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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesdays Tip # 46....Dealing with Static Electricity


Static Electricity......it can be a real pain in the bu**.
 


 Especially when you are trying to scissor a dog.

Especially on those dogs with long, straight hair.

The hair sticks to your scissors as you are trying to scissor making it impossible to see what hair you have actually cut.








  Combing or brushing the hair makes it go in all different directions.
 
It can be so frustrating.





There is one trick that I use that has really helped me over the years.




 Dryer sheets!

I have a box of dryer sheets that I use to keep the static electricity down.

I do not rub them on the dog.







I rub the dryer sheet all over my comb.

Then I run the comb through the dogs hair.

Most of the time I only have to wipe my comb once or twice, with each dog, depending on how bad the static electricity is that day.









I rub the dryer sheet down the pins of my brush before brushing the dog.








 I also carefully wipe the blades of my scissors with the dryer sheets.

I only do one swipe on each blade.

Using the dryer sheets with each of these tools greatly reduces the static electricity on the dogs coat.







  I like using the dryer sheets because they are dry.

I can use them on my tools and not the dog.

I can also pick out a fragrance that I like.

The sheets are also large enough to rip in half to make them last longer.


One sheet will last a very long time.

Oh,  there are a couple other uses for these guys as well.

~Wipe down the front of your smock to keep hair from sticking, or to freshen up your smock after holding a particularly stinky dog.

~Wipe down the top of your grooming table to keep hair from sticking to it.

~If you have windows with blinds, wipe the blades of the blinds to help hair slide off of them.

I hope that this is a helpful tip. :)

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF ✂

Monday, January 28, 2013

Clipping and Scissoring Legs.....

....on dogs that do not like it.

Unfortunately, a lot of dogs do not like their legs fooled with.
I learned this very early on in my grooming career.

Some dogs don't like you brushing their legs, some don't like the feel of the clipper running down
them, some just do not want you to touch, or hold their legs in anyway.

I hated fighting dogs just to work on their legs.
They would jerk and pull, sometimes jerking their own leg right into the teeth of the clipper blade, or the blade of your scissors.
The teeth of the blade would stab, not cutting, but hurting the dog all he same, and only making the dog hate the clippers going down the legs even more.

Some dogs will just jerk their leg away, some will flip their body backwards, some will snap at the clipper.

It can be very nerve racking for a groomer.
We know that clipping the dog requires us to run a clipper down the legs to get the hair off.
The last thing we want to do is have the dog hurt itself.

Or, ourselves....I have had dogs jerk heir legs away causing me to jam the clipper blade into my own hand...it hurts!

Out of frustration, and a real fear of accidentally cutting a dog, I started to try to figure out ways to help the dogs accept the clippers running down their legs, and also accept brushing and scissoring.

I tried different holds and approaching from different directions.
No matter how many things that I tried, I found one basic thing that worked just about every time.

A Gentle Touch.  
A gentle touch with the hold.
A gentle touch with the brush.
A gentle touch with the clipper.

AND PATIENCE!

I know, you're probably saying....'here she goes again talking about gentle grooming.'

You better believe I am!

It has worked for me every time.

When I have a dog that I find does not like to have its legs fool with, there are several things that I do.

Clipping the front legs:

First, I very lightly and gently rub my hand up and down the dogs leg.
If he/she pulls away, that is okay.
I let them pull away and calm down, then I start to rub again, all the while talking to them very encouragingly.
You have to give their brain a minute to click, and let it register that what you are doing is not hurting them.
Just about all of them will eventually realize that the rubbing does not hurt.

Now, slowly pick up the leg.
Do this by slowly, running your open hand down the back of the leg.
As you near the ankle joint of the leg, slowly apply a little pressure to have the dog pick up its leg.
You want the leg resting in your open hand, as if the dog were shaking your hand.

If the dog jerks away, that's okay.
Tell the dog that is okay and try again until the dog will relax with its paw in your hand.

Tip:  At this time, also keep an eye out for any reasons that the dog does not like its legs fooled with.
Arthritis, crooked legs, chewed or sore spots.

Once the dog trusts you to lay its paw in your hand, slowly close your hand around the lower part of the leg or the paw.
Do not apply any pressure.
Test the waters.
See how much the dog will now let you fool with the leg.

Now try to clip.





I like to start clipping a leg without even picking it up.

I will slowly run the blade from the body down the leg as far as the dog will let me.

My hand is behind the dogs elbow to help keep him/her from moving it.





 When I have to lift the leg to finish clipping, I like to lift from the elbow.

You should never just grab up the paw.

Most dogs will jerk it away when it is suddenly crabbed without any warning.

I think that you can see in the picture that even though I am holding up the leg, I am not applying a lot of pressure, or squeezing the leg.



 When clipping the front of the leg I still like to hold up the leg by the elbow joint.

This way I can lock my fingers around the back of the elbow giving me more control on how much the dog is able to jerk the leg backwards.

I am still not applying a lot of pressure when I hold the leg.

Just enough to keep the leg from moving.

When the dog stops trying to move the leg, I release any pressure I was using while still holding on.

TIP: Use a light pressure with your clippers too.
You may have to go over the leg a couple of times when using a light pressure, but it will still be faster and better than fighting the dog.

Oh, remember, you are encouraging and praising the dog the whole way. :)


video





When clipping the inside of the front legs, I slowing slide my hand down the dogs leg to the foot and gently pick up the leg.

I slowly lift it to where the dog is comfortable.

If the dog starts to jerk away, I still gently hold on to the foot and ride the with the leg till the dog stops pulling.

The key is to not force the dog to hold the leg out.

By letting him/her jerk it back and forth while you are still holding it shows the dog that you are not locking the leg in one place and that they can move it if they get uncomfortable.


Oh boy, I hope that made sense.

I know what I am trying to say, I just can't seem to word it right.

I reread the above description and my head is spinning.

Hmmmm,  let me see if I can word it a little differently....

If the dog jerks their leg back towards their body, let them, but do not let go of the foot or tighten up on your pressure.
Let your hand go back and forth with the dogs leg until they stop pulling it away.
If the dog jerks their foot hard enough to pull it out of your hand, that is okay, just start over again.
Once they stop jerking the arm back and forth, very slowly bring the leg out and away from the body.
Only pull it out as far as the dog feels comfortable.
Yes, you may start out bending your body like a pretzel to reach the inside of the leg, but as the dog realizes that you are not hurting them and they relax, you will most likely be able to bring the leg out straighter so that you can get to it better.

Is that a better explanation?

Maybe between the two you will figure out what the heck I am trying to say. :)

Now, if you have a dog, that no matter how hard you try, still will not let you lift his/her leg by its paw to get to the inside of the leg, let the dogs leg down, let them stand on the leg.
Now, pick up the opposite front leg from behind the elbow, bend down and clip the inside of the opposite leg.
This trick works just about every time.

Clipping the rear legs:

I find that most dogs are not as touchy about clipping the rear legs as they are for the front legs.
The biggest issue for the back legs seems to be clipping the inside on the back leg.








 I do the same with the back legs that I do with the front legs.

I start by clipping down the leg with out lifting it up.










 I go all a round the leg as much as I can while the leg is still down.







When I am ready to lift the leg I gently hold the leg around the thigh and lift up to where the dog is comfortable.

This hold works great for those dogs that like to try to sit and tuck their leg under them.






On small dogs; instead of trying to lift the dogs leg up way over its back to get to the inside of the leg, I do one of two things.

I lift the opposite leg to clip the inside of the other leg.

Or

I stand the dog up on its hind legs and clip the inside of the back legs.




video



Every once in a while you will have a dog that absolutely refuses to let you run a clipper down their legs.

No matter how gentle you are, how careful you try to be, or how much you try to show them that it does not hurt.

It is okay to just give up.
Let the dog win if that is the way you look at it.
It just is not worth fighting the dog, getting yourself and the dog upset, or possibly hurting the dog.

I have two dogs that will not, in any way, shape or form let me run a clipper down their legs.
One is a small Maltese and the other is a small Yorkie.
Both get clipped in a #4F blade.
I clip the body and scissor their legs to the #4F length.
Everybody is happy.

There is one other thing that I would like to say.

I have notice, over the years, when I watch other groomers clip a dog, that a lot of groomers look almost like they are attacking the dog with the clippers.
They are very heavy handed.
Some seem to run the blade over the dog using as much pressure as they can.
I see them rushing and jamming the blade into the dog, and then getting upset because the dog jerked away.

I am not saying that these groomers are doing this on purpose, to be mean.
I truly think that that is the way some groomers were taught.
I think that they are concentrating so much on getting the dog done and the hair off that they forget that they are working on a living animal that has feelings.
They may not realize just how heavy handed they are.


Have you ever had a hair dresser that was rough and unfeeling when washing, brushing and cutting your hair?
I have.

One woman was so rough when she was brushing and combing my hair that she was literally jerking my head backwards with each stroke.
When my head jerked back she would grab the back of my head and push it forward, giving me a disgusted look in the mirror.
No, I didn't say anything to her....I was too young...and she was very intimidating to me at the time.

My point is...you must be aware, at all times, how your actions (holds, pressure, tone of voice, ect.) effect the dog.

If a lot, or all of the dogs you groom fight you for clipping their legs, you need to evaluate the way you clip.

Are you too heavy handed?
Do you move the legs into uncomfortable positions for the dog?
Are you jamming the blade into the dogs leg every time you place it back on the leg?
Are you checking to see if the dog may be arthritic, or has crooked legs?

I very rarely have dogs fight me for clipping their legs anymore.
If they do, I take the time to figure out why, and do what I need to to show them that clipping their legs will not hurt them.

The dog that I used for this post, and the videos, hated when I  clipped her legs when she first came to me.
It took a few groomings, but as you see in the video, she is much better about it now.

Thank you Kate for asking about working on dogs who don't like their legs fooled with. 
 I hope that this post helps.
Hopfully the videos help too.
The videos can be no longer than one minute for me to post them here, so they don't show as much as I would like them to. :/

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF 

                                                                                       

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Repair Groom and a Little Color Please





This little lady has been trying to get in to be groomed for a couple of months now.

But, between the owners work schedule (7 days a week) and the fact that we were booked up for the Holidays, this little girl was way past her normal grooming time.

So they did a little 'home grooming' on her till they could bring her to me.




 Her groom was going to be a matter of  finding the shortest area and matching the rest of her up.

The head.....why do owners always kill chop off the top of the head?

Ugh.

There was one other thing that the owner wanted also.

She did not know that she wanted it when she walked into my shop, but she saw my daughters dog.


Right now my daughters Bichon has purple ears.
As a matter of fact, all of Maryland is purple right now.

Our football team, 'The Ravens' are going to the Superbowl!
Everyone is wearing something purple to support the team.
When this Bichons owner saw my daughters Bichon, she wanted her dogs ears purple too!

I had used up all of my purple blow pens, so I had to use children's (non-toxic) sidewalk chalk.
The chalk is much lighter in color than the blow pens, which I think worked better for the owner.
I think that the darker color of the blow pens would have been too much for her.
I also like using side walk chalk when it is the first time that you are coloring a customers dog, because the chalk washes out quicker (in one to two washes) just in case the owner doesn't like it.






First, take the color of chalk that you want and put it in a cup of warm water to soak for at least 10 minutes.

You do not have to submerge the whole stick.

My chalk stick was just about all used up, so the whole thing is under water. :)









You don't have to use gloves....that is if you don't mind having purple fingers when you are done.



 Start putting the chalk on after the bath.

The color is a little darker if you apply the chalk to clean, dry ears.

This little lady does not like the dryer.

  So instead of drying her ears twice, once after the bath and again to dry the chalk, I decided to apply the chalk to her damp ears.






Simply take the chalk and rub in the direction that the hair grows.

Do this until you have covered as much of the hair as you can.











Do not rub too hard.

Color only the hair not the skin.










This is the ear after I finished with the chalk.










Next, blow dry the ear.








I also colored the tail to give some balance.









Now it is time to do the 'repair' groom.






Well, this is the best  finish picture that I could get.

The second that I take my hands off of her, she goes down.

Standing is not one of her favorite things.










She is already to show her 'purple pride'!









Oh, one other tip when using children's (non-toxic) sidewalk chalk.
Have some flexible hold hair spray on hand and give a little spritz to lock the dry chalk down.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, January 25, 2013

Customer Comment of the Week

I just don't know where some of these comments come from.
Especially from customers who have been coming to us for awhile now.

9:15 this morning:

Us: "Hello, Ms. P-----?....Hi. I was checking to see if you were on your way with W-----, for her 9 am appointment."

Ms. P: "Oh, I didn't realize that the appointment time was firm and that I had to be there right at nine."
Since she is there all day, I didn't think she had to be there right at nine. I'll be there soon." 

This customer showed up at 10am. The dog stays all day because she (the owner) does not pick her up till after work.

How am I supposed to control my day without appointment times?

I want so badly to ask customers, who ignore our appointment times and come in 30 minutes to an hour late (or more), if they do this with there Doctor, Dentist, and their own Hair appointments.

"I didn't realize that the appointment time was firm."

REALLY!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Grooming, MFF


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Having a Bad Day... Part 2

In yesterdays post I made a mention about hugging dogs.
Get ready, because this may be a long post. :)

I was not taught to interact with the dogs in the Grooming School that I went to.
As a matter of fact, even petting the dog was frowned upon.
The teachers felt that too much interaction with the dogs, other than strictly grooming, would make them get too excited and misbehave, causing them to be harder to groom.

I can't tell you how far from the truth that is!!!!!!!.
(did I highlight that enough?)


My grooming experience changed greatly after I started relaxing and interacting with the dogs.

The dogs were more comfortable.
I was more comfortable. 

The dogs relaxed on my table, because they felt the good vibes coming from me.

They were not tense because I wasn't tense.

They were happy because I was happily enjoying what I was doing.


Don't get me wrong.

I still have bad days.
I still have days where the pet owner frustrate me so much that I want to close my doors.
I still get a dog now and then that frustrates me to no end and tests all my patients, and makes me feel like I want to throw something.
I still get the dogs that want to commit suicide on my table and upset me because they are scaring me too death that they may hurt themselves.
 




That is when I have to stop.

Stop what I am doing and calm down.

Stop and hug, or just hold and pet the dog that is causing me so much frustration or fear. 






 I am not saying that hugging and petting that dog will get the suicidal dog to cooperate better, or make the wiggle worm stop moving all around, but it does help you, the groomer, to clam down, breath, and finish the groom.

I can not stress how important that I think it is to interact with the dog.
To always remember that you are working on a living animal that has feelings.
To take time to get to understand the dog that you are working on.
To forget the clock and the number of dogs that you still have to groom, and to give your undivided attention to the dog that you are grooming now.

You will have dogs that are easy grooms, that you can get through quickly, but there will be other times that you really need to slow down on a dog.

You need to figure out why that dog is fighting, or snappy, or scared.

~Does the dog need you to take it slow because it is scared?
~Does the dog need you to use a very gentle touch?
~Is something bothering you that the dog senses?
~Is the dog scared of the brush, because no one has ever used one on them before, or the owner does brush the dog, but they brush too hard, and the dog thinks that you are going to do the same thing?
~Is the dog fighting you in the tub, because when the owners bath him, or another groomer has bathed him, they have gotten water down his nose and he still remembers that feeling?
~Is he pulling away from you because the vibration of the clipper truly hurts the arthritis that he has in his legs?
~Is he acting up because he does not get groomed enough to be used to it, or his owner has taken him to so many different groomers, all grooming differently, that he just does not understand what you want of him?

There may be so many reasons why a dog acts the way it does.

Sometimes it is the owners fault, because they have spoiled their dog to a point that it is out of control.
Sometimes the dog may have an underlying medical condition that makes him uncomfortable and irritable.
Sometimes it is another groomers fault, that powered through the grooming, scaring it, and never taking the time to show the dog that grooming doesn't hurt.
Sometimes the dog is scared and needs extra tender loving care because he is the forgotten dog at home, and no one pets him, plays with him, or pays any attention to him anymore.
Sometimes a dog is scared to be touched, because there are small children in his home, and all they do all day is pull and tug on him, and just over all freak him out.
Sometimes there is no reason why, the dog id just crazy.
 

Everyone needs a hug once in awhile.
Even the pets.

No, they are not our pets, but they are in our care.

A genuine hug, or petting, or rub behind the ears can go a long way to relaxing our furry friends.

Taking those extra few minutes to understand the dog you are working on can save you the many extra minutes you would have spent fighting to get the dog groomed.




 


I give my grooms a hug when I first put them in the tub.

I talk to them, and tell them that I am going to give them a nice warm bath.

I play with them with towel when I put them on the drying table.

Most of them love a good face rub with the towel.


I give them another little hug and scratch behind the ears when I put them on my table to finish them.
I praise them and give another little hug when I am finished and putting them back in their kennel to wait for their owner to pick them up.

Even the dogs that make me want to pull my hair out get a little pep talk at the end of the groom.
"Okay buddy, we  both made it through this groom. You're done driving me crazy! We did it. We don't have to bother each other again...until the next groom,"  all of this being said as I give him a final scratch behind the ears.

Then my recommendation is to take a 5 minute break.
Just 5 minutes is good.
Five minutes to shake it off and get that last frustrating groom out of your head.
Five minutes to go outside and breath in some fresh air.
Five minutes to go in the bathroom, close the door, sit in the dark, hold your head, and recoup.
Before you move on to the next dog.

(can you tell that I have been there and done that?)

Nothing bothers me more then letting a dog get to me.
Letting a dog upset me.
The ones that do things to try to hurt themselves upset me the most, because they are in my care.
Because if they bite my blade or scissors and cut their tongue...I am the one to blame.
No matter how hard I tried to keep them from biting my scissors, or the clipper blade while it was running...it would still be my fault if they cut their tongue.

This can put a huge amount of pressure on a groomer.
It can frustrate the heck out of you.
It can scare you death.
It can get you worked up and upset.




 This is the time to stop.

This is a good time to just hold that dog and calm down.

This is the time to slow down and talk to the dog.

This is the time to remember that it is not the dogs fault he is so misbehaving.

This is the time to stop...take a minute...and relax.

This is a time to hug the dog!



I had to do this today.

With an old Cock-a-poo that I have been grooming for years.
He was a mean biter when I first started grooming him years ago.
I worked with him to get him to be a good dog to groom.
He we good for a long time. 
Now, he is old, arthritic, deaf, and partly blind,.....and mean again.
He fusses when I groom his head now....not that that is a big deal.
The problem is...he bites my clipper when I am clipping him around his mouth.
He bites at my scissors when I try to scissor around his eyes.
He scares the bageebees out of me every time he bites, because each time I have to check to make sure that he didn't cut his tongue or poke his eye.
He gets very upset with me and I with him.

And, like I stated above, I had to stop.
I stopped with my hands on each side of his face, trying to get him to calm down, and when he did finally sit and settle, I kept my hands on each side of his face and held him.
I buried my face in his neck.
Giving us both time to relax and calm down.
And I talked to him.
I turned my head slightly, and I talked softly right into his ear.
And I begged him; "Please, please buddy,..please hold still for just a couple of minutes. I can have your face done in just a couple of minutes if you would just stop snapping at my scissors. Your Mom won't understand if I tell her you got hurt. She will blame me. So please buddy, give me a break...give yourself a break. All I have left to do is your head, then you can go home...I promise."

Then I picked up my head.
I rubbed his head and continued to talk to him. (Even though he couldn't hear anything I was saying)
I slowly finished scissoring around his eyes and mouth as best I could without pushing it.
He tossed his head a few more times but did not try to bite the scissors anymore.
His face didn't look perfect, but it was done.
 
We both needed that break.

I know, some of you may think that this is overkill.

Some of you may think that this post is never going to end. :)

I don't think it is overkill.




The hugs, the petting, the scratches behind the ears, and the face rubs not only helps the dogs, it helps me, and keeps me sane during a rough day.

Giving a scratch behind the ears, or a little hug only takes seconds, but the payoff is big.

So, between those little hugs and the pep talks to myself, I am still here, still grooming. ☺




Hang in there.

Give yourself a break.

If your boss, the pet owner, or the dog upsets you, stop a minute, and breath.
Just hug the dog that you are grooming for a few minutes, to calm yourself down and the dog down.
Slow down a little, give the owner a call and tell them that their dog is fine, but that you are running a little behind and just need an extra half an hour to finish grooming their dog.
Most owners appreciate the phone call and are happy to give you extra time.
Now you won't feel as rushed if the dog is acting up, or you were running behind.

If you have a boss that rushes you, I would turn around and nicely inform them that they have a choice.
Either they continue to rush you and the dog, raising the chance of the dog being injured and causing them a law suit, or they (the boss) can give the owner a call and explain to them that the groomer is running behind a little and that they can pick their dog up at 1:20 instead of 1:00.

Unfortunately, in this business, there are always going to be a pet owner that likes to complain, and dogs that fight you for things that you know are not hurting them.

You are not alone.
We all deal with these things everyday.
Give yourself a pep talk.
Take five minutes.
 
If the groom isn't perfect, because the dog would not stand for you, just take a minute to explain to the owner.
"Hi Ms. M----.  Peanut was a little fussy, and didn't want to stand still for me today. I worked with him, but I didn't want to push it and upset him. So his grooming isn't as nice as I wanted it to be, but he still looks cute. I will keep working with him each time that you bring him in. I want to get him to enjoy the grooming" 

Or, if the dog was at your shop longer than you originally told the owner that they would be.

"Hi Ms. M----. I am so sorry that Peanut was here longer today. He was a little more fussy then usual and I had to stop grooming him a few times to let him calm down and relax. I didn't want him to turn at the wrong moment and accidentally cut him.  We are working on it together, and he is getting a little better with each grooming. Soon he will be standing still like a pro on my table. We just need to give him a little extra time.


"Hi Ms. M----. I am so sorry that Peanut was here longer today. I had a special needs dog earlier that caused me to get a little behind. Peanut was so good. He took a nice long nap while he waited for me to slowly finish that poor old dog."

Be honest with the owner....to a point.
You don't want to tell them that their dog was a spoiled little brat that scared the crap out of you every five minutes, because he kept trying to lick your scissors or couldn't be still to save his life, and you had to stop grooming him for a while so that you could calm down and relax.

Tell them when their dog needs more training with the grooming, or acts up, but do it in a nice professional manor.
Do not put their dog down in any way, or lecture the owner because they have a untrained, misbehaving dog.

Make a note on that dogs file so that the next time that that 'hard to groom dog' comes in you can schedule him accordingly, and remind the owner that his grooming may take some extra time, because his grooming is still a work in progress.

 Extra Tip:
Always talk to the owner before you bring their dog out to them after the grooming. 
The owner will not hear a word that you say if you bring their dog out at the same time that you are trying to talk to them.

Okay, I know that I have gotten a bit off track here.
I feel that all my rambling here today about hugging, petting, talking, and just getting to know the dog that you are grooming makes or breaks how our grooming days go.

We as groomers need to realize that every dog is different.
Every dog has different needs.
Pet owners are different.
We all....pet owners, dogs, and groomers have different moods everyday.
So, our days are not going to be the same.
Which is actually one of the reasons that I enjoy grooming so much....it is different everyday.

You cannot expect to finish your day at the exact same time everyday.
You cannot expect to groom at the same speed as the groomer next to you, because they are grooming a different dog than you are.
They may also have a different amount of experience than you.
You cannot expect every dog to stand still on the table for you.
It is a live animal, with a mind of it's own.
It is just not realistic to expect every dog to stand still.
You can not expect pet owners to always be on time to drop off, or pick up on time.
These are just a few of the stressful things that can make a groomer have a really miserable day.









A furry hug can go a long way to making it a better grooming day. :)







✂ Happy Grooming, MFF  ✂