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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Having a Bad Day... Part 2

In yesterdays post I made a mention about hugging dogs.
Get ready, because this may be a long post. :)

I was not taught to interact with the dogs in the Grooming School that I went to.
As a matter of fact, even petting the dog was frowned upon.
The teachers felt that too much interaction with the dogs, other than strictly grooming, would make them get too excited and misbehave, causing them to be harder to groom.

I can't tell you how far from the truth that is!!!!!!!.
(did I highlight that enough?)

My grooming experience changed greatly after I started relaxing and interacting with the dogs.

The dogs were more comfortable.
I was more comfortable. 

The dogs relaxed on my table, because they felt the good vibes coming from me.

They were not tense because I wasn't tense.

They were happy because I was happily enjoying what I was doing.

Don't get me wrong.

I still have bad days.
I still have days where the pet owner frustrate me so much that I want to close my doors.
I still get a dog now and then that frustrates me to no end and tests all my patients, and makes me feel like I want to throw something.
I still get the dogs that want to commit suicide on my table and upset me because they are scaring me too death that they may hurt themselves.

That is when I have to stop.

Stop what I am doing and calm down.

Stop and hug, or just hold and pet the dog that is causing me so much frustration or fear. 

 I am not saying that hugging and petting that dog will get the suicidal dog to cooperate better, or make the wiggle worm stop moving all around, but it does help you, the groomer, to clam down, breath, and finish the groom.

I can not stress how important that I think it is to interact with the dog.
To always remember that you are working on a living animal that has feelings.
To take time to get to understand the dog that you are working on.
To forget the clock and the number of dogs that you still have to groom, and to give your undivided attention to the dog that you are grooming now.

You will have dogs that are easy grooms, that you can get through quickly, but there will be other times that you really need to slow down on a dog.

You need to figure out why that dog is fighting, or snappy, or scared.

~Does the dog need you to take it slow because it is scared?
~Does the dog need you to use a very gentle touch?
~Is something bothering you that the dog senses?
~Is the dog scared of the brush, because no one has ever used one on them before, or the owner does brush the dog, but they brush too hard, and the dog thinks that you are going to do the same thing?
~Is the dog fighting you in the tub, because when the owners bath him, or another groomer has bathed him, they have gotten water down his nose and he still remembers that feeling?
~Is he pulling away from you because the vibration of the clipper truly hurts the arthritis that he has in his legs?
~Is he acting up because he does not get groomed enough to be used to it, or his owner has taken him to so many different groomers, all grooming differently, that he just does not understand what you want of him?

There may be so many reasons why a dog acts the way it does.

Sometimes it is the owners fault, because they have spoiled their dog to a point that it is out of control.
Sometimes the dog may have an underlying medical condition that makes him uncomfortable and irritable.
Sometimes it is another groomers fault, that powered through the grooming, scaring it, and never taking the time to show the dog that grooming doesn't hurt.
Sometimes the dog is scared and needs extra tender loving care because he is the forgotten dog at home, and no one pets him, plays with him, or pays any attention to him anymore.
Sometimes a dog is scared to be touched, because there are small children in his home, and all they do all day is pull and tug on him, and just over all freak him out.
Sometimes there is no reason why, the dog id just crazy.

Everyone needs a hug once in awhile.
Even the pets.

No, they are not our pets, but they are in our care.

A genuine hug, or petting, or rub behind the ears can go a long way to relaxing our furry friends.

Taking those extra few minutes to understand the dog you are working on can save you the many extra minutes you would have spent fighting to get the dog groomed.


I give my grooms a hug when I first put them in the tub.

I talk to them, and tell them that I am going to give them a nice warm bath.

I play with them with towel when I put them on the drying table.

Most of them love a good face rub with the towel.

I give them another little hug and scratch behind the ears when I put them on my table to finish them.
I praise them and give another little hug when I am finished and putting them back in their kennel to wait for their owner to pick them up.

Even the dogs that make me want to pull my hair out get a little pep talk at the end of the groom.
"Okay buddy, we  both made it through this groom. You're done driving me crazy! We did it. We don't have to bother each other again...until the next groom,"  all of this being said as I give him a final scratch behind the ears.

Then my recommendation is to take a 5 minute break.
Just 5 minutes is good.
Five minutes to shake it off and get that last frustrating groom out of your head.
Five minutes to go outside and breath in some fresh air.
Five minutes to go in the bathroom, close the door, sit in the dark, hold your head, and recoup.
Before you move on to the next dog.

(can you tell that I have been there and done that?)

Nothing bothers me more then letting a dog get to me.
Letting a dog upset me.
The ones that do things to try to hurt themselves upset me the most, because they are in my care.
Because if they bite my blade or scissors and cut their tongue...I am the one to blame.
No matter how hard I tried to keep them from biting my scissors, or the clipper blade while it was running...it would still be my fault if they cut their tongue.

This can put a huge amount of pressure on a groomer.
It can frustrate the heck out of you.
It can scare you death.
It can get you worked up and upset.

 This is the time to stop.

This is a good time to just hold that dog and calm down.

This is the time to slow down and talk to the dog.

This is the time to remember that it is not the dogs fault he is so misbehaving.

This is the time to stop...take a minute...and relax.

This is a time to hug the dog!

I had to do this today.

With an old Cock-a-poo that I have been grooming for years.
He was a mean biter when I first started grooming him years ago.
I worked with him to get him to be a good dog to groom.
He we good for a long time. 
Now, he is old, arthritic, deaf, and partly blind,.....and mean again.
He fusses when I groom his head now....not that that is a big deal.
The problem is...he bites my clipper when I am clipping him around his mouth.
He bites at my scissors when I try to scissor around his eyes.
He scares the bageebees out of me every time he bites, because each time I have to check to make sure that he didn't cut his tongue or poke his eye.
He gets very upset with me and I with him.

And, like I stated above, I had to stop.
I stopped with my hands on each side of his face, trying to get him to calm down, and when he did finally sit and settle, I kept my hands on each side of his face and held him.
I buried my face in his neck.
Giving us both time to relax and calm down.
And I talked to him.
I turned my head slightly, and I talked softly right into his ear.
And I begged him; "Please, please buddy,..please hold still for just a couple of minutes. I can have your face done in just a couple of minutes if you would just stop snapping at my scissors. Your Mom won't understand if I tell her you got hurt. She will blame me. So please buddy, give me a break...give yourself a break. All I have left to do is your head, then you can go home...I promise."

Then I picked up my head.
I rubbed his head and continued to talk to him. (Even though he couldn't hear anything I was saying)
I slowly finished scissoring around his eyes and mouth as best I could without pushing it.
He tossed his head a few more times but did not try to bite the scissors anymore.
His face didn't look perfect, but it was done.
We both needed that break.

I know, some of you may think that this is overkill.

Some of you may think that this post is never going to end. :)

I don't think it is overkill.

The hugs, the petting, the scratches behind the ears, and the face rubs not only helps the dogs, it helps me, and keeps me sane during a rough day.

Giving a scratch behind the ears, or a little hug only takes seconds, but the payoff is big.

So, between those little hugs and the pep talks to myself, I am still here, still grooming. ☺

Hang in there.

Give yourself a break.

If your boss, the pet owner, or the dog upsets you, stop a minute, and breath.
Just hug the dog that you are grooming for a few minutes, to calm yourself down and the dog down.
Slow down a little, give the owner a call and tell them that their dog is fine, but that you are running a little behind and just need an extra half an hour to finish grooming their dog.
Most owners appreciate the phone call and are happy to give you extra time.
Now you won't feel as rushed if the dog is acting up, or you were running behind.

If you have a boss that rushes you, I would turn around and nicely inform them that they have a choice.
Either they continue to rush you and the dog, raising the chance of the dog being injured and causing them a law suit, or they (the boss) can give the owner a call and explain to them that the groomer is running behind a little and that they can pick their dog up at 1:20 instead of 1:00.

Unfortunately, in this business, there are always going to be a pet owner that likes to complain, and dogs that fight you for things that you know are not hurting them.

You are not alone.
We all deal with these things everyday.
Give yourself a pep talk.
Take five minutes.
If the groom isn't perfect, because the dog would not stand for you, just take a minute to explain to the owner.
"Hi Ms. M----.  Peanut was a little fussy, and didn't want to stand still for me today. I worked with him, but I didn't want to push it and upset him. So his grooming isn't as nice as I wanted it to be, but he still looks cute. I will keep working with him each time that you bring him in. I want to get him to enjoy the grooming" 

Or, if the dog was at your shop longer than you originally told the owner that they would be.

"Hi Ms. M----. I am so sorry that Peanut was here longer today. He was a little more fussy then usual and I had to stop grooming him a few times to let him calm down and relax. I didn't want him to turn at the wrong moment and accidentally cut him.  We are working on it together, and he is getting a little better with each grooming. Soon he will be standing still like a pro on my table. We just need to give him a little extra time.

"Hi Ms. M----. I am so sorry that Peanut was here longer today. I had a special needs dog earlier that caused me to get a little behind. Peanut was so good. He took a nice long nap while he waited for me to slowly finish that poor old dog."

Be honest with the owner....to a point.
You don't want to tell them that their dog was a spoiled little brat that scared the crap out of you every five minutes, because he kept trying to lick your scissors or couldn't be still to save his life, and you had to stop grooming him for a while so that you could calm down and relax.

Tell them when their dog needs more training with the grooming, or acts up, but do it in a nice professional manor.
Do not put their dog down in any way, or lecture the owner because they have a untrained, misbehaving dog.

Make a note on that dogs file so that the next time that that 'hard to groom dog' comes in you can schedule him accordingly, and remind the owner that his grooming may take some extra time, because his grooming is still a work in progress.

 Extra Tip:
Always talk to the owner before you bring their dog out to them after the grooming. 
The owner will not hear a word that you say if you bring their dog out at the same time that you are trying to talk to them.

Okay, I know that I have gotten a bit off track here.
I feel that all my rambling here today about hugging, petting, talking, and just getting to know the dog that you are grooming makes or breaks how our grooming days go.

We as groomers need to realize that every dog is different.
Every dog has different needs.
Pet owners are different.
We all....pet owners, dogs, and groomers have different moods everyday.
So, our days are not going to be the same.
Which is actually one of the reasons that I enjoy grooming so much....it is different everyday.

You cannot expect to finish your day at the exact same time everyday.
You cannot expect to groom at the same speed as the groomer next to you, because they are grooming a different dog than you are.
They may also have a different amount of experience than you.
You cannot expect every dog to stand still on the table for you.
It is a live animal, with a mind of it's own.
It is just not realistic to expect every dog to stand still.
You can not expect pet owners to always be on time to drop off, or pick up on time.
These are just a few of the stressful things that can make a groomer have a really miserable day.

A furry hug can go a long way to making it a better grooming day. :)

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF  ✂


  1. Another great post. You didn't say it explicitly, but you described A LOT of the techniques I use to groom the really difficult dogs. Understanding why a dog is acting a particular way can help you deal with it, and I really do believe that you can, to a point, psychically tell the dog that you are trying to help. And yes, hugging the dog so that you calm down helps, too!

    I don't usually full-on hug the dogs like you do, but I do take a moment to touch them gently and have a little moment, even something as simple as lightly placing my hand on the back of a big dog while I walk around the table to do their other side.

    I also agree that it is important for the owners to know how their dog did. Sure, every person would love to hear that Fluffy was absolutely perfect, but I feel bad for the people that are shocked when I say their dog is wiggly/snappy/whatever because every groomer has lied and said their dog is perfect. I'm a big fan of: "Fluffy was a little wiggly for his legs, but otherwise he was really good today." Let's get the truth out there and sugar coat it!

    Anyway, I'm a little loopy today. I had a rough day, but it wasn't necessarily because of the dogs. Will make for an interesting blog post - just maybe not tonight!

    The Writing Groomer

    1. Thanks Jennifer,
      I hope the past couple of days have been better for you.

  2. Okay this is very off topic from this post today but I have been battling static horribly the last several weeks. The previous groomer left several bottles of static guard spray behind. That stuff works very well but it smells horribly like vinegar and I am alway afraid my dogs will leave smelling of vinegar even from me spraying my combs and running my comb through their hair. Do you have any non stinky solutions?

    1. Hi Peggan,
      Your question gave me an idea for a Tuesday's tip post, but I don't want to make you wait till Tuesday. So, I am going to tell you what I do now. :)
      I use dryer sheets. They work great, and you can pick one with a nice smell, although they are very strong smelling when you first take them out of the box.

      I keep a dryer sheet by my table and use it for a few days before I get a new one. Just take the sheet and rub your comb, brush, scissors, and even my table and backboard when the static electricity is very bad.
      I used to wipe them on the dog sometimes, but I stopped doing that because I didn't want to get any calls about dogs itching. That never happened, but I wanted to be on the safe side. It works just as well just wiping down my tools.
      Hope this helps. I guess that you will not have to read Tuesdays Tip now. lol
      Lisa, MFF

  3. I laughed when I saw what this blog was about because I have just had one of these days! I had a little shih tzu boy in with terrible eczema on his legs and on his poor little toes!
    His owner always just wants a 7f all over for this reason, now normally a 7f shih tzu will take me 50mins - 1hr if hes in good shape coat wise. This poor little guy took me almost 2 hours becuase every time the clippers went near his legs he turned from a sweet little boy to a mean old man! And just like you have written, my first instinct was to pick up the little guy and cuddle the fear right out of him! The poor little guy was so terrified that I would hurt his feet that I had to go at a snails pace with my tiny scissors cutting off tiny strands from the feet at a time, and the whole time I was singing, cuddling, talking to and hugging him.
    We both got through it in the end and his owner was so thrilled as she knows how he gets and I even got a nice tip :) and the little shih tzu gave me a kiss on the way out which is better than any money tip :)
    So nice to see other groomers approaching things in the same way, as I too have come across groomers who will fight back and back to gain dominance and in the end the situation just escalates! They think they have achieved something by getting a scared dog to submit, for me grooming has never been about dominance, its about finding away to work together!
    Keep up the great posts!! :D

    1. Hi DJ,
      I have never understood that either. Don't people get into this field of work because that love dogs? I have never understood the attitude of making a dog summit to you. Why would you want a dog cowering in fear on your table? Do they really think that dog is going to stand and let them groom it then?

      (shaking head)

      I also get owners in sometimes that seem to feel like they have to show me that THEY control their dog. They will not let me take the dog until they show me that their dogs will listen to their commands. They get so mad if their dog does not sit or stay and wants to come see me. I had one man get so mad that he went to hit his dog. I quickly defused the situation by putting myself between him and the dog and joking that his dog was so excited to get a bath that he couldn't remember what he was supposed to do. The owner was not happy, but at least I got his dog away from him....for a little while anyway. No wonder the dog liked coming to see me so much. :/
      I also had a dog once that I had picked up and was letting her give me kisses when suddenly...WHACK!...the owner smacked the dog on the face very hard (just missing my face) "Never let her kiss you...that is disgusting!!!"
      It is one thing to train a dog to listen...it is a whole different thing to manhandle it to make the dog summit.
      You would think that when a groomer notices that their 'tough groomer' attitude isn't working, that they would try something different.
      Sounds like you did a wonderful job on that Shih-Tzu. It is funny that you write about this too, because I just had someone ask me about what I do with dogs that won't let you groom their legs. I will be writing a post about it this week. It may sound something like your Shih-tzu customer. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  4. Thankyou so much for a wonderfull post. This is exactly how i feel. Ive only been grooming proffesionally for just over a year and was told at grooming college to ignore the dog until its finished and by other groomers. Its nice to hear from someone as experienced as yourself that it is ok to connect with the dog.i believe it really helps nervous and aggressive dogs overcome their fears. I love your posts thankyou for sharing : )

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for reading my blog. Keep hugging those dogs!!
      Lisa, MFF