Over the years on the grooming forums, I have posted a plethora of my opinions and tips on grooming techniques and tips that I thought would be nice to compile into a series "have at hand" articles for those who wanted to have them to refer to. So, here goes the first edition!
Want to get the most out of your pet cologne? try applying it to a damp dog before kennel drying or HV Drying.
Have a dog that's all ready to go home and then they release a bit of glands when they get excited? Mist a few spritzes, enough to dampen the area, of enzymatic breath spray- I always use Petrodex- onto their rear and leave it be. The enzymes in the spray help to break down the odor causing enzymes of the gland secretion and remove the smell instantly!.
Many groomers wonder how to get a smooth finish on their pet faces when the dog's hair seems to be sticking up and out all over the place. One of the reasons that hair doesn't lay and fall neatly, aside from breakage, cowlicks and color=texture differences, is that there are large, thick tactile hairs and whiskers growing in along with the softer hair of the face. These whiskers push straight out and up under the fall of the facial hair, and push it all over the place. As well, when you trim these hairs to the same length as the rest of the beard, they grow out faster than the rest of the hair, so they end up sticking out faster following a groom as the rest of the hair grows out. What I do is remove then from the equation. When the pet's face is still wet after the bath, I use my straight shears and cut back the whisker hairs very close to the skin. When the hair is wet, the tactile hairs will all stick straight up and out and show themselves very well for clipping. Once the pet is dried and ready for its face to be trimmed & styled those thick hairs are nowhere to be seen, and you can produce a very smooth and nicely contoured trim!
When groomers style a pet, most will tell you that the outcome of the style and length of the face can make or break a great looking groom. When a dog greets its owner, the face is often the first thing they look at. It provides the owner the "personality" and expression from the dog that the owner looks at every day, and messing it up can often be one of the first things that an owner replies on at their next grooming visit. When a dog's face and beard are left too long (and it is not requested of the owner), it creates a disproportionate feature of the dog, just like leaving feet too large, or an underline too level. When the throat is left too long, it creates an illusion of the dog being throaty or having a double chin or fattiness in the neck. Therefor getting it tight and creating a definite point where the neck and head connect, chisels the groom and gives length to the neck. Personally, I use the dog's skull shape and size to help set the length of the face of all of my grooms. This assures that there will be no unnecessary hair left under the throat, at the sides of the cheeks, or under the ears of the dog to get wet, dirty, and cause the owner to take up scissors and hack at it. What I do is to trim up the topskull and cheeks with clippers whenever possible. At times, it may make a dog's face look more perfectly round to use only scissors on the temples and cheeks, but most of the time, getting that hair short faster with a clipper will only make your finish work easier. After clippering the head and cheeks, I will fold the ears back over the head and remove all of the long hair under the ears. If it does not create part of a large and full headpiece as with what is needed of breeds such as the Bichon, then take it off. It helps to aerate the ear as well to have un-needed hair under the ear leather gone.
After I have set the length of the head & cheeks, I will lift up the ears and tuck them carefully under the grooming loop to hold them back and concentrate on getting the head perfectly round and proportionate without them hanging at the sides of the face.
With the ears out of the equation, I will then set the length of chin in a very easy method! I part the hair of the beard across the top of the nose with my fingers.
I will draw the bard hair down tight across the sides of the jaw and squeeze it together under the chin. When I do this, the hair that needs cutting off will be very obvious in being too long past the sides of the face.
The hair will also criss cross and jut out when squeezed and be really easy to see where to cut it off.
The result is a soft and round face!
On a pet trim, often the pet's little elbows stick out and this can be accentuated by the hair that grows across them in an upsweep as you can see below.
So, I will use my thinners to take the hair at the point of elbow a little shorter, which them makes the leg a little more straight and cylindrical looking when viewed from the side.
To create a nice, tight bevel on a pet trim, and to do it quickly, just follow these steps:
Clipper the bottom of the foot very thoroughly to get all of the underside clear.
Then draw all of the hair of the foot down around the bottom edge of the foot using your hand, and give it a little squeeze to get it to stick past the bottom of the pad.
Now trim all of that hair so that it is even with the bottom of the foot. When setting any bevel on a pet trim, no hair should ever extend past the bottom of the foot. To make this even faster, I will keep my clipper on the #40 that I used for the pad trimming to shape and tighten the foot with the same blade.
When you let go of the foot, place it on the table, give it a comb up & out, and you'll only need to lightly scissor any stray hairs to finish a nicely round foot that seems to "float" just above the table.
Don't forget to bevel your hind feet also, and to set in your hock angle and neaten the dog's feet and make them all proportionate.
A pretty Cocker foot; softened all around with thinners to make it look natural.
One of the most common complaints from pet owners is that they don't want a naked tushy or a "babboon hiney" to look at on their dog every day. So, after carefully trimming back the hair tight around the anus, (using a side to side motion with the clipper- never bottom to top in case the dog suddenly sits down on the clipper blade), I always finish the sani work here with heavy thinnering of the cowlicks on either side of the rectum, as well as the first inch or two of the underside of the tail base. This creates a soft & more natural look, AND helps alleviate those "ticklers" on the bottom of the tail that will often brush the newly clippered rear and cause the pet to scoot or turn around and lick at their rear end.
One other way to rule out a possible complaint from a client after a groom is to remember to ALWAYS either Dremmel or file the hind nails on a pet. Even the smallest tickly or irritation will quickly be aggravated or even abraded by the dog scratching at it with freshly clipped and sharp nails. Whether you also file the front nails or not, doing at least the back nails will take away one possibility of a pet causing harm to itself that can be claimed our fault.
~Some other common complaints that I have heard time & again from pet owners about other groomers. And I only list these as a reminder of things to check before your dogs are finished, and because to this day, I still forget some of these things!
* Hair clippings left on the surface of the dog's eyes
* Forgetting to clip those hidden dewclaws
* Loose hair left on the dog that gets onto the owner's clothes
* Hair growing too quickly into the eyes of the pet
*Odor left on the dog's face, in the feet or in the ears even though they look clean.
We all know that some people will complain about almost anything, but these can be valid shortcomings on a groom that by addressing, we will only send our client away happier and help assure their return.
More short styling tips to come!