My second favorite thing at work is to hear parents relieved, and often surprised, that their dog did just fine, and watch as the dog emerges from the back happy, tail wagging, and sometimes running back into the crate area to visit their new friends instead of cowering at the door ready to leave.
My first favorite thing is when that pet comes back for their next visit and walks happily back with me, ready for a good bath and a nap in the drying room.
Parents play a huge part in making sure their dog is comfortable, feeling safe, and has a pleasurable experience at the shop. Here are the things we love parents to do, so that working together, we can make grooming a happy event and not a stress-fest.
1) Research your new groomer so YOU feel comfortable and excited about their visit! Dogs rely on body language and tone of voice to interpret what is going on. Call us and ask questions before you set up your appointment! If you feel comfortable, your dog will know everything is ok.
2) Make drop-off time quick and painless. Nothing is so frustrating to us as seeing a happy dog suddenly made nervous because the owner suddenly feels the urge to squeeze them as if they are never coming back, and nervously baby-talk them as if we are about to hold them down and torture them! The poor dogs wonder what kind of horrible thing is about to happen that mom feels so badly about!
3) Put their comfort first, before aesthetics when choosing a style. The happiest clients are those who let the groomer do whatever is best for the pet. While we totally understand that long, flowy hair IS beautiful, and DOES suit many dogs’ personalities, the reality is that if you don’t want to maintain that by brushing it as often as do your own hair, it is utterly unfair to have a groomer pull and brush and pull and brush and pick and comb for 45 extra minutes just to save an inch of coat. That dog will not want to come back and do that again! We don’t blame him! If you don’t want to brush at home, please let us keep your pet at a length that makes his experience refreshing and nice, not lengthy and uncomfortable!
4) When you pick them up, DO tell them how nice they look, snuggle them, and get them a treat! A dog who feels they did a good job and looks adorable will be thrilled to come back again to please their master. Even if you think they look like a rat, tell them how beautiful they are. Remember, they are reading everything about your posture and voice for approval, and if they feel you are unsatisfied with their new ‘do, they will be apprehensive to try it again. To some people this sounds a little nuts, but it is totally true…
Tangent: years ago I knew a groomer who had a client who always had to be shaved down because of matting. The owner hated to do this but went far too long between appointments so that it couldn’t be helped. The customer finally confronted the groomer over the phone accusing her of beating the dog, because every time the dog came back it would hide under the bed all afternoon. The groomer told her to go in there and tell that poor dog how beautiful she was. After much discussion the woman did so, and the poor embarrassed dog was restored to her confident, happy self. Magic!
5) Ask questions about their service. Groomers are in a great position to notice new moles, growths, ear infections or skin irritations, and changes in weight (because we don’t see them every day we often notice weight gain or loss that the parents weren’t sure about because they see them all the time!) Also sometimes we notice changes in behavior or mood that corroborate a parent’s “gut feeling” about their dog’s health. We make every effort to make notes about these things, but please do always ask us!
Also, using a groomer who does not require an all-day stay can help reduce stress and separation anxiety. I am leery of “no crate” operations because the high-power blow dryer necessary to thoroughly dry a pet in a short period of time is very loud and can cause injury if used around the eyes, ears, or privates. At our shop we try to balance this, by using the high-power dryer for about 5 minutes to blow out and straighten the coat to prevent tangles and ensure an even cut, but let the dog relax under a cool fan for another hour or so to thoroughly dry the face, tail, toes, etc. Most of them fall asleep in the drying room to the hum of the fans and are quite content.
Working together, parents and groomers can make sure our dogs enjoy their day at the spa and leave feeling refreshed and happy. Thanks for reading! 🙂