Does your fur baby ever come back from the salon looking nothing like you expected? Are you sure you appropriately communicated with the groomer?
Below are some tips on talking to your groomer and getting what you’re after.
I’ve been in the dog grooming industry for over 20 years now.
Over the years, while talking to other groomers, the same stories come up no matter what country you live in… the same misunderstandings and the same requirements and frustrations.
Dog groomers are under a lot of pressure these days. They are not only catching up with post lockdown haircuts for their existing clients but also trying to fit in new lockdown puppies. They work tirelessly for many long hours, and some have no days off. Been there, done that… not anymore.
To make everybody’s life easier, clear communication is key while also remembering that good communication is a two-way street.
If you are a happy owner of a new puppy, you should take your puppy to visit your dog groomer about a week or two after the second vaccination. Even if the puppy doesn’t need a ‘grown-up’ haircut, it’s a good idea to introduce your puppy to this new environment, with so many different smells and noises. Many dog groomers offer a free introduction session, including nail trimming, brushing, ear cleaning, and even a bath and tidy up. This first session will help the groomer and the puppy build a relationship that will be a foundation for their future work together.
During this intro session, your groomer can advise you on brushing your puppy and what tools to use.
What questions to expect from your groomer.
Your dog groomer should ask you open-ended (instead of yes/no) questions about your dog and the style you require. Follow these open-ended questions with more direct questions because this can help ensure that you and your groomer understand each other clearly.
After examining the coat, your groomer will ask you what length of coat you would like on the body, legs, tail, head, and ears.
All pure breeds have a standard trim that’s required for a show ring. And sometimes even a few, for example, Poodles. However, if you are not planning to show your dog, you can get creative as much as you like (with a dogs’ welfare in mind, obviously)
So when your dog groomer asks you how long you would like the coat (assuming that the dog is well brushed), please avoid the answer:
“Short but not too short.”
This answer is very confusing. For one person, short is 3mm and for another 2″. If you find it difficult to imagine the exact length, your groomer may show you the blades and comb attachments to help you choose.
“Don’t shave my dog. The last groomer shaved him, and I didn’t like it.”
If you take your dog to a reputable and caring groomer and he/she shaves your dog, there is usually a reason for that. This reason is most likely, a matted coat.
Matting refers to densely tangled clumps of fur in a pet’s coat. If a coat is not properly and/or frequently brushed, loose and live hair becomes embedded in large masses. Some coat types also matt easier and quicker than others. Harsh coats ( Fox Terrier, Airedale Terrier) don’t matt as quickly as the wool coats of a Poodle or Bichon, or the mix wool coat of a Cockapoo and Doodle.
There are two main reasons your groomer will suggest clipping:
1) If your dog won’t tolerate de-matting, it’s the only sensible thing to do. De-matting solid knots is not only painful (imagine you have dreadlocks and you try to brush them out), but it also damages the coat.
2) If the coat is solidly matted and it looks like felting. This results in it being impossible to penetrate the coat with water, shampoo, and conditioner.
After all this, the good news is that the coat will grow back, and while it’s growing, you can systematically brush and comb your dog.
Is brushing your dog stressing you and your dog out? Why not try Calming Floral Spray. Many groomers use it in their salon with excellent results. I frequently use it on our puppies when teaching them to be brushed, bathed, and trimmed, and it does work!
“I want him to look like the dog in this picture.”
Another common requirement that can cause a lot of misunderstanding. When we buy a particular breed, we all want it to look a certain way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t realise (me included, years ago) how much work is involved in creating this definite look.
If you’re not showing and don’t want to put that much effort into the whole process, you have to compromise.
“Don’t make him look like a poodle.”
Fellow groomers hear this sentence far too often from crossbreeds owners. Sometimes this isn’t easy, especially if your Cockapoo, Schnoodle, or Labradoodle has a very curly coat like one of his parents or grandparents… the Poodle. Yes, the face and feet don’t have to be shaved, but the coat on the body and legs will look like a poodle. Also, with age, the coat usually gets more curly, and there is nothing anyone can do.
Credit: Lisa Hart Grooming
Life is too short not to fret over things that cannot be changed. We need to learn to adjust our expectations and change our outlook. Then we don’t waste moments that could have been great ones.
My last piece of advice, book your pup’s next grooming session well in advance to avoid disappointment.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Anthony Robbins
About the author: Jitka Krizova has a great love for animals and became a professional dog groomer in 1998, subsequently establishing the Vita Canis Dog Grooming Salon in Slovakia. She has won many awards including British Groomer of the Year 2006, Euro Groom Best in Show 2006, 2007, 2009, Groomania Best In Show 2010 and Master Groom Best In Show 2012.
Jitka also owns a brand of natural products for dogs & their owners called Vita Canis. All the products are 100% natural and hand made.