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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Climbing on My Soapbox!

 Hold on to your seats.
Here I go!

Working with the dogs.
Isn't that what we are supposed to do as professional groomers?

A couple of weeks ago I was watching some different grooming videos on youtube.
I  found that I was surprised at how many times I heard groomers on the videos, and in the comment sections, talking about how you should not baby talk while grooming, or you will be reenforcing  bad behavior.

One particular video was a short clip from a professional grooming team that has many different learning videos out there.
I have watched several of the videos and have also been to some of their seminars.
They are very talented groomers, only I do not totally agree with some of the ways they go about grooming.

Most of my disagreements are minor.
I just groom differently.
I am always trying to put myself in the dogs skin and thinking about how I would feel if I were the dog.

I know...I sound crazy, don't I?

But it works for me.

It helps me remember to use a lighter touch when brushing and clipping.
How would I feel if someone was banging a brush roughly into my body to brush my hair?
How would I feel if someone was digging a blade into my body?
How would I feel if someone was yanking mats out of my hair with all of their might?
How would I feel if someone suddenly yanked my leg forward and started clipping my nails without giving me any warning?

I know how I would feel.
I wouldn't like it.
I would most likely say something.
If I couldn't talk, I might just bite.

Dogs don't have a voice, so they act out in different ways.
They fuss, they fight, the snap, and they bite.

I had gone to get my hair cut, years ago, to a new salon that had opened by my house.
My hair is very thick and long.
All I wanted was a trim.
The hairstylist was very rough.
When washing my hair she dug her finger in my head so hard that my head hurt after she finished.
When she was brushing and blow drying my hair, she was brushing so hard and pulling my hair so much that she was yanking my head backwards.
In the mirror, I could see the lady in the chair next to me squirming every time she saw my head being yanked back. 
That hairstylist was not least in tuned to my feeling of how what she was doing might be hurting me.

I was surprised how many groomer think that if you talk to a dog while grooming, whether it is baby talk or calming talk, or coddling, that you are letting the dog win.
That you are encouraging bad behavior.

Come on!
Dog grooming is not a war, or competition, or a fight.
There is no win or lose.

Groomers should work with the dogs that they groom.
That is what I believe.

In the last few weeks, I have gotten a number of new grooming customers that are older dogs (4-12 years) who should be very used to being groomed.
They were not.
They acted like it was their first time.
Some were down right scared to death.
Three had been thrown out of other shops.
Four of them had not had sections of their bodies groomed, (head, legs, ect.) because the owners said that the previous groomers said that the dog would not let them.

With a lot of that calming talk, or baby talk, petting, and  hugs, everyone of those dogs went home fully groomed and happy.
They were not scared, upset, or nervous once we were finished grooming them.

Will they be perfect for the next groom.
Most likely not.
Well, one or two might be, but the rest will most likely have to be baby talked through the grooming a few more times, until they fully realize that grooming is not hurting them.
One or two may have to be baby talked for every grooming for the rest of their lives.

So what!
So what if you, as a groomer, have to take a little extra time to calmly reassure the dog that you are working on that everything is okay.

Sometimes that is all that a dog needs.... is just some reassurance.
Reassurance that that noisy dryer or clipper is not going to kill him/her.
Reassurance that your are only going to clip the nails and not cut all of his/her toes off.
Reassurance that their owners didn't abandon them.

I know that baby talk and calming talk does not work on every dog.
There are still very mean dogs that no amount of reassurance will keep them from trying to eat you.
Out of all the dogs that I groom, only a couple need a muzzle, and out of those two, neither of them need the muzzle for the entire grooming.

Even when these dogs wear the muzzle, I still use a calming voice with them and talk to them and pet them and rub them.
I still reassure them that they will be okay.

The very first time that I groomed one of these dogs, he went for my face.
I pulled my face away just in time.
I felt his teeth snap at the tip of my nose.
The first few times that I groomed him, he wore the muzzle for the entire grooming.
I have been grooming him for about 4 years.
It has been a long hard road, but with a lot of calming talk, praise and reassuring, I only need the muzzle when scissoring his feet and clipping his belly.
With a lot of baby talk and reassuring, he now lets me scissor his face, clip his body and most of his legs.
I may never be able to get him totally out of that muzzle, but all of that baby talk and coddling has certainly made him a better dog to groom.

So needless to say, I don't believe that baby talk and coddling a dog is rewarding bad behavior, or will make them worse for grooming.
I groom a lot of difficult dogs.
I have never sent one home unfinished.
Well, that is not true....I sent one home when I was a newbie to grooming.

I have said it many times before, I love the challenge of taking a biting, scared, or nervous dog, and turning them into a dog that enjoys the grooming....or at least tolerates it.

I also have a ton of dogs that I have groomed over the years, prove that a little baby talk, and coddling, helps to reassure the dogs and get them through the grooming.

Try it.
Coddling will always get you better results than fighting.

Tap, tap, tap.....you still there?

Climbing down off of my soapbox now. :)

Happy grooming, MFF


  1. Wonderful post! Exactly what my hubby and I were talking about just 10 minutes ago! Haha. He just got the job today as a bather at the salon I work at. To both of our surprise...he loved it! We will see how long it takes for te novelty to wear off!

    I have a question for you. I debriefed him on this job and drying properly and such. I showed him your videos on drying which are the ways I dry. He was told many times not to move the nozzle back and forth. He was told at work that it is faster to move slowly with the nozzle and never move back and forth with it. I told him hey, they know what they're doing. They have been doing this for a long time. They are your bosses. If that's what they tell you to do-do it. But my opinion is moving the nozzle back and forth or up and down like you do is a more efficient way to get a dog dry. What Is your opinion on this situation?

  2. Hi Tam,
    When it comes to grooming dogs, I don't think that anyone can say never do this or that. Every dog is different, coat types are different, so you CAN NOT deal with all coats in the same way. Some coats, I move the hose slowly, up and down, back and forth, and/or sometimes in a circular motion. Other coats (straight) I tend to dry the direction the coat lays. It all depends on the type of coat and the look that I am looking for, or the way I want the hair to lay for the finial cut.Unfortunately, the bottom line is that you have to dry the way your boss tells you. They are the one you are working for. Maybe if they watch my videos they may change their mind. :)
    Thanks for reading my blog!
    Lisa, MFF

    1. Haha. Okay. That's what I thought. They do make a lot of business and money and have or a while and have a way that works for them.


  3. And this....is why I love you. A agree completely!! Seems like a big groomer mentality is being "tough".

  4. Thank you for advocating for the pet, the love of pets being the reason groomers pursue this career.

    I stumbled upon your blog last month and love it. I have read maybe hundreds of your archives I can’t get enough. Of course I had to share your insight and expertise with a couple of friends.

    I appreciate the info you generously share. Your attitude and approach to grooming is sadly unique and helps bolster my faith in the pet industry. You speak your mind while running your business as you see fit. Very inspiring!

    May I ask a question? When washing faces, you are very careful to not let the pup inhale water. Do you let the water run over the eyes? When washing white faces and tear stains, do you worry about shampoo getting into the eyes? The products I use are “soap free” but I have never been brave enough to stick a dab of it in my own eye to determine if it stings! The dogs keep their eyes open with water running over them…I’m not sure that is comfortable. I’m also not convinced my washing the face has any cosmetic impact.

  5. Thanks Deb! :)

    Hi Morgan,
    I am glad you like my blog. Thanks for reading it.
    I personally think that washing the face is one of the most important parts of the grooming. The dogs face is where the owner is going to stick their face. I feel that it is very important to get around the mouth clean and smelling good.
    In 28 years, I have rarely had any problem with dogs eyes. I have even had a few dogs turn their heads at the wrong time and get shampoo right in their eye. I immediately flush the eye with luke warm water. Any shampoo flushes out and the dog is fine. I do not point the spray directly into the eyes. I squirt the top of the head and let the water run down over the eyes.
    I DO make a point to be VERY careful not to get shampoo in the eyes, but I get as close to the eyes as possible to get the face as clean as I can.
    Lisa, MFF

  6. You are not alone in your approach to grooming and I consider you a kindred spirit. Some of us are naturally kind to our little furry friends and come into grooming out of love for animals, rather than the pursuit of the almighty dollar...unfortunately others of us do not. I personally believe in using baby talk, cuddling, funny noises and any other tricks to make my dogs feel comfortable and to get them to trust me. Before they know it, they are groomed and giving me kisses. My clients get the biggest kick out of seeing their dog pulling at the leash to run to me! We are doing it right! Love your blog:)

  7. Thanks Auntie Mo,
    I love to see other groomers grooming the way that I do. Thanks for reading my blog!
    Lisa, MFF