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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Clipping and Scissoring Legs.....

....on dogs that do not like it.

Unfortunately, a lot of dogs do not like their legs fooled with.
I learned this very early on in my grooming career.

Some dogs don't like you brushing their legs, some don't like the feel of the clipper running down
them, some just do not want you to touch, or hold their legs in anyway.

I hated fighting dogs just to work on their legs.
They would jerk and pull, sometimes jerking their own leg right into the teeth of the clipper blade, or the blade of your scissors.
The teeth of the blade would stab, not cutting, but hurting the dog all he same, and only making the dog hate the clippers going down the legs even more.

Some dogs will just jerk their leg away, some will flip their body backwards, some will snap at the clipper.

It can be very nerve racking for a groomer.
We know that clipping the dog requires us to run a clipper down the legs to get the hair off.
The last thing we want to do is have the dog hurt itself.

Or, ourselves....I have had dogs jerk heir legs away causing me to jam the clipper blade into my own hand...it hurts!

Out of frustration, and a real fear of accidentally cutting a dog, I started to try to figure out ways to help the dogs accept the clippers running down their legs, and also accept brushing and scissoring.

I tried different holds and approaching from different directions.
No matter how many things that I tried, I found one basic thing that worked just about every time.

A Gentle Touch.  
A gentle touch with the hold.
A gentle touch with the brush.
A gentle touch with the clipper.

AND PATIENCE!

I know, you're probably saying....'here she goes again talking about gentle grooming.'

You better believe I am!

It has worked for me every time.

When I have a dog that I find does not like to have its legs fool with, there are several things that I do.

Clipping the front legs:

First, I very lightly and gently rub my hand up and down the dogs leg.
If he/she pulls away, that is okay.
I let them pull away and calm down, then I start to rub again, all the while talking to them very encouragingly.
You have to give their brain a minute to click, and let it register that what you are doing is not hurting them.
Just about all of them will eventually realize that the rubbing does not hurt.

Now, slowly pick up the leg.
Do this by slowly, running your open hand down the back of the leg.
As you near the ankle joint of the leg, slowly apply a little pressure to have the dog pick up its leg.
You want the leg resting in your open hand, as if the dog were shaking your hand.

If the dog jerks away, that's okay.
Tell the dog that is okay and try again until the dog will relax with its paw in your hand.

Tip:  At this time, also keep an eye out for any reasons that the dog does not like its legs fooled with.
Arthritis, crooked legs, chewed or sore spots.

Once the dog trusts you to lay its paw in your hand, slowly close your hand around the lower part of the leg or the paw.
Do not apply any pressure.
Test the waters.
See how much the dog will now let you fool with the leg.

Now try to clip.





I like to start clipping a leg without even picking it up.

I will slowly run the blade from the body down the leg as far as the dog will let me.

My hand is behind the dogs elbow to help keep him/her from moving it.





 When I have to lift the leg to finish clipping, I like to lift from the elbow.

You should never just grab up the paw.

Most dogs will jerk it away when it is suddenly crabbed without any warning.

I think that you can see in the picture that even though I am holding up the leg, I am not applying a lot of pressure, or squeezing the leg.



 When clipping the front of the leg I still like to hold up the leg by the elbow joint.

This way I can lock my fingers around the back of the elbow giving me more control on how much the dog is able to jerk the leg backwards.

I am still not applying a lot of pressure when I hold the leg.

Just enough to keep the leg from moving.

When the dog stops trying to move the leg, I release any pressure I was using while still holding on.

TIP: Use a light pressure with your clippers too.
You may have to go over the leg a couple of times when using a light pressure, but it will still be faster and better than fighting the dog.

Oh, remember, you are encouraging and praising the dog the whole way. :)


video





When clipping the inside of the front legs, I slowing slide my hand down the dogs leg to the foot and gently pick up the leg.

I slowly lift it to where the dog is comfortable.

If the dog starts to jerk away, I still gently hold on to the foot and ride the with the leg till the dog stops pulling.

The key is to not force the dog to hold the leg out.

By letting him/her jerk it back and forth while you are still holding it shows the dog that you are not locking the leg in one place and that they can move it if they get uncomfortable.


Oh boy, I hope that made sense.

I know what I am trying to say, I just can't seem to word it right.

I reread the above description and my head is spinning.

Hmmmm,  let me see if I can word it a little differently....

If the dog jerks their leg back towards their body, let them, but do not let go of the foot or tighten up on your pressure.
Let your hand go back and forth with the dogs leg until they stop pulling it away.
If the dog jerks their foot hard enough to pull it out of your hand, that is okay, just start over again.
Once they stop jerking the arm back and forth, very slowly bring the leg out and away from the body.
Only pull it out as far as the dog feels comfortable.
Yes, you may start out bending your body like a pretzel to reach the inside of the leg, but as the dog realizes that you are not hurting them and they relax, you will most likely be able to bring the leg out straighter so that you can get to it better.

Is that a better explanation?

Maybe between the two you will figure out what the heck I am trying to say. :)

Now, if you have a dog, that no matter how hard you try, still will not let you lift his/her leg by its paw to get to the inside of the leg, let the dogs leg down, let them stand on the leg.
Now, pick up the opposite front leg from behind the elbow, bend down and clip the inside of the opposite leg.
This trick works just about every time.

Clipping the rear legs:

I find that most dogs are not as touchy about clipping the rear legs as they are for the front legs.
The biggest issue for the back legs seems to be clipping the inside on the back leg.








 I do the same with the back legs that I do with the front legs.

I start by clipping down the leg with out lifting it up.










 I go all a round the leg as much as I can while the leg is still down.







When I am ready to lift the leg I gently hold the leg around the thigh and lift up to where the dog is comfortable.

This hold works great for those dogs that like to try to sit and tuck their leg under them.






On small dogs; instead of trying to lift the dogs leg up way over its back to get to the inside of the leg, I do one of two things.

I lift the opposite leg to clip the inside of the other leg.

Or

I stand the dog up on its hind legs and clip the inside of the back legs.




video



Every once in a while you will have a dog that absolutely refuses to let you run a clipper down their legs.

No matter how gentle you are, how careful you try to be, or how much you try to show them that it does not hurt.

It is okay to just give up.
Let the dog win if that is the way you look at it.
It just is not worth fighting the dog, getting yourself and the dog upset, or possibly hurting the dog.

I have two dogs that will not, in any way, shape or form let me run a clipper down their legs.
One is a small Maltese and the other is a small Yorkie.
Both get clipped in a #4F blade.
I clip the body and scissor their legs to the #4F length.
Everybody is happy.

There is one other thing that I would like to say.

I have notice, over the years, when I watch other groomers clip a dog, that a lot of groomers look almost like they are attacking the dog with the clippers.
They are very heavy handed.
Some seem to run the blade over the dog using as much pressure as they can.
I see them rushing and jamming the blade into the dog, and then getting upset because the dog jerked away.

I am not saying that these groomers are doing this on purpose, to be mean.
I truly think that that is the way some groomers were taught.
I think that they are concentrating so much on getting the dog done and the hair off that they forget that they are working on a living animal that has feelings.
They may not realize just how heavy handed they are.


Have you ever had a hair dresser that was rough and unfeeling when washing, brushing and cutting your hair?
I have.

One woman was so rough when she was brushing and combing my hair that she was literally jerking my head backwards with each stroke.
When my head jerked back she would grab the back of my head and push it forward, giving me a disgusted look in the mirror.
No, I didn't say anything to her....I was too young...and she was very intimidating to me at the time.

My point is...you must be aware, at all times, how your actions (holds, pressure, tone of voice, ect.) effect the dog.

If a lot, or all of the dogs you groom fight you for clipping their legs, you need to evaluate the way you clip.

Are you too heavy handed?
Do you move the legs into uncomfortable positions for the dog?
Are you jamming the blade into the dogs leg every time you place it back on the leg?
Are you checking to see if the dog may be arthritic, or has crooked legs?

I very rarely have dogs fight me for clipping their legs anymore.
If they do, I take the time to figure out why, and do what I need to to show them that clipping their legs will not hurt them.

The dog that I used for this post, and the videos, hated when I  clipped her legs when she first came to me.
It took a few groomings, but as you see in the video, she is much better about it now.

Thank you Kate for asking about working on dogs who don't like their legs fooled with. 
 I hope that this post helps.
Hopfully the videos help too.
The videos can be no longer than one minute for me to post them here, so they don't show as much as I would like them to. :/

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF 

                                                                                       

5 comments:

  1. Great post. Some of those things I already do, but I also learned a couple of things, like testing the waters with your hand before using the clippers. I love learning something when I read your blog (P.S. - my scissoring has improved TREMENDOUSLY after reading one of your blog posts a few months ago), and I am glad that this information is out there for all the newer groomers out there so they don't need as much trial and error to learn these things.

    :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jennifer,
      I am glad that I could help you. The two poodles on your blog the other day looked great!
      Lisa, MFF

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  2. Hi Lisa...I have found that 99% of the time, if I have a dog who doesn't like their legs messed with, I will have one of my assistant hold up the leg on the opposite side of the one you're working on, and for some reason, they will then allow you to work on the opposing leg. They do less fussing when they are on three legs, and it keeps them occupied thinking about something else. It almost always works for me...Karen in NJ

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    Replies
    1. Hi Karen,
      We really do seem to groom alike.
      I also hold up an opposite leg in order to scissor or clip the other leg that the dog does not want fooled with. Yes, it does work 99% of the time for me too. :)
      Lisa, MFF

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  3. I do the opposite leg thing too, but still find it hard to clipper dog legs. Also, do you have some good example videos for scissor ing non poodle type legs?

    ReplyDelete