With more and more households owning a dog, professional dog grooming is now a necessity for a lot of people. Dog grooming is a highly skilled trade, and most groomers spend several years perfecting their trade. Working with moving targets and sharp equipment is a challenge on its own, but there’s several things every dog owner should know about grooming and how to best prepare their dogs for it.
Getting your dog used to grooming should start on the day you bring a new puppy home. We all know how important it is to teach basic obedience to your dog, but many new dog owners are advised by their puppy’s breeder that grooming doesn’t come into the picture until the dog is 6-12 months old! Your puppy may not need an actual haircut until this age, but regular brushing at home and trips to the groomer for ‘puppy introduction’ sessions is essential and should start as soon as your puppy is allowed to go outside after their jabs. Visiting a groomer from an early age gets them used to all the weird smells and sensations as well as being handled by a stranger (this will help with vet visits too!). Your groomer is also able to teach you correct brushing techniques and advise you on the tools you need to keep your puppy matt free between visits.
The amount of brushing required depends on your dog and their coat type. A wire-haired Jack Russell won’t need the same kind of attention as a curly Cockapoo for example. No matter what breed your dog is, you need to brush your dog from nose to tail. This includes taking their collar and harness off and brushing underneath all those areas thoroughly. If you don’t brush your dog regularly and all the way down to the skin, you risk your dog’s coat becoming matted and your groomer having to clip the coat off to remove the matting. This is often where us groomers get a lot of negativity, and we are accused of being lazy and that we are “taking the easy way out”.
Trust me when I say that groomers don’t do clip-offs for fun! We would much rather do exactly what you ask for instead of clipping your dog’s coat short, but we all operate under The Animal Welfare Act 2006 and must place humanity before vanity. We often get asked to just brush the matts out, but this is an incredibly painful process for your dog and will make the grooming experience a negative one. It’s important to remember that it’s only hair and it will grow back, and your dog will appreciate being comfortable again. You wouldn’t let your hair get matted and then demand your hairdresser to brush it out, so please don’t ask us to do it to your dog either!
We also ask for honesty from our customers. If your dog has any kind of history with aggression, please tell us! Don’t downplay their behaviour or forget to mention something, as this helps us prepare for your dog’s appointment. If we know your dog may react to any part of the grooming negatively, we know to look out for any signs of stress or use restraining equipment (such as a muzzle) to keep both us and your dog safe. Being honest with us isn’t going to make us refuse your dog, but not telling us could lead to injury and refusal at your next appointment.
Due to the nature of our job and the skill required to carry it out safely, this means we must charge appropriately. We are highly skilled manual workers just like plumbers, beauticians, and hairdressers, but often get questioned over our pricing. Many ask why getting their dog’s hair cut is more expensive than it is for them. As already mentioned earlier, we work on constantly moving targets that don’t understand to stand still while we use sharp equipment on them. We also wash, dry, brush and trim all over your dog, while you only have hair growing from the top of your head. And as most of us are self-employed, we must split the money we charge to several different pots - salon overheads, insurance, tax and national insurance, equipment maintenance and our own wages just to mention a few. Grooming is a constantly evolving industry, so we also spend a lot of time and money attending seminars and additional training to keep improving our service to you and your dog.
We always have your dog’s best interest at heart and want a fantastic working relationship with you! It may seem like just a haircut to you, but this is our livelihood and our passion. These are just a few important points to keep in mind, we simply ask for your patience and understanding when it comes to grooming your dog.