By Mitzi Parrish, Golden Paws Schools
I think those are some of the worst words us groomers hear after we just felt Fluffy and we know it is going to be like shearing a sheep or even worse the dog’s top coat is all nice and brushed out, but all the undercoat is matted. It is hard to feel and even I have been fooled on occasion. Then I have to try and discuss the options to the owner over the phone and it is harder in person.
We have heard all, from “Oh, Fluffy got out this morning and came back in all tangled” and I am thinking to myself “No, this is 6 months of you not brushing him and then bathing him! Can’t they see the big matts hanging there?” Then there is “We left Fluffy with a friend for 2 weeks and they didn’t brush poor Fluffy” again I am thinking to myself pretty much the same as above. My favorite is… “Well, Fluffy came home from grooming with a matt and it spread”.
These are the extreme cases and I don’t even have to feel a dog to know they are matted through and through when they come in looking like they have not had a hair cut in 3 months. We are in the prime season for these kinds of dogs but it happens year round. This is one of the most diplomatic areas a groomer has to be good in. One because you hear it so much it drives you crazy. Just who is the expert here? Two the owner is very sensitive about how they are perceived about caring for their dog. “I brush him all the time and HE IS NOT MATTED! Or, they will say “I know he has a few matts can you just cut them out?” I always try to explain that Fluffy will have large holes here and here and so on. So what can you do? Educate your client, have empathy and try to take away any feelings that they may have that they are not a good dog owner. After all they really do not know 90% of the time.
The last thing you have to decide is if it is worth retaining them as your client. Spend some time with them- Talk to them, sympathize with them and love on their dog. Bring out you trusty slicker brush and greyhound comb. Explain how the tools work. “Yes, they did an excellent job brushing the top coat”. Show them how to layer brush the hair and they have to see skin and brush from the skin out then comb check their work as the comb will come to a dead stop on a matt or a tangle. This is also a good time to sell your client a brush and a comb. Try to show the client the anatomy of a matt. Usually by this time Fluffy is yelping his head off even though you are being oh so gentle. Remember what they perceive. Ask if they bathe Fluffy at home most time they say yes then let them know that it is important to brush and comb check BEFORE the bath and then after when the hair is dry. Explain to your client it is like our hair if we were to wash and wash our hair only brushing the top layer and each time we do that the water is setting the matt like cement, getting tighter and tighter on top of the skin.
Offer choices to them but be sure to let them make the choice:
1. If you can brush out Fluffy without causing any injury (brush burn) or pain let them know how much extra it will cost them as you will not be able to do another dog during that time.
2. You could do a modified cut. Scissor off the long hair and it might be a doable job, sometimes on a long haired dogs you can pop out the matts with a #10 blade or you can shave them down and then they can start over as they know now how to keep them brushed out.
3. You can offer brush outs in between grooming or a mini trim to maintain the long hair.
4. If your client insists that they can brush their dog out let them just reassure them that if it doesn’t work out to bring their dog back and you will take care of it. 98% of the time they will be back in saying that it’s too hard and Fluffy will not cooperate. At that time go over their choices again.
Anyway, try not to pull your out and run screaming through your shop after the sixth client that day that has told you “Oh no, my little angel is not matted because I brush him every day!”
Enjoy and Keep a good sense of humor!