About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grooming Dangerous Dogs

I thought about blogging yesterday, but that is about all the energy I had left last night. :/

I didn't think that I had anymore elderly dogs on until tomorrow.
I was wrong.

Boy, was I wrong.

My very first dog of the day yesterday.
Another new customer.
Another 17 year old dog.
This one was severely senile.

The first words out of the owners mouth, as she struggled to bring him in, was; "I think he has become senile."
That went without saying.
The dog was walking into my lobby walls.
Oh, and add deaf and blind to his medical issues.

I couldn't believe my luck.
Two days in a row of really old dogs.
I think we are going to have to start asking customers how old their dogs are, when they call for an appointment, so we can book the day for the extra time it takes to groom the elderly ones.

I really don't mind grooming elderly dogs, but one a day is enough for me.
It is enough just worrying about one elderly dog a day, and praying that it will get through the groom easily.

This dog was down right dangerous to groom.
It did not help to find out that the dog had been being groomed by a Mobile groomer, and that the owner would hold the dog down while the groomer clipped it.

Hold the dog down!? 

I will admit that if I was grooming alone, I most likely would have turned the dog away.
I will also admit that I would rather have groomed a biting dog.
Elderly, senile dogs are just too unpredictable.

This old guy was non-stop motion.

I mean, he did not stop moving for a second.

I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack from shear exhaustion.

 He had too much hair to hand dry, so I took the chance with the HV.

Even thou he was deaf, I packed his ears with cotton and used the Happy Hoodie, praying that he would not reject the dryer.

I watched very closely, looking for any signs that he might be stressed.
Thankfully he did not reject the dryer, and I had him completely dry in around 10 minutes.

The short video clip below shows how jumpy he was on the table.

He danced like that the entire time he was being bathed, dried, and clipped.
Oh, and he absolutely refused to let you hold his face to scissor his head.
I had to hold onto the hair on the side of his cheeks, and scissor the opposite side of his head while his head bobbed up and down, back and forth.

I finished him.

It wasn't the greatest groom, but I am sure he felt better.

I will say that I have to get myself into a certain state of mind before I start grooming them.
I have to get into a relaxed state.
I try to transfer that relaxed state to the dog by keeping my touch very soft and gentle.
Even when I have to move the dog or push him back into place on the table, I try to do it gently and calmly.

You would probably laugh at me if you were in my head.
If I feel myself starting to get agitated, (the agitation is from fear of the dog possibly hurting itself) I will start talking to myself.

What do I say to myself?

'Calm down, he's old."
'You're doing fine, relax.'
'You're half way done, hang in there.'
'You know you can do this, you're almost done.'
'Why do I do this to myself.'  :/

I know it's crazy, but it gets me through some of the most difficult grooms.
I remember when I first started grooming, and I was grooming by myself in the back of a pet shop, there were times that some grooms brought me to tears.
I would feel so over whelmed.
What got me through?
I would give myself a lecture.
I would tell myself; 'calm down, you know what you are doing, you groom dogs everyday and get through it, just relax and take your time.'

I have to say, that talking to myself helped get me through some tough grooms.

I don't have to do that much anymore, but it still helps me when a groom is pushing me to my limits.
I was mentally exhausted when I was finished grooming that elderly Bichon.

I find that if I know ahead of time that the dog I will be grooming may be difficult, and I can give myself a pep talk before I start, and get in that calm place, that 9 times out of 10 the groom goes smoothly.

Do you think that that was my only elderly dog yesterday?


This little 16 year old was my second groom of the day.

I have groomed her about half a dozen times.

She is a little scary to groom only because she is prone to seizures, but she is great to groom, and she only takes me an hour or so to groom her and get her back home.

It has been a weird week so far.

After finishing the elderly dogs, my husband came in the grooming room to tell me that the owner of this dog wanted to talk to me because I did not get the groom right the last time.

Before I went up to the owner, I looked at the file.
I had only groomed the dog one time, last October.
The owner had just rescued the dog.
I had given the dog a Puppy Cut (1/2 off all over)
I had a note that I had only neatened the head and face because someone had already clipped it short, and the new owner wanted it to grow out.

The owner said that she had been staying at her house 'down the shore', and that was why she had not been back to me.
She said that nobody could get the head right.
I reminded her that I had not groomed the head when I groomed her dog because it was growing out from being clipped off.

She was a nice lady, she just had a really hard time trying to describe how she wanted the head to look.
She could see it in her head, but did not know how to tell me.
I told her that I would do my best to groom the dog the way I thought she wanted it.
I told her that I would try to get it right.  :)

 When she came to pick up the dog, I let my husband take the dog up to her.
I told him not to be upset if she told him that I didn't get the groom right.

She wanted the body short, about 1/2 an inch left. 
She wanted the legs short but not as short as the body. ("but make sure you don't leave them too long.")
" Make the head look like it fits the body. Don't take too much off the head, but there is too much there now."
"I like the ears long."
" I like the mustache the way it is, but can you do something with this?" 
She was holding the hair on both sides of the dogs cheeks.
"He has beautiful eyes. I want them to show."
"Clip the hair on the top of his nose off so I can see his eyes."

 I neatened the ears.
I blended the top of the head into the back of his neck and the top of his ears.
I skimmed the #4f blade down the sides of his face.
I clipped the top of his nose with a #10 with the grain, and blended into the top of the mustache.
I scissored under the eyes, and blended the hair into the sides of the face.
I left the mustache from his nose to the corner of his mouth, and neatened it up.

Then I looked at him and said; " Oh well, we'll see if I got it right."
I figured it was a 50/50 chance she would like it.

My husband took the dog out.
He popped his head back in a minute later.

"Oh no." I thought.

"She likes it. She wants you to write down what you did for the groomer down at the shore."

I hope that groomer doesn't get mad at me for telling her how to groom the dog.

My first appointment of the day tomorrow is the 17 year old Boarder Collie.
The owner said he does not like being groomed.  :(

Wish me luck.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Oh my goodness, it just doesn't stop for you this week! If its any consolation, I think some of my best clients are the ones where the owner says, "He doesn't like to be groomed." :) Then again, the only dog who lunged for my throat was a Border Collie. He missed. (Thank god he was old and slow!) One more day, just one more day!!

  2. Bev,
    You are so right! Most of my 'bad dogs' have turned into some of my favorite grooms. Let's hope next week is calmer. :)

  3. Thanks for the great blog. I'm considering becoming a pet groomer. This helps me to see a bigger picture of what a typical day could be. Sounds like grooming alone could be dangerous with the wrong dog.

    1. Hi,
      Sorry to take so long to reply. I don't know where the time goes. :/

      Actually, this post is not a typical day. I personally take on a lot of special needs dogs, so I tend to have days like these. Most days are full of great dogs that really makes grooming enjoyable.

      I hope you read through my blog to see the many different stories I have. I groomed alone for many years with no problems.

      Lisa, MFF

  4. i was searching on Most Dangerous Dogs List You Wish You Knew Before but i found your article thanks for sharing this stuff this will help for sure