Basic Information, Let's Talk

Grooming is So EXPENSIVE!

“I brush my dog everyday,” is probably the number one thing groomers hear the most, another is “What do you mean you don’t have time today to groom my dog?!”  The other most popular thing?  “You are more expensive then my hairdresser!”  Really, it gets old.  So let me break a few things down for you.

Grooming can be expensive, yes, however, your pet, cats included on this, have a lot more things done then just your normal “hair cut” appointment.  Most facilities charge by breed, and additional charges may follow depending on the type of haircut and difficulty of the pet.  I have researched that some grooming facilities charge by weight and size, however this breakdown is universal.

First off, when your hairdresser washes your hair, it is the hair on top of your head, that’s it.  Groomers wash an entire dogs body; face to the tip of the tail.  That includes their private areas, which usually has residue stuck, and their feet.  Next, anal glands are usually included with the service, although upon request for most facilities.  That means we are squeezing the pets rectum area, searching for two little sacs that fill up with a viscous, brown liquid that smells of rotting fish or eggs.  Pleasant, huh?

Now comes the drying time!  Some dogs tend to tolerate this, however dogs ears are more sensitive than humans, meaning the loud noise does scare a few dogs, so we have to let them air dry.  That is additional time added on to the service, because groomers do not want to stress out the pet.  After the pet is fully dry, we brush them out, then comes the haircut!

What’s included in a haircut you might ask?  Well, basic trims include the sanitary and feet.  That means we are taking clippers to trim the hair on the dogs potty areas, where they urinate and were they poop.  I am pretty sure a hair stylist is not going to shave your pubic region or your anal opening during your hair appointment.  Next we shave out the hair in the pads, and trim up the feet to get rid of the grinchy toes.

Then, if it is an all over type of haircut, we trim in front of the eyes, trim up the face, trim ears, take clippers or scissors all over the body, including the legs, belly, tail, butt, etc.  I didn’t even mention the nails yet!  Nail trimming is usually included in this service!  A pedicure for your pet is included!  Ear plucking and ear cleaning tend to also be included with this service.

So let’s go over this one more time, a bath, anal gland expression, blow dry, brush out, haircut, nail trim, and ear cleaning.  Let me break this down in human costs, and I am just going to reference the few places that I have been to.

Hair wash, blow dry, and cut just for the hair on my head runs me about $45.  Nails, well a pedicure is around $20, and a manicure is around $20 for me.  A Brazilian wax (basically a sanitary trim for pets) is around $30, legs waxed about $20, arms I believe was about $15.  Adding all of that together, you are looking at around $150.  So, if your pets haircut runs around $55 if it is a small dog, you are getting one hell of a deal.  Heck, I groom large dogs for no more than $100.

Here’s another tidbit of information to consider.  Groomer’s get bit at, scratched up, peed on, pooped on, hair sticks to everywhere, and we constantly smell like wet dog.  On top of that, dogs are not statues.  They are living, moving, breathing creatures who constantly move, and don’t understand that they need to hold perfectly still.  We have the stress of dealing with not trying to nick a pet, on top of everything else.

Also, I am going to make something else clear.  When groomers hear “You are more expensive than my hairdresser,” or something along those lines, what we hear is that you do not value what we do for your pet, and you are insulting our work.  That we are not worth that type of money, which honestly, most of the time you are being undercharged for what groomers do.  Most groomers absolutely love what they do, and they take pride in their work.  Those comments irritate us, and again, insult us.  I am pretty sure you would not like someone coming to your line of work, saying they could get the same service cheaper.  Hopefully this was insightful and informative, and let me know what you think in the comment section below!  If you are a groomer, did I hit the nail on the head with this, did I miss a few things?  Let me know!  Also, any suggestions for future posts, or any questions or comments, put them in the comment section down below!  Till next time!

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Basic Information, Clippers, How To

Trimming Up Those Feet!

beforefoot0913-002Nothing is more satisfying than taking what I like to call “grinch” feet, and turning them into polished feet.  To accomplish this task, you need to shave the pads and trim the excess hair.  The tools I use are a pair of detachable blade clippers, such as the Andis AG+ 2-Speed Clipper, which I have done a review on, a #10 or #40 blade, in the pictures and clips below I am using a Wahl Ultimate Competition Series #40 blade, a slicker brush, and a pair of scissors, shown are Value Groom 6.5″ Curved Ball Tip Shears.  Now, some people will also use thinners, or solely use thinners.  That is personal preference; I like normal ball tip shears because they are shorter, and quicker for me, and I can still achieve a natural look.  Also, having a form of Cool Lube, a spray that helps cool off blades, is recommended.  When you are new at shaving pads, it will take you a while to do, and you need a coolant to help cool off your blades.Showcased below will be a video on how to shave pads and trim feet.

afterfoot0913-002As in the Nails, a Daunting Task… or is it? post, I explained about how to hold the leg and foot in a more natural manner that is comfortable for the dog.  You want to make sure you are not overextending the leg, and you don’t want the leg pulled straight back, you want around a 45 degree angle, close to the body.  Now, after I finish trimming or grinding the nails is when I will trim feet.  The reason for this, is because when you try trimming around the foot with longer nails, you are not going to be able to get a good looking foot, and you will keep catching your scissors on the nails, which can damage your scissors.

shavedpad0913-001Now we are going to discuss the first part, which is shaving the pads.  Whenever I have trained bathers on this task, I always have them start out with a #10 blade, so if you are just starting out with this, that is what I recommend.  For the bathers I have trained, if they decide to pursue dog grooming, they will then be trained to work with a #40 blade for the feet.  I have had some groomers stick with a #30 blade, and that is totally fine as well.  Whatever blade you end up being comfortable with using that can still remove a good amount of hair works.  Also, make sure your coolant is nearby, because like I said, if you are just starting out with this, your blade is going to get hot, and a towel to catch the excess of coolant and to wipe down the blade.  You want to be consistently checking your blade to make sure it is not hot.  I check the blade on my wrist or my cheek.  To use the coolant, I have my towel underneath, hold my clippers down, and with the clippers running, I spray the coolant, until the blade gets cold.  I then wipe the excess product off on the towel to dry off my blade.  How I like to start with shaving the pad is beginning near the two nails in the center.  I want to get the bulk of the hair off first, and lying the blade flush with the pad, I will shave from the nails to the very top of the main pad.  I use this same technique following the line of the hair with the two outside nails.  Next is shaving in between the main pad, and the four pads connecting to the nails.  You want to scoop out the hair, NEVER dig.  When you dig into the pad and foot, you will cut the skin there.  You want to use a scooping method and follow the main pad.  It is angled like a V, so you want the edge of the blade to hit the bottom corner of the V on the pad, and you want to angle the blade so where it lines up straight following the V shave.  I have a picture showcasing what I am trying to explain.  You then lightly scoop out the hair.  If you are not understanding what I mean by this, the video below showcases that.  You do that for both sides, and you are good to go!  It will take some time to perfect shaving the pads, so please do not feel discouraged.  It is nerve racking for first timers, and dogs will tend to be a little more wiggly because they can sense your nerves.  Don’t worry about perfection when you are first starting out.  Pay attention to the holding and technique, and you will improve on getting more hair out, the more you practice shaving pads.

beforefoot0913-001If you were scared about shaving pads, I know you are going to be nervous about trimming feet.  It is another daunting task, involving a really sharp object, a pair of scissors.  This is something else that I recommend you taking really slow, because it is scary trying this out.  I use a pair of ball tip curved scissors to complete this task.  The first thing I do is lift and bend the paw, and brush all of the hair around the back of the pad down, where I want the hair overlapping the back of the pad.  With the curved part of my scissors, I will trim straight across the back of the pad.  Now, pay attention to the placement of your scissors.  You want to make sure that when you trim, you are not going to be catching any part of skin or pad, you just want the hair.  I will brush down the hair one more time, then repeat trimming the hair across.  I’ll set the foot down for a second and start working on trimming the hair on the foot.  With your slicker brush, you want to brush up the hair on the foot, meaning you want to brush the opposite way the hair is laying.  You want the hair to stick up.  On the same aspect of how you want to pay attention to the placement of your scissors behind the pad, you want to do the same here and pay attention to the tip of your shears.  Using my curved shears, I follow the curve of the foot, and trim following the roundness of the foot.  When it comes to the sides of the foot, you want to do the same thing, follow the natural curve of the foot and trim, being mindful of the placement of your scissors.  My philosophy when you are just starting out, trim less, then as you get more comfortable and confident, you’ll be able to trim closer.  One other thing I like to do, after I have done a base trim of the foot, is to take my fingers in between the toes and pull up more hair, and trim the excess.  Your brush cannot get everything, so using this technique I’m able to clean up more hair.  Instead of scissors, others will use thinners or blender to trim up the hair in between the toes and of the foot for more of a natural appearance.  If you need a better understanding, the video is down below on shaving pads and trimming feet.

afterfoot0913-001Hopefully I was able to explain and showcase this process easy enough for you to understand.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  I’m going to say this, because I have to say this, perform these tasks at your own risk, I am not held liable or responsible for anything that may occur at your own hands.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, Let's Talk

Quality Over Quantity

bringinggroomerspics0821-002Here’s a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Probably the most important topic I will touch base on. It is Quality over Quantity. Now I’m sure we have all heard this saying dozens of times, and think, sure, yeah yeah, quality over quantity, but let me tell you why it is so important in the dog grooming world.

Dog groomers have the potential to make a decent amount of money, however dogs are NOT dollar signs. They are living, breathing, feeling creatures with so much love to give. I have seen way to many people in my time blow through grooming just looking at the monetary value of it. I know when I first started grooming, I was so excited the amount of money I was making, however, I was stressed out and not happy with my work or my interactions with my dogs. The more I focused on the actual quality of my grooms, and the actual experiences my dogs had with me, the better groomer I became, the happier I was, and I started getting more request dogs, with pet parents who valued what I did.

When pet parents come to a groomer, they are entrusting the groomer with their dogs safety, happiness, and general well being. Focusing on doing more dogs and making more money will stress out the groomer, cause corners to be cut, and stress out the dog. It also leads potential for the dog to receive an injury because the groomer has to work quicker in order to get the amount of dogs done. I’ve actually had a head manager explain doing more dogs like going 120mph on the freeway. The faster you are, the more focused you are. Dogs are not cars, tables are not freeways, and there is a greater risk for an accident with a deadlier impact when you are going at that rate with cars and dogs, just to be clear.

doodlecut0814-001Now, not every groomer is busting out dogs left and right because they want to make more money, some are stuck in corporate environments, or corporate mentality environments where the people in charge only think about the bottom line, and yet know absolutely nothing about grooming. They just see numbers, and don’t see the work put into the service, or what it takes physically and mentally to be a groomer. They think it is just a dog, and it is just this or just that. Groomers will tell you that is not the case. Groomers that can groom 10 to 12 dogs a day in a 6 to 8 hour period, are not doing it well. They have to cut corners, which essentially cuts quality. You want to make sure the pet parent is getting what they are paying for and are going to be satisfied. Obviously not every pet parent is going to be satisfied, but you get the generalized point I am trying to make.

On the other side of this, are pet parents rushing groomers to finish their dogs. It can take anywhere for 2 to 5 hours for grooming, depending on the dog, the type of haircut, and what the groomers day is like.  If you are a pet parent, just like I talked about in the Grooming: What It Entrails & How To Make A Proper Appointment post, you need to make sure your groomer has adequate time to perform the services you are requesting. Unfortunately, groomers can have the problem where someone else is controlling the booking of their schedule, and don’t understand how to properly book appointments. When you have dogs inappropriately booked, it causes other dogs appointments to be pushed around, then it adds stress to the groomers day. Adding that stress, where the groomer feels rushed, lowers the quality of the groom.

Then you have the total opposite side of the spectrum, where there are groomers who only want to groom 2 dogs a day in an 8 hour period, everyday, but they are not show grooms. They don’t work on their techniques, or perfecting their groom, they just don’t want to groom, which is extremely unfortunate. Those type of groomers should not be groomers, they are not passionate about their work and do not care about the quality of their grooms. Unfortunately, I have worked with quite a few of these types of “groomers” as well.  On a quick side not, I can also promise you that groomers do not want the dogs they are grooming at their facility longer than necessary.  It does not give a groomer joy to have a dog sitting in a kennel for over 4 hours.

At the end of the day, your name goes out on that groom. That is your artwork you are sending off into the world. I know, when my pet parents leave, and someone asks who groomed their dog, I want to make sure they can proudly say my name. I want them to be satisfied, I want them to be happy. I love what I do, and I try to showcase that in every haircut. Having that passion, having that drive for grooming, you understand why quality over quantity is so important. Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To

Nails, the Daunting Task… or is it?

whitetoes0906-002One of the biggest obstacles when starting out either grooming professionally, or trying to maintain your dog at home, is trimming nails.  It can be a daunting and scary task, because no one wants to make the dog bleed.  However, once you get the hang of it, trimming and grinding nails ends up being a piece of cake.  If the dog is really well behaved, I can trim the nails on all four paws in under a minute, no exaggeration.

whitetoes0906-001When a dog has white nails, it feels a lot easier, because for the most part, you can easily recognize the quick, the blood vessel that resides in the nail.  Your goal is to trim as close to the quick as possible without injuring the blood vessel, causing it to bleed.  In the video I am correlating with this post, you will see me use a grinder or dremel.  I prefer this method just because I can get closer to the quick and smooth out the nail so that it isn’t sharp.  However, I am going to be talking about trimming, because that is the easiest way to ease into nail trimming.

safarinailtrimmer
Safari Nail Triimer, image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safar…

First, you want to find a good, sharp pair of nail trimmers.  Right now, I have been using the Safari brand nail trimmers for Small/Medium dogs, which can be purchased on Amazon, Ryan’s, and other pet supply stores.  Image is shown on the side.  I do NOT recommend ANY Guillotine style nail trimmer, EVER.  The reason for this is because you have to put the dogs nail through a hole in the tool, then you squeeze the tool which then trims off that nail guillotine style.  Why do I not recommend this?  You can trim off a lot more than you intended to, causing serious damage to the dogs nail.  Dogs feet are constantly moving and twitching.  It is immensely rare for a dog to hold perfectly still like a statue.  I have had someone come to me, because they tried trimming their dogs nails at home with a Guillotine trimmer, and cut the nail down to the foot, leaving a small nub, because the dog moved when trimming.  When a nail is cut that short, and you cannot stop the bleeding with Styptic powder (I’ll explain what this is in a moment), the dog needs to be taken to the vet and the quick cauterized to stop the bleeding.  That can be a traumatic experience for the pet.  Sometimes, experiences of that type of nature, can cause dogs to be extremely fearful and aggressive when their feet are being handled.  One bad experience can “ruin” a dog for its nails, unfortunately.

stypticpowder0906-002The second item would be Styptic Powder.  Styptic powder is a type of cauterizing agent in powder for, that if you slightly quick the dogs nail, you put a small amount on, and hold for about 15 to 20 seconds.  This usually stops the bleeding,  Fair warning, do not open this product after it has been shook around.  You don’t need to shake this product around to use it, but if it drops on the floor, give it a few minutes to settle because the cloud of powder that emerges is very potent, and will more than likely make you cough.  Also, this product stains.  I would recommend putting a towel down below where you are trimming your dogs nails, so that way if you do accidentally quick the dog, the styptic powder falls on the towel.  It stains your fingers, floors, clothes, and it does not want to come out.  If you do not have styptic powder, and you are at home, some cornstarch or flour will suffice, just use the same method of placing a little product on the bleeding quick and hold for 15 to 20 seconds to stop the bleeding.  If you slightly quick the dog, it can be upsetting, but quicking a dog lightly stings almost like a hang nail for us, and a majority of the time, dogs don’t make any sound or movement that you quicked them.  Your goal is not to quick them, but things do happen.  Some dogs have immensely long quicks, and sometimes you feel you can trim more, but sadly cannot.

Now that we got the tools out of the way, let’s talk about holding the foot and trimming the nails.  You want to find a position that is comfortable for you as well as the dog.  You also want to be careful of the placement of the dogs limbs.  You want to be holding the dogs feet and legs in natural positions.  If a dog is kicking or fighting to get out of your grasp, and this dog is known for being really good at getting their nails done, then you are probably pulling their legs into an unnatural position, causing discomfort.  I like to have my dogs about hip level on me on a table, so that way I can reach my arm over and under them to grasp which ever leg I need.  I tend to lift the leg and bend it straight back at around a 45 degree angle, I don’t want the foot and leg completely perpendicular to leg naturally.

blacknails0906-002Now it is time for the trimming part.  While holding the foot firmly but still comfortably for you and the dog, you want to take your trimmers and lightly tip the nail.  You want to just trim a little bit off at a time.  If the dog has white nails, you are looking for the pink quick amongst the white.  It is always better to trim a little bit off at a time, then to go in all Wyatt Earp.  If the dog has black nails, you are looking for the black dot inside the white part of the nail.  See the picture on the side. I know it is a little hard to see, but right at the tip of where the arrow is pointing is the black dot amongst the white part of the nail.  That is the quick.  At the bottom, I will have a video showcasing myself grinding Xandria’s nails, and showing you the quick.

Like I said previously, just trim the nail a little bit at a time.  It is going to take some time getting use to holding the feet, holding the trimmer, figuring out how much pressure and grip you can use.  It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months for new bathers to get fully comfortable with trimming nails, because it can be scary and intimidating.  However, with enough practice and confidence, you’ll be able to get to a point of trimming dogs nails in under a minute.  The frequency of how often a dogs nails need to be trimmed honestly depends on the dog.  I can do my own girls once a month, and their nails are still nice and short.  If a dog has really long quicks, I would recommend once every two weeks to help expose the quick, meaning you trimmed down to the quick without making the dog bleed, and to help the quick recede.  The process of getting a quick to recede also varies on the dog.  Sometimes it takes only a few months, sometimes longer.  I would recommend every 2 to 4 weeks for nails to be trimmed on dogs.  The longer pet parents or you wait to trim the dogs nails, the higher chances of the quick growing with the nail, and more chances of injury, such as getting caught on objects, and either breaking a nail or completely ripping out the nail, which I have seen both.  If you are a pet parent, and this still seems a bit daunting for you, most grooming facilities either offer walk in services for nail trims, or appointments for nail trims.  Either way, call the facility and ask about any paperwork you might need to bring, and any policies they have.

Well, I hope all of this was helpful.  With enough time and practice anyone can become a pro at trimming nails.  Some dogs will be more difficult than others, and if it is your own dog, they can sense when you are nervous about trimming their nails, and I guarantee you they will use that to their advantage.  Worse case scenario, you will need to take your dog to a groomer, or have the nails done by the vet.  One more tidbit of information, some vets offer nail trimming that can be painful to the dog, but on very rare occasions it is necessary.  What some vets offer to do is trim the dogs nails all the way down to a nub, and cauterize the nail.  The dog is sedated for this procedure, but imagine someone taking 3/4 of your nail and removing it.  Your nails will be extremely sore, and painful.  Then imagine type and doing everyday tasks with your nails.  It will hurt.  That is how it feels to dogs to have this procedure done, because they have to walk on their feet.  However, like I said, it is extremely rare, but really only done when truly necessary.  Usually when a dogs nails are so long, and even trimming them regularly the quick is not receding, and the dogs nails are becoming injured.  This is also possible for dogs who are extremely aggressive over having their nails done, so that way they don’t have to get their nails done often.  I never recommend this procedure unless I feel the procedure would greatly benefit the dog.  Always, always, always consult with your vet in regards to this procedure.

Okay, well, this was an extremely long post, but I wanted to try and get as much information as possible on this subject.  If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below and I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To, Let's Talk

Brushing Tools & Techniques

Brushing is a vital part in maintaining a dogs coat and well being.  Depending on the dogs coat, you need to figure out what is the best method of attack for brushing out the dog.  If you have a Shih Tzu, you definitely don’t want to be using a zoom groom (a rubber brush used for deshedding and bathing), and if you have an Australian Cattle Dog you don’t need to be using a dematter.  Every dog is different, so we are going to be discussing a few of the tools that can be used, how to use them, and on what coats they work best with.

brushingtechniques0830-001
I lift and hold the hair in the opposite direction, against the grain, and brush down with the grain to get as close to the skin as I can.

Now in the world of grooming, if you are a first time groomer or a new pet parent, going down the grooming isle of a store can be a little intimidating.  There are all sorts of brushes, combs, gadgets, that it is hard to decipher what would be best.  If you have a longer haired dog, such as a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Schnauzer, Golden Retriver, Shiloh Shepherds. etc, a slicker brush and a comb is your best bet.  A slicker brush helps break apart the strands, brushing out tangles.  Now, with longer hair dogs, my recommendation is to brush the coat entirely, head to toe, then go over the coat with the finer side of a comb.  You want to make sure the pins are getting down to the skin, then carefully running along the skin with the comb.  If you get stuck, you’ve more than likely found a tangle that needs to be gently worked out.  One great way is to use your hand, lay it flat against the coat, and lift the hair in the opposite direction, where you can see the skin underneath, see image above.  You then take the brush, and work the hair that your hand is holding down.  This helps you get close to the skin, and get underneath the coat.  I will say, that has been the biggest obstacle with brushing for pet parents who have longer haired dogs.  Some may brush the top coat very well, but once you get underneath, it is matted because they didn’t work the brush and comb to the skin.  One piece of information, is if you get a brand new slicker brush, you can easily brush burn the dog.  What I recommend is scraping the brush against some concrete or hard, textured surface to dull down the tips a bit, so it is not as rough.  Brush burn almost looks like a rash forming, and blood can seep through follicles of the hair.  A slicker brush needs to be replaced rarely, even with professional groomers.  If you are a pet parent, I truly feel you would never need to replace your slicker brush, unless something happens such as the handle breaking or the teeth wearing down.

miraclecoatbrush0802
A large Miracle Coat Brush

My favorite slicker brush ever is the Miracle Coat Brush.  I swear by it.  I have used so many different slicker brushes, and this one has a way of breaking apart tangles without hurting the pet.  It reminds me of the Wet Brush, just for dogs.  I purchase mine from Amazon, and they carry the small, which is great for tiny dogs, the medium, which I feel works for puppies all the way to large dogs, and the large, which is fantastic for dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands, because it covers a wider area quicker. Also, quick side note, this post is not sponsored.  All of these brushes I own, because I found these are the only brushes I need, and I professionally groom, and have been professionally grooming for over 11 years.

furminatorMedDogLongHair
Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Another great brush is the FURminator brush.  This is more useful for shorter hair that is a bit thicker at the base that tends to shed, such as German Shepherds, Labs, Shiba Inus, etc.  You want to brush with the grain of the hair, or how the hair is laying.  You never want to brush against the grain.  Now, with this type of brush, you need to be careful, because this tool is like a blade, and it can brush burn a dog if pressed too hard or is used too frequently over one area.  I brush over one area, then move to another area.  Slicker brushes and combs still work great on these dogs as well, but you tend not need to worry too much about getting close to the skin for tangles.   Huskies and Malamutes also work great with the FURminator brush, but it might take a little more effort because even though they have that thick coat that sheds, it is sometimes hard getting close to the skin because their fur is longer and much more dense.  FURminators are expensive, I am not going to beat around the bush on that.  They run anywhere from $30 to $60, and you can get them at many different locations.  I do feel they are worth it, however, I have not tried any products that are similar to this tool.  So I cannot vouch if there is a good dupe for this product hanging around.

safaridemattingcomb
Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safari-W6116-De-matting-Com

A dematting tool can sometimes, SOMETIMES be used on longer coats.  It is a sharp tool used to cut and break apart matts.  When I say sharp, I mean sharp.  You need to be careful handling it because you can cut yourself and the dog.  I tend to use dematters for matts that are away from the skin, that are not super tight, and I feel can be brushed out without causing harm to the pet.  You want to be holding the instrument perpendicular to the pet, and make sure the sharp, jagged edges do not come in contact with the pets skin.  With short, quick strokes, you work through the matt to break it up.  I also like to use a dematter on dogs with long hair and thick undercoats, such as Rough Collies and Newfoundlands.  They are quicker at breaking apart the undercoat and removing it.  Dematting tools don’t seem to run too much.  I’ve been enjoying using the Safari De-matting Comb, that I pick up from Amazon.

marscoatking
Image from Mars Coat King; https://www.mars

The rake or Mars Coat King is great for brushing out undercoat on longer haired dogs that shed, such as the Golden Retriever, Border Collie, etc, that the FURminator brush wouldn’t work on.  This sometimes reminds people of a dematter, but it is not sharp in the same sense as a dematter.  The prongs tend to be molded inward, like a hook, preventing possibilities of injuring the dog and groomer, but it has a way of hooking onto dead undercoat and pull it out.  These can run a bit pricey depending on the brand.  Some store brands, such as Paw Brothers make a good rake from $8 to around $20.  The actual Mars Coat King brand can be up there in price, but you are paying for quality and lasting power.  So do your research on the brands.

zoomgroom
Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/KONG-ZoomG..

The last brush I recommend is the Zoom Groom, or any type of rubber brush that resembles the Zoom Groom.  This brush can be used dry or wet.  It is great for scrubbing shampoo in a dogs coat while bathing, and it is extremely useful at pulling dead undercoat from short haired shedding dogs such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Jack Russel Terriers, Labs, etc.  Brushing with the grain of the hair, if you do short, quick strokes, you will see so much dead hair just pull together, and sometimes stick to the brush.  This type of rubberized brush has always been one of my favorites.  This brush does wear down over time, so repurchasing is required.  However, that being said, one rubberized brush like this has lasted me around 8 months to a year, and they are not too overly priced in my opinion.  I have been able to find this product at PetCo, PetSmart, Amazon, and a few others.  Amazon had the cheapest price around $6 if you purchased it as an add on item, just in case you were wondering.

So, those are the brushes that I use constantly, and honestly those are the only brushes I use.  I have not needed to pull in any other brush, or purchase a different brush.  Having those in my kit, I have the necessary brushing tools for any type of coat and coat problem that may arise.  I hope this post was informative and helpful for you.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  Thanks for stopping by, and until next time!

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Basic Information, How To

The De-Shedding Treatment

FURminatorbeforeSo we have talked about basic bathing, now we are going to go further into bathing with the DeShedding Treatment.  It sounds more daunting than it truly is.  It is a technique using a de-shedding shampoo as well as a conditioner, blowing it into the coat, and doing a thorough brush out after fully drying.  This technique is recommended for double coated dogs that shed.  This type of service is not needed for dogs such as Malteses, Bichon Frises, or Poodles.  Examples of shedding dogs, Shiba Inus, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies.

Now, there are several shampoo brands out there that carry de-shedding shampoos and conditioners.  For today’s reference purpose, I am going to use the FURminator Shampoo and Conditioner, because that is what I use for this treatment on my own dogs as well as clients dogs at the grooming facility I work at.  Side note: Not sponsored.  I purchase these products on my own and have been using them for years.  They work great for me, never had any issues with them, and will continue to use them unless something happens.

So, after you started the bathing process, click here if you need a refresher, the shampoo that you will use to lather would be the de-shedding shampoo, in my case, the FURminator shampoo.  Work it all over the dog’s body from the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  The FURminator shampoo is NOT hypo-allergenic, so if your dog has skin allergies, I would not recommend using this shampoo.  Most de-shedding shampoos are not hypo-allergenic.  The de-shedding treatment is still possible, at this stage just use a hypo-allergenic shampoo as the base.  Then, time to put on the FURminator conditioner.  The FURminator conditioner is hypo-allergenic, which is one reason I enjoy this product because even on dogs that have allergies but shed, I can still use this treatment.  Rub the conditioner in well, starting at the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  Make sure you get the tail, butt area, and sides really well with these products.  Now, it comes time to blow the products into the coat.  This is where a high powered velocity dryer comes in handy.  You want to blow the product into the coat, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.  After that, let the product sit for about 5 minutes.  If you don’t have a high powered velocity dryer, just let the product sit for about 10 minutes.

After letting the product sit, it is time to fully rinse the dog.  Now, if you are using the FURminator products, it will take longer than normal to rinse out all of the product.  As I said in my bathing basics post if you think you are done fully rinsing the dog, rinse all over one more time.  Then towel dry, getting as much excess water off, eye wash, then optional, spray on a leave-in conditioner.  I then take the dryer and fully dry the dog.  You want the dog 100% completely dry, they cannot be damp for the next step.  If you have a velocity dryer, awesome if you are bathing them at home and need them to air dry, just wait till the next day.

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Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Now that the dog is fully dry, and like I said, they cannot be damp, it is time to brush them out.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, you are not going to have to brush as much.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, you are going to be brushing for a bit.  Depending on the dog’s coat, you can either use a tool like the FURminator brush or some sort of Coat King or Rake.  FURminator’s tend to work best on shorter coat dogs, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies.  Coat Kings or Rakes work best on longer haired dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Border Collies.  A slicker brush and comb will also be helpful in this process.  One side piece of information concerning the FURminator brush, you do not want to run it over the same spot more than a couple of times, max 3 to 4 passes over one area.  The reason for this is the FURminator brush is like a blade, and it can cause irritation and brush burn on the dog’s skin if you press too hard and go over the same area too many times.  I like to do a few passes over per area then use a slicker brush and a comb.  Again with the slicker brush, dogs can get brush burn, so try not to press too hard on the dog’s skin.  After I have done both of those steps, I follow through with a fine tooth comb, and it will help find further thick areas that I need to work on.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, most of the time about 10 to 20 minutes will suffice for brushing, but that also varies due to the condition of the dog’s coat.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, I would not do more than 30 to 40 minutes.  If you are at home and it is your dog, I would do 30 minutes one day, space out a few days and do another 30 minutes of deep brushing to break up the undercoat.

FURminatorafterNow, I do know with the FURminator treatment, I cannot vouch for all of the other de-shedding shampoos and conditioners, if you or the client is consistent about doing the treatment every 4-8 weeks, it has potential to help curb shedding up to 90%.  Consistency is extremely important for this service.  You cannot do this service one time and expect the shedding to be down by 90%, it does not work that way.  I have several clients that do this service, and we have been consistent with it, and their dogs hardly shed anymore.  Like I said, they are consistent.

Well, yet another long post.  Sorry about the lengths, but I am trying to be as detailed and thorough as possible.  Hopefully, it was easy to follow, and you learned something new!  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  Also, like I stated earlier, this is not a sponsored post, I bought the products mentioned and shown myself.  I have been using these products for years.  Okay, enough for now.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, Let's Talk

The Doodle Cut

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Image from Goldendoodles Association of North America, http://www.goldendoodleassociation.com/about-the-breed/coat-types-and-colors/

Today’s topic of discussion is in regards to the “Doodle Clip” or “Doodle Cut.” Now, if you are a good groomer, you are constantly learning in your field. Doodles are one breed that not many groomers favor. Not so much because of the dog, but unfortunately due to their pet parents. The reason for this is because a majority of doodle owners like to come in, demanding a doodle cut. Here is where the issue lies. There is only one cut associated with doodles, and that is for the Australian Labradoodle.  The Australian Labradoodle Association of American is the only association that I have found that have specified a cut for their doodle.  I have even talked to a lovely woman named Amy, who is apart of the Goldendoodle Association of North America and has a blog called Goldendoodles.net, and she informed me, that because Goldendoodles are a newer breed compared to the Australian Labradoodle, associations have not formed a recognized cut for this breed.  She graciously sent me a few pictures of common cuts done on Goldendoodles, that I will showcase.

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Matting that is so bad it is coming off in a sheet; this type of matting cannot be brushed out

Before we get into the types of haircuts, I need to let this out.  If you own a doodle, please brush out your doodle FULLY at LEAST every other day. It is NOT a groomers job to dematt your doodle, and there is no amount of money that you could pay a groomer to torture your dog. You need to start desensitizing your dog to brushing, especially if you want to keep them long. The reason I also state this, is because I was reading quite a few forum posts talking about how no groomer is willing to brush out their dog with the matts. The reason for that is because groomers cannot brush out what was not maintained in the 3-6 months before grooming, in the 2-6 hours the groomer has the dog. Groomers do not torture dogs, period. Also, another thing that a lot of groomers have seen are doodle owners waiting a year to get their doodle groomed, because that is what the breeder recommended. Unfortunately, that has been said by at least 1 out of 2 doodle owners, but for the sake of your pet and groomer, please do not wait that long. Groomers help desensitize the dog, and get them comfortable with the grooming process, and most start as young as 8 weeks. The other issue with this, is most everyday people do not know how to properly brush their dog. I don’t know how many times I have had a doodle come in that has never been groomed, almost a year or little over a year old, had to shave it down because it was fully matted, and the dog was terrified and extremely difficult to do because they had no grooming experience. Please keep that information in mind.  Every site that I have visited, and the books that I have read on doodles state that brushing is required constantly on doodles, in order to maintain the coat, it also helps you bond with your dog.

Now I am going to discuss a few of the “doodle cuts” that I have seen frequently. The most common “doodle cut” that I have done is one length all over the body including the legs, with a longer face, and leaving the ears and tail long. I have had the length vary, but the longest I have done is a Wahl #E comb, which leaves about an inch left of hair, and the shortest I have done is a #7F blade, which is around ¼ of an inch hair left. When it comes to the face, again, due to the length of the body I would vary it to what would look best for the top of the head. If I did an #E comb on the body, I would do an #E comb reverse on top of the head, and take that #E comb down the sides of the face by the ears. With most doodle owners that I have dealt with, the general consensus is they like more of a square/rectangular shaped head. I would then trim up the rest of the face, but leaving it on the longer side, and sometimes either lightly trim the tail and ears, or leave them completely natural. Another thing is I trim the visor and only trim in front of the eyes. I have noticed that most doodle owners do not like it shaved short in front of the eyes, and they definitely do not like the hair down the nose gone.

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An example of one length all over the body with a longer face as well as longer ears and tail

Another popular clip that I have researched but haven’t done any at my facility, is called a lamb clip. What that means is that the body is shorter than the legs, and the legs are blended into the body. The variation of this that I have seen the most of, is an #E comb on the body, blending down into the legs, and then hand scissoring the legs. However, the feet almost appear bell bottomed. They splay out a bit, and are slightly beveled as well. The head is very much so the same as in the previous paragraph. A more square/rectangular shape, but longer. However, the doodles that I have seen with this clip, clippers are not taken to the top of the head, but the hair on top is parted down the center, and trimmed that way. The head on this clip tends to be more wild, more natural. Ears and tail tend to be left natural.  This variation of the clip is associated with the Australian Labradoodle Association of America.  If you go to their home page and scroll all the way down, they have a video along with a .pdf file you can download on how to groom an Australian Labradoodle.  This clip is registered with their association.  Having a breed club/association is one of the first steps in going towards getting a breed recognized and registered amongst kennel clubs.

The last common clip that I have seen, is barely any trimming on the doodle at all. More of a basic maintenance kind of grooming. Where the pads and sanitary areas are shaved, the feet are trimmed round, and in front of the eyes are trimmed, and the visor is trimmed. That is it. This kind of “doodle cut,” yes people called this a doodle cut, requires the most maintenance. Brushing should be a daily thing with both a slicker brush and a fine tooth comb. When hair is over about an inch, the upkeep of the coat is much more difficult.

Like I said, those are just the common variations of doodle clips that I have seen, but there are more variations out there. One really good site I found was Goldendoodle Grooming, where the writer showcased a wide range of popular goldendoodle clips.  On Labradoodles, I found How to Groom a Labradoodle and an Australian Labradoodle, Labradoodle Grooming from Over the Moon Australian Labradoodles, as well as Grooming Your Labradoodle from Spring Creek Labradoodles.  They all vary.

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An example of a light trim, where we just cleaned up the eyes, sanitary, and feet

Something else to consider is shaving down the doodle when they are a puppy. Now I am not talking about 3 or 4 months of age, I’m talking about when their adult coat starts growing in. Having adult coat and puppy coat growing together causing matting quicker, because they are two different textures. And when I mean shave down, they don’t have to be super short, just a length that will work to get to the adult coat underneath and expose it. Most doodle owners are not a fan of this unfortunately, but it does help. Also, at the end of the day, it is just hair, and it will grow back.

The logic and reasoning of this post is to help inform both pet parents and groomers alike. If you are a doodle owner, hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into the variations of “doodle cuts,” and be less agitated with your groomer for “not knowing” what a doodle clip is. Here is a little piece of advice, find freshly groomed pictures of doodles that resemble your dogs coat. Have a front view, face view, and body view on quality photo paper, yes that means have it printed out. It needs to be good quality, and the groomer needs to be able to hang on to the picture. Showing a picture on a phone does not help. Be as specific as possible, without being unreasonable. Don’t expect your dogs hair to be wavy and flat like one picture, and you have a doodle with more poodle hair the poofs out. Be realistic. At the end of the day, it is just hair. If the groomer seems to have good technique the cut looks good, but still not what you wanted, you can try something different next time. It is just hair. Groomers put notes about how they did the haircut, so next time they can try something different. Also, groomers cannot match pictures dead on. It is not possible. They are not touching that dog and cannot depict perfectly the length on the dog. Please remember that groomers are human beings, who work with living, breathing, moving animals, with sharp objects. They do the best they can with what they got. Please be empathetic to your groomer.

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Another example of one length all over with a shorter head and longer ears

Groomers, try and be a little more open minded when it comes to “designer breeds.” It is not always enjoyable dealing with certain pet parents, but remember, we do this for the dogs, and because of our deep love of dogs. New breeds will always pop up, some more ethical than others, so we need to understand that at the beginning of it all, all dogs were once “designer breeds,” aka mixed breeds/mutts.  At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that we treated the dog well, loved it and cared for it like our own.

I hope this information was helpful, and you learned something new. Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below. If you have any recommendations on good doodle books that have grooming references, as well as sites with great grooming references, please leave those down in the comment section as well. Thank you so much for your time! Till next time!

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PS. If you are looking to get a Goldendoodle, know someone who is, or just need a good reference book, I highly recommend The Goldendoodle Handbook by Linda Whitman. It is extremely informative, and has great grooming information on how to desensitize, brush, maintain, etc. I found mine on Amazon here.

Also, there is the Goldendoodle Associate of North America, which is the first and only breed club established for the Goldendoodle.  This is the first of many steps that need to be taken to become AKC or CKC registered.  For more information on recognized breeds by the American Kennel Club, you can click here.  I highly recommend reading it.

As I stated earlier, the Australian Labradoodle Association of America does have a registered clip for the breed.  Once you scroll all the way at the bottom, there is a video and a .pdf file that you can download on how to groom an Australian Labradoodle per the standard of the Australian Labradoodle Association of America.