About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grooming dogs that won't stand.

Over the years I have had dogs that won't stand when in the tub or on the grooming table.
Most of the time it is a fear of being up off of the ground, and standing on a surface that they are not used to.

I like to move very slowly with these dogs.
Tickling their bellies, and slowly, very slowly, easing them up,
a little bit at a time, stopping occasionally to let the dog get it's bearings.
Once the dog is standing up, I praise the heck out of him.
This works for me almost every time.

Key word being....almost.

I learned a long time ago that fighting them just does not work.
It is not a matter of the dog winning and the groomer losing either.
I have run into a lot of groomers over the years that have the mentality that 'I am not going to let the dog win.'

I am of the mentality, 'work with the dog so that we both win.'

The Golden in this picture was a very shy and scared dog who was 2 years old, and had never been to a groomer.

He was petrified of standing in the tub.

So I bathed him laying down.
I talked, and talked, and talked to him.
I tickled his belly and tried to encourage him to stand.
I tried several times, but never pushed it or tried to force him to stand.

By the time I started to rinse, he was sitting up for me on his own.

I tried the 'tickle his belly trick', and very slowly encouraged him to stand all of the way up.

He did.
Not for long, but that was okay.
It gave me enough time to make sure all of the soap was rinsed off.

 I had to encourage him to stand a couple of times after the first time, but each time was easier for him.

He was starting to trust and realize that nothing was going to happen to him if he stood.

Of course we had to start all over again on the drying table.

The trust was already there, so it didn't take long to encourage him to sit up while being dried.

Again, I let him lay on the grooming table while grooming him until he was ready to stand for me.

It did not take long.
He was now calm and very trusting, because I let him figure it out at his own pace, while praising him and telling him how good he was.

Then there are the dogs, that there is no rhyme or reason as to why they will not stand for you.

Like this guy.

I have been grooming him since he was a puppy.

When he was younger he was a happy-go-lucky little dog.
For some reason he has changed over the years.

He is now over weight, and I have tried to tactfully talk to his owner about it.
She say's that her husband is constantly feeding the dog.

I think some of his grumpiness comes from being over weight.
A couple of years ago this guy suddenly decided that he would only stand up when facing one way on my table.

When turned the other direction on my table, this dog utterly and absolutely refuses to stand.
So much so , that he will fight tooth and nail if you try to get him to stand.

When he first started to do this, I will admit that I got frustrated with him.
I would say to him; 'What is wrong with you? You never did this before.'
But the more I tried to get him to stand the more he was determined not to.

After trying every trick I knew to get him to stand, and both of us being miserable while trying to clip him, I said forget this.
Why am I trying to make him stand?
I will just do the best that I can while he is laying down.

That is what I do now, and we both win.

I clip his body laying down.

I clip his belly laying down.

I scissor his legs while he is laying down.


Scissoring his back legs can really be a challenge.

I always groom the difficult side first.

I like to get the difficult things over with first.

Once I turn him, he pops right up.

The first thing that I do is fix what I can on the other side from this side.

Now, I know that some groomers reading this will most likely say, 'Why don't you just groom him on an open table that you can walk around while he is standing facing this direction?'

 That will not work on this dog.
If he is place on an open table, he will totally flatten out no matter what direction he is facing.
He is so sure he is going to fall off of the table.
He likes the security of the back board.

He stands great when facing in this direction, but he is very slowly working himself backwards into the corner of my backboard.

Once he has worked himself into the corner, it is time to try to move him forward.

Now I have to try to move him without freaking him out , and causing him to flatten out on the table again.

Instead of scooting him forward, the best thing to do with him, that does not freak him out, is to pick him up off the table completely and then slowly place him back down where I want him.

He will let me lift his legs.

He will let me clip his belly.

Once again, I let the owner know that I groom the dog the best that I can.
I tell the owner that he does not like to stand, and that it makes some of the scissoring difficult.

The Grooming:
Body: #4F
Legs: 5/8 blade and scissor.
Top of Head: #4F blade used with light pressure, and with the growth of the hair.
Face: skim #4F down the sides of the face, and scissor a round the mouth short.

I learned a long time ago it is not worth fighting or forcing a dog to do anything.
If they will not let me clip the nails, I do what I can, then I tell the owner I will try again the next time, and that we will slowly work with the dog to get the nails clipped.
The same goes for plucking the ears, and anything else the dog may fight about.
Most owners understand, and really appreciate that you want to work with their dog, and make grooming a good and pleasant experience.

Gone are those early days when it would have brought me to tears if a dog would not stand up for me.
Or, if I could not get the nails and ears done.
Gone are the days of being afraid to explain to the owner that I could not do everything the way the owner wanted.

If an owner does not understand why you were unable to complete a groom or unable to do the perfect cut, then you don't want them to be your customer.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I was very interested to read this post, as my Miniature Schnauzer was previously overweight and had the same problem with standing up. He was about 15 lbs. overweight (breeder had been feeding him 6 CANS of puppy food a day- at 1.5 years old!)

    If his old groomer or I had him facing right, he'd stand stock still. But turn him left and he'd plop his butt right down and not get up. His previous groomer Pat, used to have to try and clip/bathe him with one arm tucked under his belly to hold him up.

    Now that he's lost most of the weight, he'll stand facing either direction but still act like he's going to fall over at the slightest gust of air when I turn him left. :P Oh well!

    1. Good Grief, imagine a Breeder doing that to a dog. He is very lucky to have an owner like you to get him back in shape.
      I have about half a dozen dogs that do the same thing, stand great in one direction and freak out standing the other direction. Go figure. All you can do is work with them. Getting upset with them will only make it worse.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. I truly admire ur patience, ha its so difficult, u found the answer 2 the problem & it stopped the stress for u & the dog. my dog isa pain as its nigh on impossible 2 do his face & he,s nearly lost an eye a good few times with, his constant pulling his head away. he doesnt like his front paws being touched either & iv got sooooo stressed & went mad at him. gona need 2 take a leaf outa ur book!

    1. Thank you Lyn,
      It is amazing how a dog can test our patience. I did a video about trying to groom a Shih-tzus head if you would like to watch it. Maybe some of the holds that I used will help with your dog.


      I hope it helps alittle. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  3. Wow, I took my two Shih Tzu's they are 10 sister and brother to a new PETSMART today they have been groomed by other locations and just were done Dec 1st, 2013 Anyway, this new location is closer and I thought a nice bath and tidy before the new year would be nice. Well we should up today at 10 minutes before noon (apt at noon) waited a half hour they had problems with printer, computer etc., anyway finally we book them in we were only gone 15 minutes and they called us all concerned that Billie the Boy wouldn't stand up. I explained this was normal for him and normally the groomers just worked with him and he was quite happy to be just groomed laying down as you show above and he is pretty good and being well plopped around. Anyway, they said no you don't understand he wouldn't stand while being bathed and it's like he can't hold himself up we think he might have had a seizure. At this point I'm thinking ok obviously these people need us to go over. So we went back they had him on a table two of them one holding on to him holding him up like something was wrong and the other trying to groom him..??? We said ok so this is normal for him anyway, they read us something about their policy and seriously thought something was wrong with him. We ended up taking him and our little girl out the groomer had the nerve to say to me when the supposed "Manager" was handing Billie to me put him on the ground he can't walk seriously, I wasn't going to do that as I already knew he would just sit there. Anyway, it was a terrible experience I wish more groomers really took pride in understanding that some dogs well they like to lay down or sit plus he's 10 not 2...I am going to print your article and bring it in along with my vets letter letting them know he is ok to groom plus maybe suggest they do a little research before opening their mouths.
    Janice (Ontario, Canada)