The pins of your brush should make contact with the skin at the beginning of the brush stroke. From there, make a straight stroke outward to the ends of the hair. Try to teach your dog (and I say this in a "do as I say, and not do as I do," because this is a very hard thing for me to teach my dogs to do....but that is me....and I need more practise. So with practise it can be done, and if you are planning to have the long coat of hair on your Shih Tzu, you will need to teach the dog to lie still on his side. Brush one layer at a time, then pull another layer and repeat the process until you have brushed to the center part of your dog. So the dog is on its side and you begin brushing at the lower end of the body and work your way up to the top part of the body to the part. Once you complete one side, turn the dog over and repeat the process.
Start out slow, and start midway in the body. Do the legs, the tail, the feet, the head and stomach area last. These can be some of the touchiest areas on the Shih Tzu.
If you run into static electricity you can try a mixture of two tablespoons or less of your favorite creme rinse mixed with two cups of water in a spritzer bottle and lightly spray that on each layer as you are brushing. Put on some relaxing music for the both of you and try to make an enjoyable time of "bonding."
After thoroughly brushing the dog, run a wide tooth comb through the layers. What I do is have several types of combs on hand. I have one very wide tooth comb, a regular comb and a very small comb that is actually best to use on the face or the feet. With a comb, you can then get even closer to the skin and drag at each and every tangle. Not really drag out, but gently remove the tangles that get very close to the skin. And if you keep up on your brushing daily you won't have a big problem running your combs through the coat slowly and gently.
After the bath, when blow drying your Shih Tzu, turn the temperature down as the hair begins to dry. You can put your Shih Tzu in a cage with a dry towel in the bottom after they have bathed and you have towelled dried. Allow the dog to shake out as much extra moisture as possible. Turn the dryer in the direction of the cage to blow-dry some of the moisture from the coat while you are not brushing. This can reduce the brushing time and takes some of the stress out of brushing and drying the hair at the same time. You will have a nicer affect if you finish the drying process out of the cage while you brush the hair out.
Now for that beautiful, finishing touch - the topknot and bow. The absolute best way to become a pro at this would be to watch a pro do it, such as a professional dog groomer or handler.
Shih Tzu - Coat Handling Techniques
by Connie Limon
Connie Limon, breeder of the Shih Tzu Austin, Indiana Stain Glass Shih Tzus www.stainglassshihtzus.com.