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Time At The Groomers.

Tonight’s post is a common issue amongst groomers, pet parents complaining about the length of time it takes for their dog to be groomed.  Every groomer is different and one pet may take a total of 2 hours for one groomer might take 3 hours for another groomer.  Most groomers ask anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.  Now, if you have no idea about dog grooming, that may seem like a long time, however, groomers do not typically work on just one pet at a time.  Groomers rotate.

For example, I tend to take roughly 3 haircuts at 8 am, and 3 haircuts at 11 am.  That means I have 3 dogs dropping off at the same time that I need to bathe, dry, and perform the haircut on with the goal of getting them done before my 11 am appointments drop off.  Groomers are not magicians and cannot pull off a bath, blow dry, and haircut all within half an hour.  If you feel groomers should, you are absolutely delusional and hopefully, do not own a pet.

If you cannot give a groomer enough time to complete the service because you have this, that, and the other going on, you should not book an appointment for your dog.  A groomers job is hard and stressful as is, without having the “I need my dog done in an hour” bullshit added onto.  Hate to be blunt, but groomers absolutely hate this.  We are human beings, not machines.  If you want your dog done that quickly, then you can do it yourself.

Also, times are just estimates.  Occassionaly groomers can get dogs done sooner than anticipated (which is a rare, but plesant occasion), and sometimes it takes longer.  Most groomers do not like their dogs sitting in a kennel for 4 hours, but unfortunately, most groomers do more than just groom dogs.  They do walk-in nail trims, answer phone calls, take back and bring up dogs for other pet parents, make appointments; our day does not revolve around one dog, it revolves around many.

So next time if you take your dog to the groomer, when they say they will give you a call, please just wait for their call.  Sometimes things happen and they forget to call you, it is not because they are trying to be malicious, things can get chaotic for groomers.  Be understanding because like I said, groomers are human beings, not machines.

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Splash Feet First into Dog Grooming!

Throughout my time as a groomer, I have met an interesting array of people wanting to become dog groomers.  However, I never recommend diving head first into grooming, but wading in the stream of bathing.  Water metaphors, gotta love them.  When I first worked in a corporate environment dealing with the grooming aspect, I was not allowed to go fully into grooming.  I had to work my way up to it as a bather first, learning the basic in and outs of the profession.  I was working as a bather for over a year before being offered to go to grooming school, a four-week class teaching the basics of dog grooming.

Now, I had people among me that went to grooming school sooner than I did, and bathed a shorter period than me.  I was most likely not ready, for I was really young at the time, but I will say having been just a bather, it prepared me more for what lied ahead.  I was able to perfect my speed and efficiency for bathing, drying, trimming nails, doing sanitary trims, and foot trims.

Should everyone wait a year before they learn the ins and outs of grooming?  Not necessarily, but I will say this.  I have dealt with people who only worked a bathing position for around three months before going to a type of grooming school, and not being able to stick it out.  Most who attempt this career path fail due to the physical and emotional demands, and not realizing all that it takes to become a groomer.  Groomers do not play with dogs all day, unfortunately.

However, those who stuck with bathing for over six months had much more success in dog grooming and groomed longer than two years.  Six months is the least amount of time that I recommend just bathing dogs, before heading into dog grooming.  The absolute basics are learned throughout that time, tough skin is formed, usually, and as I have stated previously, a better grasp and understanding of what lies ahead.

Last words of wisdom before I go, when you are a bather, you are going to get the short end of the stick.  Unfortunately, that is how it goes.  Dealing with a multitude of dogs to bathe, walk-in nail trims, answering phone calls, bathing groomer dogs, the list is endless.  Most groomers had to go through these tribulations, but it made them stronger, faster, and better at what they do.  So if you are truly passionate about this profession, and feel it is the right fit for you, be prepared.  The road is long and hard but as the saying goes, anything worth having is worth bathing for, or something along those lines.

Hopefully, this gave a little more insight, as well as something to think about before splashing into the dog grooming world.  Is there anything you would like me to delve into deeper with, or another topic you would like me to discuss?  Is there anything I missed?  Please let me know in the comment sections down below!  I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, comments, questions, and concerns!  Till next time!

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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, 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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Let's Talk

Over-bathing

Zues0802Over-bathing is a topic that I unfortunately deal with frequently.  New pet parents especially, but I have had pet parents who have had their pets for years, and this problem still arises.  The argument I hear is that their dog stinks, they get too dirty, they like their pet super fluffy, or they just don’t know that they are causing more harm than good for their pet.  Now, there are some pets that need to get bathed frequently because they are prescribed a shampoo from their veterinarian with specific instructions to bathe frequently.  This post is not about that.

The most you should be bathing your pet is once a month, and no more.  Again, unless instructed by your vet otherwise.  When you over-bathe your pet, you are stripping all of the natural oils and bacteria from their skin, which can cause dry skin or skin irritation in the form of hot spots.  They tend to itch more, and another adverse affect of over-bathing is it can get to a point where their body is overproducing oils, because their skins balance is out of wack.  This causes them to have a greasy coat and irritated skin, along with a distinct odor, which then it becomes necessary to bathe them more frequently with a vet recommended shampoo.  Over-bathing takes away the pets natural barrier and defense against skin conditions and natural elements.

I will say this, there are some breed books that discuss show grooming, for example the Saluki, and they instruct to bathe the Saluki every couple of days, to once a week.  I have not researched further as to why that is needed and what the logic behind that is, but this post is going for more of the family pet, who is not involved in show grooming.

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Paw Choice Waterless Shampoo Click Here to go to Amazon page to purchase. Image downloaded from the Amazon page.

Now, some recommendations I have are use dog wipes in between if your pet gets dirty, or a bit stinky.  Rubbing them down with the dog wipe, then brushing out their coat, helps get rid of dirt.  Also, giving your dog a quick spritz of a doggy cologne helps alleviate the odor.  There are a wide range of scents available on the market, from bakery good scents to floral and fruity.  Most major pet chains and smaller pet shops carry these, as well as online shops such as Amazon.  If you have a dog who is extremely sensitive to shampoos and fragrances, just look for a hypo-allergenic dog wipe.  Waterless shampoos can also be a great alternative, especially with dogs who might have accidents stick to their rear end.  I do not recommend using anything made for a human to be used on dogs, including baby products.  Dogs have a different pH balance than humans, and you can seriously cause damage to a dogs skin.

Well, I hope that was a little food for thought.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time!

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Let's Talk, Matting

Matting: The Tangled Truth

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A severely matted dog that had to be shaved.

Matting is a very touchy subject among some pet parents.  Most pet parents that I have dealt with concerning matted dogs, swear that they brush their dogs out every day or just brushed them out fully before coming in, and have no matts.  Most of the time, that is not the case.  Just to be clear, groomers were not born yesterday, and do not appreciate being lied to.  I have had some clients, when they brought their dog to me, I could tell that they were trying to keep their dog brushed out.  The top part of the coat was brushed out, but unfortunately when breaking apart the coat to look near the skin, it was matted.  Most of the time it was new dog owners, still learning how to maintain their dogs coats.  Those pet parents are usually very understanding and concerned if you show them the matts underneath, and want to learn how to properly maintain their dogs coat.

So what do I mean by matting?  Well, matting is basically severely tangled hair.  There could be a few matts or tangles, most commonly behind the ears and in the arm pits, or matts all over.  Here’s the thing, most matts cannot and should not be brushed out.  It is painful and can rip the skin or cause brush burn.  Every case will be different, but what I am talking about are dogs fully matted.  If you bring a dog to me, that hasn’t seen a groomer in 3-6 months, and you expect me to fully brush out the dog in 2 hours what wasn’t done in the 3-6 months prior, there will be an unpleasant awakening for you.  If matts are extremely tight, the safest and most humane thing to do will be to clipper them out.  You do NOT use scissors to cut out matts that are close to the skin.  Let me make this clear, YOU DO NOT USE SCISSORS TO CUT OUT MATTS CLOSE TO THE SKIN.  I have seen dogs skin sliced open because people, some groomers and some pet parents alike, think it is totally fine to trim out matts that are close to the skin.  Unless you want a vet visit, DO NOT DO IT!

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This dog took over an hour to shave down because he was so severely matted.

Yep, used bold and italics on that.  I cannot stress that enough.  Now, back to matting.  The best thing to do is shave out the matts, and sometimes, shave the dog down.  Unless you have a double coated dog, the hair will grow back.  On double coated dogs that HAVE to be shaved due to matting, there is a possibility the hair might grow back in patches, a different texture, or not at all.  Also, this is for pet parents, do not blame the groomer because your dog had to be shaved.  It is not the groomers fault, nor your dogs fault, for being matted.  If you decided you wanted a long hair dog, you need to be able to put in the time and effort to upkeep the dog.  Letting a dog become severely matted is a form of animal cruelty, just to be perfectly clear.  Depending on the matting, as well the groomer, severe matting can be reported to animal control.  All it takes is about 15 to 20 minutes, using a slicker brush and a comb to work through the dogs hair, every other day to help prevent matting.

Matting is not pleasant for the dog.  When matts pull at the skin it is painful and it can cut off the air circulation to the skin.  Matts can harbor moisture and bacteria underneath, and once shaved off can reveal skin and bacterial infections.  However, like I have stated, if a dog is matted, the most humane thing to do is shave them down.  There is another important topic that coincides with matting, that I know I speak for all groomers concerning this.  If a dog has to be shaved down due to matting, please do not laugh at it, call it names, or call it ugly.  If you are a pet parent and you do this, or one of your family members do this, your dog knows.  Your dog will feel the demeanor change in your voice.  It is not your dogs fault that they had to be shaved down.  It is not your groomers fault for having to shave down your dog.  The responsibility of brushing out your dog REGULARLY falls on you and your family.  I know I am being blunt and harsh, but that is the God’s honest truth.  I have had people yell at me because I had to shave down their matted dog.  I have had such severely matted dogs that their coats came off in sheets.  Then, when they have picked up their dog, they proceeded to laugh at their dog and call it ugly.  Then call back and yell at me because they claim that their dog is embarrassed that it’s shaved, and won’t come out of hiding.  Although I’m not a mind reader, I have been working with dogs long enough to read dogs body language well.  Dogs can sense demeanor changes in the parent, groomer, handler, etc, and you can truly hurt and upset your dog by what you say to them and how you say it.  Again, it is not the dogs fault or groomers fault that you cannot brush your dog.  To be clear, this small informative rant is directed more towards people that bring in matted dogs every time, expecting groomers to do what they didn’t do in 3-6 months prior.  I am, as well as most groomers, very understanding about some matts.  I have had several customers that unexpected life events happen, and brushing their dog wasn’t a priority, whether it be family death, illness, etc.  There are always exceptions to every rule, but unfortunately, when it comes to matted dogs, the previous paragraph is what most groomers deal with.

The reason that paragraph is so heated is because I love dogs.  I love dogs more than most people.  When dogs are treated as commodities, and not as living, breathing, feeling, loving creatures, I get upset, as do most groomers.  If you are a pet parent, and need tips on brushing out your dog because you want to avoid all of that (good for you, and thank you), stay tuned for Wednesday’s post, which will be about brushing techniques.  Also, don’t hesitate to ask your groomer.  Groomers love giving advice and want to help you maintain a happy and healthy dog.  I have shown so many customers brushing techniques and am absolutely happy to help!  Some groomers even offer in between brush outs from $10 to $20, where you can call them up, and they can help brush your dog for 10-20 minutes.

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A puppy that have to be shaved down, because the pet parent wasn’t brushing close to the skin, but the top coat was brushed out.  A very common problem with new pet parents.

If all else fails, and you know you cannot maintain your dogs coat, or maybe you unfortunately cannot afford to get your dog groomed as often as you would like, that is totally fine.  The best bet on that would be to keep your dog short.  Your dogs face, ears, and tail don’t have to be as short as the body, as long as those are brushed out, but it will help on the ease of maintenance.

Groomers, do not be afraid to say no.  If a pet parent brings in a matted dog, and wants you to brush it out, do not let them intimidate you.  When I was a younger groomer, that happened a lot.  I didn’t want a customer to yell at me, or be upset with me.  Every once in a while I can still get a little nervous.  However, you always need to make sure you are doing what is best for the dog.  If a dog is matted and needs to be shaved, and the owner doesn’t want to do that, send the dog away.  You are not going to compromise the dogs safety and wellness for a pet parents vanity.  For grooming, the dogs safety and well being comes first.

Well, yet another long discussion.  Hopefully that was helpful and informative.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time!

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Let's Talk

Bringing Groomer’s Pictures

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A side view of a freshly groomed dog, making sure to get the entire body in the picture.

Here is something that I’ve seen somewhat discussed, but not in full detail that I think is needed.  When pet parents bring pictures to their groomer of what they want their dog to look like.  I have known quite a few groomers who absolutely hate when pet parents bring in photos as reference.  However, I don’t mind.  I’m going to discuss a few important points of bringing groomers pictures, and hopefully groomers and pet parents alike will be viewing this a little differently.

When a pet parent brings in a picture of how they want their dog to look like, it does help the groomer with more of a visual representation of what the pet parent is looking for.  Groomers are not mind readers, so having a visual aid can be very helpful.  However, there are several things that need to be considered when bringing in pictures.

Firstly, when searching for pictures, you want to be searching for dogs that most resemble your dog.  Not only are you looking for pictures of the same breed, but you want to resemble the hair type as much as possible.  What I mean is, if you have a Miniature Schnauzer, do not bring in a picture of a Bichon Frise.  Why is that important?  Well, groomers cannot change the texture and look of your dogs coat.  We cannot replicate a look based off a different breed and coat type.

Another thing to consider, look for pictures of dogs freshly groomed.  I have had a lot of pet parents bring me in pictures of dogs wanting a specific length or look, and the dogs hair in the picture was grown out.  When hair is dirty and grown out, trying to match that is very difficult, because what you see in the picture will not be what you see on the dog.  To try and explain this a little better, I will give you an example.  I had a customer bring me in a picture of their dog when he had shorter hair.  This dog was a rescue and had a lot of skin issues, causing patches of missing fur.  That picture was the grow out after clearing up his skin.  It looked to be about 1/2 inch left all over his body.  Now, here is the problem with that.  His coat was super shiny and soft.  When I did his all over haircut, his shiny coat was gone.  Now, of course I explained this to the customer, well tried to explain it to the best of my abilities, as well as the cons of cutting into his fur, but he was not happy because it did not match the picture.  Again, even though I explained everything to him before the groom, he was not happy.  I’m sure if you are a groomer, you know where that went to.

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A good front view, including the full front of the face and body.

Also, please have the pictures printed out on quality printer paper, and let the groomer be able to hang on to it for reference for the groom.  Looking at a phone for a minute does not help the groomer, nor if it is a poor quality picture on printer paper.  Try and find pictures that showcase the front of the dog, head on so the groomer can look at the entire head, a front view of the dog sitting, as well as a standing side view of the dog.  Having those angles gives a better visual for the groomer.

One final thing to consider when bringing in a picture for your groomer, there is practically NO WAY the groomer will be able to match the picture 100%, regardless if it is a freshly groomed picture of your own dog.  There is no way to tell the actual length of the body, the head, ears, etc.  Groomers use their best judgment on what the picture is entailing and use their skills to match it as best as they can.  Please remember that they are human beings and not machines.  Keep in mind that groomers can jot down notes of the exact haircut they did, and because hair DOES grow back (unless we are talking about a shave down on a double coat dog, click here to read that post), they can make alterations for next time.  Groomers are not perfect, and do the best they can with what they got.

Hope that was helpful!  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!  Till next time!

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