It's Shedding Season!
This is the time of year the shedding breeds come in. They come in all sizes, but the big ones can be the most challenging. They’re often the ones that haven’t been groomed in FOREVER. You know the ones – Goldens…arctic-type breeds … Saint Bernards. They have coat that totally trashes your salon – and maybe even you.
Working on these large furry dogs is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon. Call me crazy – but I just love the transformation in this type of job. Over the years, the process rarely makes me cringe, no matter the size or condition of the dog – I see it as a fun challenge!
As professional pet groomers, we are problem solvers. People bring us dirty dogs. Shedding dogs. Stinky dogs. Overgrown dogs. Matted dogs. Our job is to clean them up while treating them with respect and compassion. The faster and safer we can get through a big job, the better it is for all involved – people and pets. But we want to be thorough at the same time. If a grooming job is not going to hold up or it’s not thoroughly done, the client isn’t going to come back and/or become a repeat customer.
There are tricks to getting this type of job done without too much agony. Here are a few of my personal favorites I think about every time I groom a heavy coated dog.
The bigger and messier it is, the more impressive and rewarding the outcome will be.
1. A clean coat is going to facilitate speed in the grooming process.
Let’s face it, it’s more enjoyable to work on a clean coat versus a dirty coat! Let the shampoo do a lot of the work for you. What you are about to read might sound crazy, if you remove the dirt prior to doing a lot of brushing, your products and your tools can do most of the work for you to remove matted and shedding coat. My rule of thumb is if the water can penetrate to the skin, get the dog directly to the tub. If there are sections so dense water can’t penetrate, cut those areas into sections so it can.
Do at least two lathers with a high quality shampoo. The first one can be quick and the second lather much more thorough. Occasionally, you might need a third lather in certain spots to get it clean. Using a great conditioning treatment after the bathing process can also be very beneficial.
2. A powerful high velocity dryer is the key to getting through this type of grooming job.
A powerful stream of air from the high velocity dryer will do the bulk of the work for you when it comes to removing mats, tangles, and shedding coat. Ideally, you will want to have a condenser cone on the nozzle of the dryer when you first start the drying process. On well-behaved dogs who enjoy the high velocity dryer, two or even three high velocity dryers can be used to speed up the entire process.
On pets who are extremely matted, tangled, or have densely packed coat, bring the dryer to the tub. Using a high velocity dryer with a condensing nozzle to blow shampoo out of the coat on the second lather in the tub is a great trick. What do you do when you have a ring on your finger that you can’t get off? Apply soap, right? The same principle applies. The shampoo provides the lubrication and air pushes the hair apart. Easy on the dog – and easy on you.
3. Being efficient and effective starts with focus.
Your eyes should always be looking directly where the air is striking. Hold the dryer nozzle as close to the skin as possible without curling the hair onto itself, which can cause whip knots. (These whipped knots are almost impossible to remove.) As you’re moving the nozzle around the dog, watch for problem areas with the skin and coat. As the air strikes an area, the coat spiders out. The spidering area is the loose coat, mats, and tangles as they’re being pushed out and away from the skin.
4. Elbow grease is a must.
Once all the problem areas have been loosened and pushed out as much as possible, it’s time to remove the condenser cone and pick up the brush. You will brush using a pat-and-pull method just where the air is striking. It’s a very soft and methodical brushing technique. Done correctly, it’s highly effective while also being gentle on the dog. Brush only where the air is concentrated. This allows your brush to work through the rest of the problem area while the air blows excessive fur out of the way and off the dog.
5. Be methodical. Be kind. Be considerate to the needs of the pet.
Sometimes, on these heavily coated dogs, slowing it down will actually speed you up. Be thorough. The dog is not done until a wide toothed comb can be sunk down to the skin and pulled smoothly through the coat. Feel for dampness. Feel for inconsistency in coat density. Let your fingers sink to the skin. Let your hands be your guide. If anything triggers a quality control check, don’t ignore it. Go back and redo that area. This type of work is a challenge. Not everybody can do it well. But those who do enjoy working on heavily shedding pets know what I’m talking about. We love it. We get so much satisfaction seeing piles of loose coat on the floor. We love those days when we have to empty out our shop vac multiple times because of so much shedding coat floating around the salon! To me, this is one of the most gratifying types of grooming jobs we do. It’s relatively easy but it does require knowledge and skill to be thorough and efficient. Oh, and the right products and tools including one – or maybe even two – powerful velocity dryers! If you’d like to learn the details of dealing with a heavy coated dog, here are some resources:
- • Bathing, Drying, Brushing, and Structure of a Mat sections
- • Bath and Brush section
Learn2GroomDogs.com streaming video lessons:
- • Bathing & Drying Combination Coat
- • Bathing & Drying Heavy Coated
- • Brushing Skills
- • Finishing the Bath & Brush Style Pet
- • Salvage Work on a Heavy Coated Dog
- • Structure of a Mat
- • The Magic of Forced Air Drying
- • Speed & Efficiency – How to Groom a Monster Sized Dog in 76 Minutes
Paragon’s Distance Learning Program (ParagonPetSchool.com) is a web-based grooming instruction solution. It’s perfect for individuals looking to make Grooming their future. It is also an ideal resource for Salon Owners and Managers who find it hard to locate groomers. It’s designed for those who don’t have the time - or desire - to teach.