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.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just Can't Do It....

I don't know how to say this without sounding conceited, so I guess I will just say it....

Sometimes I actually wish that I did not groom as good as I do.

Oh boy, that sounded even worse typing it out.  :p

Let's see if I can say this a different way.....Sometimes I wish that I could give a dog the haircut that I know the dogs owner deserves.
There that sounds better.

So, what exactly do I mean by that?

I mean, that there are times that pet owners bring me dogs that have not been groomed in a long time.
The poor dog is very over grown, and matted.
Almost without fail these owners do not want you to shave their dogs.
Some like to pretend that the dog isn't even matted.
Some like to turn it on the groomer and say that we are professionals and should know how to remove all the mats and keep the dog long.
In other words, pull out that magic wand, wave it over the dog and make their dog fluffy and mat free.

Now, here in lies my problem.
I very rarely ever have to 'shave' a dog. (shave to me is using a #7F, #10, or #15 on the body and legs)
No matter how matted a dog is I am usually able to get at least a #5F between the mats and skin.
Of course using a #4F or #5F is considered 'shaved' to some pet owners.

I always try to leave a matted coat as long as I can. (unless the pet owner does want the dog shave as short as possible)

So, where am I going with all of this rambling?

I had a dog in the other day.

 He had last been in the beginning of November 2013.

He had another appointment scheduled for January.

Needless to say, the owner canceled that appointment saying that she would wait, because it was too cold for a haircut.

It was recommended to the owner to still bring the dog in and get a bath and tidy to help maintain the coat and clear out the eyes and private areas.

I owner refused and said that they would wait.

We knew that five and a half months was way too long for the dog to go between groomings.

What can you do?

We try to educate.

As we expected, the dog was pretty matted all over.

Yes, my brain was saying 'teach this owner a lesson and take the dog down very short'.

There was only one problem..... after feeling and examining the coat when the dog came in, I knew that after bathing and HV drying, all of that matting was going to loosen up enough to most likely get a #4F or #3/4 blade through the coat.
That would still be a short length for this owner, but most likely would not teach this owner to bring the dog in more often.

I know that there are groomers out there that would say I should just go ahead and shave the dog with a #10 to teach the owner not too wait so long between groomings.
The problem is, I don't think that that teaches pet owners anything but that the groomer shaved their dog naked, and they won't take the dog back again until they absolutely have to, i.e. dog matted again.

The other problem is.....I just can't bring myself to shave a dog naked when I know that I can save some of the coat and don't have to shave it.

Maybe it comes from all those years of not knowing how to say 'no' when pet owners begged me to demat their dogs, or leave them as long as possible.
I spent a long time finding ways to save faces, legs, ears, and tails.

 As I guessed, the mats in this dogs coat loosened up quite a bit after the bath and HV dry.

 I was able to get the 3/4 blade under most of the matting on the body.

The legs were a different story.

I did not want to use a shorter blade on the legs after I had been able to get the 3/4 blade through the body.

So I scissored the legs down to half of the hair off.

After the mats were cut in half, it took less than a minute to brush the leg out....

....run the 3/4 blade over the leg and scissor to finish.

(Before the bath)

The face was also pretty matted.

(after the bath)

The bath and HV dry also loosened up the matting on the head and face, but....

...it was still pretty matted.

So, I did the same with the head and face.

I scissored the face as though I was doing the finish work, cutting the mats in half.

Then I brushed the head and face out.

Again, this only took a minute or two.

It did help that his coat was very forgiving.

And, that he didn't mind being brushed.

So, he still gets his cute face that the owner likes....even after five and a half months.

I know he felt much better with all of those mats off.

I am glad that I was able to leave him on the longer side.

I'll just have to keep trying to educate the owner about grooming the dog in the winter months.


  1. hi! i was wondering - may i use one (1) of your photos in a book i'm writing about dog care and training? i need a visual to explain why grooming isn't just plonking a pretty bow on the pups head. ideally, i'd like to use the one with the little white poodle showing the raw, red, irritated skin and the way the fur is pulling hard on the poor thing's belly.

  2. That poor baby!!! I don't know how you keep your cool with owners who put their poor dogs through that. You did a beautiful job with him. I know he feels so much better!

  3. Hi from Australia.

    Nearly every dog, in fact every dog comes to me to groom looks like this or worse!!
    I hate doing shave downs and I get a lot of them - and its coming into winter here in OZ. So I especially hate them, when owners say short, short which usually = matted to the bone. And then they say "oh I've got lots of little jumpers for my teacup dog" ARG, sometimes I just wanna growl at them and show my teeth! He, he.

    OMG - I love your blog, I am hooked on reading it every chance I get.

    I am a new groomer, a late in life career change at the age of 48, from corporate office worker to dog groomer in one fowl swoop. I've been grooming all my own dogs all my/their life - I've got an Irish Wolfhound and clipping my husband hair for 15 years, so clippers and grooming just came naturally to me. I've only been at it for 8 weeks - I applied for a job at my local vet's grooming salon - I didn't a couple of trial days and boom - they gave me the job.

    I started doing one day a week - 8 weeks later I am doing 2 - 3 days a week - and I've only had one come back in 8 weeks (the owner was deaf or hearing impaired customer and I don't do sign language - she wanted "short" so I did a #5 with a puppy face on her Shih Tzu, but she wanted it shaved down all over including face shave with poodle feet! Go figure!! Hopefully she comes back as her dog was a dream to groom.)

    All of my customers, so far, seem very happy with my grooming and thanks to YOU I ask every single question possible, write everything down and if I am not sure, I will get on the phone and ask again. And when I present the dog I go over to the owner, I luv the look on their face - I tell them every single thing I did and why. I also now tell them about every lump, bump, sore, itchiness and missing clumps of hair (I had a sneaky suspicion these were cut outs by the owner!) I'll talk and talk and talk - Thank you for teaching me this.

    The groomer who was training me left so now I am on my own, fully booked each day. I've had to ask the vet nurses to book less grooms as I am slow and I want to do a really good grooms so that my customers come back. Fortunately, they are understanding as I am still "in training". Some days I'm just not happy with the total groom - its usually the legs or feet. And this has been time constraints for when the dog is getting picked up, usually dictated by the owners pick up time when they book. Do you have an tips for admission and discharge times?

    At the moment all dogs come in between 8am to 9am and I try to call the owners as soon as I have them done. But as I said I'm slow and want to do an excellent groom rather than a good groom. How many dogs will you groom a day?

    Since I've been doing 3 days per week, I've been doing 3 to 4 full grooms, one day was 6 grooms - obviously they were all just average that day. Plus, 3 - 4 just bath only dogs which includes blow dry and nails trimmed. Too many right? Luckly, I've had a work experience person, who is training at the vets to come in and help do a bath or 2.

    Can you possibly, post a few more photos of faces, ears, legs, paws and paw pads? If you can on smaller dogs or point me in the direction of where I can find videos?

    Like you, I am just exhausted at the end of the day, aching all over, every muscle in my body sore, hair in every hole in my body, but I love it and I love all the pooches. And I love seeing the look on the face of every dog owner when they see their fur baby looking beautiful and smelling like candy - so good you wanna lick them!

    So you have become my new go to trainer...thank you.

    Good news - this week I followed your drying process - step by step. Yahoo - fluffy balls of fluff and everyone sees the difference. I went through a shit load of towels so I really need to get some of the car cloths asap...lol.

    Luv your work and luv that you have all the family involved - luv your daughters work too.

    Cheers from down under - keep blogging girlfriend.

    1. Hi Teddy Bear,
      Welcome to the crazy grooming industry. lol
      Sounds like you are doing really well right out of the gate. Some people are a natural at grooming and pick it up very quickly.
      It is nice that your boss is letting you slow down while you are still learning. The number of dogs that you do should really depend on what you are comfortable with. What is safe for you and the dogs.
      Personally, I like to stagger my appointments so that dogs are not sitting in cages waiting for me to get to them. I have a bather right now, so I have two dogs come in at a time, but back when I was working by myself I would have one dog come in every hour 8, 9, 10, 11, (skip noon so that I could either catch up or get a few minutes to eat a lunch) 1, 2, 3. That was seven full clips a day. I would also add 3 or 4 baths depending on how big the full clip jobs were. By baths I mean short hair. Large double coated dogs are considered full clip jobs even though they are only bath and trims, because they can be just as much work as a full clip, if not more.
      I hope that makes sense.
      You need to find what works for you.
      Most of our dogs are in and out within 3 hours. Of course we seem to do a lot of dog sitting also for customers who work and leave their dogs all day.
      I will see about posting some more photos of faces, ears, legs and feet.
      I have some videos on youtube. I am hoping to do more soon. My youtube video name is: DogWhisperer17. If you search for that they should come up.
      Good luck to you. I am here if you have any questions. :)
      Thanks for reading my blog,
      Lisa, MFF

  4. I am a 56 year old hairstylist who just got a mini schnauzer and was searching for some ideas on puppy cuts and found your blog. I can relate to so many of your comments...I laughed out loud at your writings and I started following your blog. You are a hoot!!!

  5. I just found this blog today. Thank you so so much for all of the information you pass on. Like yourself and the other comments I have seen, I became a dog groomer because I love working with the dogs and I love getting them looking their best and comfortable.
    One problem I have been trying to find information on is about poodles. I have one customer that I have explained to that I am not a very good poodle groomer as I lack the experience. But she still really wants me to do her dog. I haven't been able to find any good information on how to do poodles. Do you know of a good source?