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, January 22, 2013

Had a Bad Grooming Day?

Not sure you want to be a groomer anymore?

Not sure if you should be a groomer anymore?

You feel like no matter how hard you work, all of your customers have been super picky, or mean and nasty.

You feel like every dog that you put on the table is fighting you, or biting you, or won't stop moving.

You feel like your grooming is never going to get better, or that the dogs are never going to cooperate.

As  Pet Groomers we all have bad days.
Sometimes more than our fair share.

This happens to every groomer out there at some point in their career.
It does not matter how long you have been grooming.

If only I had a dollar for all of the times I threatened to quit grooming, or close up my shop.

We get tired...
We get tired of our families thinking that we don't have a real job.
We get tired of every dog fighting on the table.
We get tired of pet owners getting mad at us because we can't groom their dogs when they want, or they want the impossible from us.
We get tired because a boss is putting too much pressure on us to groom more dogs in a day.

Grooming can get tough even for a seasoned groomer.
For a newbie, it can be unbearable at times.

I had those moments when I was a newbie groomer.
I had them a lot, partly do to bad work environments.
I would actually start crying sometimes while grooming a dog, because I felt so overwhelmed.

How did I get through it?

Bare with me.
I am going to go off track here for just a minute.

Every Sunday morning I like to listen to Joel Osteen.


Don't worry, I am not going to get all religious on you.

I enjoy listening to him because he is so up beat.
You feel good after listening to one of his sermons.

Anyway, yesterday he was talking about 'changing the channel'.
The point of his sermon was learning how to 'change the channel'...turn your thinking around when things get you down.
Even when you are not a 'the glass is half full' kind of person.

As I was listening to him, I could not help but think that that is exactly what I do when I am grooming.
That is what has helped me get through my grooming career all of these years.

Okay, back to my crying while I was grooming as a newbie.

Yes, I would actually cry.
Thankfully I worked alone a lot of the time.
When I wasn't alone, I would go in the bathroom and cry.
I would get a dog on the table that had a coat that I was trying to demat, because I didn't know how to tell the owner 'no'.
I would cry out of frustration because it was taking so long, I was hurting the dog,  or I was too scared to just clip it short and have the owner be mad at me.
I was running behind.
Every owner would seem to want their dog back at the same time.
The dog was flipping its head all over the place while I was trying to scissor around the eyes.
I was scared to death that I was going to cut the dog, or hurt its eyes.
I had a boss that put me down, criticized my work, rushed me, did not have my back when a customer complained and threw me under the bus.

Any of these things can send a groomer over the edge.
Can make a groomer want to give up and quit.

I don't know how I learned how to 'change the channel'.
Joel wasn't around when I started grooming.
I didn't have any other groomer friends to help me, or give me tips on how to get through it.
There was no internet to go to for advice.
And, family and friends just could not understand what grooming was all about, after all, you are playing with dogs all day.

I loved grooming!
I really wanted to be a groomer!
I really wanted to work with dogs!
It was something that I was actually good at, and I needed to find a way to get through the though times of grooming.
I really wanted grooming to be my career even though most of my friends and family thought that I was crazy.

So, what would I do?

I have talked about this before in some of my earlier posts.
Believe it or not, I 'changed the channel'.
Only I did it a little differently than Joel talked about.
I would have a stern talk with myself.

Yep, I would even talk out loud to myself, having a full blown conversation.


You are only just now realizing that I am a little crazy?

Yes I am, and proud of it!☺

When I felt like I was overwhelmed, and forgot how to groom, I would scold myself and tell myself to stop it.
I would tell my self ....
'Stop whining Lisa'
'You know what you are doing.'
'You have done this clip a ton of times.'
'You do a good job...just relax...take your time...you will get it done.'
'You are grooming because you love working with the dogs.'
'Don't over think it, just get it done, you know how to do it.'
'Don't worry about the owners, worry about the dogs.'
'You will get through this day.'
'The owners will like the groom, and if they don't, you did your best.'
'You can't please everybody.'
'I can do this!!'

Now, I am sure that Joel would have not wanted me to scold myself while I was trying to think more positively, but it worked for me....many times.

I needed to remind myself that I was a good groomer.
I needed to tell myself that my grooming could only get better with time.
I needed to remind myself how much I loved grooming and making dogs feel good.
I needed to tell myself to calm down and relax as I groom.
I needed to remind myself that I was only human, and could only do the best that I could.' 
I needed to remember that I was working on a living, breathing animal with feelings.'
And most of all....
I needed to stop and talk to, and hug the dogs. (I am going to talk more about this in tomorrows post)

I guess what I am trying to tell groomers that feel like they are at their whits end....'change the channel'...change your thinking.
Try to remember all of the reasons that you wanted to be a groomer in the first place.

If it helps, keep a small note book by your table and write down all of the good things that happened during your day.

~Muffin didn't try and bite me till the last nail today.
~Ms. R---- actually showed up on time today and didn't need her dog out right away.
~Ruffles stood up for me today while I was scissoring his legs, and they turned out nice.
~The new puppy I groomed today was wonderful.
~Scrappy let me pluck his ears today.
~Ms. B--- told me that Lady looked great.
~Three people tipped me today...yaaaaa.
~Lily ran to me, giving me kisses when her owner brought her in today.
~Nobody barked a lot today.
~Six of my dog were really great today.

Some of these things may seem to be really small things to be happy about, but they all add up.

Also, have a small pad of paper next to your table and write down the things that went wrong during the day.

~My first two appointments of the day were late, making me behind all day.
~Ms. G--- got mad at me when I could not fit her in for an appointment tomorrow.
~It took me twice as long to groom Puddles today because he was being a little brat and it upset me.

Look at the two lists.
I can almost guarantee that your good list will usually be longer than your bad list.
We tend to let the bad things stick with us and forget about the good things that happened during the day.
Just one customer, or one troublesome dog can ruin our day.

Now, at the end of the day, read 'the good list' to remind yourself of all the good things that happened during the day.
Then take the bad list and rip it up!!

Yes, put all 'the bad' in the trash and get rid of it!
Let it go! 

Reread that good list if you have to.
Train yourself to dwell on 'the good'.

I have a 40 minute drive to work every morning, and the one thing that I do on that ride is give myself a pep talk.

"Today is going to be a good day."
"All of my dogs will behave, and if they don't, I will work with them calmly."
"I will not let negative customers bother me."

These are just some of the things that I say to myself.
I admit, it does not always work.
I am a woman.
I can be moody...so shot me.

I will say that it is very important to me not to let my moods effect the way I groom and treat the dogs.
I am very proud of the way I care for and treat my furry customers.
I wish that I could say the same for my family.
Unfortunately, they are the ones who have to listen to my bitching.
I have to bitch at someone, don't I?

Anyway, don't give up on grooming...'change the channel' and try to dwell on 'the good', and 'the positive.'
Don't be too hard on yourself.
Try not to stress yourself out.
Take control of your grooming schedule so that you can better control your day.
And, write down the good things about your day. 
So that you don't forget.
So that when you are having a rough time you can go back and read those 'good lists.'
You can remember the good times and know that there are more good times ahead.
You can remember why you became a Pet Groomer in the first place.

We need good, caring groomers out there. ☺☺

✂Happy Grooming, MFF ✂


  1. What a wonderful blog post today. I really wish I had found your blog years ago. To this day, I'm not sure how I survived my first couple of years as a groomer.

    I would like to add one thing to this list that helps me A LOT:

    Three-day weekends. Now, like many other groomers, I don't get paid time off. I hardly ever get to take a week-long vacation because I just can't afford it. What I do instead is to build into my budget the chance to take a 3-day weekend every 2-3 months. I don't usually go anywhere or do anything fancy. Sometimes all I need is one day with no appointments, no family to meet, no errands to run. This helps me stay fresh, take a deep breath, and remember that I love my job.

    I've also really enjoyed taking more pictures of the dogs that I groom. I can see the dogs that I think turned out well, remember the cuts that customers loved, and see the things I want to fix next time - or this time if I see something in the pic I didn't see on the dog on the table. I can look at the pictures of my requests fondly and say OK, today I had a lot of crappy dogs, but I have Fido on my schedule tomorrow, and the photo I took last time helps give me even more warm and fuzzy feelings because I'm such a visual person.

    So I don't know about you, but I highly recommend taking pictures of your dogs, both as a morale booster and as a learning tool.

    The Writing Groomer

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      LOL Great minds think alike! For the past 3 years we have scheduled one three day weekend a month, except for Nov. and Dec. because of the Holidays. I totally agree, having that three day weekend helps you to relax and reboot. It gives you something to look forward to...a break. :)

      The picture idea is great too. I have noticed that when I step back to take pictures, I notice things that I missed. I don't know why it is so much easier to see things through a lens and in a picture then when you are looking at the real thing. I guess it is because the dog in the picture stays still long enough to see anything wrong. :)
      Thanks for the great suggestion!
      Lisa, MFF

  2. I've only been grooming a few months and I have this feeling a lot! I do work by myself in a little local pet store, so not having anyone to look over my grooms or give me tips has been quite difficult. There have been a few days that on the way home I cry the whole way because I was unhappy with how a cut turned out or how I was treated by a client. It's hard to grow that thick skin you need.
    It seems like it's really easy to get burnt out. Your blog is a God send! It's been so helpful, I need to work on my patience especially with those pancake dogs!

    1. Hi,
      I so understand where you are coming from. I remember those days. You are right, it is very easy to get burned out in this career. All that you can do is the best that you can do. Be nice to the dogs, get rid of customers that drain you and you can't please. After 28 years of grooming, I still have not gotten that 'thick skin'. :)
      As for those pancake dogs...I have found that the best thing that I ever did was just stop fighting them and groom them laying down, and then inform the owner that their dog does not like to stand on the table and that I will not force them to. So, if they see any stray hairs that I missed, that is why. Every owner that I have told this to has understood and was very happy that I was working with their dog and not forcing it to do something it didn't want to.
      Hand in there. Good groomers are always needed.
      Lisa, MFF

  3. I'm a vet student, not a groomer, but this is fantastic advice that is applicable in way more professions and situations than just grooming. I tend to focus way too heavily on the negatives while forgetting all the good. It's such a simple thing to think about actually capturing it all - the good and the bad - yet I never really thought about doing that. I will keep this with me for my clinical year. Thank you! :)

    1. Hi Ally,
      I am glad that some of my rambling could help. :) Good luck becoming a Vet.
      If I may, some humble advise... Try not to ever get so hardened by what you see and do that you forget that those animals that you work on have feelings. I see so many Vets today, including my own, (and groomers) that seem to forget that. They become working machines and forget that the dogs and cats have feelings, and forget why they became a Vet or Groomer in the first place. Be that Vet that is not SO busy that you can't take a few minutes to really listen to the owner and greet the dog, cat, or other animal that you are caring for. One of the most compliments that I get from my customers is on how I greet their dogs, and show that I really do care...and I really do! Even after 28 years of grooming. :)
      Lisa, MFF

    2. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your response (sorry about mine being so late - vet school is a bit crazy sometimes!). I totally agree that many vets and others who work with animals in any way sometimes have a tendency to lose sight of the big picture and the real reasons why we do what we do. I've seen fellow students even who I know that I would never, ever bring my own pets to based on how I've seen them interact with animals sometimes - jerking on dogs' leads and yelling at them for being curious about a tree or another dog while out on a potty break because they're in too much of a hurry, or being way too forceful and rough with a fearful cat. And then they wonder why the animals are scared when they come to a vet!

      Now I will admit that sometimes my own skills in communicating with PEOPLE aren't exactly the greatest (though I am working on those communication and listening skills!!) but I do think that my own saving grace when I'm working with clients and their pets is that I DO take the time to establish a rapport with the pets and try to pick up on how they're feeling and what might make them more comfortable. I think a lot of owners DO notice that and appreciate it, even if I might sometimes be a little bit awkward with the human family members they get that I just want us all to be on the same page and that I am trying to advocate what is best for their pet as well. :)

      Keep on grooming and keep on writing!!

    3. Hi Ally,

      This is coming from the pet owner part of me. My biggest pet peeve with some of the Vets that I have dealt with are several things.

      One, Greet my pet warmly. As if you DO truly care. I don't even care if they greet my dog before they say a word to me. (sounds like you are already doing that)

      Two, Don't act like I am wasting your time. Don't rush me, and really LISTEN to what I am saying...even if I sound like a crazy pet owner.

      Three, DO NOT talk down to me. Don't talk in a tone of voice that makes me feel like I am 3 inches tall, because you think that I am being a nutty pet owner, or because I don't quite understand everything that you are telling me.

      I understand that Vets run behind sometimes. Believe me, I know what that feels like. But, I think that they forget sometimes, in their rush to get to everyone, that I AM the one paying them. (People doctors forget this too)

      I know, I know....people can SO try your patience. Especially some pet owners. That is most likely why we like working with pets more, but unfortunately those pets come with an owner. lol

      From the comments that you have left on my blog, and just the fact that you take the time to read my blog tells me that you are going to me a great and sensitive Veterinarian. That's if you don't kill yourself with all your classes. :) Take a minute to yourself once and a while and hug a dog. :)

      Lisa, MFF

  4. I NEEDED to read this!! I get so upset and take every negative part of my job to heart, and sometimes I just can't handle the stress. I feel like some days I'm on the verge of going psychotic on the next customer who says something dumb. And I can hardly vent to anybody because nobody understands the stress of being a groomer. This post needs to be printed and posted on the wall by my table. Thank you for writing just what I needed to read.

    1. Hi stacyjantz,
      I am very happy that this post helped you. We all need someone to just pat us on the back sometimes and say, "I understand."
      Take a breath...count to ten, or one thousand if you need to. :)
      Come join us on my facebook group. We groomers pick something happy everyday, even if it is one teeny, tiny thing about our day, to help us feel better. Come read the happy grooming stories. Hopefully they will help you feel better.


      Lisa, MFF

  5. Hi,I stumbled upon this at the best time on a slightly bad enough grooming day for me.I am a newbie groomer and u work alone at a vet.There is another groomer who used to be there groomer talking negatively about my grooms and downing me especially when someone didn't like the groom I did she then calls and gets them to come to her to fix my (Terrible)work..as I've heard.I also have people trying to compare me to her work as the way she did the clients and have not been feeling good about anything grooming lately.Today I was angry and also wanted to cry because of the things I've heard .I am still new and have much more to learn but this is a field where you are constantly learning.Today I thought maybe I'm a terrible groomer,maybe I shouldn't be grooming..but anyway reading your blog this post has gave me strength to go back tomorrow and do MY best again!Thank you!!

    1. Hi,
      I am sorry to hear about the negative things that you have been dealing with at work. It is hard enough being a new groomer and constantly second guessing yourself and worrying if you are doing all your grooms correctly. You certainly do not need other people putting drama in the mix.

      I cannot understand why the groomer preceding you would even be worried about how you are grooming. Was she let go on bad terms, or did she open her own place and is trying to build her clientele by bad mouthing you and have your customers come to her?

      Does the Vet allow you to wait on your groom customers? If not, see if you can get him/her to let you. The grooming customers need to get to know you. They need to see that you care about their furry babies. They need to see you handle, hug, talk to their dogs. They need to have you talk to them in a very friendly manner and listen to their dog stories and how they would like their dogs groomed.
      Pet grooming is a very personalized profession. People want to know that their dogs are being cared for. You MUST win these customers over. Unfortunately, some people do not like change.
      I have a feeling that the last groomer is using the fact that you are new to grooming as a way to try to toot her own horn and take customers. I know that it is hard, but try not to let her bring you down. Use her meanness to make YOURSELF more determined to prove her wrong and win your customers over.
      Just the fact that you know there is more to learn and that you want to learn tells me that you are a good groomer. Hang in there, do the best you can, take care of those dogs and don't let other people get you down.
      Lisa, MFF

  6. Thank you Lisa!She had a bad attitude as I've heard and was not polite ever.She left on her own.Yes she has started working on her own and is obviously trying to bring the clients I have gotten over to her by bad mouthing me.Very sad and very immature!I do check in all my dogs and I introduce myself ,I ask what they like /and want and even hug and kiss there Fur babies.I am going to keep standing strong and doing my best work I can give and win these clients over with my kind personality and willingness to please and make there dogs look great!I am now going to constantly look at your posts for inspiration.You have helped me feel better so much already!
    A million thanks from a Newbie!!

  7. Hey, im a brand new groomer who just started apprenticing at a shop two days ago, I was only suppose to work from 9-2 but the groomer who is training me is burning me out and throwing me into everything without a though to my confidence or how tired I might be I worked 12 hours yesterday and 6 hours today without a break and I had only two dogs that were easy to work with and the rest were fear biters and jumpers, I almost ended up in tears today when I was told to clip down a coat and I was nervous as the dog had multiple mass' s and I did not want to hurt her. She left the room and just told me to do it! I understand she is busy but I need to be weened into grooming so I can build up my confidence one day at a time. I studied online so everything I had learnt was only read not anything practical. I am so burnt out and my back is so sore, there are no chairs and no breaks are really hurting my legs and of course im not getting paid for this..
    I need some advice to help build my confidence and not feel like im failing

    1. Hi,
      I am sorry that you are being used.....yes used!

      The groomer that you are working for is getting free labor and it sounds like she is not taking any time to teach you in return for your hard work. Did she take you on with the promise of apprenticing? If so, an apprentice is supposed to be taught, not just thrown into the fray.
      This groomer is setting you both up for failure.
      You could accidentally injure a dog, and she could be sued for it!

      You are learning...you should be supervised at all times.
      I would start you off with only bathing and drying at first. This would allow you to handle all different types of dogs and temperaments while learning how to thoroughly clean a dog. You would also learn the proper way of drying different coats. The bathing and drying are one of the most important parts of grooming, because if the coat is not prepped properly, you can not get a nice cut.
      Once you mastered bathing and drying, only then would we move on to clipping, then to scissoring.
      Don't get down on yourself. This person is not doing right by you. What she is doing is not the way to teach someone. It is not safe for you or the dogs. Don't let her make you hate grooming before you even get started. Grooming is a very physical and challenging job in and of itself. You need someone who is willing to take the time to teach you properly.
      Good Luck
      Lisa, MFF
      Unfortunately, it is hard to pinpoint working hours with grooming, BUT you should be getting a lunch and a couple of short breaks in a 12 hour day.
      I am sorry, she is really taking advantage of you. I have been there and done that with a couple of people who hired me before I opened my own shop.
      I would have to say that you need to look for another groomer willing to apprentice you. I have a feeling that the groomer you are working for right now will not be willing to sit and talk to you and change things.
      When you find a new place to apprentice, I would sit down with the groomer and write out a contract explaining exactly what is expected of you and the hours you will work. Both of you should sign it.

    2. Sorry, somehow that reply got all messed up while being published, but I think you can still make sense of what I was trying to say. :)
      Lisa, MFF

    3. I'm sure groomers do have bad experiences with the public as well as the dogs, but no mention here of groomers who do not listen or know the right cut for the breed. We have a twelve month old full coated Shih Tzu, my wife has spent hundreds of hours looking after her coat since we had her at nine weeks. This week we took her to be bathed and groomed and just have her hair clipped between her pads, that was it. No, we came back and she's had her face clipped, her beard cut off (not even straight, looked like it had been done with a pastry cutter) and the hair on her ear leathers trimmed. A full coated Shih Tzu never has its face cut, except for an excess of hair blocking their vision if necessary, the clue is in "full coated". The problem with many groomers (but not all, I accept) is that they just don't listen, or they feel as though they have to justify themselves by using the clippers. Many make me feel very nervous. We now have a Shih Tzu with a seven - eight month old head on a twelve month old full coated body, an absolute disgrace. Did she have knots or tangles? No she's looked after very well and her coat was immaculate. The trouble with many groomers is they think they know best or take the dog off you and think they own it. Unless groomers accept that there are some in their trade who don't cut the mustard, then all of the above is idealistic because there ARE some bad groomers out there, either due to lack of skill or lack of sufficient knowledge for the breed, it's not all the fault of Joe Public and their dogs the whole time. We asked for something simple, it's not as if we were asking for as full trim or style. We got two hours sleep the other night we were so upset, her look as a maturing, very pretty young Shih Tzu bitch all gone inside an hour-and-a-half at the groomers after all my wife's effort and hard work. Never the groomers fault? Just always nasty-spirited owners or naughty dogs? I would politely suggest that there are two sides to every story and unless it's an issue of the dog's welfare (e.g. matting) the owner should be listened to as they may know more about the breed than the groomer does. That, after all is the service half-decent owner goes to pay for, not to come out with a dog that's been clipped to a groomers vision of what the owners should have. The groomer told us she had a beautiful coat, she wished all her owners were like us, but then she made a bizarre judgement and butchered her face, we are still trying to reconcile what she did and why.