SALON THE GROOMING
learned, and a dog may only be able to work for 10
minutes before she is done for that session,” says Finch.
“There will always be that temptation to push the dog
just to get the job done, and that won’t make for a good
training session. A groomer could learn how to do this
kind of training and offer it as another service, or team
up with a trainer.”
However, not all groomers are interested in becoming
trainers, even part time, so they can refer their clients to
trainers. “A groomer could do a real service for clients by
educating them on what their dog should know,” adds
Finch. “Most people really have no idea what is involved.”
Finch notes that there are many skills that a dog should
have before being groomed. “Be able to pick up a paw
and have it held, toes touched and spread, pads touched,
both the pad itself and in between the pads, nails touched
and clipped or dremeled, ears handled, mouth handled,
tail handled, be able to be brushed.” That list alone could
be invaluable to dog owners.
A groomer embarking on training should start with
puppies when possible. Many of us have “puppy packages”
to encourage owners to bring them in early and often to
become accustomed to the process, but it’s important that
we know the signs of stress and not push beyond a young
dog’s tolerance—or any dog, for that matter.
If a dog is biting and snarling when it enters the
salon, or giving a hard, still stare, it’s probably best
not to try and handle it. For others, if you’ve tried
everything at your disposal to prevent stress, manage
poor behaviors and re-train good ones, and the dog
is not responding, it may be time to suggest another
groomer. Perhaps one working at a veterinary facility
to allow safe sedation is the best answer, or perhaps
another facility with a different staff would allow the
animal to feel more calm.
It’s important for us to know that not every groomer
can work with every dog. Everyone’s safety dictates
knowing when it’s time to stop trying. However, usually
combining prevention, management and training can
lead to less stress for both pet and groomers as well as
reduced time spend handling difficult dogs. PB
Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982
in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy
suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching
seminars and training dogs. She certified as a Master Groomer with
NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and
she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming at her small
salon in rural Maine.
Panic Snap, a quick release for grooming loops that can’t be released by sudden jerks
by the dog or anything except a person’s fingers. Dogs quickly learn that they are only
fighting against themselves and it isn’t working so most stop, which allows the groomer to
gently teach them that grooming isn’t really hurting them.
Some training can be accomplished in the salon depending upon the dog, its comfort
level and temperament, but more can be done with owner participation. Find trainers
in your area that use positive motivational training and have experience in helping dogs
overcome any dislike of grooming, and be ready to recommend them. If you work with
a dog in the salon, make sure you are educated on training and theory, and charge for it.
Most of us will charge a “difficult dog” fee for extra time taken; make sure you charge
for taking the time to work to change behavior as well. Explaining to the owner that a
“handling fee” will likely be every time, but a “training fee” will hopefully reduce over
time as the dog’s behavior improves will help to get them onboard with both paying the
fee and helping at home.
Shannon Finch, owner of AnimalKind Training in Stanwood, Wash., is a Karen Pryor
Academy Certified Training Partner, has a master’s degree in humane education and is a
certified TTouch practitioner. Finch believes a grooming appointment should be separate
from a training appointment.
“Training takes time and repetitions, with breaks for the dog to process what he’s
Paragon’s Distance Learning Program, designed by Melissa
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