Using A Dog Groomer

Using A Dog Groomer

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]  

There is more to grooming a dog than just clipping the hair, putting the dog in a tub, putting on some shampoo, and washing the dog off. For most dogs, it is better to hire a professional to do it for you.

Finding A Groomer

Many years ago, I owned a Bouvier des Flanders. A Bouvier is a 90 lb flock guarding breed with a soft curly coat that needs regular grooming. The AKC Breed Standard describes the coat as follows: “A tousled, double coat capable of withstanding the hardest work in the most inclement weather. The outer hairs are rough and harsh, with the undercoat being fine, soft and dense. The coat may be trimmed slightly only to accent the body line. Overtrimming which alters the natural rugged appearance is to be avoided. Topcoat must be harsh to the touch, dry, trimmed, if necessary, to a length of approximately 2½ inches. A coat too long or too short is a fault, as is a silky or woolly coat. It is tousled without being curly. On the skull, it is short, and on the upper part of the back, it is particularly close and harsh always, however, remaining rough. Ears are rough-coated. Undercoat a dense mass of fine, close hair, thicker in winter. Together with the topcoat, it will form a water-resistant covering.”

Regardless of what the Breed Standard says, the Bouvier coat is very difficult to maintain. The dog is a great dog, and I have to say that my Bouv was a terrific friend. But, the grooming was a lot of work.

My Bouvier needed daily brushing to prevent matting. Even if you had brushed the dog’s coat in the morning, there could be a large mat under an armpit by the afternoon. If the dog got wet, then all of the longer hair on the face, chest and legs would form into long, matted dreadlocks. In addition, you need to take the dog to a professional groomer once per month in order to have the proper appearance, and to prevent excessive matting.

When I purchased the dog, I used the breeder’s groomers. They did a pretty good job for the first couple of years. Then, I felt that the grooming went down hill. My dog started coming back with electric razor burns on her ears, sides, tail and legs. Sometimes the dog was shaved and clipped, but not bathed. I don’t know what happened during that time, but the quality of the grooming went from good to very poor, so I decided to find a new groomer.

When I decided that the breeder’s groomers were no longer doing a good job, I decided to attend a local dog show to find a Bouvier groomer. When I walked over to the area where the Bouviers were lining up to be shown in the ring, I looked to see which ones looked the best. I started asking around, and was referred to the groomer who had groomed the best looking dogs. I made arrangements for her to groom my dog. She lived nearly an hour away from where I lived. I didn’t really care. I’ll do whatever I need to do for my dogs wellbeing. I still remember picking up my dog after the appointment. She looked phenomenal… BUT, she wanted out of there. She dragged me back to the car, and I could tell something was wrong. After that appointment, she would never allow me to cut her nails without growling and baring her teeth. And something else, indefinable, had happened that day. I am sure they were rough on her there. I suspected they had hit her, but couldn’t prove it. So, I decided I wouldn’t take her back there.

Since that failed, I then tried to groom her myself. I purchased a grooming shaver and scissors.

THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE. I am NOT a groomer. When I was finished with her, she looked like a hairy coconut. Everyone made fun of me and my dog! So, that little experiment failed, too.

I still don’t remember how I found another groomer, but it was through a referral. This new groomer didn’t make my dog look as perfect as that show dog groomer I found, but, my dog always loved going there, and came out looking good and clean and she was happy. So, I stuck with this groomer for all the remaining years I had her.

I had learned some hard lessons, and I had also found what I felt was an example of a good groomer. Yes, I want my dog to look terrific, but it was more important that my dog was treated kindly and for my dog to enjoy the grooming experience.

Using A Groomer

Most people have no idea how to properly care for their dog’s skin and coat. On the other hand, professional groomers know more about dog hair and skin care than most dog owners, and some know more than most veterinarians.

I remember helping find a home for a 2 year old Rottweiler. This dog was abandoned at a groomer’s place of business, and left at her place in terrible condition. The dog was almost hairless and had hot spots all over. Because her business was skin and hair, she knew how to remedy the situation. With a combination of nutritional supplements, and proper skin and hair treatments, she helped nurse this dog back into good condition. Whoever had dropped the dog off at her place, anonymously, had given up on the dog. It was a really nice dog that just needed some TLC (tender loving care). When I met the dog, you would never have known the dog had come in with a serious skin problem. I helped the groomer find a new home for the dog. One of my dog training contacts had recently suffered the loss of her pet Doberman to cancer. She was ready for a new dog, and this Rottweiler was in the right place at the right time. She adopted this terrific dog and was thrilled.

What About Bathing Your Dog On Your Own?

Bathing a dog properly is a lot of work, especially if the dog is big, very dirty, also needs grooming, or if the dog doesn’t like being bathed.

I own big dogs. Big dogs are more difficult to bathe than small dogs. A big dog can knock you down in the tub or shower and seriously injure you. A big dog can slam the glass door of the shower and cause it to shatter. A big dog can fight you in the bath and make the process a total pain. I know of a breeder of big dogs that has constructed a special outdoor tile shower for her dogs. Most of her dogs are around 125 to 160 lbs, and it was too much work, and too dangerous to the dogs, to bring them inside and bathe them in a bathtub. Not all of us have the luxury of having the space and finances to construct a specialized dog shower on our property. On the other hand, it can be difficult to bathe a small dog, too.

Some people find the grooming so difficult or time consuming, they let the grooming of their dogs get way out of control. I have seen some very dirty, scruffy, uncombed dogs dropped off at the groomers. These dogs had been allowed to get so dirty and matted that you knew the dogs were extremely uncomfortable. Several times, these dogs were so dirty that you could hardly stand being around these dogs while they were being shaved down prior to their baths. In almost every case, these dogs were owned by elderly couples who had found that the bathing was just too much, so things had gotten way out of control. The dogs had to first be sheared like a lamb. These weren’t like the normal grooming situations groomers normally have. I remember a small dog I saw groomed that was so matted and dirty the dog couldn’t hardly walk, the ears were matted against the head of the dog, you couldn’t tell if the dog was a male or female, and dog poop had caked and hardened around the dog’s tail. It took two people nearly 3 solid hours to just shave off all that matted hair. There was no way to even brush the dog out. So much dust came out of the coat, it was like you had poured a handful of sand all over the dog’s back. Then, there was the tick removal. Then the bath, tick and flea dip, ear cleaning, and nail clipping. This one dog took 2 people all afternoon. The owners weren’t short of cash. They just let this situation get way out of hand, to the point that you’d have to say it was abusive and neglectful of the dog. The groomer charged the owners double for the time involved.

Then there are the dogs that are terrified of being groomed. This can be prevented if you start the grooming in a patient, regular and kind way with your puppy. But, many people try to do it all themselves, and make their dogs resent or be seriously afraid of being groomed. I will work with your groomer to help work with you and your dog to overcome your dog’s grooming difficulties. It is very harmful for you to force your dog to take a bath, especially when your dog is panicking or thrashing around. It is also foolish to allow your dog to become afraid of nail clipping. I have seen many dogs that were treated way too roughly in the grooming process, to the point the dogs became dangerous to groom. For these dogs, the bathing has become a serious behavioral and health issue. If you have one of these types of dogs, I will work in conjunction with your groomer, to help your dog accept grooming. Please call to set up an evaluation, appointment and receive a price quote.

Common Dog Grooming Mistakes

Here are the big mistakes when it comes to grooming your dog:

Not grooming frequently enough

Not properly introducing nail clipping, making the dog afraid

Pinning a dog down

Not brushing the dog regularly

Not using regular flea and tick dips, in conjunction with parasite control at your home

Not using a professional groomer

Not finding a groomer that is kind to your dog

Using harsh chemicals and soaps

Not exercising the dog thoroughly before the grooming, so the dog is calmer during the process

Not pottying the dog prior to grooming

Burning the dog’s skin with human hair driers

Cutting the nails too closely and causing excessive bleeding

Not reading the dog’s attitude, making sure the dog isn’t afraid

Doing the grooming yourself, if you don’t know how to do it properly

Not thinking about safety

Not obedience training your dog: A dog that takes commands is much easier to groom than an untrained dog

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