When I went to grooming School, I was taught to be all business with the dog.
You were not to play with the dogs.
You were not to pet the dogs.
You were not to talk to the dogs.
You were not to baby the dogs in any way.
I was constantly told to get my face away from the dogs face.
One day while working away, and all of the sudden I hear the instructor yelling from across the room.
"GET YOUR FACE AWAY FROM THAT DOG!"
Startled, I looked up to see who she was yelling at.
To my utter humiliation she was looking at me.
She stormed across the room and proceeded to lecture me about having my face so close to the dog.
"Your going to get bit!"
"They will bite you in the face!"
"I don't want to see your face anywhere near that dog again."
"Well how the he** am I supposed to see what I am doing," I wanted to say.
Instead I turned back to the dog and silently cried.
I was humiliated and felt like I could not groom right.
It also killed me not be able to interact with the dogs.
It was drilled into us that interacting with the dogs would make them act up on the table.
The Grooming School that I went to did not use any grooming loops.
As a matter of fact, I don't think there was even one grooming arm in the place.
We had to learn how to keep our dogs on the table.
God help you if your dog jumped off of the table.
You would get a lecture to end all lectures.
Believe me I saw it happen.
I was embarrassed for the other girl.
It did happen to me, but I got lucky in a way.
My instructor was on the phone in the reception area and did not see.
Of course, I have always felt it was not all of my fault.
You see, I groomed at the table that was by the bathing room door.
About four feet from that door was a door to the fenced in back yard.
The bather happened to open that door and go out side.
She did not close the door behind her.
Before I even knew the dog was thinking about jumping,(I didn't even know the door was open) she was gone, out the door and into the yard.
I was hot on her heels.
I was so terrified that she would find a way out of that yard that when I reached her, I grabbed her by the back hips.
She proceeded to turn and sink her teeth into my hand.
Yes, you better believe that I hung on.
My very first bite.
I didn't care.
She was okay.
She was back on my table.
The instructor didn't know...and no one told.
Oh, what kind of dog was it?
I will never forget!
A little white toy poodle.
So, did I learn my lesson at Grooming School?
I 110% disagree with their philosophy.
I put my face in their face.
I look them right in the eye.
I want to see what they are thinking.
I want them to see me.
I want them to see that I care.
And I talk, talk,talk to them.
You don't think that I only have diarrhea of the mouth on this blog do you?
The dogs can't tell me to shut up. :)
I hug the puppies to make them feel safe.
I hug and talk to the puppies while teaching them to except the HV dryer.
I let them hide their face against my face.
I coo and cuddle and softly baby talk to them.
I do everything that I can to help them relax.
I talk to all of the dogs while drying.
I tell them that everything is okay.
I hug them when they are very nervous.
I hug them when they are good.
I hug them when they are bad.
I hug them when they can't stand still.
And, I pet them!
My instructor would not let you pet them.
"You will get the oils from your hands on them!" she would say.
She would have a fit if she saw you petting a dog after it was finished.
Well, I pet them...
before the bath,
during the bath,
during the blow dry,
and, when they are done.
I hug them while I clip.
I explain to the dog what I am going to do next.
I know it sounds crazy, but I really do believe that it helps some of the dogs.
I also apologize to them when I do something they don't like..
Ears, nails, anals, pull a knot.
And, guess what?
You got it!
I talk to them.
All of the time.
Even when they are deaf. :)
I hug them when I am finished.
I praise them, even if they weren't great on the table.
If they want to give me a kiss, that is okay with me.
I can always wash my face.
And, I have gotten pretty good at holding my breath for some of those kisses.
Oh yeah, I tend to put my face in the cats faces too.
I know I am asking for it.
But my instructor is not here to yell at my.
My husband took over that job.
He used to yell at me all of the time.
Well, not really yell, just tell me to get my face away from their face.
After all of these years, he mostly shakes his head now, because he knows I am hopeless.
I hug the cats too.
I guess the main thing that I am trying to say, is that we as groomers should never get so rushed or stressed that we forget that we are working on a living thing that has feelings.
When the dogs are in my shop they are mine, and I treat them like they were mine.
When they misbehave, I try to teach them what they should be doing.
When they are nervous, i talk them though the grooming.
When they are nuts..I pray that I get them done as quickly and safely as possible.
(and pray they don't make another appointment)
I don't know how Grooming Schools teaches now.
I hope after all of these years things have changed.
Just so you don't think that I am totally crazy...
~I am very careful.
~I am very good at reading a dogs feelings.
~I am always on alert.
~I know when I need to use a muzzle.
I don't use one very often, but I will use it if I need it.
~I know that I have to be all business with the super happy dogs while grooming them, because it takes forever to claim them down, but once I am finished, I rub them, hug them, and tell them they did a great job.
It's funny, the one and only time I was bitten in the face was by a dog that I had groomed many times before.
When I took him up to his owner, the owner asked me if I would take his beard just a little shorter.
I reached down to pick him up.
As I got him in my arms and started to straighten up, he swung his face around and bit me on my chin.
It wasn't bad.
Just a couple of scratches as I jerked him away from me.
What was the funny part?
Well, maybe not so funny. :-/
I was getting married the next day.
There were a couple of things that I still do that school taught me...
I don't use grooming loops.
They get in my way.
I like being able to move the dog around the table.
I train my dogs to stay on the table.
And, I don't leave them unattended.
What was the other thing I still do?
Don't ever touch, pet or rub a finished Poodle topknot!!
Can I ask a question?
Why is it that the topknot is the first thing the customer smashes down when you hand them their dog.
Don't they understand how disturbing that is to a groomer?
Don't they understand that I have to go in the back room and cry for a few minutes after I see them do that?
Don't they understand how long it took me to get those 30 straight hairs to stand up enough to scissor them?
Don't they und.....
Oh, never mind.
Remember to take the time to get to know your grooms and understand them a little.
Just a little extra time and some soft talking can go a long way to having a relaxed dog and stress free groom.
Happy Grooming, MFF