You’re dropping off your dog at the groomer. Great!
There’s no mistaking it: Your pooch will be bathed and pampered and will look beautiful by the end of the grooming session.
But did you ever wonder how you might help make the day go a little bit smoother for both your pet and the groomer?
I’ve been a groomer for a while now, and over the years I’ve seen the good and the bad. So I’ve put together this quick list of things your groomer wishes you knew. These 10 tips are not only important for your dog’s physical and emotional well-being, but following them will make your groomer’s job a bit easier.
1. Prepare Your Dog Early
A groomer’s worst nightmare is having to cut a dog’s nails if the dog can’t stand being touched on the paws. That’s why it’s crucial to start getting your pet used to having those paws touched as early as possible.
The best time to start is when your dog is just a puppy and you don’t have to touch the paws for very long. The key is to make sure your pet is comfortable with the touch.
2. Start Grooming Early
Sometimes the grooming experience can be somewhat traumatic at first. Fortunately, puppies are much more adaptable. Bonus for starting grooming early: The fur is less likely to get matted.
Don’t fall prey to the thought that your puppy doesn’t need a haircut. Just take him for an “introductory” appointment, and everyone will be happier for it.
3. Brush Regularly
When thinking about your dog’s fur, you should compare it to your own hair. You brush your hair every day, and if you don’t it becomes knotty. The same is true of your dog’s fur. Although you don’t have to brush it daily, you should do so at least every few days to prevent knots and make the grooming experience easier.
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4. Check Feet and Ears
Keep an eye on the feet (including nails) and ears. Remember that debris can sometimes stick to these places and can be uncomfortable for pets.
5. Groom Regularly
Regular brushing is not enough to keep fur in check. If you want the coat (as well as the nails) to be truly healthy, bring your pet to the groomer regularly.
6. Keep Calm and Carry On
Your groomer would really like it if you could try to stay calm when you drop your pooch off. Remember that the dog will pick up on any of your anxiety, and that will make him scared and more likely to squirm.
Also, don’t drop in to see if your pet is finished. This will get him excited and make the job much more difficult.
7. Be Specific
Groomers work with a lot of dogs all day long, and each client wants a slightly different thing. So be as specific as possible with your groomer. If you just want the nails trimmed and the fur trimmed a little, then say so. If you want something more specific, try bringing in a picture to show the groomer.
To see a variety of different cuts, you can find examples on the internet or attend a dog show.
The video below, from Petful, shows groomers hard at work at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show:
8. Listen to Your Groomer
Some people tend to forget that their groomer has gone through training. This means the groomer has a very good idea of what types of cuts will look best on which dogs. If you say you want your pup’s fur cut a certain way and your groomer suggests something else, at least consider the suggestion even if you don’t end up agreeing to it.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Wash
Some people are worried that if they wash their dog’s fur too often, it will start to dry out the skin. In reality, this is not a problem as long as you select the right shampoo. If you aren’t sure which one to go with, ask your groomer for advice. S/he will be glad to help, because frequent washing will make her job easier.
If your dog has a thick coat, it’s a good idea to ask about bathing at home so you don’t contribute to any skin trouble or matting issues.
10. Avoid Matting
Your groomer wants you to know just how serious a problem matting can be. Matted fur is uncomfortable for dogs because it pulls on their skin and can be difficult for the groomer to remove. In most cases it will need to be shaved off in small pieces.
Also, de-matting a dog may be more dangerous than helpful, so listen to a professional groomer’s advice in this instance.
Now that we’ve talked about 10 things your groomer wants to tell you — let’s talk about 5 things your groomer won’t tell you…
5 Things Your Dog Groomer Won’t Tell You
Dog groomers are generally hardworking, patient and dedicated people. They put up with a lot of shenanigans on those tables, and most won’t hesitate to tell you when your dog has been cutting up instead of standing still for their cut.
But there are some things dog groomers won’t tell you, perhaps because they’re too polite.
Lucky for you, I’m not too polite. Here are some things your groomer may not mention but that you should know.
Tipping for services is a way of life here in the United States.
You tip your bartender, your delivery person (or, in my case, delivery people), your hair stylist and just about anyone else who performs a service for you.
Translation: Tip your dog groomer.
You may not see it, but your dog isn’t always an angel on the table, and although he looks fresh and renewed when you pick him up, his groomer may have come by her own exhausted and battered look legitimately.
You may want to tip even more than you normally would depending on certain circumstances, such as when your dog:
- Bites, claws or otherwise injures the groomer
- Is badly matted
- Has fecal matter or other debris stuck to his fur
- Is difficult to manage or control
2. Accidents Happen
While working with your pooch, groomers use some sharp instruments, such as scissors and clippers.
And although their utmost attention is going to your dog, accidents sometimes happen, especially if Freddy is overly active on the table or is covered in mats or filth.
Your groomer often feels much worse about accidentally harming your dog than you can imagine. In her book Going to the Dogs: Confessions of a Dog Mobile Pet Groomer, Jan Nieman talks about one of her sessions with a heavily matted lhasa apso:
“As I worked the scissors through his mats, I spotted blood on his fur…. I was horrified to see I had inadvertently sliced into his tightly coiled tail…. I set him on the floor with Minnie, disconnected my electrical cord and raced to a local vet as though I was on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World.”
Help prevent these types of injuries by keeping your dog brushed and free of mats between professional grooming sessions.
3. Be Realistic
Your dog has certain physical characteristics determined by his breed. Some dogs have short coats, some long, some curly and some straight.
So please don’t ask your groomer to perform a miraculous cut on a dog who just doesn’t have either enough hair for it or the right kind of hair. You cannot, for example, clip a Rottweiler in the traditional poodle style. It just won’t work.
4. Please Stop Calling So Much
Groomers understand schedules and know that yours is just as busy as theirs.
But many grooming salons don’t have a dedicated phone person, so whenever the phone rings, they need to take Freddy off the table and answer the phone — which also puts the grooming process on hold.
That means that while your dog’s grooming session should have taken only about 2 hours, phone interruptions take it up to 3.
Limit yourself to 1 phone call, please. Your groomer will tell you an approximate pickup time when you drop Freddy off, and many groomers will call to let you know if he’s finished or requires more time.
5. Grooming Is Stressful
Grooming is a labor of love, so it’s important that you understand how stressful the job can be.
Many dogs don’t take well to being left with strangers in an unfamiliar environment full of new smells and weird noises. This sometimes means working with 200-pound dogs who are putting up a real fight.
Although dogs are sometimes muzzled, it’s not unheard of for a dog to break or slip out of the muzzle and cause serious injury to the groomer.
Groomers must stay on their toes and focus on each animal at their table to avoid stressing their charges — or themselves — out as much as possible.
Dog grooming is fun, and I love it, but it also comes with a major list of potential headaches, most of which your groomer will never tell you about.
So be a good client. Be punctual and understanding, show appreciation and, hey, maybe even bring your groomer a cookie or two.
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Melissa Smith contributed to this article.