Tag Archives: pet grooming

Picking a Dog Grooming Facility

As in every profession, there are people who should not be employed doing what they do. The pet care profession is no different. Generally people take recommendations from friends and neighbors or veterinarians. When most people look for grooming places for their pets they think of those pets as their kids. They are concerned about how that family member will be treated, will they be injured, how will they look when they are done, will they return home having caught something from another animal. Using the “kid” theory, that is the best way to interview prospective grooming places. Since they will be there most of the day, I suggest people scrutinize it as day care for their human child.

Animals do not take to grooming as fish do to water. Actually, grooming is right up with the vet visit in least favorite things to do. Something about swimming in the Platte River, the pool or jumping in your bathtub with you in it is fine. However, when you add shampoo to most water loving animals, not only is it a heinous act but the water seems to become toxic. Keep this in mind when looking for a place to have your pet groomed. The average life span of a groomer is 3-5 years, then the novelty wears off.

What Does Your Pet Tell You

There is a fine line between I am a brat, I do not want to do this and complete fear. Notice your pet’s reaction when you take them to a grooming place. If they put on the brakes, fight you every step of the way, shake like a leaf in a windstorm, they might be trying to tell you something.

If they are a nervous wreck when you pick them up, trying to fly out the door whether you are connected to the leash or not, injured in any way or extremely ill, (vomiting or diarrhea), that is a fairly good sign that something may be amiss.

Store Fronts – What To Look For/What To Ask

The first thing is to notice how the groomers/owner react to your pet. Are they happy to see them, do they interact well with them or are they just looking at your pet as another animal to get done. There are things you can excuse. Getting bitten is just one of those normal things so if the person has a bloody bandage on an appendage, maybe overlook the not so pleasant mood.

  • Ask to see the grooming area. Is the facility clean, is there hair ankle high on the floor, does the place look dirty.
  • Notice how the other pets are acting be it in cages or on the grooming table.
  • How do the people handle the pets, do they jerk them around, yell, threaten them.
  • Ask how long the groomer has been grooming and what their training is. Did they go to grooming school? (Note here, grooming schools can be the worst place to get experience).
  • Are they familiar with the breed they are working on, how many have they groomed like your little “Fluffy”. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation about grooming haircut names. Not only from owners but also from people doing the grooming. ALWAYS explain EXACTLY what type of haircut you want and NEVER tell a groomer how much hair you want off! Tell them how much hair you want left ON. Bring a picture if you have one.
  • How do they correct animals with behavioural problems such as biting.
  • Ask about contagious disease. There are over 50 strains of kennel cough, the vaccine only covers about 2% of those. Vaccination records to me are useless since most grooming shop illness diseases have nothing to do with vaccinations. What about skin contagions, air born diseases, flea’s. How do they handle those situations? What happens if there is an injury to your pet, do they have a vet on call, do they have any arrangements with a nearby vet, do they take them to yours.

Mobile – What To Look For/Ask

Many of the same thoughts should be used in a mobile service as a storefront. However, there biggest difference is how clean you can keep a van. Due to the extremely small area and the hiding places for hair, it is not as easy to keep dog hair out of the van. As soon as the air conditioning is turned on or windows are open, hair appears out of places you never knew existed. It is not practical to take the dashboard off a van and vacuum under it so be somewhat realistic.

From the very onset, I always allowed people in the van. Other mobile companies realized the folly of not allowing people in and now almost all of them will let adults in the vehicle during the grooming process. The common reason given for not wanting people in the vans while the pet is being groomed is the animal behaves worse with the owner in the van. If you have the experience and know how to handle animals, it makes no difference how they behave when the owner is present. Yes it can make the groomers life more difficult and always takes longer.

  • Does it have “central” heat? Meaning is it just a space heater or is it run on propane heating the entire truck?
  • Is there warm and hot water available?
    It gets very cold in these vans in the winter, if in doubt as for someone to prove it to you, it is your pet, your money and you want to make sure they are comfortable and you are getting what you pay for.

In either place, never let the groomer give your pet treats that you do not approve first. It can be common practice to give your little buddy a treat for being good before they leave. If your pet has diet restrictions, as in pancreatitis, giving your pet a treat not designed for that situation can be deadly.

What Does Your “Gut” Tell You?

This is the most important factor. We all have great instincts or sixth sense but often ignore them. What type of feeling do you get when you walk into a place. Are you comfortable leaving your pet for hours? Or, do you sense that something does not “feel” right to you.

But Something Still Went Wrong?

So you have tried every means possible to assure that your pet is not only well groomed but well taken care of. Despite all your efforts they have come back with an injury or illness and least important in the big picture in lieu of the first two is, does the haircut look good. The above are only guidelines and there is no guarantee that something will not happen. If it does there are a few steps you can and should take.

Injury: If your pet returns either cut requiring sutures, nicked, or a broken or injured leg I would suggest the following. Ascertain as much information as possible. Where was the animal when it happened, bathtub, grooming table, floor, etc? Was it a clipper cut, scissor cut, brush burn, clipper burn, etc. Most places have either the owner or manager who handles issues such as the above. If they were not present at the time of the injury, do we care what they have to say? No. The only person who can tell you exactly what happened is the person who was working on the pet at the time of the injury. The groomer told the owner who is no telling you, generally something gets “lost” on the way.

If it is a serious emergency, most grooming facilities have veterinarians they work with and will have already taken the pet to the hospital. If it is not an emergency and you still feel the need to take the pet to your veterinarian, go equipped with as much information as possible.

Illness: Some people feel it is acceptable to bring their pet to a groomer even if that pet is sick. Many times, either not knowing or in some cases not caring that other animals could contract something and those owners might incur a medical bill. Ask the grooming facility what animals were present the day yours was. Inquire if any of them seemed ill or acting “odd”. If you can decipher what had happened it can give your veterinarian more information as opposed to guesswork.

Taking Action: You can yell, scream, wage a lawsuit, and complain to your friends and neighbors. However, it will not alter the outcome of what has already happened. Your goal should be to file charges with the appropriate agency. In order to stop the problem, people need to know there is one

A few years ago “big brother” put their hands in any facility that has anything to do with animals. The Department of Agriculture has stepped in and licensed everyone, writing standards for every animal profession. They are also responsible for inspections and injury reports. You can phone them at the Animal Care Division and get a report on anyone who works with animals

(Note on author: The advantage of opinions is they cannot be wrong and they cannot be right. Consequently all written material is strictly my opinion based on over 30 years working with animals. I do not believe in “experts” for one finds out quickly that there is always someone who is smarter, more experienced, better educated and a wider life experience. I do not believe in statistics since for every con argument there are equal pro arguments to challenge those statistics. Consequently rarely, if ever do I use them.)
All information is owned by Mimi Davis d.b.a. Curbside Clippers. (Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved) Any use must have prior permission.

Master Dog Groomer or Pet Groomer?

What is the Difference?

The difference is a lot and not much. There is an organization called the National Dog Groomers Association. It simply means you know the show dog standard of how to cut a dog’s hair or aka breed standard. It also says you know anatomy, identify breeds, dog terms. They cover ever so lightly what most of us already knew before we entered pre-med for vet school. For master groomer there are practical as well as written exams. Also if you belong to the group they have a number of services you are entitled to. Most liked is the liability insurance the members get or the, “if you sue me over injury or death I’m covered.” For people who started grooming in the 1970s most apprenticed with those people who groomed show dogs which is a very strict standard of “cutting” hair.

Does being a master groomer insure your pet will look better than just a pet groomer? Yes and no. If you compare a master groomer to most groomer’s in a pet grooming store, most assuredly the master groomer dog will “look like the book”. Most groomer’s in pet shops are not taught by people who know the “by the book” look. What some know is what the pet look is. There in lies the big difference.

The “pet look” is what most people want their dogs to look like. They do not care about the fluffy, foo-foo show dog look. They want a dog that smells nice, is not dirty and has hair that is easy to take care of. Most pet people do not really want the big fluffy face on their pet Bichon or all the long fluffy hair.

The “show dog look” is not that often asked for in basic pet grooming. Equally show dogs are bred for a number of qualities one of which is coat (hair). When someone hands me a pet-quality dog and then shows me a book with a champion show dog and says, I want my dog to look like that! I always tell them, give a champion show and your dog can look like that.

A master groomer does not insure that your dog will not be abused, injured, get an infectious disease any more than it would from a pet groomer. If your dog was groomed by a master groomer and someone who is not certified (and that person was either trained by a show dog groomer or had groomed show dogs in the past), you would not be able to tell the difference between the hair cuts.

Unfortunately the average life span of a groomer in the industry is less than three years. Most of them do not know how to groom a dog properly let alone how to handle one. That is why some people are very cautious about finding a groomer. You cannot learn how to groom a dog by videos or reading a book. Some of us who trained the old fashion way had to learn how to cut a ball on Afro wigs! If we could make a perfect circle after the head groomer chopped it up we were allowed to have scissors near a dog.

Most excellent pet groomer’s are not certified for many reasons. However that does not mean they do not know how to cut a dog’s hair. Whether a master groomer or pet groomer there are two things to know. If the person wants the “show look” by all means if you are experienced enough do so. If they are the average person who just wants a nice, clean and easy to maintain haircut, do what they want but explain the differences between the two types of cuts and show them pictures.


Pet Grooming Frequency

Suggested Grooming Frequency By Dog Breed

One of the most common questions a groomer is asked is how often should I groom my pet? My usual response is “got me, it depends on you and your lifestyle.” If you are an obsessive person who can have no speck of dust, dirt or dog hair present in your home, car, or within a 100 mile radius then more often than other people with the same dog with a different set of priorities. If you have pet allergies, that pet should be done more frequently than someone who does not have allergies.

If your pet sleeps on your bed and you are fighting for a pillow and one square inch of blanket at night, then more often than the pet that sleeps on the floor. Everything is subjective depending on the person. Many people would rather put their pet in a zip lock bag with just the nose holes poking out than only groom that pet every 12 weeks. Others are not bothered.

As a professional, people such as myself know that the longer apart the grooming the less likely the dog will have hair left on them. Equally and more importantly, the more matted the dog is the more dangerous that dog is to groom. Clippers and scissors cannot discern between matted hair and flesh. The more matted the dog the more likely the odds are of injury as well as more costly. There is not one groomer in the world who can honestly say they have not made an “oops.” Usually the “oops” happen when you have a very matted animal, not only a dog but also worse a cat. All they have to do is jerk or move the wrong way and you have an “oops” situation.

Below is a partial list of dogs groomed in traditional coat and the suggested frequency they should be groomed. Many people cannot afford in today’s economy to have the pets done as often as they did before. Consequently what should be followed and what reality is are frequently diametrically opposed.

All bets are off if your pets roll in dead things in the backyard or swims in vile smelling rivers or creeks, etc.

When does the below not apply?

  • A) The dog is brushed correctly.
  • B) The dog is brushed frequently.

Those dogs can usually go further apart in weeks being groomed.

When does the below also not apply?

  • A) The dog is not brushed correctly,
  • B) The dog is not brushed frequently,
  • C) The dog is bathed at home in-between groomings.

If A, B, and C are done at home you can be assured with most certainty that your pet will have to be shaved.

Below is a partial list of dogs in traditional coats.

Breed Weeks Apart Breed Weeks Apart
8 – 10
English Setter 8 – 10
Alask Malmute
8 – 10
German Shepherd
8 – 12
American Eskimo
6 – 8
German Shorthair
10 – 12
Aussie Cattle
6 – 8
Golden Retriever
6 – 8
Basset Hound
8 – 10
Gorden Setter
10 – 12
8 – 10
Great Pyrenees
6 – 8
6 – 8
Mtn Dog
6 – 8
4 – 6
Bichon Frizzy Wizzy
4 – 6
Irish Setter
8 – 12
Border Collie
4 – 8
Irish Wolfhound
8 – 12
6 – 8
8 – 10
6 – 8
Kerry Blue
4 – 6
Carin Terrier
6 – 8
8 – 10
Corgi (all)
6 – 8
Labs (non-hunting)
8 – 10
6 – 8
Lhasa Apso
4 – 6
4 – 8
4 – 6
6 – 8
6 – 8
Doxi Long Hair
8 – 10
8 – 10
10 – 12
Old English
(not the polish)
4 – 6
8 – 10
Poodle (all)
4 – 6
6 – 8
8 – 10
4 – 6
8 – 10
6 – 8
4- 6
Schnauzer (all)
4 – 6
Wire Fox
6 – 8
8 – 10
4 – 6
Shih Tzu
4 – 6
Siberian Husky
6 – 8
Silky Terrier
6 – 8
4 – 6


(Note on author: The advantage of opinions is they cannot be wrong and they cannot be right. Consequently all written material is strictly my opinion based on over 30 years working with animals. I do not believe in “experts” for one finds out quickly that there is always someone who is smarter, better educated with a wider life experience. If I was an expert and knew everything I would opt to be dictator of the world, not working with animals. I do not believe in statistics since for every con argument there are equal pro arguments to challenge those statistics. Consequently rarely, if ever do I use them.)


All information is copyright by Mimi Davis d.b.a. Curbside Clippers. (Copyright 2002-2011. All Rights Reserved) Any use must have prior permission.

Pet Grooming Tools

During springtime, if your kids are like mine, they think they are helping by bringing in all the pieces of dead grass, leaves and mud they can find. They usually do this after I have vacuumed just to prove how helpful they are. I cannot help much with that issue but I can give some insight on how to keep the amount of shedding hair down.


Despite what you see advertised and in stores, the average pet owner only really needs two or three grooming tools to keep your pet in shape in-between groomings. You will not find many professional pet people with even half as many tools as the “experts” say you should have or work better than the rest

Slicker Brush

First thing you need is a very good slicker brush, for those of you who might not be aware of what that is, see photo above. It really does not matter what type of breed you have, every pet can benefit from one.

Short-tooth Rake

Short-tooth Rake

Secondly, if you have short hair kids, such as, Labradors, German Shepherds and the like, you will need two things.

The first is a short tooth rake,

Stripping Blade


The other is a stripping blade.

Word of caution here. Use the rake very gently in short soft strokes so as to not “burn” the skin. Use the stripping blade until most of undercoat is gone. Over use it and you will have a dog with bald spots!


The Untangler Comb

This is really simple. In 31 years of working with animals I have never found anything better to work on cats than this special comb. It is called the Untangler, it is the only comb on the market that the teeth rotate. Again, short, quick strokes and you can follow up with a small slicker brush to catch any hairs you missed.

For either dog or cat, take a fabric softener sheet and lightly go over them once. It keeps the static down, hence the hair all over the floor.

The idea of brushing is always best done, now that the weather is nice, outdoors. The birds also love to make nests out of the hair.