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, March 5, 2015


How do we get pet owners to change the way they look at grooming their pets?

How do we change the different mentalities.

The mentality of 'a dog can groom itself.'
The mentality of 'a dog doesn't need to be bathed anymore than once a year.' 
The mentality of 'my dogs hair is not supposed to be cut.'
The mentality of 'my dogs hair does not mat.'
The mentality of 'just wash the mats out.' 
The mentality that 'all groomers want to do is shave dogs.'
The mentality that ' I don't have to comb/brush my dog, that's what I pay the groomer for.'
The mentality that 'grooming  somehow hurts their dog.'
The mentality that 'groomers charge too much to groom a dog, because all they really do all day is play with dogs.'

Then there was the conversation I had with a customer at drop off the other day.

It was the fifth time that I had groomed this particular dog.
The dog is very sweet, and so is its owner.
I also know that she was not being mean when she asked the question that bothered me.

See if you can pick out the question you think I am referring to.

MFF: "Good Morning.... Hi 'Sweety'." (talking to the dog)
Mrs. Nice: "Oh, it is so cold out!"
(I picked up 'Sweetie')
MFF: "How would you like 'Sweetie' groomed today?" (I asked as I was running my hands through her coat)
Mrs. Nice: "It is really cold, can we not butcher her this time?" she asked very seriously.
MFF: "Her coat feels pretty good this time. I only feel a few small knots on her."  I answered trying to ignore part of her comment.
Mrs. Nice: "I didn't think she was bad either. So, you won't have to butcher this time?"
MFF: "As long as she is not matted I can do whatever length you want. So, would you like about half off or a little less than that?" I explained still smiling.
Mrs. Nice: "Oh, a little less than half I think," she said very happily.
MFF: "Okay," I said with a smile.

So, did you catch the question that bothered me?

Yep, it was the 'butcher' comment.
It was said so innocently.
She was in no way being nasty, or intentionally hurtful.
To her it was a simple question.
It was a question that spoke volumes about what she thought of the last groom.

Wondering how I groomed the dog the last time it was in?
Did I shave it down with a #7F blade do to matting?
Well, yes it was matted last time, but it was far from a 'butcher' job.

I am sure other groomers have customers whose dogs come in one time and you are able to do a nice long scissor cut, but the owner does not come as often as they should to keep up with such a long cut.
So, the next time you groom the dog (3 months later) it is matted and must get a shorter cut.

It is not the groomers choice to cut the dogs hair shorter.
It is what has been done, because the matting is too bad and tight to brush out and would hurt the dog.
The groomer now has to use whatever blade will clip safely between the skin and the matting.

This particular dog happens to go between long cuts and short cuts.
It was last in in December.
Yes, it was matted from growing out of a longer cut the time before.

Still wondering what kind of clip I gave it back in December?

A cute little Lamb cut.
I was able to get a #4f under the mat on the body.
Loosen up the mat enough to get the 3/4 blade through the legs and scissor them up, and finish with a cute round face.
I thought it was cute.
The owner apparently thought that it was 'butchered'.

This was the other day.

Three months since the last groom.

Just a few small knots here and there.

It did look like the owners had been trying to keep her brushed out.

I hand scissored 1/2 an inch off all over.

Hopefully this does not appear to be a 'butchered' cut to the owner this time. :/

 Now, I would like to take a moment to address those 'mentalities' listed above.
I know that most groomers reading my blog already know what I am about to write about, but there are many pet owners that also read this blog, so this is for the pet owners out there. :)

The mentality of 'a dog can groom itself.'

The Truth: A dog can lick itself.....They can not de-shed the dead coat from themselves. They can not brush the knots/mats out of their own coat. They can not clean the goo and crust out of their own eyes. They can not clean their own ears. They can not clean caked on poop off of their own bum. They can not cut their own nails.

I have had some pet owners actually say to me; "Well, wolves and coyotes in the wild groom themselves."

My answer to them is; "Their short coats are made for the wild. Their coats shed off on there own as the climates change. Domesticated 'pet' dogs are man made from hundreds of year of controlled breeding. 'Pet' dogs have been bred for many, many years with many, many different types of coats....coats that must be groomed. Coats that don't shed right because the dogs live inside most of the time.  Coats that do mat up. We have made these breeds, now it is our responsibility to take care of them with regular grooming."

The mentality of 'a dog doesn't need to be bathed at all or anymore than once a year.'

The Truth: Sure, there are some short haired breeds that could go without bathing for a year, a few years, or even its whole life, BUT it would stink something terrible. Those dogs could also suffer from skin issues or fleas that a good regular bath with the proper shampoo could take care of.

On a personal note....I don't care what anyone says or thinks, after 30 years of grooming, and no matter whether the dog liked getting a bath or not.....those dogs feel so good and are happy when they are clean.

As for medium to long haired dogs, they must be groomed regularly either by their own owner or by a professional pet groomer. They need help keeping their coats in tip top shape. They need help to keep knots/matts out of their coats. They need someone to brush-out the undercoat so that it does not mat up. They need brushing to help keep their skin healthy. Some need their eyes cleaned regularly, and the hair cut away from their eyes. Some need their ears  cleaned regularly. Some need to have their nails clipped regularly.

Some may say ;"it's only a dog, it doesn't care."

To that I say; "it's a living, breathing soul with feelings and it wants to feel clean, good and healthy also." 

There are many low maintenance breeds that don't need to be groomed often, but there are also many high maintenance breeds that need regular monthly grooming.

As a pet owner, why in the world wouldn't you want your dog to look and smell good?

The mentality that 'my dogs hair is not supposed to be cut.'

The Truth: Yes, there are many breeds of dogs whose coats should not be cut and should be leave natural, but they still benefit from a good grooming. Unfortunately, there are breeders or information on-line that tells the everyday pet owner that the breed of dog they own should not have the hair cut, or that the hair can only be cut one way, because the 'breed standard for showing' states how the dog should look.

I tell all my customers that they should have their dog(s) groomed to meet their live style. If the pet owner has time and knows how to take care of their dogs coat, then go right ahead and keep the breed cut or a long cut, BUT if the pet owner does not have time to care for their dogs coat, or their dogs absolutely hates being brushed, then it is best to keep the coat short all of the time.

Professional Groomers don't only clip/cut dogs coats, they are also educated in the right way to bath and groom long and short coats the proper way.

The most important thing is the dogs comfort NOT the owners vanity.

The mentality 'my dogs hair does not mat.'

The Truth: There are many short haired dogs that do not mat, although I have seen a few short haired dogs, whose coats were uncared for, actually accumulate patches of matted undercoat.

Any medium to long haired dog has the potential for the coat to mat up if not taken care of on a regular bases. Many pet owners think that their dogs coat is not matted because the coat looks fine on the top. They do not realize that there is matted hair against the skin.

Many pet owners do brush their dogs, but unfortunately many do not know the proper way of brushing and they only brush out the top of the coat causing matting to develop under the top coat, close to the skin.

Most Professional Groomers will be glad to show a pet owner how to correctly brush their dog between professional grooming's. 

The mentality of 'just wash the mats out.' 

The Truth: Mats/knots DO NOT wash out of a dogs coat!! Once matted hair becomes wet and is left to dry the mat only becomes tighter. End of story!

The mentality that 'all groomers want to do is shave dogs.'

The Truth: A well educated Professional Groomer will not shave a dog just because. If a groomer recommends that a dog needs to be shaved it is because they are thinking of the dogs comfort. No Professional Groomer wants to hurt a dog in anyway.

Professional Groomers offer many different grooming styles. They can give the pet just a good brush-out and bath, or a bath and trim to tidy, or a bath and heavy trim all over, or a hand scissor cut to any length the owner wishes, or a style clip, or a short easy maintenance cut.

A Professional Groomer can do just about anything the pet owner wants as long as the pet is not matted.

The mentality that ' I don't have to comb/brush my dog, that's what I pay the groomer for.'

The Truth: Hmmmmm....I have often wondered if people think the same thing about their hairstylist. Do pet owners stop brushing and combing their own hair for several months because they figure that it is their hairstylists responsibility to make everything right when they finally go in for a hair cut?

I mean, do I really need to explain why this way of thinking is so ludicrous.

A pet owner is the one responsible for taking care of their pet daily. The groomer may only see the dog once every one, two, three, six, eight months for one day, for a few hours. So, a pet owner who thinks this way should expect their dogs matted coat to be shaved off at each grooming.

The mentality that 'grooming somehow hurts the dog.'

The Truth: Any Professional Groomer worth their salt only becomes a groomer because they love dogs and love working with them. They want to help dogs and make them feel good. The last thing they want is to hut a dog.

The groomer tells an owner when their dog needs to be shaved, because they know that trying to comb/brush those mats out will only hurt the dog. A good groomer will take their time and groom for quality and what is in the best interest of the dog.

Not all dogs enjoy getting groomed. Some are scared to be away from home. Some are scared of water, or a dryer, or a clipper. A good Professional Groomer will take the time to work with a dog to make it feel as comfortable as possible for the grooming. 

One of my children absolutely hated, and I mean HATED having his hair wash during bath time. We are talking blood curdling screaming. I knew I was not doing anything to hurt him. As a matter of fact, I was doing everything I could to make washing his hair as quick and painless as possible. Nothing made him like his hair washed. So, what was I supposed to do, not wash his hair anymore?

Of course not.

So, I washed his hair as quickly as I could safely do it. I listened to him scream and cry. Then I dried him off and hugged him and kissed him and told him that everything was all right. 

Guess what?

He went off and played feeling all fresh and clean and forgot all about his hair being washed.

It is important for the pet owner to make sure that they find a Professional Groomer that knows what they are doing and will work with a dog to make the grooming as comfortable as possible.

The mentality that 'groomers charge too much to groom a dog, because all they really do all day is play with dogs.'

The Truth: Most Professional Groomers don't charge enough for all the hard work they do.

Pet grooming is a very hard, physical job. ~Lifting heavy or overweight dogs. Struggling with some untrained, spoiled, misbehaved dogs. ~Dealing with aggressive dogs that could put you out of work with just one well placed bite, or disfigure you with a bad bite to the face. ~Ruined knees and feet do to 12 hour (or more) long days of standing. ~Ruined wrists do to the repetitive motion of brushing, combing and clipping for hours everyday. ~The  stress and responsibility of working on a moving target (with a mind of its own) with sharp scissors and clippers. ~Dealing with picky pet owners, pet owners who don't take care of their pets, rude pet owners. ~Working everyday with no lunch break because everyone wants their dogs done now. ~Being used as a dogsitter when the pet owner has something to do. ~Being rushed when the pet owner made other plans on the same day as their dogs appointment. ~The stress of grooming an elderly pet or special needs pet. ~Spending hours grooming just one dog to get the groom just right only to have an owner complain that you took too long. ~Finding health issues on a dog that needs attention only to be ignored because the pet owner doesn't think you know what you are talking about.  ~Dealing with people who don't respect you or think you have a real job. ~Dealing with the people who think that all a Professional Pet Groomer does all day is play with dogs......

No, Professional Pet Groomers don't even come close to charging enough for all that they do.


  1. I am glad that you are back ( finally :-))! I love your blog, please don't do that to me again:-)
    Greetings from Belgrade, Serbia

  2. A cutomer a long time ago asked the whole "I don't have to brush my dog, that's your job!" My boss (who was normally sugary sickeningly sweet to clients) said to her "Do you not brush your teeth for 6 months and go to the dentist and say 'That's your job' ? "

    P.S. I'm glad you're blogging again. I love your posts!

  3. It always puzzles me when people seriously say that "wild dogs do not need grooming, so why does my dog need it?" Well, first of all, they have totally different diet and exercise level, second, they don;t live as long as pets and don;t develop age-realted issues and finally, like you pointed out their coat is suited for their lives. I always want to respond to people that "OK, when was the last time you saw a heard of wild Doodles and shih-tzus running around and taking care of their grooming needs??"

    Again, good to have you back, Lisa. I enjoy reading your blog!

  4. Ive recently adopted a minature poodle and I would love to properly brush her at home in between taking her to the groomer, I brush and comb through her coat daily but I know Im not doing it properly. Ive asked her groomer for any tips (finishing or conditioning sprays etc) she just told me I need to bring her in a monthly basis even though I like her coat long and dont want to cut it so often. Is there a proper way to ask her what she uses? I love how silky and smooth my puppies hair is after she visits her but when I take her in the groomers always finds a few mattes that I would like to avoid with proper guidance?

  5. I am so happy that you are back blogging again. I've missed your great, instructional and fun posts. Hope you are well.

  6. Hi Lisa, thank you for coming back to blogging. I appreciate your postings very much. I have missed you! took a chance today and saw you have posted some very important issues.
    THANKS FOR THE PICTURES< so helpful.

  7. did you post your pricing formula? cannot find it, thanks. love your blog, your info and insights...learning so much from you as well, thanks again

  8. Hi. I enjoy your blog. I started reading it in preparation for getting a dog. I have had my doodle for 1.5 yrs and appreciate your advice. I also groom him myself, mostly out of cost. It is so much work. I think all dog owners should have to attend a doggy class where they do the grooming for a while so they have an appreciation for the work that goes into it. I also think the things breeders/websites etc tell you about your dog are harmful. Especially because you don't know any better when you first get a dog. Having the idea that your dog is 'hypo allergenic, doesn't shed, and should stay long' puts images in your mind about coat care. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on customers, it makes me think twice about my interactions with groomers/vets, you pictures of grooming and advice. I think you can't possibly get paid enough to do what you do based on money. I can tell you love the dogs.