I recently read an article on 10 things people do that drive veterinarians crazy and it got me inspired to do one for groomers. I belong to a couple groomer pages on Facebook and I can guarantee you that these following items come up in conversation pretty much daily. This list is not meant to make anyone feel bad or to attack the general public in any way. Just more of an educational lesson because some people may not even realize they are doing anything wrong in the first place.
1) No Show/Cancel Last minute
This one should be common knowledge but unfortunately is the most common of the list. If you make an appointment, please do your best to show up, ON TIME. Most groomers work on commission, which means if you don’t show up, they do not get paid. It is even more frustrating when people no show on a Saturday or around the holidays because those two times of year are prime time in the grooming world. We turn down appointments because we are already booked, so when you don’t show up it is rather frustrating because we have already turned down other appointments that would have gladly shown up. Our entire day revolves around appointments, from how much time we allot to each dog, to if we need additional staffing that day. I understand that sometimes life happens and appointments have to be cancelled, but show a little respect for the person getting out of bed anticipating your appointment.
2) Lying about how often you brush out your pet
We know that matted dog didn’t get that way overnight. You are insulting our intelligence by saying that this just happened in the past week. We know it’s a lie, we are just being polite and not calling you out. Let’s face it, it can be time consuming and a total pain in the butt to brush out your pet as often as you should be. Things happen in life and brushing goes by the wayside, or maybe you are just not into the whole brushing thing. Either way, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by lying about how often you brush out old Fido. Your groomer knows if you are up on your brushing or not. Sometimes people don’t have the right tools for the job. You do brush out Fido but the groomer insists that he is matted. I get it, this is frustrating, but sometimes a little education is all that is needed. My January blog about winter grooming has a lovely little paragraph along with pictures of brushes that work well for most types of dogs. Unfortunately, if you want that fluffy little pup, it’s going to require some work on your part. You simply cannot expect your groomer to be the only one brushing out your pet. Unless you make arrangements for the groomer to brush him out weekly (which could get pricey), it is simply impossible to keep a coat fluffy when it is only getting brushed out when it comes to the groomer every 2-3 months. Imagine how your hair would look if your hairdresser was the only one brushing out your hair, it wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure.
3) The term “Puppy Cut”
OK, so this one might surprise you. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PUPPY CUT!!!! There is not a section on puppy cuts in grooming school. I don’t care if you heard this term from another groomer, there is no set length or style that is called “puppy cut.” But wait, “don’t you have a Puppy Special on your very own website?” you may be asking. Yes that is true, I do offer a puppy special on dogs younger than 6 months. The puppy special is basically just a way to introduce your puppy to the grooming world. Dogs do not come out of the womb prepared to go the groomer. In fact, the whole process is kinda freaky to them. If you own a dog that will require regular trips to the groomer, it is to your benefit (and your dogs) to introduce them to the groomer as soon as they have had their last sets of shots (Generally around 12-16 weeks). The more often you bring them in, the more used to this process they will become. The reason I offer this grooming service at a greatly reduced price is because we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accomplish everything their first or second time around. This is basically just practice to get them used to the process. To prove my point further, I have had customers tell me their version of said “puppy cut” and I can tell you that their descriptions ranged anywhere from a light trim all over to a complete shave down. I’m not sure who coined this term or why it ever got started, but be advised, there is no set length or style for the term “puppy cut.” So please, just stop using it and just tell your groomer how much hair you want cut off.
4) Just because your dog is scared to go to the groomer does not mean your groomer is hurting your dog!
This has to be the one that annoys me the most. Yes there are awful people out there that are not kind to animals. Yes you may have had a bad experience at another groomer. This does not mean that every groomer under the sun is out to get your dog. Dogs do not like going to the groomer. Sure you may have a few here and there that seem like they “enjoy” it, but for the most part they would rather be anywhere else than on our table or in the bath tub. Yeah your dog may “feel” better after the groom, but a lot of times they cannot make the connection between “feeling better” and going to the groomer. All they know is that when they go to the groomer some strange person fusses with them more than they ever want to be fussed with. Dogs don’t like baths, and getting their nails done and being forced to sit still while a groomer takes buzzing clippers near their face. Sure they will tolerate it if you get them trained and used to it, but it certainly isn’t high on their list of things to do. I have one client in particular that has a lovely Golden Retriever. This dog is one of the best-behaved dogs I groom. I don’t even have to say “NO” to him once. Happily goes up the stairs and stands still on the table. Jumps right up into the tub. Doesn’t fight with me to do a nail trim. But when this dog walks through my door he cowers his head and shakes like this is his last moment on Earth. As soon as the owners leave, he is totally fine. Think of it like when you leave your kid to go with the baby sitter or daycare. Some kids take off and don’t look back, others throw a complete fit when you leave. But after a few minutes they get over it and move on with life. I do also have to mention that when my Golden Retriever’s owner showed back up he put on the whole shaking act again, only the owner caught him in the act and luckily we all had a good laugh over it. Now don’t get me wrong, I cannot speak for every groomer on the planet. If you suspect any issues with your current groomer, do what you feel is best, especially if you see any physical signs of foul play. But please keep in mind that just because your dog runs for the door when you take your dog to the groomer, does not necessarily mean that your groomer is being abusive.
5) Leaving your current groomer and not giving any reason as to why
This one can be kinda tricky and I understand why people leave a groomer in search of greener pastures. The problem is, if you didn’t mention why you didn’t like a particular cut and give your groomer a chance to fix it, they will never know how to improve upon their skill. It can be hard to convey how you want your dog groomed. Even when you give an exact length, it may not turn out the way you thought. Give your groomer a chance to redeem themselves. I like to use the whole 3 strikes and you’re out rule. If your groomer can’t pull it together after telling them 3 times, then yes, time to move on. If it is a problem with their attitude or maybe another employee, give ‘em the heads up. Even if you never plan to return, sometimes people need a little wake-up call so they realize why they are losing clients. Also, don’t leave your groomer over something very minor that could have been easily fixed. I had a client tell me that they left their last groomer because they forgot to express their dogs’ anal glands. Sometimes we forget things. I’m sure that if I went to your workplace and asked your boss if you ever forgot to do something while at work that they could think of something you forgot to do. We are only human, we make mistakes just like the next person. Just address the issue with your groomer and move on. Give your groomer a chance to fix what made you unhappy before jumping ship. Most times it was most likely a simple over sight.
6) Trying to compare the cost of your human hair cut to your dog’s groom
I don’t get this one too often, but I also feel I could probably charge more than I do for my work. That is just the poor business woman in me I suppose. Never-the-less, I have heard this one from time to time and especially from owners with more than one dog. Here’s the thing, grooming is a disposable income service. This doesn’t mean you don’t HAVE to get your dog groomed. It means you don’t HAVE to buy a certain breed that REQUIRES regular grooming. There are plenty of dogs that could get by with the occasional bath and nail trim and that is about it. Labs, Boxers, and pit bulls are just a few of the many breeds out there that do not require regular trips to the groomer. It is your choice to purchase a breed of dog requiring regular grooming and is your obligation to take your dog to the groomer on a regular basis. If that sounds too pricey for you, I would consider not owning a dog at all. Even dogs that do not require grooming can end up taking a major hit to your pocket book at some point in your life. Dogs get sick and get hurt from time to time and if you think the local groomer is pricey, wait until you get the bill from your neighborhood veterinarian. Dogs cost money plain and simple and if that’s too rich for your blood maybe you should stick with fish. Now, for reasons your dog’s hair cut is more expensive than your own, here it goes:
You don’t try to bite the hairdresser.
You stay still for the hairdresser.
Your hairdresser will most likely charge waaaay more to include a mani and pedi for your appointment.
You brush and wash your own hair daily. (I hope so anyways)
Your hairdresser doesn’t give you a sanitary trim (that’s a trim of the “private” areas, folks)
Your hairdresser doesn’t wash your bum.
You don’t pee or poop on your hairdresser.
Your hairdresser doesn’t clean your ears.
These are just a few of the reasons why it costs more to groom your pet than it does to get a human trim at the local salon.
7) Showing up before we call you to tell you that your dog is finished
Ugh, this one kills me sometimes. I get it, you got things to do and you want a time frame of when your dog will be finished. Totally understandable. However, sometimes unforeseeable things do come up from time to time and it may take a little longer to complete your pet’s groom. Groomers give you a time frame as a rough idea for when your dog should be done. This is certainly not set in stone for all eternity. Animals are completely unpredictable and sometimes they will do things that cause the grooming process to be delayed. Case in point, a dog going to the bathroom all over itself just after getting a bath, or worse yet, right after they are completely finished with their groom. Now we have to stop everything and re-bathe your pet. Even if it wasn’t your pet, it is still taking time away from someone else’s groom because someone has to stop what they are doing to clean up after the mess. Sometimes your pet is in worse condition than we anticipated and requires a little more TLC to get that look you want (this can be prevented by properly brushing your pet but I think I got that point across in the last blog). Think of this like taking your car to the mechanic (I know, odd analogy but stay with me), sometimes a totally routine appointment can take a turn for the worse once the mechanic gets in there and starts working on your vehicle. This can happen with your pet as well, the only difference is that the mechanic has your vehicle thus preventing you from showing up before they are finished with the job. This also includes calling every hour on the hour to check on the status of your pet. Trust me, I don’t want to keep your pet. We say we will call you when they are finished because that’s exactly how this works. We give you an idea of how long it will take so that you can get some stuff done while we are working on your pet. Every once in a while I will get a call because a client is already out and about and is ready to head home, but knows the second they get home I will call to say they are done. By all means, give me a call, I hate to make the same trip twice. But showing up before we have called you and getting all bent out of shape because we need an extra 20 minutes to finish up your pets groom is beyond rude. Stop that. I usually call if I know I’m running really far behind, but I always try to keep my clients day in mind. I know you have a busy life and I try my hardest to accommodate everyone, but sometimes life happens and things take longer than expected. This also goes for people planning “really important” appointments right next to their pet’s grooming appointment. It may be best to make that grooming appointment for another day or arrange for someone else to pick up Fido. That way you and your groomer aren’t stressing about time frames.
Please don’t feel bad if you have found yourself guilty of one or more of these things. It is most likely that nobody ever told you these things drive us crazy and chances are I will still hear these things until the day I retire. But if you ever hear someone talk about any of the things listed on here, please do me a favor and educate the next generation of dog owners.
Winter is officially upon us, along with a rather long and slow January and February (sometimes March too). And I’m not just talking the weather either. During this time, grooming appointments come to an almost stand-still. Unless you are fortunate enough (not me) to live in a year-round mild climate, groomers take a big hit to their business during the winter months.
This is mainly due to most pet owners thinking they are doing their dogs a favor by keeping their coats long to help keep their pet warm during those frigid months. This may seem like a great idea in theory, but most times people are doing their dog more harm than good.
What most people neglect to realize is that keeping a longer coat on your pet requires almost four times as much effort in maintenance than a shorter one. If you are someone that prefers to keep your dog’s coat nice and fluffy, you must be dedicated to brushing your dog out AT LEAST 4 times per week, for at least an hour (if not more) each time your brush. Naturally, most people do not have that kind of time on their hands to maintain a coat that long. If you own a dog like a Shih Tzu, Maltese, any form of “Doodle”, Poodle, or Bichon (just to name a few), these dogs require much more maintenance than say your standard Lab or Boxer. Even in the summer months, brushing these dogs is an absolute must to maintain their coats.
What ends up happening is people see that temperature drop into the teens and single digits and they end up not coming in or cancelling their appointment. I highly recommend not cancelling your appointment due to cold weather unless there is some extenuating circumstance for why you can’t make it. Your groomer is saving a space in their day anticipating you to show up. When you do not show up, that is money out of our pockets, as most groomers work on commission.
Ok, so what should you be doing with your dog during these frigid months? First off, I have to address the whole “my dog will freeze to death if you cut his hair” nonsense. Here’s the deal. Unless you have a legitimate working dog that spends a lot of time outside, your dog WILL NOT freeze to death due to short hair. If you have a job or even a few kids, you most likely spend more time outside than your dog does. Chances are, your dog spends most of its time inside your house where you keep the temperature warm enough that even you don’t need a winter coat. To prove my point even further, I have a pit bull, which as most people know has very short hair. He can’t handle more than ten minutes outside when it is above 70 degrees, but the second that temperature drops, I have a hard time getting him to come inside. Don’t get me wrong, I do not leave my dog out in this weather for a long period of time, but he does genuinely enjoy it cold over hot. I know every dog may have a different tolerance to cold, but I can tell you from my own experience that my dear Monty has never froze to death from it being cold outside and having short hair. Sure dogs will be cold when they go outside, but so are you and you lived to tell about it. If it still has you concerned, put a sweater on them, they are relatively cheap and come in all sorts of styles.
Now I’m not saying run off to the groomer and shave ‘em down, but let’s use a little common sense here. Keeping their hair around an inch will still give you the reassurance you need to know your dog won’t freeze to death for the five minutes it goes outside to pee/poop, but is also much easier to manage for a busy lifestyle. And let’s face it, EVERYONE is a little too busy nowadays. What happens when it begins to snow is that these darling little snowballs clump in your dog’s hair. If you are not diligent about removing the snow and giving them a thorough brush out after bringing them in, this hair will become matted. Matted hair is problematic for several reasons. Number one is that it is damaging their hair by getting tangled together. When the hair becomes wet, this causing the matting to get tighter and tighter. This becomes painful for your pooch. Since it typically snows more than once a year, they continue to get wet, owner neglects to brush, and the matts get tighter to the skin. Not only is this painful, but it can cause skin conditions to occur. Which speaking of skin conditions, when you keep your pet’s hair on the longer side, many skin conditions can go by unnoticed for quite some time. If you do keep their hair longer, it is good practice to part the hair and take a look around at the skin just to make sure everything is in check.
But winter doesn’t last forever and you can always guarantee that one freak day in March where it climbs to 50/60 degrees and the phone rings off the hook, it’s because their owners can’t take the hair anymore. This is usually where disappointment sets in for most pet owners. Since their dogs were getting wet for two months with little to no brushing, their dog is usually matted to the skin on most of its body. It can be quite shocking to go from a couple inches of hair to a complete shave-down. This is where blaming the groomer usually comes into play. This is also why I am writing this article. You may be able to find a groomer that will brush out your dog entirely, but you will most definitely pay heavily for it. I do not adopt this policy because it is the pet owners’ responsibility to maintain their pet in-between grooms. Not only that, but it is extremely painful to the dog to remove 2-3 months of matting in one sitting. Usually, whatever hair is left from all of that brushing out is most likely damaged and will not look so hot in the end.
“So what should I being doing?” you may ask. Here are some options for so that you, dog and groomer are all happy.
1. Brush, brush and more brushing.
If you simply have to have that hair long, invest in a brush and a comb. I use a combination of slicker brush and a comb. Be advised, slicker brushes will not remove matting and do not get down to the root of the hair. You must also be careful not to brush over the same area repeatedly because you can cause brush burn. I like slicker brushes to fluff up those curly coated dogs like Poodles and Bichons, so that have that iconic poof look that they are supposed to have. As far as combs go, I have included a pic of my favorite de-matting comb. Keep in mind there are plenty of combs out there and it may take some experimenting to find one you like. I use this comb on every dog and I love it. It is of utmost importance that you brush from the root down. A lot of times, people brush just that top layer of hair and think everything is fine, not realizing that the hair closer to the skin is completely matted.
2. Still keep up on your pets grooming appointments.
You do not have to get your dog’s hair cut every time you go to the groomer. Dogs still need their nails trimmed, ears cleaned and a bath even though it is 10 degrees outside. Besides, your groomer is going to brush your dog out even if you don’t want to them to have a haircut. It is the policy of most groomers to never send a dog home wet, so you can rest assured that your dog will not freeze from getting bath at the groomer and then have to take them outside for the trek home. And again, if you are concerned about them getting cold from taking them outside for five seconds to get them into the car and to the groomer, put a sweater on them, they will be fine.
3. Find a length that works best for your lifestyle.
This one will take a little experimentation. If you are one of those “shave ‘em down in the summer” people, this would be a great time to experiment with length. Once the hair starts to grow out and you start seeing how much brushing is needed to maintain that length, you will have a better idea on what length to keep them come winter when you prefer a longer coat. Just keep in mind, the longer the coat, the more days you will spend combing that coat to keep it matt-free. Some coats matt easier than others so there is not definitive, if your dog’s hair is “X” amount of inches long that equals “X” amount of times per week you need to comb. If you have one of these “designer breeds” like Doodles of any form, you can most definitely count on more intensive brushing. Since these dogs are a combo of two different coats, their hair matts up much easier than say a Yorkie with stringy hair. Get to know your dog’s coat, or ask your groomer on their thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard for your groomer to tell until they get a good look at the coat and work with it themselves.
Please keep in mind that every dog is different and reacts to the cold in different ways. Huskies may not want to come in the house all day, whereas a little Yorkie may just want to pee and run back in the house. The moral of the story is, don’t skimp on grooming just because it got cold outside. Grooming dogs need hair care all year long, not just when the weather is warm. And of course, always take any health conditions into consideration when it comes to having your doggies outside on these frigid days. Chances are they are quite happy snuggled up on a blanket in the warm house, long hair or short.
OK, so I have to be completely honest here, I have never written a blog in my life. Quite frankly, I never found anything that I needed to “blog” about. Don’t get me wrong, I usually always have something to say, just never thought about writing it down for the world to read.
But enough about me and my struggles of the blogging world. What I want is to hear from all of you. There is a ton of information in the dog grooming world that most people do not know about. I love to educate my clients on the best ways to care for their pets in-between grooms. Many people end up getting puppies and are not aware of the grooming maintenance that goes along with said puppy. A lot of these dogs have to be groomed for the rest of their lives.
I would really love to keep the questions to areas of grooming. While I have seen a skin condition or two, and dealt with behavior issues in my own dogs, I am not a veterinarian or a certified dog trainer. It is best to leave those questions to the experts. If it is behavior issues, give the local shelter a call. I have taken my dogs to obedience classes and they were relatively reasonable in price.
So let me hear from you! Just email me a question and I will chose one person’s question to feature on my blog each month.
Email all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to have your question featured on my blog!