WHY IT COSTS MORE FOR MY DOGS TO VISIT THE SALON THAN FOR ME!
Meet Candice, the lady who makes Henry and Reese (even more) gorgeous! Candice shares with us what an average trip to the groomer involves, and useful information if you’re looking for a groomer.
What made you decide to be a groomer and what training was required?
When I was seven years old, my parents brought home our first toy poodle, Princess. To save money, we started grooming her ourselves at home. I became very fond of cutting and styling her hair. I would go outside and trim her with a pair of kitchen scissors and dreamed of grooming show dogs when I grew up. I eventually saved enough of my money to buy my first set of clippers. My aunt started grooming and taught me a few tricks, I studied dog psychology and behaviour and read veterinary books as well as grooming books.
When I finished high school, I started a dog-walking, dog-care business and had enough people asking me to groom their dogs, I went to Pets Beautiful School of professional pet styling, and completed my certification.
Certification is not legally required to become a groomer. I think it should be.
I learned many tips and techniques not only for high-quality hair styles but safety as well. After school, I became a member of the Ontario Dog Groomers Association. Also not a requirement, but essential for keeping up-to-date with standards and regulations for dog grooming in Ontario, and also for competitions, and seminars for extended education.
Do you groom all breeds of dog? Certain breeds have very distinct styles, does that require additional training?
I have learned to groom all breeds of dogs. Although I may not have had the opportunity to apply the skills I’ve learned to some of the rare breeds, I still have the confidence in my level of training to succeed with any style of clip. It is a lot of fun to try out new techniques on my dog or willing customers’ dogs. I will still continue my training by attending seminars and reading more books and blogs about grooming, as well as the many informative videos online. Pet styling school does offer additional classes to better perfect techniques on particular breeds.
How long does it take to groom a dog and what factors determine that length of time?
All breeds require a different amount of work when being groomed. Therefore, they all take different lengths of time. Size isn’t the sole factor. The best way to explain is first to discuss coat types.
In the grooming industry, we use the terms “natural” and “unnatural” coat. A natural coat is a fur coat, which grows to a certain length and sheds an undercoat. These do not need cutting, but the amount of work depends on how long the coat is, and how thick the undercoat is. They require frequent brushing and de-shedding, as well as baths to remove excess oils. The drying time is what takes the longest for these breeds. An unnatural coat is a hair coat, which continues to grow and requires plenty of brushing, cutting and maintenance to keep the coat healthy and comfortable.
These breeds need to be groomed on a regular basis. The longer you wait, the more time is required to brush out mats and tangles and cut the hair. As for a specific amount of time, I could not say. A Shih-Tzu takes approximately 1.5 – 2.5 hours for a full groom, whereas a standard Poodle could take anywhere from 3 – 4 hours.
For people looking to add a dog to their family, how would you rate dog breeds regarding grooming requirements?
Smooth coated breeds, such as the Chihuahua or Boxer, are the easiest of breeds to maintain, as they only require occasional bathing, light brushing, dental care and ear cleaning. Long-coated breeds like the Newfoundlander or poodle are much more difficult and costly to maintain and keep healthy. These breeds require frequent brushing, professional grooming, teeth brushing, and cleaning up of shedding fur (if applicable).
It is imperative to research the breed you’re considering adopting. Are you are willing and able to keep up with the dogs grooming requirements and care?
What should people look for when choosing a groomer? What questions should they ask and what are some red flags?
A certification. I suggest looking for a groomer who is certified and knowledgeable in safety, is reputed for quality grooming practices, and is insured. Word of mouth is the best way to find a local groomer. You want someone that is confident and patient. It’s a good idea ask about their training, what steps they go through while grooming your dog and what is included. They should be completely open to explaining the process. A good groomer will groom for quality, not quantity, meaning you might be spending a little bit more money, but the quality of care for your dog and the quality of groom will be much better compared to a fast, high traffic, shave down type salon, that tends to be lower priced.
What challenges have you had to deal with regarding your furry clients or the owners?
Believe it or not, the biggest challenges aren’t the occasional aggressive, biting dogs, or the scared or misbehaving dogs, it’s usually the owners or customers upsetting or distracting myself or the dogs. Everyone wants to see the cute dog being groomed, but they forget that the dog and I need to concentrate entirely on each other to work safely and efficiently. When I get bit by a scared or aggressive dog, it hurts. It’s dangerous.
Is there anything you would like people to know about bringing their dogs to a grooming appointment?
When taking your dog to his or her grooming appointment, be on time, and be patient.
Be sure to brush your dog at home between grooming appointments, that way grooming is less stressful and more comfortable for the dog. It also gets them used to the process. Be sure to give your dog time to relieve themselves after arriving. The excitement and scent of other dogs will make them have to “go”, and your groomer will not have much time for bathroom breaks. It’s also safer for you to take them because if the dog gets loose, it most likely will not want to go back to the groomer.
When walking into the salon and giving the dog to the groomer, you must remain relaxed and confident. Your dog is looking to you for advice and guidance. If you show fear or anxiety when leaving your dog, so will they. If you trust your dog groomer, you should encourage your dog to trust them also. Keep the “hand off” short and sweet, without much fussing over the dog. Especially if he is upset. The groomer will calm him once you leave.
Being on time for drop off is just as important as not coming too early for pick up. Grooming takes time and stylists cannot rush through grooming an animal with sharp objects. If you’re late, the next appointment will also be, and it causes stress. Showing up early for pickup excites your dog, making it almost impossible to finish safely. They know your scent, the sound of your jingling keys, your cough and voice. If they detect you, don’t expect your dog to be finished on time. Most groomers would prefer to call you when the dog is finished, to avoid added stress.
What is your biggest frustration when it comes to owners and their pets?
My biggest frustration is neglect of health or grooming requirements. Dogs often come in with matted or tangled hair, ear and skin infections, fleas, or dirty bums. Groomers are here for maintenance type care for your dogs, and it is a team effort between groomer and pet parent. Leaving an animal in any discomfort is inhumane.
Do not rely solely on your groomer for your dogs care
Some pet parents neglect their pets for so long that I am forced to report them to the humane society to help the dog. No groomer wants to do this to anyone. The wellbeing of the animal is our priority, so we do what is best for the dog. If you bring in a severely matted dog, don’t expect the groomer to brush them out. Sometimes the humane thing to do is shave them. If you want a beautiful dog, you have to maintain their coat.
Please share your favourite story from the salon
My favourite story might also be the grossest…
One day I had a regular customer come in; a large, Bouvier de Flandres. She started to get stressed and restless during her groom, so I gave her a break and left the room to get her fresh water. I was gone no more than 30 seconds, and when I came back in she’d had explosive diarrhea ALL OVER THE SALON. I mean, on the walls, the dryers, pools on the floor, etc.
You would think that was the worst…
I looked up at my white standard poodle who was crying and shaking, and I saw that he too was heavily covered in her feces… The owners weren’t answering their phones, the dog wouldn’t stop pooping, and I never thought I would ever get the smell out of my salon or my dog.
Turns out she had eaten bad Bologna earlier that morning. She was fine, and her stomach settled.
Later, while disinfecting my walls and deep cleaning my poodle, I had to laugh at myself.
What a glamorous job I have!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to mention a commonly requested service that groomers are no longer supposed to offer, as per the Ontario Dog Groomer’s Association: Expressing of the anal glands.
This procedure has been taken out of grooming salons and only allowed to be done by veterinarians. If the dog cannot express them naturally while they defecate, something is wrong with the anal sacs, or it is a dietary problem. Also, if the anal glands aren’t done properly, they can become infected, damaged, or very uncomfortable. Only have them done by a veterinarian if it is deemed necessary.
Also, remember that we are working with animals and accidents can happen. Try to be understanding if your groomer has an accident and nicks or scratches your dog, or makes a mistake in their grooming. Every groomer will go through this at some point in their career, and we all dread it. If you feel the injury resulted from neglect or carelessness, investigate the situation.
We never want to hurt your dog. A professional groomer will do everything possible to keep your pet safe.
Thank you Candice,
‘Have you ever been to Woofstock?’ I was asked. The event, full of vendors sharing information and products for dogs and their people is described as ‘a large outdoor festival designed for dogs and the people who love them. The event has entertainment, contests and a consumer showcase. Vendors offer up the latest in canine fashions, furnishings, products and food, and contests unleash the best mutts in every size, breed and pedigree. Sadly, for me, the event conjures up the memory of a tragedy which followed the event in 2012. On the way home from Woofstock, a young woman stopped at Vaughan Mills shopping centre and left her dog in the hot car. Her dog died.
“A couple leaving their dog in the car on a day that hot is inconceivable and extremely irresponsible,” founder (of Woofstock) Marlene Cook said in a statement emailed to media following the tragedy.
Another reason I have never attended the event; in addition, to being held in mid-June, Woofstock had also taken place in Toronto’s downtown area. This may be fine for humans with soles to their shoes, however not pleasant for dogs walking in the summer heat, along the scorching hot pavement. One way dogs attempt to cool down is through the pads of their feet.
This year however, I am very pleased to learn the event has moved and occurred at the end of May in Woodbine Park, near the beach.” Now it will be as much fun for the dogs as it is their people.
Sadly, some dog owners are still unaware, or choose to ignore the effects of heat on their companions. Too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided. Dogs pant to exchange warm air for cool air. When air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process. The inside of a car on a hot day far surpasses the body temperature.
Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog’s temperature reaches 106°, damage to the body’s cellular system and organs may become irreversible.
I do not understand why people are willing to the chance and put their companions at risk. Nothing can be worth causing such discomfort or torture, and the possibility of death. It is up to us to keep them safe.
Hot dogs are for BBQ’s. Please leave your dogs at home or stay in the air conditioned car with them – someone can run into the store for you. If you’re on your own, don’t stop!
Be vigilant – look for the following signs of distress and act quickly to prevent heatstroke:
•Unusual breathing – rapid and loud
•High rectal temperature (see how to take this below)
•Weakness and/or fatigue
•A bright red tongue and pale gums
•Skin around muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
•Collapse or coma
•Increased heart rate
Signs of burned pads:
•limping or refusing to walk
•licking or chewing at the feet
•pads darker in color
•missing part of pad
•blisters or redness