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A little compassion goes a long way

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From the dictionary:
Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
"the victims should be treated with compassion" 
synonyms: pitysympathyfeelingfellow feelingempathyunderstandingcareconcernsolicitude, solicitousness, sensitivity, tender-heartedness, soft-heartedness, warm-heartedness, warmthlovebrotherly lovetendernessgentlenessmercy, mercifulness, leniencyleniencetoleranceconsiderationkindnesshumanity, humaneness, kind-heartedness, charitybenevolence

 

In our profession it is CRITICAL that a groomer or bather have compassion. It enables them to see what the animals in our care are feeling and experiencing and make adjustments to make them more comfortable.

Something as simple as taking a loop off, allowing a dog to lay down or even changing the way you hold a dog's foot can mean the difference between a dog enjoying the groom or hating the process.

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I had a woman come by my salon this morning saying that her dog was hard to do. That a local groomer had told her they MANHANDLED HIM to get his nails done. MANHANDLED! I was appalled. No dog should ever be manhandled just to get nails done. If the dog needs more than a reasonable restraint then they need to go to the vet and be sedated or at least have the procedure done at the vet clinic so that any resulting injuries can be handled. 

 

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I have found some dogs prefer warmer water than others so they fight in the tub. If the dog is fighting check the temperature and adjust it accordingly. I have one dog, a Chihuahua named Champ, that likes extremely hot water. Almost so hot I cannot handle my hands being in it but if you use cooler water he fights you tooth and nail. Then there is Jack who likes water as cold as you can get it. Having that awareness and making adjustments for each dog is crucial to making our clients feel special and loved. 

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Many dogs hate having their beards held and I hear groomers all the time say "I have to hold the beard to get the dog's face done". No you don't. Simply holding the dog around the jawbone as pictured above in the photo will solve that problem and still give you the safety you require to be able to cut the dogs face easily.

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Allowing dogs to lay down for nail trims helps sometimes as well because many have joint problems that make holding their feet and legs painful. If the dogs are standing up make sure you look at how their legs are built. Some Pekingese and Shih-Tzu have legs that curve almost backwards and you have to be extremely careful as to not hurt them. I have seen groomers pick those legs straight outward and I cringe every time I do. 

Empathy and compassion are not things you can teach but you can at least make people aware of the need for both in this industry. ALWAYS THINK to yourself. If this was ME how would I feel. What would I want done to ME? That will change the way you see grooming forever. 

The other day Liz was grooming Ace. He is a happy happy happy puppy and I noticed she was literally supporting him with her left arm underneath him holding him still without actually holding him. He was elevated off the table but fully supported. She was bouncing him and talking to him and I stood there amazed at how her simple adjustment made the grooming process so much easier on both her and him. She could have been pulling, tugging and fighting him but no, she was bouncing and talking. It made the groom easier on him by a lot!

Some equipment is not pet friendly. AGAIN always ask yourself :"Would I use this on myself My kids? My grandkids???     If the answer is no then why on earth would you use it on a dog? Brushes and combs need to be smooth and easy on the skin. Supports need to be cushioned and to FIT the dog's body. No reason to use a large, wide strap on a 5 pound poodle foe example when a one inch would suffice and be much more comfortable on the dog.

I also tailor my equipment to the size of the dog. A small clipper for small dogs, small shears for small dogs, wide blades on larger dogs.

Dryers with variable speed to allow you to dry faces and ears with minimal discomfort. Cage dryers (without heat in a warm room) for those dogs who really hate being hand dried. 

All of these things play a huge role in compassionate dog grooming. 

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Quiet, peaceful surroundings and a happy, friendly team make a difference as well over a rushed, loud "I am in a hurry to get you in and out" facility. I don't mean you need aromatherapy and mood lighting, but take time to talk to people and the dogs. Isolate noise as much as possible and talk to the dogs in a gentle kind tone. Snuggle them. treat them as you would want your dogs treated.

Once you have done that you will be successful forever in this field.

Comment below on what you do to show compassion to the dogs. I would love to hear from you!

Comments

Donna Regan

All of the above, a well written article...less is more works well for me and work with them not against.

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