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Ways to Work with a Nervous Dog Prior to the Groom to Win Their Trust

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Video DescriptionAbout Linda C. Claflin-Phelps


10 minutes



In this Spotlight Session Linda Claflin-Phelps has some special tips that can help even a nervous Rottweiler relax on the grooming table.  Linda takes time to read this dog’s body language and work with the pet’s apprehension to help earn its confidence. By taking the time to set the proper tone with the pet, Linda is going to have a more cooperative client and the pet is going to have a more positive grooming experience.

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Linda C. Claflin-Phelps

Linda C. (Linda CC) Claflin-Phelps has a lifetime experience of grooming dogs. When she was 12 years old, she watched her parents Poodles being groomed and it wasn't long before she asked for a pair of clippers. It became evident from grooming the family dogs that she had a talent for it. The neighbors hired her, and in high school Linda had her own grooming concession in a vets office. Fortunately, life brought her in contact with Jarbas Godoy and her boss, Dottie who taught her to notice a higher level of detail. After attending college, she managed and was a co-owner of a natural food store. Sensing a need for a change, she moved to New England, and upon seeing a job opening for grooming, she was hooked again. In the few years of her absence from grooming, the industry had grown. At her first seminar at the New England Pet Grooming Professionals, Linda was deeply moved by the beautiful work. She was struck by the serious dedication and respect for the art and craft of grooming shown by the top people there. At that moment, she had found her calling and has avidly worked to improve her skills from that point on. In 1986, Ms. Claflin opened DogGone Beautiful Pet Styling Salon in Keene, NH. She created and ran this highly successful business for 17 years and then sold it to a loyal employee. She continues to work there part-time.

In 2000, Linda focused her efforts on grooming competitions. She soon won Best in Show and Best All Around in B division. In 2001, she was the recipient of the coveted Sibyl Award at the Intergroom Competition. This award is only given to one person per year for the most harmonious interaction with animals. Then in 2003, after several prizes in A, she won Best in Show. Each competition, she learned more and asked for critiques. Linda usually sat in the front rows of seminars and sat ringside watching some of the top competitors. This meaningful ascent was not without pain and defeat. She continually had to test herself and overcome her fear competing and failing against some of the best in the Industry. Pushing through her fears, Linda kept her pursuit of excellence on the top of her list getting better and getting better competition dogs. Ms. Claflin drove many miles to learn from people she respected on her days off. Although she failed to always win, she kept at it and learned more. In 2004, she also received the Joelle Award for kindness and interactions with the dogs she groomed in competition. Many GroomTeam USA hopefuls attended the first big show of 2004, and Linda won not only first place, but Best in Show. In 2004, she earned enough points to be on GroomTeam USA with a national ranking of 8th in the country. In 2004, she was invited to compete in the Oster Invitational Tournament of Champions. This prestigious competition was held at Intergroom and is by invitation only. Linda won the Bronze medal with an American Cocker.

She has served on the Board of GroomTeam USA from 2007-09 and Advisor, as well. Linda has judged the NEPGP Scissoring and Special Awards. Ms. Claflin is the former Region One Director, lifetime member of ISCC (certified), member of NDGAA (certified), and current Show Coordinator of NEPGP.

To compliment her grooming skills, she attended and graduated from Nippon Shiatsu Daigatu in Putney, VT under Sensei Toshiko Phipps in the 1980’s. Shiatsu, meaning "finger pressure," is a physical therapy and therapeutic pressure-point massage technique developed in Japan many centuries ago. Shiatsu therapy follows principles similar to western massage based on a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. She is well read and highly skilled in massage. In the course of her grooming career, she has developed a method of massage techniques to calm the dog and gain trust before grooming. These relaxing techniques help the dog maintain calm for grooming eliminating the need to struggle making the experience pleasurable and stress free for dog and stylist. Using Chiropractic and Acupuncture techniques she has learned, Linda shares some of these techniques on

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