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Do's and don'ts at the groomers.


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Hey everyone,
I've been grooming for nearly four years now and I thought I'd share some tips for owners for when they take their dog(s) for their hair cuts :)

Number 1). DO always look for reviews on the internet, Google, Facebook, Yell etc. Before choosing a groomer. Dog groomers are shockingly not actually legally required to take any sort of course before they start, meaning anyone can pick up a pair of scissors and clippers and call themselves a dog groomer! So look for someone preferably with qualifications and/or training in dog grooming.

Number 2). DO always take your puppy for one or two introductory visits first without being groomed, just to get them familiar with the environment, different smells and of course the groomer themselves. Most groomers will allow this (any excuse for puppy cuddles) :D

Number 3). DO always always always tell the groomer exactly what you want in your dog's cut, especially with cross breeds. And this doesn't mean just saying ''oh you know just a trim"...not good enough, there are different types of cuts for different breeds and of course some people like a variation on those styles, so not the standard cut. For example, with a Westie you can either have short all over with hair left on the face and tail or short on the back with the skirts (hair on the belly) and feathers (hair on the legs) left on. Some people like having the feathers left but not the skirts. Some people even bring a picture of how the dog was cut at their previous groomers to show exactly how they want them or show a picture on Google if it's the dogs first cut.

Number 4). DO make sure the groomer tells you what they're going to do. Similarly the groomer should tell you what needs to be done if the dog is matted. Most of the time when a groomer is bad mouthed, it's because they've clipped the dog short all over and haven't explained to the owner before doing it. Or they've misunderstood what the owner wants, it's a two way street, communication is key! If a dog is too matted to brush, most groomers will clip them off all over and start again to make it fairer for the dog.

Number 5). DO make sure the groomer has your number, especially if you're leaving them there, just in case there's an emergency or even if they just have a question.

Number 6). DO take your own shampoo if your dog has specific needs such as allergies and maybe has a shampoo from the vet or one you've bought for their condition.

Number 7). DO make sure the groomer gives you at least a price estimate before your appointment.

Number 8). DO brush your dog between visits! Groomers are not a replacement for brushing at home, they're as well as. Particularly with high maintenance coats such as poodle/poodle crosses. These coats need ideally daily brushing.

Number 9). DO make your groomer aware of any medical issues your dog has. Also any previous injuries such as broken legs, particularly if they have metal work inside keeping the bones together, the groomer will take extra care to be careful. Also any lumps and bumps on the skin.

Number 10). DO tell your groomer if your dog is nervous around strangers and/or gets mouthy while being groomed, if your dog tries to bite, the safest thing is for the groomer to use a muzzle on them.

Number 11). DO ask if you can stay while your dog is being groomed, some groomers are flexible and allow owners to watch/wait in a waiting area.

Number 12). DON'T - if you do stay don't stand right by the table where your dog is being groomed, more often than not the owner being there makes the dog more stressed, particularly if you are stressed, it can be passed onto the dog and the more you restrain a dog the more it'll struggle. So even if your dog is being a nightmare and you feel you have to hold them, ask the groomer what they want you to do. Having the owner right there standing over them can be off-putting for the groomer. Ideally there should be a waiting area a good distance away, preferably even out of your dog's sight.

Number 13). DON'T - bath your dog the night before your appointment (believe me it happens), you're going to the groomer to have your dog bathed and trimmed, they understand that they're going to be dirty so don't be embarrassed that your dog stinks, we've seen (and smelt) it all!

Number 14). DON'T - take your female dog to the groomers when they're in season (ewww! I've learned this the hard way, nothing worse than putting your fingers back there and finding blood) plus it's not ideal if it's a groomer that has cages and there could be male dogs there, that would be stressful for all), in the late stages of pregnancy (for obvious reasons, they need as little stress as possible and you need to be careful with the pups inside), or when they're nursing puppies, wait until the puppies have been weaned or better yet after they've gone to new homes because the products used can change the mother's smell.

Number 15). DON'T - this might be an obvious one but don't take your dog to the groomers if they have a cut/injury or they've just had surgery, wait until the stitches have been taken out and they've had the all clear from the vet (I know you can't wait to get the awful vet smell off but it unfortunately has to wait).

I could have gone on and on forever but feel I should stop there :)
hope this is helpful for people and feel free to ask any questions/add any more tips :)
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Edie's groomer only clips dogs with special needs! And seeing as she is a guardy dog you would have to be careful. She looks fantastic after being clipped but i would imagine she growls throughout the grooming. When she see's her groomer whilst out walking she gets excited and cant wait to greet her.
Awwwwww bless her, my boss actually has a reputation for doing the difficult dogs, haha. If they're turned away from another groomer they're referred to us.
Excellent advice...takes me forever to tell my groomer to avoid lump on leg, skin tag on tail, lumps on side ( Springer ) :D she seems to grow a few more every time we go ! Always suggest muzzle for Lily ( on profile pic) as she gets very growly when nails being done. Really strange but the groomers is the only place where Molly doesn’t bark at other dogs! Could be another 3/4 dogs in there at the same time but she has never barked....if only she was the same outside :D
I don't bother with the groomers anymore after they used clippers on one of my border terriers,which is a big no no. Besides that,they always try to get back to there most horrible scruffy selves when I've stripped them. They go on the hunt for mud or worse. I always picture them sniggering like muttley while trashing thier new look. Bloody dogs...who'd be without them.
My groomer is fantastic. She has groomed Dudley since he was a puppy. She is fantastic and a big plus is she lets me stay while she does it.
She also takes a photo of every dog after she has groomed them and posts it on her website.
I do comb edie well correction i have the brush and comb in my hand whilst she sits on the sofa with me. She loves her ears combing but thats it trying combing her legs and you could be minus a finger! I bathe her to keep her coat soft but then she rolls in anything stinky
@Mayblossom yeah we have a few like that in the salon, more lumps every time! How strange about the barking!

@Rhythmpig people have different opinions about clipping Border Terriers, we have both owners that have them clipped and ones that have them hand stripped, sometimes when the dog won't tolerate being stripped clipping is the best thing for them. Humanity over vanity. Haha, love that about Muttley!

@Nanny71 that's lovely :) it's great that you've got a groomer you're happy with, that's a really good tip too, when you find a groomer you're happy with, just stick with them! We also like to take before and after pictures :)

@Edie awww bless her, haha.
Another good tip, you have to put the dog's welfare first always, if your dog hates being brushed and it's just not doable, a short cut might be best even if the owner would love a longer cut, saving the stress of trying to brush it out at home and at the groomer. We have a few like this. Similarly ones that have short cuts for practical reasons such as if the dog is always out getting dirty and knotty, or for medical reasons like a Bichon I did recently who had a short cut all over (head included) because he's prone to hot spots and other skin issues. Like I said, Humanity over Vanity, this is our motto at work :)
We have our Parson clipped just because it’s easier for all concerned ;) hasn’t affected her coat at all and looks lovely when she’s finished...always keep the Parsons nose though :D
I worry about dogs who hate the groomers and are quite possibly shut down the whole time they're there. Should owners not then groom them at home, so they can, say, do this leg one day, that leg the next, clip the front one day and the back end the second, really taking their time to make it as easy as possible on the dog. @Jack-Russell-Lover , do you see many dogs like this? If they are standing still but, say, drooling or shaking, would you suggest to the owner that even if it's possible for you to groom them, it's not in the dog's best interests and they should do it themselves?

Hmmm, you could even do training courses for owners in basic grooming, stressing how to groom dogs who are scared...

Bear in mind I have a dog who would have a total meltdown if someone took clippers to him, and whose coat is pretty much maintenance free!
Murphy used to love being brushed but something changed and he has decided he now hates the brush.. But taking the cue for his lessons we make it all about the treat so while he stands still he gets a treat and I brush a little bit. While he stands still I continue to treat and brush , treat and brush... Luckily he doesnt need too much grooming!
That's the way to go @Mayblossom! Gotta keep a bit of character there too ;)

@JudyN, very good point there.
We work by appointment only so that we can allow that extra time for the new dogs or the more challenging ones.
Only one person's dog(s) is in each of the two grooming areas at a time so that dogs don't have to meet each other (or even see each other!).
When someone new wants to book their dog in we ask questions, how old is the dog? Have they been groomed before? How are they being groomed? So that we can assess how long we need to allow for at least their first appointment.
Fortunately I haven't had any dogs that are like the way you described Judy, but my boss has seen many. He's been grooming for about 15 years so he's more experienced than I am dealing with nervous dogs, nippy dogs, aggressive dogs. He will never push a dog too far, if they're stressed he has no problem saying to the owner, look I don't want to push them any further today but I can do some more another day if you can come back. So he will stagger the sessions so that a dog is not forced to stay for a whole groom while they're stressed.
For example one dog he does was a nightmare when he first did him (or tried to!) He took two hour long sessions just to clip his back, this wasn't nervous and drooling and shaking but trying to bite him. With a lot of patience he now only takes 45 minutes for a whole groom, clip, bath and dry. He still nips now and again but such an improvement! He's also done dogs that have previously had to be put under anaesthetic to be clipped and he's managed to get them settled into it, the owners are amazed.
I did a little dog a few months ago who was matted, and I did his whole body but could not do his face, he had big chunks of mats on the sides of his nose and every time I went close with the scissors he snapped, so I said to the owner come back another day and I'll get my boss to have a go. Of course a few days later he managed to get it all off.
Even just nail clipping, owners will come in with their dogs and say they're a nightmare to get their nails clipped and cannot cope at home to do it, but the dog just stands there and it's over in minutes, as if just having the dog on the table on a secure surface and with the confidence of the groomer they just a calm down.
In these cases where the dog is stressed he goes for speed rather than accuracy, to reduce the grooming time so the cut isn't perfect but it's acceptable, and the owners understand this.
We won't groom a dog for more than 2 hours because that's too long for them, if a dog needs longer than two hours (like a big hairy dog like a Newfie that maybe hasn't been groomed for a while) we will get them to come back another day for the rest.

It depends on the dog, some are nervous yes but can be settled into it with patience. Some might be more comfortable being groomed at home. Some like their owner to stay while some are calmer when they leave.
Funnily enough my boss does do learn to groom your own dog courses at our salon, as well as one to one sessions with owners where they bring their dog in and he'll spend the time teaching them how to do it.

I like that approach @Mad Murphy, that's how I got my dog to tolerate having her nails clipped at home, she now gives me her paw when she sees the treats and clippers!
Reading all these makes me even more glad I have a Whippet, go over with a hound glove a couple of times a week which she thinks is just being stroked / fussed so she is happy with. Nails she gets dremeled every two weeks or so which although she is not happy with she puts up with.
Dudley goes every four weeks
Bath and face and nails every time and clip every eight weeks.
I do comb or brush him daily and his feet and undercarriage get cleaned after every field walk.
Non moulting dogs take quite a bit of attention so they don't matt. Also gives me an opportunity to check him over daily.
@Nanny71 wow, Dudley has quite a regime there, that's really good :)
Yes non-moulting dogs need extra attention because instead of hair coming out all over the house the dead hair stays in the coat!
I've thought of another DO/something to add to number 7.
I recently had an incident with a customer who was unhappy when I charged a bit extra to what was originally quoted to him on the phone. This was because the dog was extremely matted.
Our price estimates are based on dogs who are well maintained at home without extreme knotting or matting. So the owner didn't mention that the dog was matted on the phone so it was a surprise to him. Unfortunately because of this I don't think they'll be back, which is a shame because it was a lovely dog.

So here's my DO, always tell the groomer the state of your dog's coat when you book to get an accurate price estimate.
Sadly people lie. I dont mean that nastily but I think they do it from shame or to hide their laziness.
We used to have a HVAC company and you would ask customers , 'is the boiler serviced regularly'?
Oh yes they would say ..But when the engineer arrived he would find the boiler hadnt been touched in 5 or more years try telling that to the customer and they would accuse us of trying to extract more money from them.

One guy refused a proper sevice of his boiler because of the extra price we quoted for de-scaling when it blew up a few weeks later he called us and asked if we could change the footnote we had added to his invoice about the urgancy of a de-scale because unless he could prove regular servicing his insurence wouldnt pay out.

Where customers are concered always take the information supplied with a pinch of salt.

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