Stuff I Tell my Pet Owning Clients


An eexample fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An eexample fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

How do you  get new grooming clients?  Most of mine have  either come from seeing a dog I groomed, and talking with the owner, or often something I’ve said to a dog owner who repeated it to another dog owner.  For example,  as I get to know my clients, I always ask how the dog is at home, and, in so many words, if the owner is happy with the dog’s behavior.  The short conversation—about if the dog has a cat friend, or us a devil or angel,  gives me an idea of  whether the owner will keep the dog. It also  gives me a chance to address  other issues.  One big issue is the dog pulling on the leash.  Unfortunately, most of my clients have  frequented pet stores  staffed by retailers who know NOTHING about the products they sell, and whether the products are dangerous or appropriate. As a result,  almost all the small dogs I’ve been grooming went from wearing collars to harnesses in a matter of several years.  Trending…please….

Anybody who knows me, knows I hate them. Only Guide Dogs and sled dogs  should be wearing harnesses.  You can’t control a dog that wears a harness. Yes, I understand that many people don’t want to control their dog, an I understand the VETERINARIAN  told them  to get a harness (collapsed tracheas—of course) rather than reshape the dog’s behavior.  Paired with a Flexi, you’ve lost  all control. Dangerous not just on icy walks, but if you encounter  someone who  has their pooch similarly decked out—and they (the  walker) are on a cell phone or otherwise not paying attention to the end of the leash—dangerous.

As I don’t sell any products. I remind  my clients I  don’t benefit economically, I am telling them what is real. Well,  sort of a miracle has occured.  Am I really that persuasive?  Just about every dog owner I’ve talked to went out and bought  a martingale for their dog—and a  six foot leash!  & they tell me their dogs have stopped pulling! Can you imagine?

Why would I care?  I care because I love dogs. When pet owners are not happy with their dogs, they don’t bond with their dogs. They might find homes for their dogs, and I’ve lost a client.  This is why YOU should also care. Nobody leaves a dog groomer just because she charges too much:  they leave because they  don’t feel they are getting service. The big box stores will be able to under cut you on everything.  You have to keep seeking knowledge about dogs and expressing an interest in your clients’ dogs.

What else do I tell my clients?

1.  Let me show you  how to brush this dog with a slicker brush…and you are going to need a comb.  I  often get clients because the last groomer  shaved the dog.  Sometimes,you have to shave the dog.  I ask if the client bathed this dog without brushing it, and I ask them to show me their brush.  90% of the time it is one of those horrible  pins on 1 side, bristles on the other—-worthless.  Lots of people don’t know  that matting is caused by static electricity.  I use The Stuff or Ice on Ice in the shop, but  you can now get smoothing products at a lot of drugstores—and it doesn’t take much Dimethicone  to  get the tangles out.  I explain why having the dog up off the floor is important, and why  it might be a 2 person job—but once a week, 5 minutes is all it usually will take…and I remind them if they have to wash their hands after brushing the dog, the dog needs a bath….and I brush they shampoo through the coat.  Who is going to do  this?  The pet owner who doesn’t want his dog shaved.  More important, the pet owner knows I showed him what to do, and he didn’t do it, and I am trying my best.

2.  Get a doubled edged thinning shears! How often do I get a dog in who needed a haircut  3 weeks ago? So the owner cut the hair around the eyes.  Sometimes I can fix this…but not always. Since they are  going to cut anyways, I advise them to get a double edge thinning shears. They are less likely top make a big booboo.  They always laugh.  I like the Oster & Master Equipment  (PetEdge) curved grooming rakes, too, especially for  Goldens & collie types.

3.  Get the dog used to being handled. So many of my clients are mature adults with no kids. The dog is just there, or  sitting on Mom’s lap.  When I get them on the table, they become passive resisters.  You know the type—they won’t stand up, and they pull back.  It used to be  that obedience classes taught the basic ‘stand for examination’, but those kinds of classes are harder to find.  If you can find conformation classes, they are much more informal,but the dog will get used to walking on a leash and being handled. This really helps with shy dogs.

4.  Please don’t put  a sweater on the dog—get a decent dog coat . Sweaters are a joke.   If it is really that cold, the dog needs a coat.   And  why  shave a dog to put a coat on it?  Another question…is the dog cold?  I have 2 Whippets: 1 dog who shivers looking out the window.  The other goes out in all sorts of weather & never seems to get cold.  A swearer is a fashion statement—and when you pull it off a non-shed dog, hello static—and matting.  What’s the point?

5.  Enroll your oldest kid  (& the dog) in an obedience class…and get one of the great books on dog training.  I have seen kids as young as 4 do amazing things with dogs. How can that be?  They don’t carry a lot of baggage about how to communicate with the dog.  They speak directly to the dog, and they expect results. They just need mentoring.  Dog training classes are an excellent family experience.  Plus, there are so many really good books out there.  I always recommend “How to be Yor dog’s Best Friend,” by the Monks of New Skete;  Good Owners, Great Dogs, by Kilcommons and Wilson; Dog Training for Dummies…and there are now many good YouTube Videos.  Training a dog gives a child experience in exercising patience and leadership.

6. You don’t want that smell from the shampoo to last more than a day.  I love the scent of the Pina Colada.  I Love the Nature’s Specialties LavaDerm,  and I really loved the Bark 2 Basics Almond.   Unfortunately,  1 of the dogs I used the Almond on…her owner was allergic to almonds and she almost went into allergic shock.  I am not making this up. Phthalates….have been linked to carcinogens.  If it last more than a day, it might have bonded to your dog’s coat and skin.  Better to use   a spray cologne which is much lighter and will evaporate.

7.  Let me know if you need training or grooming help…& if you know of people who can’t have pets but want to help them.  I am involved in  many animal welfare  groups, which always need volunteers. Safe Humane Chicago always needs  people who can go to court as advocates for animals in the court system.  In less than 10 years, they’ve made a huge difference in how animal crimes are prosecuted, and the judges welcome us.  Many groups need help with marketing or fund raising. some of the shelters need dog walkers and socializers.  If we can’t spread this information around, who can?

8. Put some emergency  plan for your pet somewhere most people can find it (the refrigerator door?).  I have a client who is an old lady with no living relatives.  And it happened.  One day, another neighbor  knocked on my door and asked me if I could take Punkin.  If I hadn’t, Chicago Animal Care & Control would have gotten her. Certainly, a ‘no-kill’ group would have snatched her up immediately…but this would not be so true for most dogs owned by older folks.  They would  be euthanized within days.  I  am working on getting an ordinance passed in my state to  direct landlords who rent to people with no ‘next-of-kin’ or emergency contacts to ask how they want their  pets dealt with.  If you want to be that person,  go for it.

9.  You vote with your pocketbook. Please don’t  financially support  businesses or nonprofits that work against your best interests.  When you  buy anything at a pet shop that sells animals, you support  breeding and selling pets as livestock.  Is that what you really want to do?  Do you want  to  trust a veterinarian  who doesn’t respect your pet?  Are you aware that the Humane Society of the United States is an advocacy group, and  doesn’t run any animal shelters?  Do you know that  few ‘No-Kill’ shelters  take owner surrendered pets, and often go out of your area to ‘rescue’ dogs bred by puppy mills because they are more easily placed?  Lots of dog lovers don’t know this.

As a person who loves animals, you have an opportunity to offer more service than any retail pet or chain store.  Sometimes, it’s a bow or a scarf.  More often, it’s that you had a conversation with the pet owner, and they know you care.


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