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Theory of Five Wins Barkleigh Book of the Year!

CMG Melissa Verplank’s The Theory of Five has been selected for Barkleigh’s New Book of the Year Award! Tune in to hear Melissa talk about the evolution of The Theory of Five – a method of grooming she developed to create reproducible results and systematic communication with team groomers and clients. From it’s early inception to the foundation it has become for dog grooming instruction, the Theory of Five has helped groomers around the world save time and make money.

If you’d like to purchase The Theory of Five, it can be found here: http://bit.ly/2ks0d3t

Want to learn to groom dogs on campus or online? Visit ParagonPetSchool.com and get $100 off tuition with code LUCKYDOG.


Top Ten Grooming Videos

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#10 – How to Create a Stylish Salon Trim on a Mixed Breed

For this lesson, Kathy Rose puts this little dog in a super cute haircut. It’s not only appealing, but it’s also easy for the owner to care for, too. Trims like this are what bring owners back again and again. They are the bread and butter of every successful salon.
This is a highly detailed lesson. It’s perfect for newer groomers who want to add style and flair to their work.

Judy will teach you how to shorten up a Golden Retriever without destroying the natural body coat. She starts off by trimming the pads and the feet. She discusses the benefits of de-shedding a dog instead of shaving off the coat. Finally, she addresses the longer furnishings and shows you how to contour them while still maintaining a very natural look on the dog.

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In this lesson, seasoned professional stylist Judy Hudson walks you through the basics with this young Standard Poodle. As Judy says, “The clipper work is the foundation of all good grooming!” She shows you how to get that perfectly clean face, feet, and tail, quickly and safely. If you are a groomer who is struggling to get perfectly clean clipper work (especially around those pesky toes), Judy’s insight will be immensely helpful.

The Paragon School of Pet Grooming Introduces the NEW Distance Learning Program


Spring Trip

My husband, Marc and I are back from a four-week working road trip. For the past few years, we’ve traveled for almost the entire month of March. After all – who wants to be in Michigan in March? Each Spring, we’ve loaded up our bikes, kayaks, dogs, and filming gear and hit the road.

crystal riverThe trip this year started out with the Atlanta Pet Fair before heading south to Florida. Our itinerary included lots of work but also plenty of downtime. We kayaked with the manatees in Crystal Springs and enjoyed the unbelievable clarity of the Rainbow River. On one of the rivers we kayaked, we came a bit too close to a large alligator sunning himself on the bank. I swear it looked like an old tire sitting on the river bank – until it MOVED! We paddled away very quickly!

JumpingWe attended the Live Oaks International Horse Show where we watched show jumping and the exhilarating marathon driving event. The show jumping took me back to my younger years when I showed hunters and jumpers.  With each stride and jump, I was right there with the rider. Read the rest of this entry »


Bardel Bows – Success Comes from Sweating the Details

Pineola FarmsThe Atlanta Pet Fair was the kickoff for trade shows east of the Mississippi. To my husband Marc and myself, the Atlanta Pet Fair signals a month-long road trip in our motor coach.

I love this trip. As we drive from the frigid north country, we see spring explode as we drive south. Instead of seeing a season slowly wake up, we see it in full bloom in a matter of hours. I get so excited as I see the first daffodils, the first red buds blooming, and the leaves just giving a hint of green. By the time we hit Atlanta, spring is upon us. It’ll only be a matter of time before our kayaks will be in the water and our bikes hit the trails.

After the Atlanta Pet Fair, we schedule film shoots for Learn2GroomDogs.com. We enjoy filming Training Partners in their salons and many of live in the southern section of the United States. We’ve gotten very good at combining work and relaxing downtime for ourselves.

Normally our schedule is very rigid, but this year we cut ourselves some slack. Between the Atlanta Pet Fair and our first film shoot, we had a little bit of unscheduled time. Read the rest of this entry »


Proactively Dealing with Skin and Coat Issues

There are times in most professional groomers’ careers when customers mistakenly blame others for their pet issues. There are a wide range of possible scenarios that happen before or during the grooming process, including:

  • During bathing, a scab falls away from an older injury, making it look like a fresh wound.
  • Removing tight mats from the leather results in an ear hematoma.
  • A dog arrives for his appointment with fleas or ticks. However, the client refuses to believe their pet had them prior to stepping into your salon.
  • After trimming a pet with super sensitive skin, an area becomes inflamed once it gets home.
Quote In A Circle

How do you proactively handle these situations and prevent having upset customers?

Three ways.

  1. Communication
  2. Honesty
  3. Proof

Read the rest of this entry »


How to Use Anatomy to Groom the English Setter

Quote In A CircleExcellent grooming starts always starts with a firm understating of canine anatomy. It is the FOUNDATION of all grooming.

Basic pattern lines are set based on the muscle and bone structure. Depending on how physically active a dog is, the muscle structure may be very prominent. It could be lurking under a layer of fat. It may also be poorly developed due to age or lack of physical activity. Nonetheless, those muscles are there. They will help you set symmetrical and correct pattern lines.

The bones are there, too. Whether the dog is anatomically correct when compared to the breed standard is something else altogether. Understanding what a physically sound dog is will help you immensely. When you know the difference between good and bad structure, you’ll be able to hide many faults.

When we combine all the layers of the dog – the bones, muscles, the skin, and the fur – we will be able to mold and shape the coat to highlight the dog’s best features and downplay the others. If the bone structure is a little less than perfect, you can use the hair to camouflage those defects.

Before you begin grooming any dog, get your hands on them! Close your eyes. Feel the structure under the coat. Sink your fingers deep in the fur. Pay close attention to the muscle groups highlighted in color in these diagrams. Read the rest of this entry »


I Want a “Puppy Cut”

“Give my dog a puppy cut.”

Ask 10 customers or groomers to describe this style and I bet you get 10 different answers. One one hand, it’s a great conversation starter! On the other, it’s a quick way to discover how easy it is to misunderstand one another.

The puppy cut is popular because it works well on a wide variety of pets.  Almost any breed that grows longer coat can be done in this easy-to-care for style. Yet, the puppy cut is also the most misunderstood haircut in grooming salons around the country. Why? There are no clear directions of what this trim actually is or how it should be done. It’s left up to individual personal interpretation by owners, groomers, or talented pet stylists.

The puppy cut started as a trim style for young Poodles in the dog show world. Once the puppy is a year old, it is put into the elaborate adult haircut for the conformation ring. Today, the term “puppy cut” is used very loosely. It can apply to a wide variety of different breeds. It’s highly adaptable to any size of dog or coat type.

Many owners love this style of trim – and with good reason. It’s cute, easy to care for, and easy for customers to remember by name. In this trim, the dog does not drag in dirt and debris from outdoors. Their ears don’t drag in the food or water dish. The need for brushing between grooming appointments is minimized. On smaller pets, bathing between grooming appointments is a breeze. What’s not to love? Read the rest of this entry »


Joe Zuccarello Joins the Melissa Verplank Team

Joe MVHave you ever experienced growing pains with your business? Sometimes it seems like your company is doing great, but you still need more help. The more you work – the more you get behind. You need more talent. Better ideas. New ways to grow the business.

I’ve been there many times. In fact, I’ve disagreed with my brother-in-law, Ron on how to best grow a business. He’s always recommended hiring top talent. I’ve almost always opted to grow my own. Most of the time I’ve been able to cultivate talent to grow my companies from within our team. But this time I’m following Ron’s advice – I’m hiring top talent.

I am so excited to have Joe Zuccarello join our team.

Joe is no stranger to the pet industry, myself, or my team. I have had the privilege of working with Joe on several occasions. For a year, he worked with my team as a consultant in 2009. In 2016, Joe returned to work as a private consultant with my team.

Joe has spent time at The Paragon School of Pet Grooming. He’s been to Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa. He’s spoken to groups of pet professionals at the school. He’s been a Training Partner on Learn2GroomDogs.com. We’ve seen each other at trade shows and had the opportunity to share the lecture stage at industry events. We’ve always had the utmost respect for each other’s knowledge and talents. Read the rest of this entry »


How to Set a Tuck-Up

I love it when I get questions from our Learn2Groomdogs.com members. Not long ago, Mishelle H. asked if I could do a blog about tuck-ups. She said, “I’m never satisfied with mine.  Skirted breeds or not, just can’t seem to master them.”

It would seem to be a simple question, but there’s no one answer. There are variables depending on many things, including:

  • the type of dog you are working on
  • the type of haircut
  • the type of coat
  • the technique you choose to use to establish the tuck-up area

BichonWhat is the tuck-up area on a dog?

It’s the natural waistline.

The waistline is made up of the loin in the flank. It falls right behind the rib cage and before the rump. Depending on the dog’s build, some waistlines are well-established. Others are barely visible due to bone structure or being overweight.

Ideally, you want to see a bit of a waistline on most dogs. However, that waistline does not wrap all the way around the dog. It’s a pocket just below the loin in the flank area where the back leg joins the body. Depending on the dog’s conformation, this is a key balance point. Read the rest of this entry »


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From the atmosphere and lay out of your salon, marketing to attract and keep clients, to how many dogs you are going to do that day, Melissa and Joe will help you map out a plan for Success!

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