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, July 31, 2013

Answering An E-Mail

I am back from a great vacation and ready to groom again!

We got lucky and the weather was great.

We enjoyed our one week off of the year.

I have about a dozen comments to answer, and I will get to them over the week.

I also had an e-mail from a new groomer.
She had some good questions that I thought other new groomers might like to know the answers to also, so I asked her if she minded me answering her e-mail on my blog.
She very nicely agreed.
Here is a portion of her e-mail:

I have been practicing on my dogs as well as did a practice on my hairdressers Yorkie over the weekend.
Very difficult as she would not sit still the whole time and always lent with her back towards me!
I have a grooming table with a loop which helped a lot but her constant moving made it hard and she kept wanting to back off the table.
Besides that she kept trying to nip me! I work in animal welfare so am used to it. Eventually she calmed down. But how would you deal with such a situation in a mobile environment?
Do you have a handler to help hold difficult dogs?
I attempted to trim her, the ears came out ok but the rest of the body not too good. Had no real idea what I was doing, but guess that's all with practice.

I had a hair dryer with me but she is terrified so had to towel dry her in the sun. Luckily she is small.

How many times during grooming would you say you oil your clippers? And do you use coolube?

What about a situation where the dog won't allow you to touch its paws? Even my own dogs get agitated when I try clip their paws on top, the pads are a whole different story. I'm terrified I nick them? 

Let me start by saying that every new groomer should try to sit back a relax.
Take a breath and remember that you're new at this.
You are going to be nervous, worrying about the dog, and if you are going to groom it right.
These feeling are going to be transferred to the dog, causing some dogs to act up, because they can feel your worry.

Not every groomer may agree with my advice, but this is what I do with every dog I groom before I do anything else.
I hold them, and pet them, and talk to them.
I get a feel for them and they get a feel for me.
My goal is to help them relax.
It is also so that I remember that they are a living, breathing thing that has feelings.
I talk baby talk if I need to.
I play a little with them if I need to.
Or, I just talk softly to them if they are really nervous.

This not only helps the dog to relax, but it helps me too.
I feel that you can't always be business when dealing with dogs.
You need to take a few minutes to help ease them into the grooming.
Over the years I have seen many groomers get so involved with how many dogs they are going to groom a day, or are so over worked, stressed and rushed that they become robots and forget that those dogs they are grooming everyday are furry children that have feelings and sometimes just need some reassurance that the grooming process is not going to hurt them.

Even with my regulars, I take a few minutes just to hug and pet them before I start to groom.

Now, pet owners will not always tell you the truth, especially if they know that their dog is not good for grooming, but I always ask an owner how their dog is for grooming.
Have they been professionally groomed before?
How often does the dog get groomed?
Does any part of the grooming upset or scare them?

The Yorkie mentioned in this e-mail may have not been good, or liked being groomed....or, the Yorkie may have felt how nervous this new groomer was and was acting up because of it.
It is hard to say exactly.

**Tip: Try sucking on a mint while grooming. The smell of the mint will help relax the dog and you.

To be honest, when a dog is nippy with me,(not meanly, or to brake skin) I usually ignore it.
This tends to confuse the dogs and they stop nipping because it is not working for them, because I am not stopping what I am doing.

If the nipping gets harder and mean, I firmly tell them 'NO', but I still do not stop what I am doing.
Stopping to reprimand them only gives them what they want...me to stop.

As for the dog turning its back on me while I groom....I just gently pick them up and set them on the table the way I want them to face.
I will hold them in place until they stay still saying 'stay'.
If they move when I let go, I repeat the same step.
It normally only takes a few times until the dog realizes what I want it to do.

Of course, there will always be those dogs that refuse to be still.
I have a small, very friendly Yorkie that I groom that is like working on a Mexican jumping bean. 
He is a very sweet, friendly dog that is extremely dangerous to groom, because of the way he moves and jerks all over the table.
I am lucky to have extra people at work to help hold dogs like this.

For a groomers working along the Groomers Helper would come in very handy.
If anyone would like to learn more about the Groomers Helper, there is a great instructional video made by Chuck Simons, the inverter of the Groomers Helper on youtube.

Becoming upset, or jerking the dog back around to you will only make the dog fear you and make matters worse.
Be firm, but gentle.
Pet and praise a little when the dog does what you want it to do.
Groomers have to also be trainers.
It is better to approach a grooming on a new dog expecting the dog not to behave the way you want it to.
Don't take for granite that the dog knows it is supposed to stand still on your table.
You, as the groomer, will have to train most of the dogs you groom to except the grooming.

There are times when nothing I do will make the dog stand the way I want, so I just work with what I have.
If I have to groom the dog laying down, then that is what I do.
Most of the time, the dog will eventually get comfortable and stand on its own.

I have written a post on this subject if you would like to check it out.

As for the dog moving and trying to back off the table...
I don't use a grooming loop.
That is my own personal preference.
They get in my way when I groom.
I do not knock groomers that do use grooming loops, they come in very handy for groomers who work alone.
As I stated above, The Groomers Helper is also a great tool for groomers who work alone.
I also like to groom with my table up against a wall so that dogs can not back off.
Some groomers do not like to have their table against a wall, because they like walking all around the table.
I train all of my groom dogs to turn on the table for me, even the large ones.
I tap the top of the table and say 'turn', it works for me.

I have also made a backboard for my table that closes in three of the sides of my grooming table to help the dogs feel secure and to keep them from backing off the back or sides of my table.
It also keeps the dogs up close to me and saves my back.
Click on the 'backboard' link above to see step by step instructions on how I made my backboard.

(I attempted to trim her, the ears came out ok but the rest of the body not too good. Had no real idea what I was doing, but guess that's all with practice.)
 Here is a post that I wrote about 'Scissoring a Yorkie'.

 (I had a hair dryer with me but she is terrified so had to towel dry her in the sun. Luckily she is small.)
When I have a new dog, that I have not groomed before, that is scared of the dryer, I treat them like they are a puppy being dried for the very first time.
First, I turn the dryer on low, pointing it away from the dog.
I hold and pet the dog, talking to it to reassure the dog as he/she is getting used to the sound of the dryer. 

Next, I let the dog stay close up against me as I slowly start to use the dryer on them (still on a low setting)

As the dog slowly realizes that the dryer is not hurting them, I slowly push the dog away from me back onto the drying table and continue to dry.

I am constantly reassuring the dog as I dry.

As the dog gets desensitized to the noise of the dryer, I turn up the speed of the air flow.

I follow these steps whether I am using the High Velocity dryer or a small hand held dryer. 

I tend to use the hand held dryer for  really small breeds

( How many times during grooming would you say you oil your clippers? And do you use coolube?)
I have never oiled the clippers that I use. (Andis® UltraEdge 2 speed)
As for my blades....yes, I do use KoolLube on my blades.
You must make sure that you wipe all of the KoolLube off of your blade, and blow it out from between the teeth of the blade before you clip the dogs coat.
I also hold my clipper, with the blade on it, below waist level and away from the dog when I spray my blades.
This way I keep the fumes away from the dog and myself.

( What about a situation where the dog won't allow you to touch its paws? Even my own dogs get agitated when I try clip their paws on top, the pads are a whole different story. I'm terrified I nick them?)
 The only way that I can answer this is..Gentle grooming. 
Develop a light touch. 
Don't grab the feet, or hold them too tight.
Don't pull the foot towards you, just slowly lift it up. 
Make sure you keep the foot in a natural position.
Try letting the dog rest its foot on your arm.
Be careful and make sure that you are not holding the leg or foot in such a way that it is uncomfortable for the dog.  
Try different holds, further up on the leg, or at the elbow. 
I also did a post on scissoring feet
Maybe you could look at the pictures and see how I hold the legs and feet to scissor.

As for the pads of the feet, you are safer using a #15 blade (you can use a #30 blade once you build confidence in what you are doing) to clean out between the pads.
Be careful of the webbing between the toes.
I feel that using a blade is safer than using scissors on the pads of the feet.

I hope that this answered your questions and has helped.
If you have anymore questions, just ask and I will do my best to answer them. :)

If any of the groomers reading my blog have any tips, I am sure that this new groomer would like to read your comments.

Happy Grooming, MFF



  1. Hi lisa, I love reading your blog. its so helpful. I hope you dont mind me asking for some advice. Im pretty new to grooming aswell, ive only been going a couple of years and I have started my own place from home. I generally love it but Ive had one dog in particular that has just rebooked in today and Ive got to say im dreading it. Hes a young dog is lovely, if a bit spoilt. he is now just under a year old and came to me for an intro/puppy groom at about 5 months which went fine then rebooked at couple of months later for a clip off. I spent ages getting him used to the clippers. getting him to meet them and it was all fine with a lot of praise and going slowly. Then seemingly out of nowhere he just absolutely freaked out and if he saw the clippers going anywhere near him on or off he'd just go into a blind panic. The only way i could get him done was to get someone to come out and talk to him the entire time which he was then alright once he hadnt noticed the clippers where near him. he wagged the whole time then. he wasnt nearly as bad around his back end. I dont know what suddenly scared him because he was fine, no knots that could have been tweaked. nothing. I was just wondering if you had any advice of how best to work with him? anything would be great. There were a few tears on my part last time. Sorry for such a long comment
    Jenni :)

    1. Hi Jenni,

      There are so many times that I wish dogs could talk so that I knew what the heck was going on in their head.

      Why would he suddenly reject the clippers??? I don't know why, but as I was reading your comment I could not help but think that someone at home was scaring this dog with something like a vacuum, or hair dryer, or something....
      Unfortunately, pet owners sometimes think that it is funny to tease their pets with something that scares them. They think that they are just playing with their dog.

      When I have a dog that is scared of the clippers, while the dog is still on the table, I let the dog lean against me as I put one arm around the dog to hug it to me chest. Then I turn on my clipper (with no blade) I sit the clipper on my table next to the dog (still letting the clippers run) If the dog freaks I just hold on to the dog and keep hugging and talking to them till the dog settles. Once the dog settles, I pick up the clipper (still hugging the dog against me) and place the running clipper (still without a blade)right up against the dogs body. If the dog freaks again, I tighten my hold and quickly, calmly tell the dog that he/she is okay. BUT I DO NOT take the running clipper away. I continue to hold the running clipper against the dogs body until the dog finally gives its brain a chance to click in and overcome the fear. Once I feel the dog relax its body against me, I slowly release my hold,(with the clipper still pressed against the dogs body) still talking calmly to them and praising them. I let them stand up on the table. Usually by the time I stop hugging them, and they stand back up, they are no longer worried about the clipper.

      One of the main things that helps this to work is confidence in what you are doing. If you get upset and hesitate, or pull the clipper away when the dog gets upset, he/she will think that fighting will make the clipper go away.

      My goal with this exercise is to try to get the dog to stop and think, and stop reacting out of fear. You said in your comment that the dog was okay with the clipper as long as someone was distracting him, so that tells me that the dog just needs to learn that it is just a noise and the clippers do not hurt.

      I hope that that made some kind of sense to you. This exercise has always worked for me. Remember, you are not holding, or pinning the dog down...you are hugging the dog to you. You might have to hug a little tightly when the dog first freaks out, but slowly relax your hold as soon as the dog stops fussing.

      Good luck,

  2. Hi Lisa, Love the post, thank you! I have another new groomer question. Tools! Okay so maybe it is a lot of questions but I will attempt to be brief.
    1. Blades: How are you liking your wahl blades you bought a while ago? I have been using buttercut and know you are not a huge fan of them why? I recently have been slowly purchasing Andis Ultra Edge and feel it is not as smooth but it may just take some time.
    2. Shears: What lengths/brand of shears do you use? (I was only given a 7.5" curve shear and a 46 tooth blender in my beginner kit) and now I am finally revamping my tools.
    3. Clipper Vac: Have you ever used one? I just began using one and love it for comb blades and reverse cuts except when I use them with my blades, cutting with the grain it seems to leave lines, it could be my blades but when I cut without the clipper vac it leaves no lines. Any thoughts?
    4. How are you liking your "Chunkers"?
    5. When pulling out undercoat on a double coated breed have you ever used the marrs coat king or anything similar?
    6. Hand Stripping: Do you know how? you probably do so do you advertise it. I have heard so many controversial things about shaving breeds that should be hand stripped (skin irritation, coat color/texture changing, etc.) vs. hand stripping is mean.

    I understand that every groomer likes different tools and has different opinions but I have not found another groomer that I feel I agree with and trust more. So any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Hi Holly,
      I planed on answering your comment in a post tonight, but I got side tracked....sorry. I will answer your questions tomorrow night....I promise. :)

  3. Hmm interesting that you use a #30 on the pads! I use a #40 I found for me anyways that when I use the 30 I tend to nick the pads?? I've never had an issue with the #40 though so I have no idea what I was doing differently! I love this article very informative :)