Who Do You Accept Advice From?
As a pawrent, it is in your own hands to make sure your doodle gets the most relaxing care possible, let it be at home, at the boarding facility, at the vet or at the groomer's. OK, but how can you do that? By keeping an eye out for quality.
Your doodle deserves the same standard of care as you do on a massage.
When it comes to our own spa day at the massage salon, we stay still for the treatment without handcuffs and muzzles when it's good, right? We ask to stop and discuss when something is not quite right and we either come to a consensus or we get up, leave and find another salon in case things really go south.
"Resolving behavior" by using grooming loops, harnesses, muzzles and "chin grip" (the "doing to" methods) might make the doodle "cooperate" on the short run -shall we say give up and give in? However he/she will do it out of an energy and state of mind, which combined with pain and disrespect will make him/her drift away far and fast from the thought of a joyful spa experience. From then on, they'll do everything in their capabilities to avoid getting groomed again and will do things like running away, wiggling or straight up biting when being approached with grooming tools.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
~ Maya Angelou
It does matter who you learn from.
Your doodle's relationship with grooming and behavior while getting groomed highly depends on their introduction to grooming tools (puppyhood), their previous experience with grooming (adolescent and adult) and the methods and tools we use to groom them in the present.
Let it be home hair maintenance by pawrents or a full grooming at a salon, wiggling for grooming does not need to be accepted as our new normal. There is no such thing as a "bad doodle", however we can do a lot of things to keep our doodle comfortable so he/she will cooperate for grooming, willingly.
How Can You Get The Highest Quality Knowledge/Service?
Every facility has their own spirituality. Boarding facilities are best at making sure how to keep dogs entertained and safe until their pawrents are away. Breeders make the cutest and healthiest doggies imaginable. Groomers keep their constantly growing coat in check.
Find A Specialist!
While it might seem to be convenient to browse on You Tube and social media for info from peers about what are the best grooming tools and where to get them, I'd like to emphasize the importance of getting the info from a high quality source.
It's like having a baby. When there is an issue with breastfeeding, who's advice will you take? Your mom, a well-meaning neighbor, mother-in-law, older sister with 3 kids or lactation consultant? Chances are, while parents went through similar stuff you have questions about, a professional, a lactation consultant will show you ways you had no idea existed to solve problems with latching, cleft pallet, bonding or positioning yourself and the baby for breastfeeding. Same applies to grooming.
I highly encourage your to filter and categorize the sources you get the info from, by specialty, profession and experience, just to mention a few criteria. Let's take a look at a few categories to get a better understanding of the experience and roles in question.
Titles, Professions and Grooming Experience
Pawrents are the much needed extra eyes and ears. A community where we can share milestones, share frustrations and shed tears. Where we get compassion, support, can meet up to socialize and exercise our pups and make memories. Pawrents have more experience about puppies than first timer dog moms/dads or first timer pawrents of a breed that needs haircuts and constant maintenance, which is an advantage.
They can help you share their personal experience with trainers, breeders, vets, groomers, the newest books, coolest websites, fanciest shops to get gotcha day and birthday cakes, treats, toys and bowls.
They can share their experience about trying a few grooming tools and can tell you how their doodle reacted to those.
I'd like to note that pawrents' experience is limited to their doodle's coat type and they have a limited comprehensive history of using different tools on different coats.
Breeders have extensive knowledge in picking the best looking parents for a new litter. They do a bunch of health tests before breeding to make sure the puppies are not only going to be super cute, but healthy as well. They care for studs, bitches and the new puppies up until they are ready to go to their new home at 8 weeks of age.
Up until then, a lot more needs to be done with puppies training and socialization-wise to get them on the right track, than grooming-wise. Their mom will clean them, their coat and usually their eye area needs minor, but more likely no trimming by the age of 8-weeks-old.
I find the breeders' work inevitable and their experience with grooming tools and hair types is significantly more than pawrents'. However based on their profession having a different orientation, they have significantly less experience with grooming and hair maintenance than groomer's.
Veterinarians / Vet Techs
Veterinarians make sure your puppy is on the right track health wise. They do prevention and advise you how to administer deworming and flea/tick treatments. They can perform minor grooming steps like nail trims and a surgery shave, they are not trained in how to maintain the coat as extensively as groomers are.
They search the coat and body for health issues and are focused on that part mostly, not on hair maintenance.
Veterinarians are the highest assets to make sure doodles are healthy. However their experience with hair maintenance is limited, due to their profession's focus on health, rather than grooming.
Trainers know the magic how to keep your doodle puppy or adult doggo comfortable to meet with the professionals above. They have some idea about positioning for grooming steps, but generally are more focused on behavior in new situations and interacting with people and tools.
While they know how to keep dogs comfortable for the blow-dryer or loud noises, their experience with the most effective grooming tools based on coat type is most often limited, again, because their profession's main focus is behavior, not hair types and maintenance.
Groomers are a special breed, because they need to spend a lot of time actively, hands on with dogs. A full groom takes about 2-3 hours depending on hair length, hair quality, behavior and desired trim. Groomers need to make the most of all professions above, so they know a little bit of all. Meanwhile groomers are giving dogs a haircut, they are actively training, socializing and desensitizing the dogs. They need to handle dogs for the longest for the most hands on exercise. In general, they know most about how to maintain the coat to get the best possible outcomes, the fastest.
Groomers are a great hub who refer dogs out to trainers with behavior issues, to vets with health issues and connect breeders with pawrents.
Groomers use the grooming tools for the longest comparing the professions above, they get extensive training about hair types and styles so their experience weighs the most in my opinion when it comes to deciding what tools to use on different breeds.
I'd like to note that based on the facility, you want to double check that quality and comfort outranks quantity and speed.
How To Find A Method That Works For You?
Given that the groomers who barely pass the exam and who pass with flying colors are all called the same: groomers, it's up to pawrents to measure the quality of service care providers offer and to make sure they choose one that meets or exceeds their needs for desired standard of care.
Often times pawrents are having hard times figuring out what to look out for, so I collected a few bullet points how I would rank facilities if I were looking for grooming services or knowledge about how to take care of my dog's grooming needs.
Comfort Equals Cooperation
✔ Doodle coat approved grooming tools
✔ Gentle grooming tools only
✔ Gentle handling
✔ Free-moving doodle, gentle grooming method
✔ High energy level oriented environment
✔ Addressing custom grooming needs (for home)
✔ Custom grooming packages
✔ "Working with" the doodle method
✔ Doodle guided grooming flow, with breaks
✔ Training and desensitization
✔ Non-toxic grooming supply
✔ Request the doodle to do something
✔ Experience with hair style
✔ Experience with dog training and energy level
Quantity over Quality
Look For Red Flags, like:
✘ Short pinned slicker brushes, plastic combs, etc.
✘ Dematting rakes, cage dryers, nail grinders, etc.
✘ Chin hair / cheek hair / ear grips
✘ Grooming nooses (loops), harnesses, muzzles, restraint
✘ Cages, one style fits all environment
✘ "Brush your dog more often."
✘ One style fits all hair style, short shaves, etc.
✘ "Doing to" the doodle method
✘ "Sit means sit!", "I'll tell you when it's over."
✘ "You must suffer to be beautiful."
✘ "Cheapest in bulk, still smells good deals."
✘ Order/Demand the doodle to do something
✘ Lack of grooming experience
✘ Lack of dog training knowledge