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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So Mad at Myself

I groom a lot of difficult dogs....A LOT!

My daughter keeps telling me to stop taking so many.

I feel bad for these dogs.
I like teaching them that grooming can be nice.
I like the challenge of getting them to trust me.
Most of the time a lot of the biters turn out to just be scared.....fear biters.
If you take your time and talk to them a lot, they usually turn out to be pretty good dogs to groom.

I had one of those today....a very nervous, scared Schnauzer.
A fear biter.
I have groomed this dog at least half a dozen times.
By the second grooming it became very apparent that I was never going to be able to clip this dogs nails.

I can not quite describe just how badly this dog freaks out if he even thinks you are going to do anything to his nails.

Lets just say that I didn't think it was possible for a dog to flip its body around like that dog did the first time that I attempted to clip the nails.
No amount of talking, holding, or petting would get that dog to come out of the zone he would go into when someone tried to clip his nails.
Because of this, the owner was informed, after the second grooming and another unsuccessful attempt at clipping the nails that made me fear for the dogs safety, that I would know longer try to clip his dogs nails.

The dog was very good for the rest of the grooming, although he still is a little scared of the HV drier.
He is very nervous all of the time.
A lot of petting and talking does relax him a little.

Did I mention that he is not neutered?

This is him.

Isn't that a sweet face.

He is sweet!

But, he is a fear biter!

And, I forgot that today!

I let the sweet side of him lull me into a false sense of security.

We were doing so good.
He was bathed and dried with no problems.
I had clipped his body and head.
All that was left to do was scissor up his face and feet.

Now, I will defend myself here a little.
I started with one of his back feet.
I slowly lifted it just enough to see the bottom of his foot.
I lifted it very slowly while talking to him and watching to see if he would get upset.

He didn't flinch.
He didn't even pay any attention to what I was doing.
He was too busy looking out the window next to my table.

I clipped out the pads of that foot and put it back down.

Now, what happened to him and to me between that back foot, and me moving on to the front foot, I can't say.

I guess because he had been so good about letting me clip that one foot, I just figured he would be okay with all of his feet.
I know better.
I have to say that that is not like me.
All I can say is that I had a brain fart at that moment in time, because I just causally reached for the next leg. 

A front leg.

I took one swipe of the clipper over the pads and that was all she wrote.
That little sweet face in the picture above was no longer looking out the window.
That little sweet dog had gone into the zone.....the twilight zone.

He freaked big time.
First he snapped at the hand with the clipper in it and missed.
I was in the process of letting go of his leg when he continued his freak out by very forcefully throwing his entire body backwards, in turn causing me to have to grab onto his leg again, to keep him from doing a back flip off of my table.
Then came the next bite...on the hand that had grabbed the offended leg.
The leg that I could not let go of while he was freaking out so badly.

A catch twenty-two.

He nailed me good.

I am going to stop here for a minute and please ask that I not get comments about not using a grooming loop with this dog.
I can assure you that even if I had had this dog on a grooming loop, that I would still have had to grab him to keep him from flipping off the table and hanging himself.
When this dog freaks out, he flips his body around and backwards so violently that your only option is to grab him to keep him from doing bodily harm to himself.

Believe me, this dog is not having a single rational thought in his head during these twilight zone moments.

All I can do is get a hold of him and talk him down.

It is like night and day.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I do not know what ever happened to this dog to cause such unbelievable  fear of having his feet worked with.

This was the first time, since back when I first tried to clip the nails, that he had gone so far off the deep end.
I had always been able to talk him through everything.

That was my mess up.
I should have gotten his attention before picking up that front leg.
I should not have let him continue looking out of the window.
He needed to be aware of what I was doing.

I messed up.
I was so mad at myself.

I paid the price.

This was the worst of the bite.

The bite on top of my hand barely broke the skin, but boy is it bruised.

Thankfully the bites were not deep.

I still had to finish him.

He did not want his feet touch at all now.

I had to muzzle him to finish scissoring his feet.

My daughter held his head and talked to him while I scissored his feet as quickly as I could. 

His owner likes all of his feathering to stay nice and long, no trimming....that's okay with me. :)


Still nervous, but happy.

 Once he was done, he stretched out on my table to clean his teeth.

Yes, he had to clean my blood off of his teeth.

I saw it after he bit me.

He was still mad at me and showing me his teeth, because I was still holding on to his leg.

I saw my blood on his front teeth. :/

He really is a sweet dog.

He just has a temper.

I need to remember that!

At all times!!

Even when he is being good and nice.

As I said at the beginning of this post, maybe I do need to back off on the difficult dogs.

I was shook up a little after I finished this guy.
My nerves were on edge.

To top it all off...I had two more difficult dogs to groom.

My next dog was a Shih-tzu that I have been working with for 6 years.
The very first time I groomed this dog it went for my face, and missed biting me by about half an inch.
I could only groom the dog with a muzzle on for the entire grooming.
After 6 years of grooming, I now only have to muzzle him for his feet and nails.

I had to collect my nerves.
I could not let the Shih-tzu feel my anxiety.
Not easy.
Especially since I knew that the Shih-tzu goes for blood if you piss him off.
He is not nervous or scared, like the Schnauzer, he is just down right nasty when he does not like something that you are doing.
We have a mutual respect for each other.

He respects that I will not hurt him, and I respect his teeth.

I got through the next two difficult dogs just fine, but I was completely drained.
So drained that I felt weak.

I average at least one difficult dog a day.
I just scheduled another new difficult dog the other day.
My daughter yelled at me.
It is another Shih-tzu that was thrown out of a local box store grooming shop.
I told the owner that I would give the grooming a try.

I think that it is a sickness in me.
I always feel as if I don't groom them, who will?

I think I need help.
Help for my head.

Dr. Phil where are you when I need you?!

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. This is the road I am heading down - I think you are predicting my future! I am getting good at the difficult dogs. I enjoy the challenge. I'm getting an ego about it, frankly. And one of these days it will bit me in the...hand.

    I hope that bite heals up quickly and I'm glad it was only a puncture wound and not a tearing sort of a bite.

    1. Thanks Jennifer,
      The bite feels much better today. The best warning that I can give you is to never let your ego make you let your guard down. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  2. ouch! I hope you feel better soon! you took that bite,the dog would have surely got very hurt i know about the zone. i wanted to thank you so much for your blog i read your blog every day and feel im not alone anymore with my experiences and learn things. i look forward to reading every day and i would be so sad if you ever stop i hope you dont ever. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Shelly,
      Thank you. I am glad that you are enjoying my blog.
      Your comment makes me feel good, because my purpose in writing this blog was to show the real world of pet grooming. And to show other groomers out there that we all deal with the same things and that we should stand together and help each other out. :)

  3. I totally understand the mindset. I like the challenge of difficult dogs. If someone says their dog won't obey, I want to work with them. And even though I'm not a groomer, when I hear that a dog doesn't like it's nails clipped, I immediately want to try. I like a challenge.

    BUT it probably isn't a bad idea to make sure you don't have so much on your schedule that you wear yourself out. ;)

    1. You're right Jackie,
      I can't do them all....now, I just have to remember that the next time someone calls with a difficult dog :/
      Lisa, MFF

  4. Hi i tried to comment before but disappeared into cyber space here goes again. i hope you feel better soon from the bite. you surely saved the dog a lot of pain from hurting himelf. in the zone dogs have been known to suicide off the table or hang themself. Thanks so much for your blog i look forward to reading everyday! i learn so much and dont feel so alone that im not the only one going through the things you talk about. Thank you:)

    1. Hi Shelly,
      Your comments have to go through me before they show up. :) This helps me sort out spam. Sometimes it takes me a few days to post them. :/

      Thanks again for reading my blog. :)

  5. I feel your pain. I've gotten bit so bad that I had to go to the hospital and lost use of my hand for a few days (swelling around a nerve in my wrist caused my entire hand to go numb) and I'm STILL the only groomer in my shop that takes "bad" dogs. I'll never learn. I just want every dog to have the chance at a good grooming experience.

    Off topic. I searched your blog but couldn't find my answer. What shampoo do you use on dogs faces? Do you just use what you use on their bodies being careful not to get it in there eyes, or a special tearless shampoo? I use a hypo on there faces since that is all that's available to me but my faces never look as clean/fluffy as yours do, no matter how much i scrub :[

    1. Hi Amanda,
      I use just about any of the shampoos that I have in my shop on faces. Some are tearless, some are not. I am very careful when soaping up the dogs around the eyes, and have not ever had a problem. (knock on wood) If a dog ever turns at the wrong time and gets shampoo in the eyes, I immediately rinse the eye out, and the dog is fine. I have had a number of dogs splash the shampoo into my eyes and have not had any problems. I think that most of the dog shampoos out there are geared towards being easy on the eyes.

      Anyway, to answer your question. I love 'Green Grooms Oder Eliminator' for faces. It cuts through those yucky slobber smells around the mouth. I like to soap up the face first and then soap it up a second time and let the shampoo sit while I am soaping up the rest of the body.

      Here is a link for the 'Green Groom':

      If I have a dog with a tacky face, I will shampoo it three times. Once with a regular shampoo, a second time with 'Coat Handler Clarifying shampoo', then my finial shampoo is the Green Groom. I am a nut about a clean face.

      Here is a link for the 'Coat Handler Clarifying shampoo':

      I hope that this helps. :)

  6. Does it help you to know you arent the only one? I have had the same week I'm exhausted. I can only hope next week is only sweeties. :).

    1. Yes Lauren,
      It always helps to know that you are not the only one. :) I hope that next week is better for you too. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  7. I heard there are safe oils to use in dogs eyes to help keep shampoo and conditioner out of their eyes, but I haven't had an issue with it.

    Your life is your hands! Maybe tone down on the amount of difficult dogs, I think all your readers would be sad if they couldn't read your blog anymore if you were injured. I had a really difficult pug, for nails, and apparently other groomers refuse to do the nails as well. I talked to the owner and we worked out something nice. I would do my best to finish the nails, but she has to play with the dogs paws daily, and really work on touching the nails.

    After 2 months, the puppy doesn't flip out anymore. Yes, she doesn't like her nails done, but now it only takes me to do them :) and not two!

    1. Hi Tong,
      I have made the same suggestion to owners before myself, and it has worked with some dogs. I also talked to this owner about playing with the feet. Unfortunately, this dog has somehow been really traumatize with the feet.
      Lisa, MFF

  8. I hope you're okay! I've had my little dog do this to me before when she gets scared or if I accidentally scare her out of no where. ICE ICE ICE!

    1. Hi Dog and Cat Owner,
      Thanks. I am doing fine. :)
      Lisa, MFF