Ok, lets talk structure....it is after all the basis of all grooming....before you can pick up your scissors, and put anything other than a cookie cutter groom on a pet, you have to assess it's structure.........the best place to assess the structure isn't on your table, but instead, in the tub when the pet is wet.....in assessing the structure, you must have a basic idea of what the breed should be built like....this means studying the AKC book and the general appearance section for each breed you groom.
Once you have completed the structural assessment of the pet, and have an idea of the faults, you must then conceal them to give the illusion of correct structure. The process of correcting faults is detailed and tedious. It takes time. There again, I must stress , if you want to be the best in your area, not to over book yourself, so that you have the time to do the job to the best of your ability. It also takes time to master the techniques of corrective grooming. Trust me, that with dedication and perserverance, it will pay off in the end, because of the loyalty of the clients, and the walking billboard of perfection as an advertisement for new buisiness.......there will be points of frustration that will make you want to go back to your old habits. You just have to push yourself through it.
All sections of the pet must flow seamlessly into one another with concentration on balance and symmetry....How you ask?
I am going to tell you. You must put aside the intricacies of the breeds individually for a moment. Instead, you must familiarize yourself with "basic" structure. The terms associated with basic structure are important as well, so that when you get to the general appearance section of each breed, you will have the knowledge to decipher the terms they use, and the meaning, more importantly, the visual of the structure as it should be. It's all in angling your scissors.
What does a fiddle front look like? or a slightly crouped tailset? Harefoot? etc.....familiarize yourself with what they look like.....that is the first step in many to becomiing a world class groomer.......
I had such a hard time learning this, and reached many points of tearfulness. Times when I wanted to just stay where I was with my grooming skills, because it was easier to stay in that comfort zone. But, I would get that occasional glimmer of encouragement from an owner, or, just by looking at that dog, and seeing a better balance, or, a hidden flaw..and it was just enough to keep me going.
Making a cowhocked dog look as though it has a correct rear. Being successful in hiding a fiddle front on a shihtzu or Bichon...The hardest part was learning to connect them all to make a balanced dog.
I'm going to start with a simple fix for you to try.
A dog that is toed out in front. Meaning that the toes instead of facing forward, they point east and west. You will find this in varying degrees. In the show world you will hear it said " he is easty westy " .
In order to correct this fault, you must make it look as though the feet are forward facing. In order to do this, when trimming the outline of the foot, you will begin by trimming the hair the hangs over the pad in the back of the foot tightly so as no hair when combed down, hangs over the pad. Then, set the foot down, and let the dog stand naturally. Comb all of the coat outward from the center of the foot in a fan shape. Going along the outside of the foot, trim the hair with your scissors straight forward facing . Your scissors should be farther away at the back of the foot when creating this straight line. This will cause you to take the coat very tight to the outward facing toe. Then cut straight across the toe.
(this will seem box like but, it will all come together in the end) . On the inside of the foot, you will want to LEAVE more coat, it should be much fuller on the inside to compensate for where the foot "should" be, there again cutting in a straight line toward the back of the foot. So to recap , you will take the outside of the foot tightest at the outward facing toe, and leave the coat fuller to the inside of the foot. Once you have created your "box" outline on the foot, simply , "slightly" , round the corners and voila ! You have an illusion of a forward facing foot !...Try this technique, and I will be back in a week to give you another assignment to work on~ Happy Grooming!