FAQ

SPA SETUP

Do you work with doodles only?

Yes.

What kind of doodles do you accept?

Goldendoodle, Sheepadoodle, Bernedoodle, Labradoodle, Maltipoo, St. Bernadoodle, Dalmadoodle, Aussiedoodle, etc.
And I don’t have a weight limit.

Do you take multiple doodles at the same time?

Only if they belong to the same household so that multi-doodle families can drop off/pick up all their pups simultaneously (up to 3 dogs; above 3, we need to split them up).

Why this approach?
I groom one dog at a time, off-loop on the grooming table/in the bath, and prefer peace in the background to keep my clients still on my grooming table.
Dogs new to each other might or might not go well together, so I only work with one household's doodles at a time.

Do you have cages/cage dryers?

No.
Cages/cage dryers are uncomfortable for dogs, and I operate my spa based on putting a significant emphasis on comfort for dogs, so they collaborate willingly.

Do you use grooming loops?

No. I furnished the spa to meet my clients' safety, comfort, and relaxation needs. I altered the environment to keep doodles engaged (not distracted) and use tools and grooming methods that help dogs cooperate with me willingly throughout the spa day.
I call it doodle-led grooming, "working with," not "doing to." I use treats and toys; the grooming table is located right by a big window so my clients can watch my cats outside or birds or squirrels coming by, training and desensitization/counterconditioning, to mention a few from my "toolkit." 

Do you have groomers/bathers work for you?

No.
I have a solo-groomer salon. I provide all the grooming steps alone, whether hairstyling, bath, drying, etc.

GROOMING SCHEDULE / PACKAGES

What kind of services does a doodle need?

1. Coat care (Brush, Comb, Dematting if needed Wash, Dry, between haircuts)
It can happen at home, at a salon, or in combination. Keeping the coat tangle and mat free, providing mat prevention/dematting if humanely possible, bath, and drying.

2. Maintenance trim (Face, Feet, Fanny Trim + Nail Trim & File)
Every 4-6 weeks so doodles can live a comfortable life between haircuts.
We want doodles to see (eye area trim), get a good grip on the ground (paw hair trim), short and soft nails (trimmed and filed), and clean PP and no dingleberries (poop) (private area hair trimmed). Some doodles need help with ear hair maintenance, like cleaning or ear hair plucking.

3. Hairstyling / Hair Shortening
- when the doodle gets hot
- you get tired of the coat care at home/mats present you can’t resolve
- you want to change the hairstyle
- before special occasions, like boarding, spaying/neutering/other planned surgeries, so doodles won’t develop mats while recovering.

Any/some/all of these qualify for a hairstyling appointment or a chance to learn to do it yourself.

How often should my adult doodle get a haircut?

I suggest an FFF (Face, Feet, Fanny Trim, including nails trimmed and filed) every 4-6 weeks.
And FFF+Full-body hairstyling generally every 8-10 weeks.

Many clients alternate the FFF appointments and a hairstyling appointment every 4 weeks.

Some clients learn to do the FFF part at home and do that themselves and have me do the hairstyling part only every 8ish weeks.

How often should my doodle puppy get a haircut?

I suggest a FFF (Face, Feet, Fanny Trim, including nails trimmed and filed) every 4-6 weeks from birth. The first 1-2 FFFs are done at/by the breeder, so the puppies' socialization to new things and grooming steps will go smoothly.

When puppies can't see, can't get a good grip, or break too long nails, they tend to develop insecurities with objects, people, surfaces, paw care, etc. Staying on top of these will help you bring up a confident and outgoing doodle who loves spa days.

Introducing puppies to grooming steps early on helps keep puppies socialization to new things smooth and uneventful. 

Puppies generally get multiple FFFanny trims before an actual “big boy/girl” haircut.

What intro do you suggest for puppies into spa days at your spa?

Several FFFanny sessions (30 mins tops), including nail trim & file, to get the puppy used to the tools, grooming steps, new environment, and new people.

Then “dry cut” hairstyling appointments (60 mins tops) as needed to get used to a bit longer spa days. (Pawrents do the bath and drying at home, and I do the FFFanny & hairstyling.)

Then puppies can graduate to get The Works at my spa (120 mins). That means that I do every grooming step with no preps needed for the appointment.

What intro do you suggest for puppies into spa days at home?

Grooming steps can be practiced at home, from getting used to them to learning to groom your puppy at home. 

For getting used to grooming steps training, check out this video from a fantastic trainer, Emily Larlham! (Ignore the Dremel section; I will never use them, but a doggy nail file-I like nail files better!)

For training courses to learn to groom your doodle at home, take a look at my online courses over at Doodle Grooming Academy!

My puppy can’t see, but he/she has not yet finished his/her puppy vaccinations. What can I do?

There are a few routes to get the comfort your puppy needs, safely.

1. The vet can trim and file your puppy’s nails. (Eye area, paw hair trim, and private area trim still need to be taken care of.)

2. I offer “First of the day, no ground contact appointment” for puppies. (If you feel comfortable with this option.)
That means you’ll hand your puppy to me; I’ll take him/her to the spa, put him/her on the grooming table, do the FFFanny trim and hand him/her back to you. No sniff-around, no meet and greets with my pets, and no water (unless you bring your own water bowl).

3. You can learn to do puppy FFFany very easily and do it at home. (If you feel most comfortable with not exposing your puppy to anything until he/she gets done with the puppy shots)
Puppies have a tiny amount of hair in the way that interferes with their socialization and day-to-day comfort and likely have zero mats. So the solution is simple and requires only a few well-planned snip-snips to get them back to be able to see, get a grip, and clean up the pp/anus areas.

Why don’t you do The Works on puppies right off the bat?

The Works package (FFFanny, nails, bath, dry, hairstyling) takes about 90-120 mins, depending on the puppy's size and hair length. Puppies have a limited attention and tolerance span, and keeping them below their threshold is critical to help them love being groomed at the spa and at home.

Introducing puppies to these new things gradually helps pups get used to spa days without overwhelming them. If we were to force The Works on them, it’d show in their behavior for spa days at home and at the spa, even towards me. So to keep them engaged and cooperative, I suggest breaking up the spa days into bite-sized portions.

If your goal is to have a willingly cooperative dog for grooming at home and at doggy spas, I find it non-negotiable to keep the grooming intro and grooming steps in the bite-sized portions range by *your puppy's standards* (not by conforming to conventional salon "norms" or to your comfort and ease solely.)

While many salons do offer bath, dry, FFFanny appointments for puppies as young as 3-4 months old, overwhelming them is incredibly easy. (Think of "dryer shy" dogs.) It more often than not involves overpowering them by using multiple grooming nooses on their neck and hips or holding them down to "get them used to grooming." A scared and shut-down puppy might stay still, but they will not work with us willingly later down the road. It might sound like a relief that the grooming salon will do "everything for you," but we cannot overlook the fact that it is a great (and almost guaranteed) recipe for dogs to pull away from the spa next time, hide under the bed, or bite the tool for at-home spa days.

PRICES

How much will it cost for me to get my doodle groomed?

Generally speaking, the price of a haircut depends on the following:

* what services do you pick/your doodle needs

* what experience you’d like for your doodle and you (1-on-1 spa days, by appointment only, mobile groomer, big box “factory grooming,” etc.)

* whether you’d like to take part in the prep work or prefer the groomer, do every step (dry cut appointments, when you do the brush, wash, dry at home the day of or the day before the haircut)

* Grooming salon setup (specialty or conventional)

* Your doodle’s behavior

* Presence of mats etc.

As an example, I charge by the time needed to perform grooming steps.

Rough estimates in my doodle spa (Email me for custom estimates!)

An FFFanny, including nails, generally costs $117+TAX.

A Dry cut  (you do the bath and drying at home) costs $220+TAX. FFFanny, including nails trimmed and filed, Full-body hairstyling.

The Works for a standard-size doodle with about 1” long hair as the desired trim and zero mats in the coat, including the services listed below, costs $420+TAX.

- An FFFanny including nails
- Full-body hairstyling
- Bath
- Hand-blow drying

What makes your salon more expensive than the other salons?

Clients choose my services because “I don’t poodle their doodle.”
They get the hairstyle they are looking for right on the first try and consistently from then on. They like that I listen and keep their doodle’s eyelashes if they want me to, that I put cotton balls in their pups’ ears for baths, and honor any other requests and preferences. Paying attention to tiny details that make their pups and their life easier goes a long way.

My clients find it non-negotiable to get a joyful and outstanding experience for their pups, them being in the spotlight solely, without grooming loops on them for the time of the spa day, and zero time spent in cages with distressed or overtly active dogs around. It keeps their doodles happy and cooperative for home spa days as well.

And they like the extraordinary experience for them, a chance to talk with the groomer directly about their hairstyle needs and their dogs’ needs/preferences (as opposed to a drop off at the front desk.) They enjoy the open communication flow even throughout the spa day. My clients can reach out if they forgot something, and I'll reach out if I find something. (ear infection, skin problems, scabs, etc., before the pickup.)

They like to see how their pup behaves around me and how I behave around them before they leave their baby with me.

They love to watch videos I send about how relaxed their doodle is for drying, haircuts, nail trims, etc. These are the biggest reasons I hear my clients say they prefer me to do the doodle hairdo.

They like my handouts about coat care and enjoy the convenience of asking me about grooming/training/minor health-related questions between/before/after spa days.

Their pups like getting brushed at home because they know how to use the right tools in a comfortable way for their doodle. A comfy spa day radiates as far as a cooperative pup at home.

What do you suggest to those pawrents who are on a tighter budget?

I offer "dry-cut" appointments where pawrents can get the hairstyle and the comfort for their doodles by pitching in on the workload.

I collaborate with pawrents by them doing the brushing, washing and drying the day of or the day before the trim, and I do the FFFanny, nails, and hairstyling. I share instructions on how to get the best hair quality for a dry cut so the collaborative work will look and feel spotless.

A "dry-cut" appointment cuts the price of The Works in half (by the prep work being done at home), yet you get the same hairstyle and quality.

Pawrents can also learn to groom their doodles. I have courses/books for different grooming steps on my teaching website. Some clients learn to do the FFF and have me do the hairstyling only. Some clients learn to do almost everything but have me do steps they are afraid to do, e.g., the nail trim and file or ear plucking.

Some clients have already graduated and are grooming their doodles themselves, and they just hit me up with questions, or when they have a baby and want some relief from their to-do list, they have me do the spa day for their doodles. And they go back to spa days at home after a few months.

What makes other salons less expensive than your salon?

"Every institution has its own spirituality." ~ Walter Wink

Grooming experience goes miles beyond "My dog needs a haircut; where is the closest groomer?"

I'd like you to know that I'm not trying to settle the debate of which grooming setup is "good" and which is "bad."
But I'd like to raise awareness in you to see how different in experience a spa day can be for you, your dog, and the groomer among the different variations of grooming setups. (e.g., big box store, mobile, solo-groomer salon, etc.)
And I'd like to encourage you to make an informed, conscious choice and to pick a setup and services that meet your and your dog's needs.

Cutting client costs can happen in multiple ways, but someone always pays the price. It might sound like a cliche, but unfortunately, that is the net result.

Groomers with less experience can charge less. Having bathers do the bath and drying part of the grooming is another way to free up experienced groomers' hands to cut costs. Bathers have less experience than a beginner groomer and, more often than not, no grooming degree, so their hourly rate is closer to the minimum wage. They often "line wash dogs" in a long tub, rinse everyone, shampoo everyone, rinse everyone, conditioner, etc., so dogs pay for this kind of efficacy by sitting in the tub or cage with a wet coat to get to their turn in the next grooming step. Bathers are overworked and underpaid and often struggle with eczema due to the constant wet hands and harsh chemicals in fancy-smelling shampoos/conditioners. So bathers also pay, but with unsustainable work conditions in the long run. Hence the frequent workforce turnovers for bathers.

Doing short shaves is a time-saving way to groom high-energy level dogs at the cost of the looks. Salons are not set up to teach pawrents how to keep/prepare high-energy level dogs to chill for spa days, and their high-paced environment keeps doodles wiggly and hard to work on. (The perfect storm for injuries for the dog and groomer involved.)

Dogs getting cage-dried frees up employees' hands, so they can “process” more dogs at a given time.
I call this "the dog pays with discomfort" for a “more affordable” grooming.

Having a tighter schedule to pay the salon and employee bills leaves less room for a detailed trim, so the haircut, even though on the fluffier side, likely will be less precise—rushed trims, no time for questions, nicking dogs, nail trim injuries, etc.

In a busy salon, high-energy level dogs react (wiggle) way more, so they likely will experience more restraints, like nooses (politely called grooming loops) 1-2 around the neck and 1-2 around the hips to keep them sort of still.
A short shave is also often "justified by behavior," even when the lack of exercise, a busy environment, or the combination of these make the dogs so wiggly and that it is not caused by a lack of training.

Take a look at grooming salons’ images and videos on Instagram or other social media!
Look at the dog’s eyes and determine whether that dog seems happy to you. Do you see an anxious "Whale eye?"
How does the groomer get the dog to focus on the camera? Do they do the goatee grab to focus the dog’s head? Is that something that you want your dog to go through *to snap an image*? Does this method fit in your philosophy when it comes to your doodle?
If the groomers who use goatee grabs won't use other methods for taking images, ask yourself what methods they use to keep dogs safe from shears around their noses, eyes, ears, etc. Is that something you want for your doodle?

This is an excellent way to get an insight into conventional salons' methods to “get things done” without emphasizing the need for the dog’s comfort and respecting them at a level above what groomers are taught at their industrialized training.
(Think of sheep getting sheared. It has evolved quite a bit but still has room to improve from the sheep's perspective. Dog grooming is a tad more evolved, but it's still hard to fit in the words "respecting the dog" in the conventional grooming methods.)

Ask yourself this: If we replace the dog being groomed with a kid in the images you see on groomers' social media you just found, do you feel the client (dog/kid) is happy and respected?

If kids can get a haircut without nooses and grabbing at their ears to keep them still or look at the camera, I challenge, so can dogs.

We can ask for a dog’s attention by making funny sounds with our mouth or by using treats or toys, and we don’t have to grab their chin hair to keep them still. (And there are tons of other methods.)

The moment you learn to see these “tiny” signals of discomfort as the telltale signal of a salon setup that prioritizes quantity over the dogs’ comfort and a quality trim, you’ll realize that the system is broken and that you have more sophisticated needs for your doodle than "My doodle needs a trim." covers.
That "No dogs died from a goatee grab yet." and "It doesn't hurt if they stay still." don't cut it to meet the dog's needs for comfort, respect, and autonomy.

It's incredibly hard to change the setup of a conventional grooming setup because the moment you start digging, it's a rabbit hole in a rabbit hole, and we realize that the whole setup needs to be revised and rebuilt from the ground up if we want to prioritize the dog's safety, comfort, and sustainability of the business as the top three needs we want to meet. 

This is precisely why I went solo, took on the challenges of starting and managing my own business, and specialized in doodles to help them enjoy spa days to the fullest - by their standards.

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