Groomer Safety

The Successful Pet Groomer

I first opened Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon in 2002. A mere 18 months after I started work as a bather. What I had going for me was drive and determination. That was it. Nothing else. There was nobody who could mentor me in starting a business. 

I wish I had a copy of Ellen Ehrlich's book "The Successful Pet Groomer."


The cover of the book reads "Inspire, Motivate, Empower." Truer words were never written. This is a fabulous book. It does not matter which direction in grooming you take. Be it shop, mobile, home based, or housecall, The Successful Pet Groomer covers everything from running and growing a business, health and safety, grooming tips and time savers, and everything in between. The best part of this book is the appendix. It is loaded with sample forms, including waivers, price increase letters, owner tips, and other resources. The appendix alone is worth the $49.95 price of the book.

You can get a copy of this wonderful book on Ellen's website.





Lambie and The Groomers Helper!

I wasn’t always a fan of the Groomers Helper®. That is until I met Lambie. Lambie is a two year old male Lhasa found wondering the streets and adopted by one of my long time clients. He was a replacement for Saint Bennie. A lovely, well behaved toy poodle who passed away several months before. I loved Bennie, he was such a good boy. Lambie is wonderful to his Mom. She gets all the kisses and I get all the teeth. Boy do I miss Bennie. The question becomes how do I safely groom him. By safely, I mean to include myself. My hands are my livlihood. If I’m bit, then I can’t work. So, I dusted off my Groomers Helper® and put it to work.


What is the Groomers Helper®?


Chuck Simons was tired of watching his wife, Beth struggle and get bit by unruly dogs in her grooming shop. He ordered an AlphaLock. It was designed by Dr. R.K. Anderson for use with a Gentle Leader Harness. Chuck adapted it to work with the grooming loops. It was so successful, that in 2000 he bought the remaining stock of AlphaLocks and the exclusive right to manufacturer them. He redesigned them to suit groomers. It allows for  humanely keeping dogs in place. They can no longer back, walk or fall off of a grooming table. His staff renamed it the Groomers Helper® Pet Safety and Positioning System. 


It keeps Lambie still enough and on the table so that I can clip down his body, do his nails, ears and feet as well as work around the muzzle on his face. All without me getting bit or Lambie getting hurt. I most certaintly will not win any grooming competitions when I’m done, but he’s clean and neat. Except for the lopsided Fu Manchu looks he’s got going on after I take his muzzle off.

  Lambie, groomers helper 1 Lambie, groomer helper 2 Lambie groomer helper 3

Not Just For Highly Aggressive Dogs!


A report by the CDC ( Center for Disease Control) states that 800,000 Americans seek medical treatment for dog bites every year, with 386,000 requiring emergency treatment. Of that 800,000 bites, 16,500 are work related. To read the entire report click here:


That is a lot of dog bites. Dog bites are extremely painful, cause lost days at work and in some cases, are career ending. I’ve never been bit by the highly aggressive dog. Mostly because I am on my toes and take precautions. I’ve been bit three times by some very nice dogs. I wasn’t paying attention to change in behavior or pain indicators. Many new to the industry may not have enough experience in dog behavior to notice these behavioral changes and some of us old timers become complacent. In two of those three dog bites, the Groomers Helper® would have prevented it. The third bite happened outside my mobile grooming van.


I would like to thank all of the unruly dogs that gave Beth such a hard time. Without the Groomers Helper®, Lambies only other option is sedation at the vet’s office. This is a tool that belongs in every grooming shop. For more information visit


Groomers and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) is defined by OSHA as “injuries and illnesses of the

muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.” It is the number 

one job related injury in the U.S. OSHA estimates that for $3 spent on Workmens 

Compensation, $1 is directly related to MSDs.

Let’s get some boring facts out of the way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 is as


  • 384,480 cases of MSD with an average of 10 lost work days per incident.

- 532,590 cases of sprain, strains and tears with an average of 9 lost work days per incident.

  • 11,950 cases of carpal tunnel with an average of 27 lost work days per incident.
  • 147,190 cases of soreness with an average of 8 lost work days per incident.
  • 154,500 cases of overexertion with an average of 10 lost work days per incident.
  • 36,540 cases of repititive motion with an average of 17 lost work days per incident.

MSDs result in reduced productivity, poor product quality, lost revenue and lowered morale.

In the grooming world, what causes MSDs?

  1. Lifting heavy dogs can result in back injuries. Make use of ramps and electric tables. When lifting, keep the dog close to your body and lift with your legs. If you need to turn, use your feet, not your torso.
  2. Squirmy, uncontrollable dogs and cats can cause back and shoulder injuries, sprains and strains. Take a pet behavior seminar and use restraints and muzzles. * Special Note - Do not noose a cat. If it jumps off the table, the neck will snap. *  As you work, move the pet as little as possible.
  3. Repititive motions such as brushing, combing, carding, stripping, clipping, scissoring, dematting and drying can lead to carpal tunnel, rotator cuff injuries and tendonitis. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your wrists straight.
  4. Overexertion caused by working long hours with no breaks and equipment not in peak condition. You work harder when blades and scissors are dull. You take longer to dry a pet if the filters are dirty. Take regular breaks in your workday and schedule the hard to handle or strenous dogs on differing days.
  5. Standing on hard floors causes overtiredness, leg, knee, foot and back injuries. Invest in quality fatigue mats, stools and use foot rests. Change it up while you are working. Alternate between the three. Sitting on a stool all day long can be as damaging in the long run. Wear quality foot wear with thick insulating soles and with shock absorbing insoles. Keep your toenails the right length. Where have we heard that before?
  6. Awkward postures from working in a cramped environment or from bending, twisting, leaning and kneeling. This can result in back and knee problems. Work at the right height. Adjust your table as often as needed, so that you are not bending and twisting while grooming. Use tub grates to raise the height of smaller pets so you are not bending over them while bathing. Make sure the tub has toe spaces for you to stand comfortably while washing the pets.
  7. Excessive force because wheeled equipment has hair lodged in the wheels.Difficulty pulling or pushing results in shoulder and wrist injuries.
  8. Vibrating handtools such as nail grinders, clippers and grinders can cause Vibration Syndrome. It affects the circulation and neurons in fingers. They blanche white, are cold, numb and painful. If left untreated, the damage can become permanent.
  9. Contact injuries from leaning against hard objects such as tables can result in back injuries.

What could you do to prevent MSDs?

  1. Training, training, training. Participate in safety training seminars for yourself and your employees. Make it a part of your regular continuing education. OSHA has a training institiute. For more information visit
  2. Treat symptoms and injuries while they are minor.
  3. Keep ergonomics in mind when designing or remodeling your shop. Ergonomics is the merging of workplace conditions and job demands with the capabilities of the groomer.
  4. Massage therapy maintains the overall health of soft tissue and body. It’s recommended that groomers have a one hour session every two to four weeks.
  5. Chiropractic care eliminates pressure on the nerves caused by imbalances in the vertebral and skeletal system. Groomers should see a Chiropractor at least once a month as a preventative.

* Get recommendations from trusted sources. Incompetent Massage Therapists and Chiropractors can do more harm than good. *

  1. Yoga allows for free flowing movement in your body and helps to teach you how to effectively move throughout your day.
  2. Stretching helps loosen up soft tissue and is easy to do anytime, anyplace when you feel a little stiff.
  3. Vacationing doesn’t mean traveling to some exotic port of call. It means taking the time to separate your mind and body from your work. It gives both a chance to heal.

Implementing a healthy, safe and ergonomic work environment will decrease strain,injuries and burnout, resulting in increased groomer health, morale, productivity and efficiency.