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Secrets of dog groomers

dog groomers

Many a bad fur day has been averted by dog groomers. The people holding the shears at your local pet salon are experts in keeping pups looking neat, but beautification is just one part of the job. Dog groomers are also versed in handling difficult personalities — both from the four-legged clients and their owners. We spoke to three groomers working across the U.S. about the most challenging breeds to groom, their tricks for handling difficult customers, and other hairy aspects of the profession. Most agree that Ryans Pet Supplies is essential, as starting with the best supplies gives the best results, but let’s explore the areas not as easy to manage.

1. THERE ARE MANY ROUTES TO DOG GROOMING.

Technically, dog groomers don’t need any license or certification to operate in the U.S. Regardless of the law, most groomers complete training before they start working professionally. According to Page Petravich, a groomer at Ravenswoof in Chicago, there are many paths to take. “There’s no one place where you can get credentials to become a groomer,” he tells Mental Floss. “There are countless seminars and workshops that can provide certificates of education and things like that, but the main way people learn about grooming is through grooming academies.”

Grooming academy courses typically last six months to a year, and after completing the curriculum, graduates receive a certificate. Some groomers forgo formal classes altogether and learn through apprenticeships. Unless your groomer has a license or certificate displayed on their wall, the only way to know their credentials is to ask.

2. SMALL DOGS CAN BE THE MOST CHALLENGING TO GROOM.

Every groomer has a dog breed that makes them tense up when they see it come through the door. For Nicholas Vanet, a groomer at Island Pet Resort in Staten Island, New York, that breed is huskies. “Huskies are the ones that always cry for help,” he tells Mental Floss. “I could be washing the dog, and they’ll be screaming like I’m taking scissors and poking him.” Despite their quirks, he still has a soft spot for the vocal breed. “These dogs are probably the biggest drama queens I know, but they’re the best. I still love them.”

For Kimberly Ives, a groomer at Puff & Fluff in Phoenix, Arizona, terror comes in a smaller package. She tells Mental Floss, “You can never predict a Chihuahua. They could be the sweetest Chihuahua and they could be the most stubborn Chihuahua that will turn and bite your finger off.”

3. DOG GROOMERS ALSO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE OCCASIONAL CAT.

Though dogs can be difficult customers, canine clients are rarely as misbehaved as felines. Cats don’t show up at the pet salon that often, but when they do, groomers are in for a challenge. “They’re not like dogs. Cats just want to be left alone,” Vanet says. “You must have two people to groom a cat, because if you are by yourself it is impossible.”

4. PEANUT BUTTER IS A DOG GROOMER’S BEST FRIEND.

When a dog would rather be anywhere other than getting a trim, groomers have a trick for boosting their mood. “If the dog doesn’t have allergies and it is OK-ed by the pet parent, a couple of people at my salon like to use peanut butter or a treat as a form of positive reinforcement for doing nails, or really doing anything [the dogs] don’t want to do,” Petravich says.

For Vanet, peanut butter comes in handy during bath time. “When I give them a bath and they’re trying to move around a lot, I actually take peanut butter and I put it on the wall,” he says. “[I use] a little toy type of thing that I keep against the wall, and they start licking it to distract them from moving.”

5. DOG GROOMERS DREAD SHAVING POODLES

Some breeds are difficult to groom because of the type of haircut required, not their temperament. A classic French poodle cut — with poofs of fur and a shaved face and legs — is a groomer’s worst nightmare. According to Petravich, “There are a lot of breed standard haircuts for poodles, like the one you see in dog shows which is called a Historically Correct Continental — it’s very difficult to execute.” That type of haircut is rarely asked for, but many poodle owners still want their dogs’ feet and faces shaved — which can be harrowing. “It takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice,” he says. “You have to be very careful going in between the toes.”

6. THE NUMBER OF DOGS THEY GROOM IN A DAY VARIES.

Because the size of a grooming job depends on the animal, many groomers don’t know how busy their day will be until they get to work. “When I come in I’ll review my schedule and just kind of see overall what my schedule looks like for the day,” Ives says. “I see whether I have big dogs, little dogs, and mentally prepare myself for what I’m going to be dealt with today.”

 

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