I know that there are a lot of groomers out there that will no longer do any dematting on a dog.
It took me years to learn how to say 'No' to a customer.
Because of my lack of guts in my early grooming years, I became very good at dematting and finding ways to save ears, tails, beards, and legs.
I became fairly quick at it also.
In those early years I did all of that dematting out of necessity, because I did not know how to tell a customer that the dog should be clipped short.
All the customer had to do was give me a sob story and I would demat. :/
Dematting became a challenge for me.
I didn't want to hurt a dog, so I liked trying to figure out how I could save a matted area quickly and without too much fuss to the dog.
I learned when to clip out mats in areas that would not show, while saving other hair to cover the places that were clipped.
Let me stop and say right now, that if the dog does not tolerate being brushed, it will be clipped short.
If the dog does not mind being brushed and will let me do some dematting, I like to try to save the hair.
I know that some groomers would say that the owners don't deserve to have their dog dematted if they are not going to brush their own dog.
I agree with that to a point.
I will demat a dog for an owner willing to learn, and who will try to brush out their dog.
I give the owner three chances.
If I don't see that they are at least making an effort to keep their dog combed out, I will cut the dog short.
I also feel that the dog does not deserved to have everything shaved to the skin, because their owner does not take the time to brush them.
That is why I spend the time bathing and HVing a matted coat.
Even if I am only able to get a small air space between the skin and mat, and get a #5f safely through the coat, I would rather do that then shave a dirty coat, fighting a #7 or #10 through the coat.
With some of my tools,and some of my tricks, I am able to leave a cute, short face instead of a shaved face and ears.
Yesterday I had a regular 4 week customer come in with her Wheaton.
This dog is almost always a little matted, but with Best Shot Shampoo and Creme Rinse, most of the mats HV right out, and the rest of the matting brushes out with the fluff dry.
Lately, the Wheaton has been coming in with her beard matted.
It always brushes out easily.
Yesterday she came in with her beard matted worse than I have ever seen it.
I know that the owners can not brush this dog out.
She will not stand still enough for them.
That is why they bring her every 4 weeks.
She is a very sweet Wheaton, but she is as spoiled as they come.
Her Mom told me that the Wheaton has a new habit.
Every time the Wheaton's Dad cuts the grass, the Wheaton runs through the house barking.
That's not all, the Wheaton also runs into the bathroom between barks and sticks her whole face in the toilet, runs to the sofa, rubs her face back and forth still barking.
Then she starts all over again.
Running, barking, toilet, sofa, barking, again and again.
(Don't ask me why they just don't put down the lid on the toilet)
Now I have to say, I really like this customer, and I really like the dog too, even though she is a Wheaton.
This is the customers second Wheaton.
Her first one was so sweet and well behaved.
This one is very sweet and spoiled rotten.
Anyway, I have never used a clipper on this Wheaton.
Her Mom likes her in the Wheaton style, hand scissored.
She also likes a very full beard, and doesn't want me to cut it in any way.
I give this customer credit.
She knew that the beard was very bad, and she was sure that I was going to have to cut it.
Instead I pulled out my trusty Mat Splitter.
I have had this tool since Grooming School.
I was never taught how to use it in school.
I don't really remember how I learned to use it.
I do know that I learned the hard way that it is one of the most dangerous tools I have.
It is also one of the most helpful tools that I have.
The safety guard allows you to push the splitter between the skin and the mat.
The cutting blade slices through the mat making it a smaller mat.
I use this tool to turn a large mat into a lot of little mats that will brush out quickly and easily.
Depending on how often you use this tool, the blade must be changed once in a while.
How do you know when to change the blade?
When it stops gliding through the mat like a hot knife through butter.
If you have to fight it through a mat, you need to change the blade.
These are the tools you will need to change the blade:
A flat head screw driver.
A pair of pliers.
A pack of replaceable blades.
The blades come in a pack of 10.
These blades have gotten harder to find over the years.
I last found these at a RiteAid Drug Store, in the shaving section.
First loosen the screws on the mat splitter.
Do not remove them.
Just loosen them enough to remove the blade.
Use the pliers to remove the blade so that you do not cut your fingers.
Use the pliers to replace the blade also.
Then tighten the screws back up again.
Make sure that the screws are pretty tight so that the blade is tight and does not move.
This was my challenge.
I like challenges.
It helps keep grooming interesting.
If you look at it as a challenge instead of extra work, it can make grooming more fun.
Well, that's the way I like to look at it. :)
This beard has been washed, creme rinsed, and HVed to loosen up the mats.
Slowly work the mat splitter between the skin and mat.
Always pull the splitter through the mat straight, away from the skin.
Work slowly to make sure you are not pulling the skin along with the mat.
Always be sure that you are only cutting the mat.
Work in layers.
Work on one section of mats at a time.
Go through the mat as many times as you need, to make the mats smaller, and easier to brush out.
The video below shows me splitting the mats on this dogs beard.
After you have split all of the large mats, brush through the smaller mats.
Brush through small sections at a time.
Below is the beard being brushed out.
Follow up with a comb to get those stubborn little natty knots that the brush glides right over.
Dematting this beard took me 7 minutes.
That was with splitting, brushing, and combing.
Using the mat splitter did cause the beard to be thinned out considerably, but at least the dog still has a beard.
She would look awful with a clipped face.
Time to go home and rub her beard on the sofa again.
I will blog later about other ways that I have saved ears, beards, faces, legs and tails.
Groomers should always do what they feel comfortable with.
If you don't like to demat, than don't.
If you can't demat quickly and safely, than don't.
If the dog does not like being brushed, than don't demat.
If you use the mat splitter, or scissors to split mats, be very careful.
Happy Grooming, MFF