As groomers we deal with a lot of different pet owners everyday.
Most are great.
Most are great pet owners and take great care of their dogs.
They ask questions and listen to the advice that their groomers give them.
Then you have the pet owners who think that they are taking care of their dogs.
This is where the fine line between being tactful and being rude blur.
You may feel like you are being as tactful as you can be, but lets face it, when you have to inform an owner that their way of caring for their dog is not right, there is a good possibility that the pet owner will think that you are being rude.
No one wants to be informed that what they are doing is causing their dog pain, or not the right choice.
Let me explain what I am rambling on about with some examples.
Case #1: I offer walk-in nail clipping.
A customer can walk in to my shop at any time, 5 days a week, to have their dogs nails clipped while they wait.
Nine times out of ten I will stop what I am doing and clip the nails of the walk-in, so there is virtually no waiting.
Five days a week, 8am to 4pm.
That is about 250 days a year. (I took out a couple of weeks for days off. lol)
That is about 2000 hours a year that I am available to clip nails.
My nail clipping price is $10.
Ten to $15 cheaper than Vets around me.
So why......why do I have pet owners walk in with dogs like this?
(I had already clipped one of the nails before I thought of taking a picture)
This poor old dog could barely walk in the door.
I could tell that the owner loved this old dog.
This owner just didn't get it.
The dogs nails had not been clipped in months.
The owner knew the dog was having difficulty walking.
"I haven't had any time to take her anywhere."
OMG make time!
I am here 5 days a week!
This nail fell off of a dog before I could clip the nails.
The dog tore it out of his toe walking in the shop.
The nails had not been clipped for a year.
Again you could tell that this owner loved their dog.
I just don't understand how you can watch your dog walking around, or trying to walk around, with its nails looking like this.
So, what do I do when I see this?
No, I don't yell or scold the customer.
Where is that going to get me?
How is that going to help the dog?
I inform the owner about how painful letting their dogs nails grow like this can be.
I show and explain to them how it twists the toes and causes pain with every step that they take.
I explain to them that we are open for walk-ins 5 days a week.
I suggest how often they should have their dogs nails clipped.
Once again it comes down to educating the owner.
Some owners truly do not realize that their dog is hurting.
As groomers we find that hard to believe.
How could someone not possibly realize that those long nails are hurting their dog?
Of course some owners do know.
Some owners have been told before and still wait too long to have their dogs nails clipped.
Even with those types of pet owners, I don't feel that scolding them would help.
All I can do is keep reminding them that I am here to clip nails 5 days a week.
I have found that when I lay it on thick about how painful those long nails are, that most owners bring their dogs back more often.
Case #2 Overweight dogs.
This is a very touchy subject to deal with.
I can't tell you how many customers come in with overweight dogs and then proceed to tell me to be careful with their dog because it has a bad back, or bad hips, or sore legs.
You are slowly killing your dog with food and you want me to be careful?
I had a customer come in recently whose dog has slowly been getting wider and wider every time he comes in for a groom.
The last time the dog was in, I was once again told to be careful with the dog because it could not walk recently and the Vet said that the dog may have a bad back, or bad hips.
Now, you would think that the Vet would have taken the opportunity to suggest that the owner help the dog lose some weight.
No, the Vet didn't say a word about the dogs weight!
So, how do you tactfully tell an owner that their dog needs to lose weight?
I make up a story about another dog.
Something like; "You know I have another customer whose dog was having the same problem as your dog. Her Vet suggested that she help her dog lose about 8 pounds, because the Vet felt that losing the weight would take some of the pressure off of her dogs hips, legs, and back. Her dog lost the weight and is doing great now."
This is just an opening to a longer conversation.
I am not quite accusing the owner of making their dog fat, and I am using the story of someone else as away to take the embarrassment off of them, by letting them know that there are other dogs out there suffering with the same issues.
So far I have managed not to offend anyone. (knock on wood)
I will even joke about my own weight issues to break the ice.
I will say that there have been a couple of customers that I realized right away that I needed to shut up, because I could see that the owner was not about to listen to me about their dogs obesity no matter how tactfully I tried to approach the subject. :(
Case #3: Not sure how to title this one.
The customers who just don't get, or understand that the hair grows back again after you cut around the eyes.
That I can't "cut around the eyes short enough so that it won't grow back into his eyes before the next groom."
The hair is going to grow back into the eyes.
That is why I also offer my customers to come in between groomings to have around the eyes trimmed if needed.
How hard is that?
Is it just easier to come in and complain that I must not have cut the hair short enough around the eyes the last time, because "look how much his hair grow back in 8 weeks!"
I forgot to sprinkle my 'don't grow back too fast' dust after I scissored the face.
Getting a little too sarcastic here.
I just don't understand what goes through peoples heads sometimes.
Case #4: One week IS a big deal.
Most of my customers book in advance.
This leaves us with only a few appointments open a month.
It also makes it very hard to move an appointment around if a regular customer needs to.
It is not only finding an open appointment to move someone to, but when a regular customer moves their appointment it tends to knock their whole schedule off course.
So, that means that sometimes a regular customer will come in a week early, or a week later than normal.
You wouldn't think that 5 days, one way or the other, would matter so much.
At least to the pet owners it seems to.
If it is 5 days later, I have to hear about how it has been too long, or the dog is suffering (looks fine to me).
Then there are the dogs that come in 5 days earlier than their regular appointment.
The dog isn't long enough yet for a hair cut, just give him a trim.
He is already starting to mat a little.
If I only give a trim one of two things will happen.
I only trim the hair and now the dog will go one extra week to the next grooming, and will most likely come in matted and have to be clipped shorter than usual.
The other possibility, I will get a call in a few weeks from the owner complaining about how shaggy their dog now looks, because it didn't get its normal haircut, and now they want to move their appointment again.
Why couldn't they just understand and listen to me when I tell them that 5 days doesn't make that much difference, and they should just get the normal cut that they always get?
In a perfect world my customers would listen to me and realize that I do actually know what I am talking about, and they will take my advice.
I said.... 'in a perfect world'.
I am not holding my breath. :)
✂ Happy Grooming, MFF ✂