Until last year, we really took dog groomers for granted. Most of our dogs throughout the years have been smooth-coated, so we handled the baths, nail trims, etc. on our own.
The only dogs we’ve had that needed a professional’s touch were Brussels Griffons. Rough-coated Griffs have terrier-type coats, fur that’s supposed to be “stripped” for show dogs, but most of us pet people just get them clipped.
Training for grooming
We’ve been lucky enough to get to know some groomers through the dog sports we play in. Even though Tango was people-reactive and a jerk when Fran got him, he was always good with his groomer, our friend Tammy. Who retired from grooming at the end of 2019. It wasn’t pandemic-related, but it did coincide.
Consequently, we didn’t have a groomer to call who knew Tango. 12 years ago, Fran (and Tammy) went to extraordinary lengths to train Tango to have “groomer manners.” Fran took Tango to the grooming shop for visits, just bringing him in and giving him treats for being calm.
Then Tammy and the other people at the grooming shop just talked to him and gave him treats. And then Fran just brought him to stay in the grooming shop in a crate. It was many weeks before everyone felt ready for Tango to actually get a haircut.
We learned just this week that many groomers charge for training puppies and dogs to accept grooming. We think that’s a great idea. Haircuts and grooming have to be incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing for dogs. Allowing the dog the time to become accustomed to the process and get to know the groomer is worth the extra effort.
Leave it to the pros
Grooming is a skill that we freely admit we don’t possess. We took over Tango’s haircuts over the last year. The results have been uneven at best. Some bits are too short, some left too long, overall it’s uneven. But he’s clean, and healthy.
We’ve seen some people complain about the prices groomers charge. After trying it ourselves, we completely understand why grooming a dog, even a little dog, costs more than getting a human haircut. Just trying to keep Tango still while we do a “sanitary trim” is educational.
At 12 years old, we’re not sure Tango would appreciate getting to know a new groomer, so we’ll probably go the do-it-yourself route. It’s given us a deeper appreciation for the skill and professionalism of dog groomers.
Consult with your groomer
It’s a good idea to enlist your groomer’s help and advice for taking care of your dog. Groomers are often the first ones to notice skin and health issues that may be overlooked in day-to-day interactions. And your groomer may have ideas to help your dog enjoy their “spa” visits more. There may be some training games you can play, like getting your dog to stand on a table, that will make everyone’s life easier.