DoodLEARN Blog

Eye area trim

Just as we are, dogs enjoy seeing the surroundings and feel moot confident when they are able to observe the happenings around them the fullest.

Doodles have mesmerizing hair amount all over their body, included their heads. They have a constantly growing hair forest, so they need and appreciate some facial trimming every now and then to keep their eyes comfortable and eye booger free.

Eye area trim is usually referred to:

  • the inner corner of the eyes
  • the top of the nose
  • bangs
  • eyebrows
  • eye leashes

Keeping those areas clean will help your doodle:

  • get and feel comfortable in water (especially important for puppies) and on the ground
  • enjoy other doggies' and humans' company because they can see the other one's body language better
  • develop less eye boogers

A doodle who can see without hair around his/her eyes tends to be lot more delighted and outgoing.

Most doodle owners are in a big dilemma, because they want to keep their doodle's fluffy, goofy character, but also want to help them see easily and comfortably.

Some of my two legged clients had very bad experiences before coming to me and came to me with horror in their eyes and stressed out on how much they do not want me to "poodle their doodle" or how much they want to avoid the scooped eyes.

I am always very happy when a doggy owner comes to me and they know what they want. It is much easier to satisfy someone, when you know what they are looking for.

The best way in my opinion to explain your needs to a groomer is if you look around on Pinterest or Instagram or other social media for doodle photos. Taking a screenshot about them is super easy and sending or bringing them to your groomer as a reference will make it very clear what you are looking for.

This easy trick will help you both get it right away and the groomer can let you know his/her professional thoughts on the trim.

Sometimes the desired trim can not be done because of matted spots in the area or the doodle has a different hair type or hair amount than the one on the image the owner brings in for the appointment.

In those cases, I prefer to talk to the owners right then and share my professional opinion so they'll have a chance to choose whether they want me to proceed or they'd like a 2nd opinion.

I'm very big on going that rout myself in my personal life, too. :) I do enjoy seeing my options, do my research, getting other perspectives on a specific topic and I enjoy my clients having that freedom, too.

Hope this article helped you with sharing your desired trim for your dood and as always, share your questions with me! :)

As always, belly rubs to your doodle(s)! :)

~Betty

Hair tangling elves

I am pretty sure you have the "What the heck are hair tangling elves?" face reading this. LOL

It's for a good reason. Most of the people are not talking about these little elves, because the don't know they exist! It does worth it though to talk about them, cause they have a big impact on your dog's wellness, comfort and last but not least on your bank account.

Hair tangling elves cause tremendous amount of discomfort for the doodles and a lot of sweating for owners and groomers alike.

So what are they??!!??

First the name. :) I gave this funny name to them so it'll be easy for you to remember them. Second, they describe a group of accessories, happenings, circumstances in your and your doodle's life, to help you put them "in the spot light".

These little elves thrive in the dark you know. They enjoy that you don't know about them so they can do their business. But once you know them and you start noticing them, they won't be able to unnoticeably make a huge mess and crazy tangles, deep mats out of your gorgeous doodle's mesmerizing coat. Which often results in a partial or full military shave or the feared "rat cut".

So the elf family is pretty big, now is the time to grab a cup of tea, snuggle in with your pooch and read on... :) Here they are! 

Bows - rubber bands

I highly not recommend bows or rubber bands at all. They are pulling the hair, causing constant discomfort on the dog's skin and make a huge tangle and mat in the area. Doggies tend to try scratching, rubbing them off on the ground making the tangles into big mats in no time.

Bandanas

I suggest to avoid them especially for very high energy level dogs. In case you can't imagine your doodle without one, you can meet me half way by paying very close attention to the hair around the neck area, where the bandana is rubbing against the hair and skin. Daily brushing is highly recommended and if you want to avoid that, a shorter trim, like 1/2 in or 3/4 in is desired to keep the elves away for about 6-8 weeks.

Collar

Collars are a great way to have an ID on your dog. Most pups nowadays are microchipped. Both methods are a huge help to find the owners fast in case the pups wonders away. Since you'll need to take the dog to a vet to check for a microchip, I assume having a collar with your info on it will make it easier and faster in an emergency to locate you and get your pup back. The down side of the collars are most pet owners keep them on constantly, even for night time. The wider the collar, the bigger surface it rubs against so the bigger chance there is for mats and tangles developing. (And the most pressure is on the dog.)

A few things I found helpful for finding a collar which will less likely to cause tangles and discomfort.

  • thin and soft fabric
  • custom length, not too loose, not too tight
  • least buckles or snaps available
  • least amount of D rings available
  • no spikes
  • no stones
  • no pinch / prong, collars at all

Collar tags

Collar tags are the actual stuff we keep the dog's info on, like phone #s, address, home again tags, rabies tag, a cute custom tag we've got from grandma or surprised ourselves with or God forbid a bell. Sometimes, however all of those tags, especially if we keep a bunch of aluminum (stains the hair to gray), stainless steel tags around there, they'll become a bell as is. All of that jiggling and wiggling around will cause a super cute bunch of hair tangling elf pack, right on your dog's neck. Let alone it'll drive your dog (groomer, baby, husband) nuts.

Realizing the impact it has on the dog's hair and the pack members nerve endings, I collected a bunch of details on how are going to be able to find the best solution to keep your dog's info in him and to have a badass recall even when your dog will be over 10 years old, keeping his hearing intact.

  • embroidered collar "tags"
  • printed collar "tags"
  • Small/medium collar tags attached with rivets
  • collar tag silencer

Gentle leader

Also called as walking harness, head halter, halti. They rub against the nose and chin, and buckle up behind the ears. They are usually pretty tight, to make sure they won't fall off. Personally, I'd get a trainer to build a deeper connection with my doggy and understand my dog's triggers and the environment better so I would be able to control him with my voice only, so he would be able to get a harness and a regular leash.

Some occasions do arise, like back problems for the owner so they won't be able to physically handle big pulls on their body. For those cases, frequent brushing in the affected area is key to keep the tangled and elves away.

Harnesses

Let it be a car harness, sport or service / companion / working dog harness, all of them cover up a pretty large surface on the doggy when used. They are super for keeping the dog's neck and spine safe, especially for those pups who have been yet to be taught to joy of the loose leash walks. They are also useful to share info about the dog's profession or it can be life saving bullet proof piece for police dogs.

Whatever it is, the surfaces it is rubbing agains gets matted in a split second, so my recommendation is to get your pupper brushed out in those areas after every walk to make sure no tangles will be left in there and they won't develop into mats. 

Dog Clothes

Doggy clothes can be super helpful for doggies who have not been blessed with Mother Nature's comforting coats for winter time. Some dogs get pretty shivery even with thicker coat, due to they sleep indoors in a heated environment. Since they cover huge surfaces on the dog, it is incredibly important to get the doggy brushed after each use (daily) so their coat won't be all matted up.

Personally, I am finding dogs super gorgeous in their own, natural "fur clothes" and I am pretty sad when I seeing doggy faces when they are dressed up around Halloween or other holidays.

Given that I am also a dog trainer, their faces tell me more than it does to someone without this knowledge and I would like to bring more awareness to the dog's feelings and needs about it.

Doggy boots

They are incredibly useful for keeping doggy paws from burning summer time on the concrete, keeping sticker burrs off of the feet. Winter time it is our best ally to keep salt off of the paws and to keep the paws from freezing if you live in a place like Canada.

From grooming perspective, they need to be tightly fit on the leg so they will stay in place. The down side of that is that -yes, you guessed it- it tangles up the hair big time, resulting in deep mats right where the boots meet the leg and feet.

Frequent brushing and / or short hair is recommended in case you are using doggy boots on your doodles.

Ear infection

Ear infections cause a very uncomfortable sensation for the doggy. Itching, burning is very common, so the doggy is constantly trying to resolve it by scratching by the ears and the cheeks. BIG, deep mats develop in no time around there and they are most often impossible to open up, so a short shave is the only way to keep the pup comfortable and to keep our friendship.

Extensive amount of ear hair

Super similar situation occurs when the doodle has the same mesmerizing amount of hair in the ear canal as he has outside on his body. Most often constant scratching by the ears and cheeks are the symptoms for that, too.

For those pups, who are in this category, I recommend ear hair removal to stop the itching and scratching. (See my other article about ear hair removal guidelines and details.)

Extensive amount of Ear hair removal

When a doggy has a decent size ear hair forest in his ears, the ear hair removal itself can cause some temporary itching, scratching, shaking the head (few hours most) right after ear hair removal. It occurs very rarely in case the dog has ginormous amount of ear hair in there.

Much more frequently occurs when the ear hair removal is done with hemostats, rather than fingers with exam gloves on. With the gentle finger+gloves method, it's very rare that a dog will show this kind of sensitivity. With the hemostat method, since the care provider is pulling much bigger bunches out of the ear canal at the same time, often times the skin gets injured and it is painful for the dog.

When we are using our fingers with the "tiny at a time" technique, the dogs will cooperate willingly, won't show late discomfort signs and will stay still.

(See my ear hair removal article for more info and videos for you to see how does it look like to remove ear hair from a puppy the gentle way.)

Tightly matted hair

It is a vicious cycle. Matted hair will pull on the dog's skin, forcing the dog to solve it or at least do something about it. So they'll scratch more. The tighter matted the hair is, the more irritation the skin is exposed to and the more scratching the dog will do.

Tangled tightly matted on a bigger surface (whole body) causes itching on the skin due to lack of oxygen, making the doggy to scratch even more.

Playtime

Puppy playmate, play dates, daycare friend, new playful dog pack member in the family is a big risk of hair tangling elves around. Chewing on ears, tail, legs & feet meanwhile playing is a natural way doggies hang out and get rid of of some pent up energy while socializing, so be prepared with the brush to remove them before they'd spread like wildfire.

Surgeries

Surgeries often follow the use of cone and lots of rest, tiredness and laying on the sides. Spaying, neutering or other surgeries and the cone afterwards made it to this list, too.
Our pup feels overwhelmed, tired, often times are in pain, so we naturally skip brushing. Often times by the time we get back on track after recovery, it's already too late.

If you can, plan ahead and get your pupper groomed before the surgery. Ask for a shorter trim so it will do fine even without brushing so you don't have to worry about mats afterwards.

Sweet Spots

Those cute doodle faces are hard to resist! We all know where our pups' sweet spots are and we are not afraid to rub them! The most often these sweet spots are:

  • head
  • behind the ears
  • belly rubs
  • butt rubs
  • chest rubs

Greeting or petting your dog in specific locations (ears, chest, cheeks, top of head, butt, etc.) makes it much of a fun for all, because that "rub me more" face is priceless.

However it is good to keep in mind that those spots needs some more attention with the brush as well.

See my other article about brushing.)

Weather

Rainy/humid, especially snowy weather makes a huge mess and suuper deep mats in suuper short period of time. With a longer trim, dedicate enough time to keep up with the fun runs in the snow and rain and puddles to avoid the short trim.

Skin irritations

Allergies, yeast infections, insect bites, external parasites cause a lot of itching, scratching, chewing on the pups. Doggy saliva makes it very hard to brush those areas when we skipped a day or two with brushing.

Water

Removing tangles and mats before swim time/bath time and brushing and after that will help you tremendous keeping your pup tangle and mat free and your money in your bank account.

Leftover Shampoo, conditioner in the coat

Improper rinsing after bath: Shampoo/Conditioner left in can cause a lot of very intense itching, chewing, scratching.
Reaction to shampoo, deodorizing spritz, dry shampoo, etc. (itching, scratching, rubbing, rolling,) is the same scenario.

Instant, deep rinse is needed and a detailed tangle and mat removal right after to let the skin get some air to dry and heal.

Traditions

I had a client from India and I found a string on her dog's leg. As I brought it to her attention, she explained the Indian tradition for friendship. For the ceremony, her daughter put a string on the dog’s leg and on her leg and kept it there for a few days.

I am touched about the meaning of this tradition at the same time also terrified. Those kind of strings anywhere on the dog is a very dangerous way of showing the connection between daughter and dog. I wish they were able to find other ways of expressing their bond keeping in mind the dog's safety, too.

Diarrhea

Frequent butt wash is another way of inviting the hair tangling elves over. Short hair in the area is your best bet to keep the skin safe since pups with diarrhea often times do not tolerate much of disturbance back there.

Incontinence

Doggy diapers are another type of doggy "accessories" which are very tight and cause a lot of mats by the hips and butt regions. Frequent brushing or shorter hair are your best bets to avoid discomfort and the super short shave.

Frequent "pee" washes (especially without sanitary trim for long haired dogs) cause tiny matted hair tornadoes on the privates and cause huge amount of discomfort for the doggies.

Sticker Burrs

Sticker burrs and other plant parts get stuck in the hair, causing pulling, chewing, itching and more chewing. I think by now you know the cycle. Brush, brush, brush. And some more brushing.

Miscellaneous stuff

If you asked what are the weirdest things I found stuck in dog hair, well, I have list for you. :D Medication (Advil), Supplements (soft gel), fruit loops, puffed rice, corn, whole acorn, mud, chewing gum, leaves, dead cockroach body parts, twigs, just to mention a few. Brushing is a neat way to find those and remove them on time.

Vacations, Holidays

When we're on a vacation, often times the least task which comes to mind is brushing the dog. Often times our pups are not even with us. Getting your doggies groomed before we leave for a vacation is very useful keeping the tangles away.

Boarding

Boarding facilities are a great way to get wiled without worrying about burning paw pads on the beach or doggy fights at the table when we visit family. Most of the boarding facilities / people offer a wide variety of activities, most often involving water, splashes and swimming.

Most may offer a doggy bath after the boarding, however doodle owners be very careful! Ask around whether they have a professional groomer on board for performing the bath, because it is super important to remove any tangles before the bath. In case they do not have that, I'd get my pup groomed short enough before the boarding or find a place which offers this brush and bath bundle by a pro groomer.

When to take my puppy for his first grooming?

 

Photo by Andy Omvik on Unsplash

Congratulations! You have a puppy! :)
After the first snuggles with your new bundle of joy, I felt the need to create something you all can enjoy reading until the cuddles turn into a quick afternoon doggy snooze... :)

Having a puppy is one of the most rewarding feelings any human can experience. They say that “when you have teenagers, it’s important to have a dog, so that someone in the house is happy to see you” :) oh how true that is! Anyways teenagers or not, having a puppy comes with lots of joy, happy moments. I'm here to put my part in, the fun way of help you prepare for all the responsibilities as well.

As a professional dog groomer, I spent a lot of time studying the impact of well-maintained hair and nails on dogs and pups. And sometimes not so well maintained ones...
I deeply believe in prevention, so let’s focus on how you can ensure your puppy is healthy, happy and content with the help of grooming and essential home-maintenance.

I get a lot of customers asking me

When is the best time to introduce my puppy to grooming?
What is the best way to make my puppy confident and cooperating at the groomer?

The best time to start introducing puppies to grooming basics is right away, while they are still with their moms, at the breeder. Surprise, hah? Now you know why groomers freak out at the drop-off time and owners at the pickup time when the first grooming session happens around one year of age.

A mindful breeder will start socializing the whole litter to noises, the feeling of being petted, being held, being brushed, the sensation of the water when they get into a small doggy pool, etc. That builds confidence, enhances and satisfies curiosity and is just pure fun for everyone. The mom's trusting presence and calming signals for her pups, even when loud noises are surprising for the babies, goes a long way not only for grooming! With that approach, we're building a confident canine, who is going to be chill even when it comes to clippers, thunderstorms and fireworks.

Ask your breeder what did they do and you can take your part when your new pup turns 8 weeks old. Better yet, negotiate with the breeder to include those early socialization steps in their breeding program in case they're not included yet. A lot can be done before the time comes, when pups get to move out and live in their new and furever homes.

8-week-old puppies are super cute and pretty much harmless regardless of the breed (there are a few exceptions, but doodles are chill pups). After you all had a few days to settle in with your new addition to the family, it's the best time to start inviting friends and KIDS over to meet the new pup. If you already have kids, even better! :) 

Exercising the kids before meeting a new pup is pretty useful, especially for the first meetup. That way the kids won't go wild and will have moderate enthusiasm around the new pup, making it easier for the tiny furry friend to get used to the screaming-running wiggle bugs around.
This little detour may seem to be off topic, but it helps tremendous for the grooming session in case a doggy is used to all kinds of noises and types of handling so they will be the most confident even in a new situation. I am giving away stuff earlier that I was planning to, so let's see what else I have in my pocket for you! :)

The next most often asked question is:

When is a puppy ready for his/her first visit to get groomed?

I'd like to break it up to 2 parts. Preparation and the actual grooming. The prep or socialization can start super early, mainly done by the owner or with a trainer and we can add in new lessons for the doggy as he/she grows, like a grooming session.

Going to a groomer is a pretty big step in the pup's life. Traveling in the car, being left with a stranger for a few minutes, new smells, new noises, new people... All that can come as quite a bit of a surprise for the puppy. So a solid foundation of preparations for it will be a huge help for a smooth transition. 

The best way to prepare your pup for the first pampering is to ensure they are experienced a lot of things/happenings before the groomer. The more people they meet during their first 2-3 months, the better. I try to encourage new doggie owners to get the pups out there to see lots of strangers during walks, gatherings and outings. Let them give your pup lots of belly rubs, play with them and cuddle as much as possible.

I also highly recommend starting the home hair maintenance before the puppy’s first visit to the groomers. Brushing and combing as early as possible, to get them used to the feeling, as it is critical for keeping their coat mat-free going forward, as well as handling their ears, paws and back end to ensure they are comfortable with the necessary maintenance of those areas as he grows. Once you'll know what to look for, you'll be so surprised how fast the hair grows there! And with that knowledge, you can ensure that your puppy will be comfortable before and between two grooming sessions.

It is great help to groomers and beneficial for pups to have their owners practice these little home maintenance tricks, as it always pays off in the long run. The result is a well-looked after, happy and healthy doggie, just the way we like them. :)

Pups need their nails, eye area and sanitary done fairly fast. In case you're just learning about all this, and you start noticing signs of a little TLC, I'd let a professional do it until you get the hang of it. In case the pup's nails feel sharp, I'm always happy to give them a trim and file the nails so they won't scratch anyone or break off. Boy those nails can feel like claws of an eagle on your legs when they are letting you know about the need of some belly rubs. :)

Sanitary hair can grow like weed, so often times doggies and doggy owners benefit from a shorter trim around there. That bunch of hair on their penis/vulva collects urine, the pupper will smell like pee... And that wet sensation on your arm or hand when you lift him up... (you guessed what that is...) won't be there any more after a sanitary trim. :)

So basically that is called a Face, Feet, Fanny package I suggest for pups, whenever you notice the signs below:

  1. hair covering the eyeballs and eye area, (hair bunches reach the eyeballs rather sooner by the inner corners of the eye)
  2. wet arms / smelly pup (urine on the hair around the privates)
  3. sharp nails when playing, scratches on your skin

This quick meetup will help you and your pup to get comfortable in a new place, we get to know each other so it'll be a smooth transition for all participants, included doodle, owner and groomer. Don’t worry it usually takes about 30 mins, but it won’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour, so your puppy shouldn’t be too overwhelmed or exhausted being away from you.

For pups, who did not get all their shots yet, I make sure to book them as the first client of the day to minimize the exposure with other dogs before they'd be all up to date on their shots.

Simply put, grooming helps keep your dog happy and healthy, gives you and your dog a time that is set aside just for the two of you, and helps you save on veterinary bills. So don’t delay, start getting your pup used to grooming your early.

And remember, anybody, who doesn’t know what soap tastes like, never washed a dog. :)
Oops, that topic is going to come up very soon, too!

Get washing, brushing and clipping or let me do it for you!

Belly rubs to your puppers!

~Betty

How to keep my doodle still for brushing? 1/4

 Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

This article is part of a 4 piece work on how to remove tangles and mats the gentle way so your doodle will love you not just way before and long after grooming but also right before, right after and meanwhile for keeping them comfortable.

Many doodle owners get pretty surprised when their pup's hair grows surprisingly and uncontrollably and they feel like they are working on a never ending story... Have you heard?

"You can only stop brushing, but you can never finish."

Well, good news! It may feel like it'll never end, but I have the tools for you so you'll see the end of the tunnel! :) Bright and clear, closer than you think!

Brushing can be done pretty fast, once you have the right tools and the knowledge to keep everyone comfortable on either end of the brush or comb.

In this article, I'll cover the first part of the magic spell.

  1. What is the most optimal place to keep a dog still for grooming? (Environment)
  2. What makes a brush comfortable for dogs? (Equipments)
  3. Dealing with tangles - Brush, Comb, Cut or short shave? (Tangles vs. Mats)
  4. Preparing your pup for a spa day (prevention training, socialization, treats)

I find it very important not just that my pups would cooperate, but what are their reasons are for cooperating? You may say my dog lets me do this and that, but I don't want pups letting me do things, meanwhile they are frozen by fear. We both will pay for it eventually.
I want to ensure them that whatever happens is fun, they can give it a try and will make it fun in case they are not comfy at first and won't continue any further than they are ready to, to build trust. Taking the time to go with their flow means everything for them. I don't know about any other faster way than this one. Forcing pups to do stuff with loops and muzzles is sometimes inevitable, like when a dog's nails have grown into its skin, so it's in a lot of pain, but most of the time, we have time to work on things which come up for you all and turn fear to comfort and willing cooperation.

Environmental Comfort Measures

Sounds / Noises

Fun facts first. :) Scientists say dogs can understand the tone of your voice and the meaning of your words. Doggy hearing is a mesmerizing feature. The frequencies that dogs hear are much higher and much lower than what humans can hear. Dogs hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz while a human range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Because of this, dogs have a much more difficult time around very loud noises. And from a grooming perspective, with noises in general.

Because of that, it is super important to reduce noises (triggers) when it comes to grooming.

What kind of noises can steal the dog’s attention and make them startle or wiggle? In one word: any. :) Your voice, other human voices around, TV, radio, music, doorbells, sirens, other dogs barking, cats meowing or scratching in the litter box, other pets moving around (parrots, ferrets, etc...) the noise of a car door, collar, carabiner on the leash, fireworks, alarms, treat bag, cookie jar lid where you keep the dog food, squeaky toys, sounds of you putting the “dog walking pants/shoes” on, etc... I bet you can fit in quite a few of things that your doggy loves to hear and goes nuts for and those that he hates and goes nuts for or gets scared of. And that’s awesome because the more you are aware of, the more stuff you can do to get your dog prepared or eliminate the triggers and enjoy a calm and relaxing grooming session.

Seriously, anything can more/less trigger a dog. Our challenge of the day is to figure out which noises influence our pup and how and how much. Once we know that, we can rank those which positively influence the doggy and we can try eliminating those which are “not beneficial” for us around grooming time.

Observing your doggy’s behavior and how he/she reacts to those mentioned above and other noises will help you lay out a plan to keep him/her still for the pedicure session.

Generally, I eliminate all noises I can possibly think of, so the doggy won’t be too distracted.

Movements are another big trigger, and we’ll cover that next.

Movements / Visual Distractions

When the doggy’s vision is intact, visual distractions can have a big impact on keeping doggies still or inviting them to move around.

The care provider’s body language is crucial and the surrounding happenings are almost equally important. In this chapter we’ll cover those as a second and third layer which will work as an amazing support to get a doggy stay still for brushing and combing.

Care Provider’s Movements

When you are around doggies, I bet you already know a few tricks. For example, when you run or make fast movements, most of the time, some doggies take it as a “Let’s play and run” sign, but others will be super frightened and scared and they freeze. I bet you have tried to pet a pup who got shy when you reached down to let him sniff your hands. Some of us may even got bitten for one reason or another related to this.
The biggest take-home message is that our behavior and movements can be a big impact on how different doggies behave around us and with us. Often times it will determine whether we’ll create trust and a cooperative dog or we'll get bitten. The fear of getting bitten causes the most sweating among care providers (and owners), hence the overuse of muzzles.


The biggest reason why many care providers and dog owners with high energy level dogs are having so hard time working with wiggle butts is that they don’t know the dog's triggers and they are not aware of the following tips how to behave around a high energy level dog to alter their energy to get stuff done while everybody's needs are getting met.

Golden Rules/Guidelines about movements: (will talk about them briefly later)

  • Move like a snail when you change positions.
  • Move the least of your body when changing position.
  • Always keep at least one hand on the dog (especially when you have the dog elevated) when you change positions. Even the tiniest movement counts, like putting the shears down to get the clippers. (for advanced pups verbal cue will do here later on.)
  • Move like lightning when there is danger either to the dog or to you.
  • Think ahead about a few “backup plan” ways to move your hands, arms, limbs away. (eg. don’t get tangled up with the dog so much that if you had to move your arm super fast, you’d end up hitting the dog with an elbow.)
  • Facing the dog full body means “Stop, stay there.”
  • Turning away (even with your eyes or head, especially with your body) means “Let’s go” to the dog. So if you need to grab some equipment, be extra slow and cautious.
  • Always give a cue for jumping off of the table. Never let a dog jump off of the table without the release cue and moving it to the lowest setting. In case you let them jump whenever they please, obviously they can get hurt, and they’ll learn that it is OK to do so.
  • Get familiar (and take notes, so you can monitor any changes) with the dog’s behavioral triggers (from owner and from the dog itself) and make a plan where and which position will possibly work best for you all.


Other People’s Movements

I find it incredibly distracting if other people move around me while I groom dogs, even “for quick procedures”. The closer they are, the bigger impact their movement has on the dog. A still, quiet person is usually well tolerated by the dog (and me :) but anything moving affects the dog’s movements and our blood pressure, big time. I try to keep anything moving out of sight and hearing distance from doggies in case I want them to stay still. It’s just like you not trying to teach kids math in Disneyland because they are way too distracted by Minnie Mouse, noises, smells, lights and tastes. The same applies to doggies: Whatever moves is like either Disneyland or Scare City, so avoiding distractions as much as possible is the fastest way to get a cooperative and still dog. There are some pro pups who’re either super chill and/or super well trained, or both and it’s not really a challenge for them. They are rare.
With this article series, I'd like to help you to better understand your pup so you'll be able to do magic and get your high energy level doodle pup to work with you for grooming as well.  


My general guideline is like Cesar Millan’s: No touch, no talk, no eye contact. That seems to me the least distracting way in case the owner needs to stay. In most cases I ask the owners to move out of sight and make no noise. No phone calls, no digging in their purse, just being there, being quiet. It helps enormously. Some doggies will still wiggle in case they figure out that their owner hasn’t left. For those, I usually ask them to leave and wait in their car or check out a coffee shop. I often show them a video of their doggy being amazingly still on the table while I am working on them and will let them know about the doggie’s triggers so they will know what to practice at home. And that’s one way how those rare cases increase by number rapidly here. :)

Other Pet’s movements (indoor/outdoor)

Most doggies do pretty OK if their buddy is hanging around. And I mean a pack mate. New pets are like Minnie Mouse. A distraction. Most of the time well meaning, but a distraction all the same. That is the #1 reason why I work by myself and only one doggy or one pack’s pups at a time. That way I can control happenings amazingly smoothly; doggies will engage with me right away and they’ll cooperate incredibly well, off leash on the table.

Fun Fact
Believe it or not, something like 95% of my canine clients behave perfectly with my cats. And that wasn’t the case all the time. I have 3 cats. It’s more like 2.5 though, since Miss Luna is a 6 lb poppy-seed-size rescued little black pearl we live with. She is the toughest though. I keep them separate from doggies who are described by their owner as not kitty compatible at first, but most of them are just fine after the first kitty butt sniff. And it often happens here that I have at least one cat in the grooming room if not on the grooming table while I am working.

So cats, unless the doggy we're working with has a real trigger for them, the cat is running or they are a visual trigger for doggies, are fine around grooming after we let the pup sniff the cat. Again, if they are running and playing with each other, that means movements -- a no-go for those times. You can just shut the door, and you’ll are good.

Moving curtains, blinds and other hidden “ghosts”

If you are blessed with an A/C, it can sometimes cause a smaller heart attack for timid doggies and for you at the same time. It is especially problematic when you’re trying to do very precise work, like nail trimming. E.g. when the A/C was off and starts working automatically, and the air moves the curtain for example, some doggies theoretically poop their pants just because of that. So for very timid doggies, we’ll need to be extra cautious about the surroundings and possibly provide care for them on the ground to prevent accidents, like suddenly flying off of the table.

Shiny surfaces

Shiny surfaces can scare doggies, too. Narrow hallways or stainless steel tables are not the BFFs of doggies. Most of them do not like it, so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind on your way to the groomer/vet. It never hurts to let the care provider know about your doggy’s preferences. 

Fun Fact
Most of the care providers will be pleased to get any info about your dog’s sensitivities, so they don’t have to figure them out by themselves and experience a milder cardiac arrest. I deeply hope though that the care provider would ask you about it up front before you’d need to say anything. That is a reassuring sign of a caring care provider. In case they do not ask about sensitivities, behavior, etc., I would perhaps proceed with their service, but I would not leave my dog there by himself for sure. Find more info about how to pick a high quality service and a caring care provider later on in a separate chapter.

Try to think about any triggers the doggy has in advance, so you’ll be able to prevent accidents from happening.

Smells

Just to put it into perspective, dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to humans, which have 6 million. Their smell is about 40 times greater than ours.

Here is a super interesting TED Talk about dog’s smell. After checking out this video, you’ll no longer wonder why I have a strict no perfume / no cologne / no fragrances rule in my shop. Not on dogs, nor on humans.
Smell of Places

Every place has a unique smell. Grooming shops, vet clinics, boarding facilities, home, surfaces, like a grooming table, etc.

After you’ve seen the video above, you’ll realize how incredibly important it is to pick a place and a care provider who can keep the doggy calm and relaxed. In case the doggies were anxious in that place before, they’ll leave “anxious scents” after themselves and new furry clients will pick it up. Right away.

(It is useful to distinguish between a doggy who is generally behaves like that in most places and those who are one wiggle butts all the time, but put on the brakes at specific places, like at the groomer’s. It is worth it to figure out the triggers and work on them, even if it means finding a new care provider.)

Smell of People


Every human has a different smell that doggies can distinguish. And I am talking about our natural smell, without perfumes.

It gives dogs a sense of security in case they are able to or allowed to sniff you (and other pets as well).

In my practice I patiently wait for my turn to get sniffed at and I enjoy all the benefits afterwards, a calmer, more trusting, more cooperative dog.

I highly recommend avoiding colognes, perfumes, and fragrances on yourself at grooming time, if possible. Your doggy will feel such a huge relief, will be super happy and will probably even reward you with calmer behavior.
Smell of Treats

When it comes to smells, we have the jackpot in our hands. Treats are best friends for most canines. We can do magic with powerful treats and can calm a wiggly pup down to focus on us, big time even in scary situations. I have dedicated a separate section to treats, since it is important to have the right type, size, smell, texture, etc. for the specific happening around, so that you’ll be able to reinforce your dog’s behavior fast, on time, and or a longer period of time without filling him up. Prepare to get a well-behaving pup and to get sticky! :) See the Emotional Comfort Measures for more details and the most Irresistible recipe! :)

Temperature

Temperature is another factor which we can play around with. Some doggies prefer hot, some cooler weather or room temperature. I know pups who lie out in the sun to sunbathe, even here, in Texas, summer time! :D I know, right? I’m from Europe and before I moved to Austin I was convinced I love hot weather. It turned out I had no idea about what hot weather is! :D

With the A/C we can play around with the heat in the grooming area or we can move outside if the weather is not windy or rainy or too hot/cold.

Surface

Some dogs, especially elderly dogs, get so cold and uncomfortable on the cold and hard tile and prefer to lie on towels or blankets.
In case you have a dog who doesn’t really want to cooperate, spending 5-10 minutes outside together with the dog in the warm weather in the shade often helps them appreciate the cooling effects of the A/C indoors a lot more so they’ll just relax. Make sure you call off the fun run before your pup would overheat. Sometimes they are having so much fun, they lost track of time.

I have a rubber mat on my grooming table to keep pups from sliding so they'll feel comfortable. They appreciate it so much, so am I their trust and cooperation in return. :) 

Table's location

I prefer grooming doggies on my table. It has many advantages, the biggest one you'll experience is it saves your back. I'm flexible moving down for an elderly one, but having all dogs groomed on the floor would be a great deal for my chiropractor. :D

The location of the table is crucial and will either make or break the deal of a still pup for you.

If it's set up like below, it'll most likely result in a super cooperative dog. I call this phenomenon: dogs turn into grooming mode on my table. And I do not use any kind of leashes, harnesses, groomer's helper nor grooming loops.

My table is pushed right to the wall with its longer edge. It's a great "movie theatre" for my clients. They look through the window, check out birds and squirrels and they feel entertained. It's exciting, so boom, positive reinforcement right away.

I put stuff on the other 2, short edges, too sort of a barricade, so it won't encourage pups to jump off there.

One short side has an equipment holder and a shelf covering it, the other one has  the trash bag a light stand and the wall within 2 feet of reach. So it's too busy there too for my pups to wanting to jump off.

On the other long edge, there I am with my mindful movements from the beginning of this article.

With those tricks above, your doodles will understand you are wanting the best for them and they will trust and cooperate willingly, off leash, from their heart.

Hope you'll find the above tricks useful!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate contacting me!

Belly rubs to your pups!

~Betty

The Groomer Chick Experience

 

Photo by Seth Weisfeld on Unsplash

Exclusive Doodle Grooming 

All of Betty's canine clients get custom pampering, tailored to their individual needs.

  • Betty grooms her clients from start to finish
  • 100% Cage and Cage Dryer Free
  • Positive Reinforcement with your dog’s favorite treats and toys
  • Dog Centered, Relaxing, Familiar Environment: Only one household’s pets / booked appointment (up to 3 doggies at a time) so no other dogs will be around but mine.
  • Only one dog in the spotlight at a time. Comfortable resting/napping spot in the grooming room for the rest of same household members.
  • Pee/Poop Breaks are included (Start, Finish and hourly in between) direct access to fenced in yard from grooming shop.
  • Fresh (hairless) Drinking Water Access at all times (changed after each appointment).

Betty has Experience with

  • All Canine hair Types & Hair Length
  • Puppy, Adult, Elderly dogs
  • Beginners, Sensitive or Reactive dogs with previous bad or no grooming experience
  • Dogs with amputated leg, docked tail, cropped ears or paralyzed dogs (they need special attention, due to more sensitivity around specific areas)
  • Visually and/or Hearing Impaired dogs

Gentle Grooming Techniques

  • No “Chin Lock” Holding for grooming or positioning the head (“Chin Lock” = Grabbing hair under the chin to keep the dog still or rotate the head) I rather hold the muzzle gently with 2 fingers only (1 on top & 1 on bottom) and provide a low distraction environment to prevent wiggle.
  • The Canine client is moving Free on the table by default throughout the grooming with Betty’s 100% focus on him/her at all times.
  • No Grooming Loops (but in the tub for beginner doggies, due to safety reasons)
  • No muzzles
  • No harnesses, or any sort of physical tightening to the table
  • Exceptional Grooming on the Floor for Elderly dogs / Puppies / Beginners if necessary.
  • No phone calls answered while Betty is grooming due to safety reasons.

Dog Centered Grooming Workflow

  • No Routine Anal Gland Expressions, but yes routine anal gland Checkups.
  • No Routine Ear Flushing. (Do not fix what is not broken! Supporting healthy ear flora by letting it be.)
  • Betty uses ceramic clipper blades (they take longer to overheat and leave a lot more even haircut on the coat)
  • Betty carefully and frequently checks the clipper blade temperature on herself (pressing the blade to her wrist for 5 seconds and changes the blades when necessary to avoid clipper burns on the dogs)
  • Full Body Brush out, Desheding, Demating Before the Bath (No high-velocity blow dryer use on the highest setting to open up matted hair, because that is not comfortable for the dog.)
  • Gentle Nail Care timed after the bath (unless they are extra long and bothering the dog)
  • Nail Length Evaluation
  • Dog Behavior Evaluation
  • Paw Rinse and nail scrub if necessary (muddy toenails)
  • Paw pad Hair Trim
  • “Paw Pad Boomerang” Trim
  • “Toe Mohawk” Trim
  • Gentle Nail Trim (Pressure and Pain-Free)
  • Gentle Hand Nail File (Pressure and Pain-Free)
  • Paw Hair Brush out (it gets scruffy after holding the feet and positioning toes)
  • Paw hair shape up (top of the feet)
  • Nail Length, Dog Behavior Evaluation
  • Further Home Nail Care Suggestions if needed
  • Frequent Pee Breaks
  • Immediate pickup at the time of finished haircut

Gentle Grooming Equipment Only

  • quiet hand blow dryers
  • quiet clippers
  • No dematting rake use (a slicker brush will open up the hair so much more gentle. I do one by one shear trim for stubborn mats.)
  • No de-shedding rake use (a slicker brush, bath, blow-drying will remove all the undercoat gently.)
  • No electric Nail Grinders
  • Gentle Detangling/Dematting/Deshedding (slicker brush, comb, rounded tip shears)
  • Yes Rich Conditioner to help Brushing, Deshedding, Dematting at home
  • No Deshedding Shampoos, etc.)
  • Hand Blow Drying Only, No Cage Dryers at all
  • Natural, Chemical Free Shampoos, Conditioners
  • Natural and or Eco-Friendly Grooming and Cleaning Supplies

No...

  • No Bows
  • No Bandanas
  • No Hair Dying
  • No Fake Nails
  • No Nail Painting
  • No Pony Tails
  • No 3D Haircuts (e.g. turtle shape cut in St. Poodle's hair. Google it!)
  • No Whitening or Darkening Shampoos
  • No Perfumes or Colognes
  • No leave in Shampoo or leave in Conditioner
  • No Dog Show Preparations

Optional Add-Ons

  • Customized Grooming Needs and Home Grooming Equipment Recommendation especially for your dog breed and hair type and hair length (Maintenance Between 2 groomings or Full Home Grooming Needs & Equipment)
  • Professional Grooming Details Form (in case you move and want to make it a smooth provider switch with the same hair style)
  • One on One "Dog Centered Grooming" Tutorial for Dog Owners, Breeders, Groomers, etc.
  • Custom Tutorial Link Packages to fix behavioral and or socialization problems

What happens to my doodle at the groomer?

Photo by Andrew Spencer on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered what does your doodle do at the groomer? What are the grooming steps he/she will experience?

I get that question all the time so felt like making a blog post about the details.

In case your doodle will get a full package, a haircut included, here are the steps he/she'll experience in at the Doodle Groomer Chick's salon. I picked to detail this package, because it covers most of the grooming needs of a doodle.

Pee Break

Having doggies and groomers leaving their business cards on the grass and in the restroom makes the spa day a lot more fun. So we'll start with this. :)

Trimming the hair around the eyes

Comfort makes a cooperative doodle. Enabling your doodle to see better will set up ease and trust, which are great help throughout grooming.

Paw hair removal

Keeping doodles still for the spa day is essential. So next up is trimming the hair underneath the paw pads to enable the dog to get a better grip on the grooming table. That results in a more stable dog and they'll be able to stand more comfortable on 4-3-2 legs while getting groomed.

Sanitary trim

It is much easier to detangle a dog without the super sensitive sanitary hair (often times matted) in the way, since we won't accidentally pull on those tricky spots with a brush or comb.
So next up the (chances are) matted hair around the privates gets to be trimmed off. Those spots are the belly, butt area, genitals, armpits and inner thighs so pee won't stuck on the hair and will be removed before brushing and the bath. Poop will not get tangled or dried on the butt area for a good while due to the shorter trim which is a great help cleaning the area at home if necessary.

Detangling, brushing out or de-shedding.

It is important to get rid of all of the tangled hair, especially in case the doodle will get a longer trim (longer than 1/2 in). For shorter blades (less than 1/2 in length), it doesn't really matter. No need for detangling, the clipper blade will go through the hair most likely.

Pre-haircut

The temporary but practical so called "Barking Cactus" hair style. Doggies like the clipper more than getting a bath or getting blow-dried, so in case we have less hair to deal with at those steps, the best and fastest for all of us is getting a pre-haircut. I happens when the desired hair length is significantly shorter than the doodle's coat at the time of arrival. Dealing with less hair in the tub and in front of the blow dryer makes life more fun for all participants.

Nail trimming and filing.

Nail filing can happen before the bath or after the bath. I usually do it after the bath, unless the doggy has super long nails and it is not comfortable to stand with those in the way. Nail filing is recommended after every nail trimming to make the sharp edges nice and smooth. It's important, since doggies can get itchy ears after ear hair removal and we don't want them to scratch themselves (face, skin, eyes, ears, whatever they reach...) with sharp nails. Filing is the best way to prevent injury to skin and on the eyes. With filing we can also eliminate those dark red scratches on our thighs when our doods get excited.

Ear cleaning

Happens before the bath and definitely before nail trimming. (Some doggies with excessive ear hair have a tendency to shake their head for a few minutes/hours so it's best to get done with the nails first then with the ears to get a super still dog for nail trimming.)

Removing ear hair

It is a pretty controversial topic, but I'll try to explain it in a nutshell. Generally speaking the more hair a doodle has on the inside and the more curly it is, the more hair he/she has in the ear canal. In case they have some hair and it does not block the ear canal, it can be left intact and or we can trim some off of the length. In case the doodle has a lot of ear hair and you can't see the skin part of the ear canal when you take a look, I recommend removing the war hair from the ear canal at least partially. Ear hair removal (plucking) can be done the gentle way, when dogs no not show discomfort signs. I highly recommend removing the hair as a way of preventing ear infections. I remove the ear hair with my fingers, using new disposable exam gloves on both ears. I do not use/suggest using ear washes or alcohol as routine ear care. It is when the ear has lots of dirt or wax what is blocking or getting to block the ear canal. Otherwise, it is highly recommended to keep the natural flora in the ear canal and let it work its magic. Let's not fix what is not broken.

Pee break

It happens hourly or as needed. For puppies, elderly, at least once in every hour. Adults, can go longer, but I always ask for specific doggy signs for potty breaks from the owners at the first time and keep a sharp eye out for the signals.

Bath

I like to use lukewarm water, good soak with a hose (no shower head attached - see why in my other blog posts), 1-2 rounds of shampoo -depends on how dirty the doodle is- and some conditioner to keep the hair shafts healthy and soft so brushes and combs will run in the hair easy and comfortably.

Towel drying

and letting the doggy roll and go wild with running around in the grooming area in case they want to. They satisfy their need to do something to get the water off of them so they'll be a lot calmer on the grooming table for drying.

Brushing out

I brush out doodles before, meanwhile and after blow-drying. Yep. With the right equipment, used properly after conditioner it won't pull the hair, but will let it get dry super fast and fluffy and will let the undercoat fly out better, too.

Hand blow-drying

Using a brush while blow-drying makes it much faster and the doggy will become significantly fluffier and the hair will be beautifully straight to get a very precise and even trim. Cages, cage dryers are not recommended at any circumstances.

High velocity blow-drying

I use high velocity blow-dryers when the doodle I am working on has mesmerizing hair amount and several inches long hair. Especially useful for curly doodles, to make sure the coat is tangle free.

Final haircut

Final haircut happens after the doodle's coat is perfectly prepared to get the finest trim all over the body. It is funny that it usually takes about 30-45 minutes out of the 2+ hour grooming appointment. The preparation takes way longer than this part.

Pee break after

to make sure the doodle will be comfortable even in rush hour traffic on the way home. 

Pickup

When doodles are picked up, we talk about how mom and dad like the haircut, wether they have any questions and the payment happens at that time of the spa day. 

That's my take on the grooming steps. Which ones came as a surprise? Which one did you know about? Let me know in the comments!

Belly rubs to your doodle! :)

~Betty