Sometimes I assume that every groomer knows every trick of the trade that I do. And I know many reading this will know this trick, but I have to remind myself that there are newer groomers here who might benefit from this information, so here 'tis! But first, the back story.
I have a customer who owns several Scottish Terriers. One is a dog she shows occasionally, and one is a puppy show prospect. The other two are older pet dogs. She lives several states away from me, but brings the dog she shows to me several times a year. She normally has the pet dogs groomed closer to home. She called recently to set up an appointment for the pet boys. "One bites," she said, apologetically. It was sort of like telling me that water is wet, in that I was not shocked to hear a Scottie might be temperamental. When they brought the dogs in she said, "THIS one. He bites. His other groomer puts TWO muzzles on him at all times." (Two?!) I scooped him up and put him in the tub. "Aren't you going to put a muzzle on? I don't want him to hurt you," she said. I appreciated the warning, I really, really did, but in my experience, few dogs are in-the-tub biters. I had been warned, was watching his body language carefully, and assured her all would be well.
As luck would have it, he was matted quite severely. I used Best Shot Ultra Max and Best Shot conditioner on him, then scooped him out of the tub and had him sit on the table, wrapped in a dry towel for a bit. I got my trusty Elizabethan Collar out of the cabinet and in a blink had it snugly fastened around his neck. The grooming loop was behind the collar, so if he managed to get the collar off with his front feet, he would still be securely anchored to the table and couldn't fall and hurt himself. I had the loop attached to my beloved Groomers Helper. (This particular E collar is a Comfy Cone. I prefer it to the rigid plastic ones.)
Next I saturated the matted coat with Artero dematting spray, and began to dry the little guy. So far so good. When his body was dry, (I was saving his bitey head for last) I began to brush. The matting came out fairly easily, but he wasn't really fond of the process. He tried to spin to bite, but was stopped by the groomers helper, plus, his ability to see where I was, was hindered by the soft cone around his neck. The cone also reached out past the end of his muzzle, so he could NOT reach to bite me. I was able to get his entire body dematted, brushed, combed, clipped and trimmed with no fear of his teeth meeting my tender flesh. I didn't have to muzzle him for any of this process, because I was safe the entire time. No muzzle means that he was able to breathe and pant normally, and he didn't have to feel anxious about having a foreign thing on his face. I believe this kept him calmer and made the grooming experience go more smoothly.
The next time I groom this dog, I will work on his face first, before I make him crankier by grooming his body. In this instance, I was getting to know him, and what his triggers to biting were as I handled him. I kept calm, played soothing music, and we were able to get him done in record time.
Grooming his face was another matter altogether, and will be another blog post. The point of this blog is that a nice E collar is a valuable addition to any groomers tack box. This one folds flat, is soft and pliable, and can be hand washed and air dried if it becomes soiled. I don't need to use it very often, but it comes in very handy for some dogs. It is particularly nice for brachiocephalic (short muzzled) dogs such as Shih Tzu, Pugs and such. You know how tricky it can be to muzzle those breeds, and how important it is for them to have the ability to pant freely so they do not become over heated.
If you've never tried using a cone on a snappy dog, I hope you will.