Andrea Cyrill Khurana

Everyone loves bringing home a new puppy, especially a cute, fluffy ball of fur like a Shih Tzu. But love doesn’t conquer all, especially while caring for the grooming needs of your new puppy, the right way.

As a professional groomer, my first piece of advice to any new Shih Tzu parent is – brush your puppy right from the start, even if you don’t feel like, they need it. Getting your puppy used to a comb and brush will go a long way when they grow older.

Tools needed
You will need some good quality tools and products, like the ones listed below, to help make the grooming process easier.

  •  A table or high surface to put your pup on (please do not leave your pup unattended while he is on any high surface)
  •  Metal comb
  •  Fine tooth flea comb (for the area around the eyes)
  •  Slicker brush
  •  Pin brush
  •  A detangling spray
  •  Eye wipes
  •  Their favourite treats – important

Make grooming a happy experience
Grooming your pet does not only help keep their coat clean and tangle free but is also a wonderful way to bond from an early age. Be sure to make grooming a positive experience by showering them with a lot of praise and a few tidbits of their favourite treats throughout the session. Remember that your puppy will not sit still throughout the session, especially if he is still very young; this takes patience and persistence from you. All puppies are playful and cannot concentrate on one task for long. Remember to praise and reward your puppy every time they allow you to brush them or clean them. Never make grooming an unpleasant experience by trying to make them sit for long periods, yelling at them, or beating him. You want him to happily allow you to brush him without too much drama.

Start slow
Around 5-10 minutes every day for the first few days is a good way to get your pet acquainted with the process. Gradually increase the time you take to groom until he sits still and allows you to groom him for the entire session. If your pet has tangles then gradually try and remove them with a slicker brush while giving him treats and lots of love. Taking breaks and allowing him to move around every 15-20 minutes with help keep the stress at bay.

How to brush?
Placing your pup on an elevated surface will restrict him from running around, while keeping your back free from injuries and stress. Remember to NEVER leave your pup unattended when he is on an elevated surface. You can use a mat or towel to prevent him from slipping.

  •  Start with friction areas – around the collar, behind the ears, near the tail, and the armpits. Make sure to get the comb through to the skin without scratching the skin.
  •  Superficial brushing will allow knots to accumulate under the surface of the hair without you realising.
  •  Use a slicker brush or a pin brush as your first tool.
  •  After brushing, check for knots using the metal comb. If any knots are found then gently brush them out with a slicker brush before proceeding to other areas.
  •  Be very careful with a slicker brush as wrong usage will scratch your pets’ skin and cause pain.
  •  If you are unsure about how to use your tools, ask your groomer for a few tips Introduce your pet to their groomer as soon as their vaccinations are done. It is a lot easier for a young puppy to learn to enjoy being groomed rather than waiting until your pet is 6-7 months old and making the process stressful for them.
  •  Regular visit to your groomer will also help identify many other issues that may go unnoticed, like ticks & fleas, skin problems, ear infections, in-grown nails, etc.
  •  It is recommended visiting your groomer between every 2 to 6 weeks depending on your personal preference and budget.

Be consistent
Brushing your puppy for 20-30 minutes EVERYDAY is important. A Shih Tzu’s hair/coat will keep growing constantly throughout their life. If left unattended and un-brushed, the coat tends to form small knots which gradually collect dirt and debris and turn into matt. If your pet is badly matted, your only option will be to shave off the coat, which is not pleasant for anyone, especially your pet. Trying to open out a matt can be a painful, tedious, and expensive process. Most groomers opt to shave off a matted dog to prevent stress and will charge an extra de-matting fee depending on the severity of the matt. Very severe, neglected matting has been known to prevent blood circulation leading to other major issues like loosing sensation in the limbs or tail, which can eventually result in amputation of the affected part. Simply brushing your dog everyday can prevent all of this!

Maintenance of coat
Shih Tzu is long haired breed and his lustrous coat is their pride. Regular grooming will help keep the coat shiny and healthy. But if you’re unable to maintain it, ask your groomer or vet for help. You can take your pet to a professional, qualified groomer and get him a cute haircut. Most Shih Tzu pet parents like to keep their dogs looking fluffy but neat. There are many different styles (like us humans too) that can look good on your pup. Choose your favourite style and ask your groomer to do it for you. Please do not try and give your dog a haircut yourself or hire unprofessional people to do it. I have seen far too many dogs with horrid ‘home haircuts’ that I am expected to ‘fix’. Sometimes a groomer may be able to fix a blooper but most times you will just have to wait for the hair to grow back before you can have your pup looking picture-perfect again. Most dogs need a haircut every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the length of hair and style. But your pet does need a nail clipping and ear cleaning at least every 4 weeks. Grooming should be a fun experience for you and your pet. Lots of treats, toys, and love can make the process enjoyable and fun!

(Andrea Cyrill Khurana is an International Certified Pet Stylist and Grooming Instructor at Petsburgh Grooming School and Salon, Mumbai)

BRUNO MY PERSON
I woke up to a weight on my leg,
Cramped at one side.
But he looked at me, With his big googly eyes.
I woke up to a face, Who also woke
up just with me, Already running
on his fours, Trying to sniff
my face, wipe it clean.
I walk in the door being out knowing,
Love of someone awaits me forever,
Dropping me down on my knees,
With the trot he runs to me.
I lay in bed, days when my body fails,
He sits next to me, till I cannot ignore,
Bringing his toy for me to throw,
Making sure, I am up and about.
Think not that I am alone,
For he sits chatting with me,
Yes! His language is a dog language,
With wags, talking eyes and mouth contempt.
Knew never what silence of love means,
He showed it without the need of words.
All I know, he came to me,
When I needed him, when I needed a hand!
To hold and to be held!
– Saroja Vasanth