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, October 3, 2013

I Don't Understand

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."
Not possible!
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.

One more......

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.

Five days.

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.
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


  1. The vets here (the netherlands) have once a year a whole month of dental care advicing.
    They had this also about overweight BUT not anymore because costumors where so ofended that they go to an other clinic. And because all vets did this obese month they changed costumers allot.
    So these days the vets dont say much and only if a costumer wants advice they have a special kibble and a program with advice and weight checks done by the assistents. Greetings Claudia.

  2. I understand exactly what you mean. It drives me crazy when I try to give customers advice on the needs of their pet and then they call and complain that I was rude. If my dog had an ear infection I would be grateful the groomer took time to talk to me instead of being pissed and complaining. Some will complain no matter what you do.

  3. Oh I hear you on #3. I have ton's of customers complain about that. My problem is they try to go 3 months before they want to come in and get a groom. I keep telling them just do a bath and brush in between grooms and I scoop out the eyes for them again. They usually complain how I just want them to come and spend more money than needed and just to make sure I go shorter. What?!! Umm I can't use anything shorter than a 40 blade people. gurr Ruth

    1. Hi Ruth,
      Customers tends to say a lot of inconsiderate things, but for some reason, when they accuse me of just trying to take their money really gets under my skin. I have learned to let a lot of things run off my back, but not that. Pet owners spend thousands of dollars on their dogs all of the time by buying toys, beds, sweaters, treats, ect. Why do they bulk so much at keeping their dogs healthy and clean? How often do they trim their own hair? Do they tell their stylist to take it short so that it won't grow back too fast? I just don't get it.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. I would like some advice on how to handle customers who claim their dog were hurt while being groomed. I am the owner of a boutique/grooming shop, and I am not a groomer. I have two groomers and a bather. When a dog is accidentally cut, or a nail cut too short,etc, we do not charge for the groom, and always tell the owner what happened. If we knowingly caused the problem, we also pay the vet bill.
    But, there are dogs that leave here and are just fine, yet the customer will claim their dog was hurt here. Do any of you have your customers sign a release when they pick up their dogs?
    I realize I am not quite commenting on this blog. I have the same type of problems here. Never have seen such longs nails on a dog, though.

    1. Hi Linda,
      We also tell owners about any accidents, and do not charge for the groom. IF the dog needs to go to the Vet, the Vet MUST send us the bill with an itemized list of what was done, and WE pay the Vet directly. I NEVER give the pet owner money. Sadly, some pet owners will try to pass Vet bills on to you that are their responsibility. Such as updating shots before the Vet will work on the dog. Thankfully, in 30 years of grooming, I have only had one dog that needed to go to the Vet because of accidentally cutting his tail.
      To be honest, I don't tell owners about every nail that was bled. Unfortunately, that is just a part of grooming. Thankfully, I can count on one hand the number of times that I bleed a nail on a dog in a months time, but that being said, there are times when it is just impossible to tell where the quick is on a nail, or the dog moves at the wrong moment. I do not feel that I am hiding anything from the owners. I just don't feel that it is necessary to tell about every bled nail. If I have a dog whose nail 'really' bled, and I am afraid that it may open up later, I will explain to the customer and also hand them a tiny baggy with some Quick Stop and tell them how to use it in case the nail opens later.
      When a customer calls to claim that their dog was somehow hurt. (Thankfully that rarely happens) I start asking questions. I DO NOT get defensive. The owner wants to know that you really care. Nine times out of ten I am able to defuse the situation and it turns out that what was wrong was minor, or I was able to explain the problem and fix it. I have also asked owners to bring dogs back in so that I can see what they are talking about. Sadly, some pet owners call back to complain just to see if they can get a free groom. I have never given a free groom (other than as a donation) If the owner thinks that something was wrong with the groom, they are welcome to bring the dog back in and let me fix it.
      If you do use release forms, they should be signed BEFORE the dog is groomed. Also, when you bring a dog out to the owner, put the dog on the floor and ask the owner to look over the dog right then to see if there is anything that they would like trimmed more. At this time everyone will also be able to see the dog walking around and that it is just fine.
      If I have a very matted dog in, I will take pictures during the grooming. Before pictures, pictures during the groom of the matted coat being peeled off, and any sores that where found as I am clipping. I will also save the mat in a bag with the dogs name on it for up to 2 months, just in case I get a call back. So that I have proof of how badly the dog was matted. If I find a sore on a dog, I am immediately on the phone to tell the owner and ask if they already knew that that sore was there.
      It is a good idea to have a release form for matted dogs, or special needs dogs. The forms help to let the pet owners know that sores can show up under mats and after the dog has been shaved. It will also help to cover your shop and the groomers.
      Sorry, I am rambling....I hope some of this helps you.
      Lisa, MFF

  5. I have a comment and a (unrelated) question. Comment: I love where I work because we have a salty old Vet that is amazing but will tell the owners that they are not doing what they should be doing. He asks them straight out if they are trying to kill their dog because the mountains of alpo and treats are doing just that. Makes it easier on us as far as coming off rude to clients. Question: I have only been grooming a little over a year now and I was trained at PetSmart and the way I was taught was not very good (terrible teacher and honestly a terrible place to groom if you actually care about doing a good job) and now I'm learning from the groomer I work with but even her 13 years seems like limited experience because she only likes to groom certain breeds so my question is...Do you ever post how-to videos?

    1. Hi Heather,
      I like salty old Vets. Mine will be retiring soon. I hate the thought of finding a new, younger one.

      I do have some videos. Some of them are how-to, and some of them are of dogs I have groomed. I am looking into doing more how-to videos. Here is a link:


      I hope some of them help you. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  6. That dog's nails made me SAD. My rescue dog has nails longer than he should, but it doesn't seem to cause him any discomfort and he'll just have to keep getting tiny trims until his quick recedes enough.
    Anyways, I actually have a question about trimming nails. His dewclaws are severely overgrown, but he won't let me touch them. I will barely shave off the sharpest bits with my dremel, but try to get the clippers on it and he SCREAMS. I feel awful because I think it twists his "finger" if you will because I can't get a good hold of it. I'm positive I'm not even close to the quick on that nail. He's a 40 lb terrier that never had regular trims before living with us. He's gotten so much better about holding still while I clip and dremel his regular nails, but I don't know what to do about the dewclaw. I can't afford to get him professionally dremeled every few days, and I don't really want a chain groomer messing with his feet since we've come so far (the first time we tried to trim his feet, he had to be completely restrained because it was in the "has to be done NOW" stage, but we've ever so slowly worked up to sitting calmly)