Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming Mini Guide

Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming     by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 07-26-2021

The Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming Guide is perfect for new puppies and rescues.  Find out just how easy it is to do all the grooming yourself and save money.

Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming GuideShih Tzu Puppy Grooming Guide

Table of Contents for this Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming Mini Guide

Training a Puppy to Love Grooming (You Are Here)

Supplies and Procedures

Puppy Top Knots

How to Bathe a Puppy

Your Puppy's First Haircut

Clipping Puppy Nails

Training a Puppy to Enjoy Grooming

Training a Puppy to enjoy grooming is just one of those tasks that go along with puppy training. Grooming is important not only for looks but for the health of your dog. 

Adult Shih Tzu dogs who hate grooming can be a handful for both you and the groomer. Over the course of a Shih Tzu life-time, this frustration can add up. The best time to condition your puppy to enjoy or at least tolerate grooming is as soon as he comes home.

Training is as easy if you add a few treats, patience, and know when to stop.

Like small children, puppies are much too busy to sit, stand, or lie down for grooming. For this reason, I usually like to keep a chew bone, a few small treats, or a favorite toy nearby. Timing is also crucial.

Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming Tip:  Puppies are more receptive to grooming when tired. 

You've probably heard that a tired puppy is a good puppy and when it comes to grooming, a tired puppy may be the difference between success and failure.

Puppies are more receptive to grooming when tired.  Use that tidbit of knowledge to plan out your grooming routine.

Planning When and Where to Groom

Decide where you will groom. Do you feel more comfortable holding your puppy on your lap? Would a grooming table or other raised surface make the job easier?

There are benefits to both. If you do plan to groom the puppy by yourself, you will want him to get accustomed to a table. If all you are doing is brushing or combing several times a week, your lap will be fine.

Training a Puppy to Stand on a Table

Ideally, you will have a grooming table, but in reality, most people are not going to own one, at least initially.   Chose a location such as a table, cabinet, or desk. Anything will work. Prefer to be sitting while you groom? Choose a location such as a desk for your Shih Tzu puppy grooming sessions.

Grooming is easier if your dog learns to stand on the table. Some get so relaxed, that they will want to lay down. You can still groom, but won't be able to do all tasks. 

A kitchen counter or table may not seem daunting to you, but to a little puppy, it may seem like a mountain top. Sitting or standing on a grooming table can be a scary proposition to a small dog even if the height is perfect for you. 

Training your puppy to tolerate a table top has added benefits. He's likely to visit a veterinarian with a table. A professional groomer will always use a grooming table. A little time on a table will make other experiences less stressful.

To add an extra layer of security. Place a non-skid mat or towel under him so he doesn't need to feel a slippery surface.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Place your puppy on the table. Does he stay? Reward him with a treat and plenty of praise. 
  2. Does he race for the table edge? Put him back in the center. Continue until you can tell he is not going to bolt. Treat again and Praise. This process may take several attempts until the puppy understands what you expect. 
  3. Once the puppy is calm and standing where you want him to stand, it is time to groom. Start by brushing and then combing his coat. 
  4. Give him time to adjust to you touching, then brushing his legs and paws. Brush his ears and tail. Finally tackle the head. Most puppies tolerate brushing but may not want his face cleaned or brushed. 
  5. A relaxed puppy will tolerate more grooming

Thinking About a Grooming Table?

I thought a long time before getting one but Amazon has made tables affordable.  Here are a couple that really caught my eye.

Portable Tables:  I really liked this one because you could fold it when not in use.  A portable table is very attractive if you have a small space.

It comes with an arm (that metal piece that attaches to the table and helps to keep your dog secure. 

It also has a tray under the table for supplies and tools.  This is especially useful because you either keep the tools on the table (not a good idea) or place the table near your grooming supply area.  That is not always convenient either.

This one boasts of being able to hold up to 220 pounds.  That is not a big plus for a small Shih Tzu.  Maybe your husband?

Circular Grooming Table:  This table has a clever design and very practical if you would prefer not to have a table set up in your home permanently. 

It's round shape can set easily on a desk or countertop and it rotates.  Rather than having to reposition your pet, just spin the table.  

It does come with an adjustable grooming arm and grooming loop.

It is only meant to be used for a small dog so if you have larger dogs, this table might be impractical.  

This Haunch holder looks odd, but it is a very practical attachment to your table.  It slips around the dog's body near his waist and gives added protection.  

I don't recommend place just the grooming loop around your dog's neck.  If you have a squirmy dog, she could choke herself very fast.

If you prefer not to purchase one of these haunch holders, you can achieve almost the same thing by positioning your grooming loop around the dog's body instead of neck.

There are plenty of more expensive tables on the market, larger ones, those that have a hydraulic lift that easily moves up and down to accommodate larger dogs.  Some come with overhead arms and many come in different colors.  I've listed the basic tables because I think they are the ones most appropriate for the home groomer.

Tips for Successful Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming

Assemble All Your Tools and Supplies

Having everything you need close by will make the job easier. I will discuss what you will need in another section. Add a bag of treats to your grooming tools.

Your Tone of Voice

Whether you are bathing, brushing, or cleaning an ear, continue to talk to your puppy in a soft positive voice. Dogs are sensitive to the tone of our message.

Treats, Treats and More Treats

Treats work well with Shih Tzu puppy grooming, but remember that too many treats can wreck havoc on his young GI tract. To avoid too many treats, break each treat into a tiny piece.

More Training Opportunities For You

Use grooming opportunities to teach the sit, stand, or down command. Don't forget to praise and treat. 

Timing is Everything

Remember I mentioned that grooming is best accomplished when the puppy is tired?  This may be after a vigorous play session or right before bed. 

When you decide to groom is personal issue and must take your schedule into consideration.  Whenever you do groom, use frequent short sessions.  Their attention span is not very long.

Some Preliminary Tricks for Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming

A young Shih Tzu isn't going to require hours of grooming.  Some of the time you have devoted to grooming can be a puppy touch and massage session.  Touch areas of the puppy's entire body including paws, tail and under arms. Why?

Many puppies are squeamish being touched in some places.  Get him accustomed to accept his ears, face, feet, tail, and beard touched.  Later grooming tasks will go much easier.

What to Do About Reluctant Puppies?

If the puppy resists your efforts to brush or comb certain areas, use a soft bristle brush. An infant brush works well on nervous puppies. That type of brush will need to be replaced with a regular pin brush to do an adequate job. 

Remember, you have plenty of time to train your puppy to love grooming.  Go slow.

Use lots of praise, kisses, and treats.

Tolerate a Puppy's Curiosity

Place a puppy in a new place and what is the first thing they want to do?

Explore, Investigate, Maybe chew?

The place where you want to groom (kitchen cabinet, grooming table, your lap) likely going to rouse some curiosity.

Your puppy may want to investigate all your grooming tools. Allow sniffing, but not chewing.

Some puppies will think your tools are toys. You won't want him to get that idea. 

You can also touch the tool to the puppy's body and allow time for him to feel the sensation. You will want to repeat this step with all tools even clippers and nail grinding tools. This one little step can increase your Shih Tzu puppy grooming success.

Paws can be sensitive to puppies who don't have much experience with these tender areas being touched. If this is the case, it can be a problem when you go to trim their nails. Increase your Shih Tzu puppy grooming success by taking opportunities to massage these little paws.

Shih Tzu Puppy Grooming:  How Often is to Often?

Plan to brush your Shih Tzu’s hair often, at least a couple of times per week, but more often if possible. This frequent grooming not only gets the puppy acclimated to the grooming process but also get him used to someone touching his body.

Next Up?

Grooming A Shih Tzu Puppy:  Supplies and Methods

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and smart knit crocheting.