There is no reason you cannot groom your dog by yourself, as long as you have the time, and patience to learn. This has been written primarily for a Yorkie or Yorkshire Terrier however, it can easily be adapted to almost any other breed in existence.
The type of coat that your dog has will affect what Shampoos and Conditioners you will be using. Just as the type of water you have, hard or soft, will affect the performance of the different products. All you can do is to try different ones. However, please, use good salon quality products if you choose to use the ones made for humans. If you notice, the skin looks dry, or if there is an excess amount of itching change products. You will also want to periodically change products, and/or use a clarifying type to remove residue that can build up. Even though one shampoo works great for weeks, all of a sudden, the shine is gone, the cause is build-up.
Before the Bath
You are going to need to go through the coat to check for snarls and mats. Snarls can be pulled apart with your fingers, then, using a pin type brush go though the coat before bathing. If the coat is matted, you are not grooming often enough or the coat is a soft type. A soft coat is much more difficult to maintain than the proper silk coat. It will take daily care to keep from matting, so you may need to have the dog trimmed in a puppy cut or another style. There is no sense in struggling with a coat that will constantly mat, causing you and the dog to be upset at grooming time. Mats hurt coming out regardless how careful and gentle you are. Soft coats also collect dirt and absorb moisture much quicker than a true silk coat. You will need to add a slicker brush to your list if you are working with this type of coat. Be careful using this type of brush, they can actually burn the skin. Place your fingers at the base of coat next to the skin as you are brushing. Start brushing at the ends of the hair and gradually work up toward your fingers.
Before the bath is the best time for brushing the teeth. Many Yorkies are prone to excessive Tartar, which causes premature tooth loss. They make a number of products now to help keep the teeth clean. If you do not brush the teeth, this will mean additional professional cleanings at the Vet’s, and it can also lead to Bacterial Infections to develop causing additional expense to you, and pain to your friend.
Check the Ear Channel first, if there is any offensive odors, redness, or a reddish brown discharge, have your Vet look at them. All could be signs of infection, and need to be treated if so. If there is hair in the channel, remove it by pulling it out with your fingers. Whether the hair is oily or not, using a plucking powder lightly will make it much easier to do. Note: Pull quickly, not slow. Clip the excess hair on the inside of the ear leathers about 1/3rd way down. Then you will clip the same amount on the backside but trimming the hair off in the shape of a V. You will need to be very careful when trimming the outer edge of the ears so as not to nick your baby’s ear.
Taping Ears If needed For Down Ears
The most important thing to encourage ears to stand upright is keeping the excess hair trimmed. However, if they are not up by 6-7 weeks of age they should be supported. This method will work even with older pups; it may just take a longer period of time. If you purchased your puppy, the ears should have been up prior.
Cut three pieces of 2-inch masking tape in triangles, and lay them on top of one another. Use better quality tape, because the less expensive brands do not adhere as well. Place this so the adhesive side is next to the skin on the inter-ear leather. Next, cut a strip of tape approximately 3-4 inches long. This is centered on the “back side” of the ear, and the remainder is folded over the front, on top of your tape inserts. You may need to repeat this step, using two strips depending on ear length and weakness. Leave these in place, checking or replacing them every 2-3 days. Sometimes the ears will be up in the first 2-3 days, others can take weeks, and some may never stand correctly depending on the breeding and ear type.
Small clippers will be used to trim the pads of the feet. Hair grows from between them and it should be trimmed to at least were the hair is level with the pads. You can go between the Pads if you are comfortable with this, if not, at least check between them.
Trimming Nails should be done with almost each bath, if you do this at every bath; all you will need to do is remove the tips. They can bleed if too much is removed, so you should have Quick Stop on hand. The center of the nail changes color and texture as you clip, if the nail is dry and white you may want to take additional nail off. They also have Nail Files available for dogs. If you wish, file the end of each Nail for a smoother finish.
Some prefer to trim the hair around the foot at this time, before bathing. If you have a lot of excess coat it would not hurt, but you will find that after bathing it will need to be done again.
One of the biggest mistakes in shampooing is rubbing the coat in circles. With the products today, the dirt is lifted off. There is no reason to scrub back and forth. Make sure the coat is entirely wet, apply your shampoo, and distribute it by running your fingers though the coat. It is important to rinse and rinse and rinse. Shampoo left in a coat can do more damage to the coat and skin than anything else.
Follow with a light Conditioner per instructions, or use a Mist Bottle with a light Conditioner during the drying process. I say a light conditioner because a very fine silky coat will get weighed down easily and appear dirty. In addition, if you are brushing the coat during the week, you will want to Mist it lightly. Do not brush a dry coat, nor one that is getting dirty. You are much better off re-bathing quickly if you are trying to grow
After the bathing is done, wrap the dog in a towel. Again, do not rub the coat. If you hold him for just a couple of minutes wrapped it will cut down on drying time. If you are trying to grow coat, let him just stand in front of the dryer until the coat is damp before
you start to brush. Otherwise, you can begin to brush starting at the ends, not the base of the coat next to the skin. Brush it in sections as you go along, it is much easier than to skip around. Do not forget the belly area, under the legs, and behind the ears.
By now, you are seeing the results of your work, and your dog has been patient with you. All you need to do now is trim around the feet and anal area. The Anal area should be only slightly trimmed using scissors, do not use clippers for this area. Usually about 1/2 inch around is enough. The feet should be rounded following the outline of the foot itself. You will first brush the coat down straight around the foot; stand your dog holding the leg hair up and out of the way. Then trim the excess coat off around the foot that hits the table you are grooming on. It is not easy to obtain a neat rounded foot at first, but each time you groom you will improve getting that rounded look. Just take your time.
Now that the Grooming is done, you can finish off by putting in the Top Knot with your favorite Bow. Collect the hair starting at the outer corner of the eye, going back at an angle toward the center of head, then back down to the outer corner of other eye. Brush this hair up and place a Latex Band, finish by adding your Bow. You may even have a favorite dog cologne, but do not forget the “Hug”! He deserves it.