Small dogs should be handled and trained very similarly to large dogs, and with similar expectations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Small dogs are often picked up and held close to their owners when they are excited or acting aggressively. This reinforces the aggressive emotional state, and over time this can result in a small dog that bites. As a result, many small dogs can be snappy, especially when in unfamiliar situations, or with unfamiliar people. Also, due to their small size, a small dog may become intimidated if he feels startled, in danger, or experiences discomfort, any of which may occur during grooming if a brush snags a tangle, water during bathing feels unpleasant, or the sound of clippers startles him. In turn, sometimes small dogs develop the bad habit of biting during grooming.
Whether you groom your small dog yourself or take him to a professional groomer, you will need to take steps so that you or your groomer does not end up with a chunk of skin missing!
Ever heard of a Napoleon complex? This is the theory that small people, or in this case, small dogs, overcompensate for their small stature with aggressive and dominant social behavior. While we generally recognize this is not really true of people, it may be true of dogs, to some degree. Because dogs act more on instinct than we do, and a small dog may more easily feel threatened in a world full of bigger dogs and big people, a small dog can learn to react aggressively and even bite when unsure of a situation.
Grooming is one of those situations your small dog may feel threatened in and react by biting. If you take your dog to a groomer, the sights and sounds of the grooming salon and other dogs may evoke this response. Or, if you groom your dog yourself and your dog doesn't like water, the sensation of a shower, clippers, the feeling of having his fur and skin pulled by a brush, tangles worked out, or trimming with scissors, he may react by biting. Obviously this is a problem!