After 20 years in the Grooming world and customer service, one of the most crucial skills I've learned in grooming is how to listen to a customer. As an eager groomer first starting out, it took me a loo-o-o-ng time to discover I was overly excited to share my skillset and forgot to stop and 'listen' to the customers stories about their dogs and their own journey with pet professionals before they landed in my salon. I literally had to force myself to 'close my mouth' and force myself to 'shut up' and listen to my customers story...lol. A personal breakthrough for sure and there's been many more along the way but I also observed a true barrier to communication between my customers and I.
It was: UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS. Whose fault?? We always would like to lay blame...it's not me**...It must be them.
Getting past this hurdle can truly bring harmony to your Grooming experience--for the dogs and You!
It needs to be brought up that the dogs you see in magazine articles, or on tv have been professionally groomed prior to their photo shoot and a groomer has already spent hours getting the dog to look 'just right'. There's a tendency to expect any dog to be 'made over' into a photo brought into a salon...
I've heard it almost daily from my customers, we tried to get out some of the matts around her ears and neck but it's too thick now....the feet, the legs, the tail, in-between the back legs....etc. they tried an 'hour' before bringing their dog in lol...Hey we don't mind hearing it but expecting to be able to get out those matts after a couple months in-between sessions isn't a fair expectation to have! Not at that point. The attempt is not lost on us though!
There are things to keep in mind! :) Your dog's coat length at the time you bring to your groomer may be either: too short to achieve the look in a photograph or videoat the moment-but...a groomer can work towards the style but fur must have* time to grow into it!
This means: Coat Maintenance at home and then subsequent visits every 3-4 weeks to continue to shape the style into your desired outcome while it grows. This is necessary. There's an expectation sometimes that following an initial grooming, there could be a gap in professional care for 2 or 3 months fur growth and then pop back in for a grooming hoping to complete that 'look'....Sadly then the reality sets in.....Your Doodle dog's coat has become a fine, fuzzy felted pad on their body.....oh no. Groomers decide to shave the dog closer to the skin to get up under the tight matting.....
This is where things can go wildly Sideways**** between Groomer and our valued customers....we as professionals do our utmost to: 1) educate educate educate how to properly educate how to properly brush and comb through your dogs coat at home.
Protip*: Look for a professional who can take the time to spend ten minutes on your dog to properly brush through your coat, Product choice, share tips on combing, tool-use and tool selection! Yep, selection. Your groomer will love you for it and it will bring harmony to your relationship! The best time to call and find out is: Near the End of the business day!!
Customer Realistic Expectation: Groomer might be willing to spend time showing me how to do the brushing, tool-use and what to look for in terms of brushes and combs! WIN! WIN! WIN!
Groomers Realistic Expectation: Once informed, my customer will spend time at least weekly doing a thorough job on their Doodle IF** they want to achieve or keep a particular look for their Doodle! Professionals love to share knowledge and take a personal pride sharing knowledge which can be fun and helpful for our customers!! ding! ding! ding!
Realistic Expectations vs. Unfair Expectations.
Protip*: there is no magical elixir out there or a wand that will 'melt' through those mats....there is ALWAYS some elbow grease involved! This is not bad news! The key is realizing that as pet care providers CONSISTENCY is our friend. A realistic expectation at home must be: consistent brushing out and combing on problem areas. What we choose for products comes down to Personal Preference, Personal Style and what works for our lifestyle!
We've hi-lited an example above of Unfair expectations....hoping long curly locks can be preserved if the first half inch or inch of hair from your dogs body is in a wide swathe of felted coat....
Your Groomer could actually spend 3 days grooming sessions, at 4-5 hours a day to 'get out the matts' and hand you a bill of $950 plus the grooming charge but......it's not realistic! Lol.....We opt to humanely do a tidy short clip and START OVER.
Realistically you can** opt for a shorter maintenance clip! But it is also totally fair and achievable to keep a long flowing beautiful curly Doodle coat too! It's a Realistic Expectation with Consistent, Proper Maintenace and regular grooming sessions.
Some of my favouorite tools:
A flexible slicker brush. Double sided. You don't need to get a $100 brush. Feel it against your inner wrist lightly. If it's inflexible or tooo* flexible, you'll know. I'd rather get too 'floppy'...and then run a bead of contact cement between the layers of the brush. This will 'firm' it up just enough to give the right tension for the 'give' needed for line brushing! PawBrothers makes a good, inexpensive type of flexible brush. Perfectly good and useful.
A Wide-toothed, steel* pin comb. Look for stainless steel, and a good namebrand like: Aaronco or Greyhound.
I hope some of this might be helpful. Experience matters. Care matters and so too does...actually caring. Groomers care. They want to help!
Sincerely, Faith Chipman
Owner of MarshMello Dematt and a Dog Groomer too! One of my biggest joys is when a customer calls me personally and I can point them in direction of resources, quickly give them tips and recommend videos or local salons or groomers in their area. Yep, it's really still me on the phone. Yours truly.
YES, I still groom dogs! :D!
Watch One of the Best in the Industry do 'Line Brushing' on a heavy coated dog!