dog grooming

Grooming Techniques for Small Dogs

Dog grooming can be horrendously expensive. However, there’s good news. You can do almost everything that the groomer does from home, without buying a lot of specialized equipment like dog clippers, grooming tables, and dog hair dryers. This can be a much easier process for your dog, too, when it becomes part of their regular routine.

There are five areas of dog grooming that you can do yourself to keep both your dog, and your wallet, happier.


Depending on the length and type of fur that your dog has, brushing regularly can help you avoid the groomer and keep your dog happy and clean. Experts recommend that you brush your dog’s hair two to three times a week. If your dog has long hair or is shedding a winter coat, you may need to brush them every day.

You will also need to choose the right tools to help you brush your dog easily and painlessly. This will change depending on the length and type of fur that your dog has. You can buy each type of brush from most stores that carry pet products.

If your dog has long fur and an under coat, you will want to use a pin brush. These are useful because they help to remove loose hair from the undercoat.

If your dog has a short coat, you can brush them with a rubber brush, or use a combination of a stiff natural bristle brush and a soft bristle brush.

If your dog has wiry fur, you should use a combination of a slicker brush and a metal comb.

No matter what type of fur your dog has, you will need to be gentle. Your dog might be anxious and fidgety if they aren’t used to it. You should always brush in the direction that their hair grows, to keep them as comfortable as possible.

Brushing should also be your first step when you’re getting ready to bathe your dog. It helps loosen the extra fur and the dirt on their skin, making bath time a little bit easier.


Bath time can be one of the most stressful parts of grooming a dog. Many dogs hate getting wet, let alone being properly shampooed and rinsed. There’s a lot going on for a small dog to handle. With that in mind, these tips will help make bath time easier.

You might think that it would be okay to use your own shampoo when it comes time to bathing your dog, but you would be wrong. Dogs have different needs when it comes to shampoo, based on the pH of their skin, the texture of their hair, their sensitive skin, and how often you are washing their hair.

Human scalps typically have a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Dogs have a more neutral skin pH.  If your pup’s pH were to become unbalanced, it could lead to yeast infections, itchiness, and dry skin. This is why it’s important to use a shampoo that is specifically designed for canines. You will want to find a shampoo that is appropriate for your dog the same way that you would search for the right shampoo for your own hair.

If your dog has light-colored hair, you want to choose a type of shampoo that is designed for light colored hair. Otherwise, your dog’s beautiful fur could turn dingy and lifeless.

If your dog has sensitive skin, you’ll want to search for a shampoo that is specifically designed for that. Often they will have chamomile or oatmeal listed as one of the top ingredients. You might also want to check the scents on the shampoo to make sure that it isn’t going to irritate your dog’s sensitive nose or skin. If you can, try to use an all-natural shampoo to make sure that your dog’s skin is safe from harsh chemicals that could damage their skin and fur.

Once you have the shampoo, you will want to avoid getting it in your dog’s eyes, nose, and the inside of their ears. Getting shampoo in their eyes and nose will make them hate you a little bit. Getting shampoo and water inside their ears can lead to expensive and uncomfortable ear infections. Try to avoid getting water in their ears at all costs to keep out of ear infection territory.

Give your dog a good rinse before you start working with the shampoo. This will help loosen any extra fur or loose dirt on their skin, making it easier for the shampoo to work.

Next, you’ll want to massage the shampoo into your dog’s body, making sure to get as many nooks and crannies as you can. Think of this process as your dog’s salon day – treat your dog same way that you would want a hairdresser to treat you. Giving a massage helps your dog feel more comfortable and also loosens the dirt and fur that you’re trying to get rid of.

Once you are sure that every bit of your dog’s fur is clean, rinse them thoroughly again. Just like with human hair, shampoo residue can make your dog feel really itchy if it’s left there after-the-fact.

Once your dog is out of the tub there are two options: you can towel dry your dog or use a blow dryer. Many dogs get anxious and agitated by the sound of the blow dryer, so if you see your dog getting nervous, switch over to using a towel. Other dogs love the blow dryer so just keep an eye on your dog and how they react to this process. Either way, you want to keep your dog as warm as possible while you’re drying them off. If they’re shivering, they aren’t happy. The happier that they are during this process, the easier it’ll be to do it again.


A good rule of thumb when it comes to trimming your dog’s nails is to trim them about once every two weeks. You want to make sure that the nails don’t get long enough to interfere with their ability to walk properly.

If you’re not sure how long it’s been since your dog’s nails were trimmed, listen when they walk. If you can hear their nails tapping on the ground when they walk, it’s time to trim their nails.

Trim their nails short and evenly. Avoid cutting the blood vessel running through the center of their nail.


Some groomers and veterinarians what tell you that you should be brushing your dog’s teeth every day. Let’s be real, that’s not going to happen. A more realistic goal is to brush their teeth two or three times a week using a special toothbrush designed for their doggy teeth. You should also supplement this with dental treats to make sure that their breath is as fresh as possible and their teeth are healthy.


Check your dog’s ears once a week to make sure that their ears are clear of dirt and ear wax. If you see dirt and ear wax, you can use a cotton ball and a cleaning solution that can be purchased from most pet stores. You can also use apple cider vinegar as a cleaning solution. Keep an eye out for redness and swelling inside the ears, these are signs of ear infections.

About the Author

Adam Conrad is a dad of five Shih Tzu pups and the creator of Shih Tzu Expert. His passion for helping people in all aspects of dog care flows through in the coverage he provides about dog health issues like Parvo, CDV (Canine Distemper Virus), pet containment systems like wireless & GPS fences, dog grooming tools and techniques, and best food for dogs with specific dietary requirements. In his spare time he is an avid scuba diver and an ultra-trail runner.

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