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.
The 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!
The 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 »
Spring is here – and not a moment too soon! Many of us will be seeing a lot of pets that are ready for a great makeover in the coming weeks.
As many of you know, I’m a big dog person. Working on these large furry dogs that have a huge shedding problem is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon. Over the years I’ve gotten really quick with the process and rarely cringe, no matter what the size of the dog, nor the condition.
My #1 rule is: Never work on a dirty dog. If water can penetrate the coat, let your products do the job.
Working on a dirty dog is not only unpleasant, but it also takes longer to do. There will be a lot of coat damage and breakage. A dirty coat is dry and brittle. The dirt and dander trapped within the fur makes it more difficult to brush out. Working on a clean coat will be easier for both you and the pet – and much more enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
How do you proactively handle these situations and prevent having upset customers?
Excellent 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 »
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 »
Have 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.
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
What 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 »
When I am speaking at industry events, I like to ask, “How many of you took a vacation last year?” It’s shocking how often large portions of my audiences do not raise their hands.
We groomers are hard workers, and it’s easy to find reasons or excuses not to take time off. But down time is good for you. It’s good for your staff. Research proves its good for everyone’s mental and physical health. Plus, it boosts productivity in the long run.
My companies have always had generous vacation policies. I firmly believe personal time to rest and relax or to pursue other activities improves morale. It’s important to everyone’s well-being to spend quality time with loved ones, relax, or have new adventures.
I just returned from one of my favorite vacations. I’m fortunate. I have a father who has had a sailboat in the Caribbean Islands for over 30 years. Rarely a year passes that I don’t get to spend time with my dad, friends, and family on the boat. This year my close friend and industry leader, Judy Hudson, was able to join my husband Marc and I on the boat. Read the rest of this entry »
Call them what you like. That woven mess of dirt and hair can often determine what kind of trim can be done on a pet. They are the best friend – and the worst enemy – of the professional pet groomer.
The key to dealing with these trouble areas is knowing how to identify them and deal with them effectively.
4 Types of Mats
Lack of Maintenance: These mats are the results of dirt, static, and moisture. The owner brushes between grooming appointments but these sessions are not as effective or as frequent as they should be. More frequent bathing and brushing to remove dense undercoat is needed in these cases. The mats produced from poor maintenance are generally smaller and can be removed with the proper knowledge, tools, and products.
Neglect: These tangles are tough. Typically, these mats are the result of longer-term neglect and are very tight and difficult to remove. The dog’s coat is often in extremely overall poor shape and is very dirty. They can be a hiding place for pests like fleas and ticks and may lead to skin damage or injury.
Friction: Friction mats are caused when two areas rub together. It could be from a collar, dog sweater, or from a body part (like behind the ears or under the front legs) – but is not limited to those areas. Depending on the activity level of the dog, friction mats could be found up and down the legs, on long ears, or the tail. These are the areas that come in contact with other areas like tall grasses or even the ground.
Compression: This type of tangle is generally found on the rear of the dog. It is caused from sitting or lying down. Dogs that shed heavily will have dead coat packed into the guard coat, and if not removed, will clump and mat as moisture and compression do their work. Just like people, dogs tend to be left or right-sided. The compression type density will be worse on one side more than the other.