CBD oil is also an increasingly popular ingredient to battle anxiety that has shown to be effective in dogs and humans alike.

Healthy dog food

10. Compression

Sometimes, all your Shorkie wants is a big tight hug. However, you can't always provide one for them. For this reason, there's a wide range of products such as jackets or blankets that'll give your dog a light, constant pressure to calm them down. Wrapping them in a blanket works too. Be careful not to use this method too often as it'll start to lose its effect.

11. Manage Your Stress

Dogs are extremely empathetic creatures and can feel when you're feeling stressed or anxious. Thus, managing your stress is one of the most effective ways to calm them. Note that this can work the other way and become a toxic circle of feeding off each other's negative energy. For example, if you're walking your Shorkie and you see a big dog coming down the road, you might become nervous and instinctively tighten the leash or want to pick up your dog. This energy transfers to your Shorkie and makes them think you're in danger.

happy Shorkie dog in the grass

Your dog is the best and wants you to be happy. Most are needy and willing to please you, and not being able to fulfill this duty causes stress. Setting healthy boundaries and training them can severely lessen stress and anxiety. However, the biggest thing you can do for them is to make sure they know they're loved. Consult a professional if the effects of anxiety become serious -- such as self-harm or extreme aggression. They should be able to direct you to the appropriate next step.

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