Finished pins versus unfinished pins on our brushes & slickers:
For those that don’t know what that means-
Typically pins that are set into a slicker brush backing are cut off blunt & straight at the tip as the wire is fed through the cutter machine.
They are then bent into a staple like shape, and pressed or fed tip first through the brush backing or padding.
Some manufacturers add the pins a little differently, but that’s basically how it’s done.
Pin brushes are created a little differently though as their pins puncture the back pad singularly and are not double thread.
The blunt cut wires and pins that are not finished or rounded off, can be incredibly sharp on the tip. This can cause coat stretching and breakage and skin irritation.
Finished pins when looked at closely will have a small dome or rounded tip on each pin to help with slip through the coat, to help with anti-static, anti-breakage, etc.
Personal preference is how we usually select our brushes, but this is why certain brushes from manufacturers can have a higher price tag as well as the ergonomics of the design and the quality of the materials.
But they do make a drastic difference when using one over the other.
Finished pins versus unfinished pins on our brushes & slickers:
~Just a tip to share for those groomers who still schedule in a paper book.
Many of you have probably already thought of this so perhaps it’s a better tip for newbie groomers.
I bought these plastic coated flags to secretly color code & flag client cards for special issues like biting, owner stays, or no call/no shows, etc in a way that got my attention but still didn’t lead on as to what the flag meaning was in front of the client.
They are proving helpful to also use in my appointment book to mark out the number of weeks from the current day so that when clients pre-book in the regular rotation it’s easy to find a specific week they will want. No more counting & flipping pages (and maybe miscounting because you hurried!) while the client waits.
All you do is back up the tabs at the end of each week or to start your new work week.
There are really only a few *minor statements that I don’t entirely agree with. For instance, the types of hair on a dog not just being (2) guard hair or undercoat hair, but in fact there being a third type that is sometimes referred to as “tertiary” or secondary undercoat by various educators within our industry. This resides most commonly within the Nordic breeds of dogs and is a lesser hair coat type designed specifically for thermoregulation and adding additional loft and insulation for the body. There are also two types of tactile hairs interspersed within the canine and feline hair coat that serve a definite purpose in the relating of real-time perception and the adaptive systems of the pet and how it relates to its immediate environment. These are important as well.
The porosity of this third undercoat hair coat type and the density with which it creates the overall hair coat of the dog is why it has a propensity to really make a mess of things when you clip certain breeds down short all at once.
I do also feel that undercoat hair sheds much more cyclically than two times a year. This again relies just as much on not just the breed of dog, but within that category, it’s further individual genetic code, living/care environment, as well as other factors including general physical health, medical and vaccination protocols, etc. So again, proof of the point that this is a case-by-case scenario.
Clipping down a dog with ample undercoat still has an eventual unforeseeable outcome. But this professional decision can be entered into best when you have as much factual information and objective knowledge under your belt as possible.
I am grateful for this article because our industry NEEDS more open minded discussion and less steadfast devotion to one side of the fence or the other. I understand the mines interest in deciding a black-and-white yes or no on anything that is important to our profession and our liability they are in, but as with many other important aspects of life, the important things can rarely be entirely black and white. 😉
I ask you to *please take the time to read through this lengthy article, (you really can’t effectively “skim” it) take mental notes, and bookmark it to hold onto for referral back to, should you have any questions later on.
For those who asked for it, my professional opinion is that clipping down a dog with ample undercoat must be done carefully because there are a host of possible outcomes all of which *you have a certain amount of liability for in the event of an adverse effect as a professional business/caregiver.
The same goes for Terrier (and TerrierX breeds, all of which cycle coat far different than any other breed class) breeds whose clippering can also alter coat type and the overall health of the dog!
You may find yourself to decide an absolute one way or the other just to keep things simple for your work each day.
And that decision is entirely individual as much as it is for the pet on your table in front of you.
I will say in my salon that absolutely no dog gets clipped down shorter than a #4F on a double coated breed. And that NONE of that clipping is done until after the dog has been completely bathed, completely dried, and brushed out with its *full natural coat length FIRST*.
Clipping down this type of coat is always done as a final step process which only is completed when I have cared sufficiently for ALL of the coat that the dog initially came in with.
If you need clarification on that process that I enact at my own salon, and which I recommend within my certification material, please contact me and I will happily delve deeper.
Article on spay-induced coat changes:
Supportive article on thermal animal imaging:
Grooming The Difficult Dog, by Barb Hoover
From time to time a WONDERFUL piece of work and an IMPORTANT learning opportunity will come across my desk.
And it just happened again!!
We all know groomers can come under fire through media. And we all know many of us try to head off bad things from happening by working together to be proactive against animals getting hurt or yet another media blitz against groomers being forged- especially by trying to educate other groomers.
Our industry is filled with talented and intelligent people who have so much to share towards the betterment of all of our work we do each day, and to really help the pets that we care for.
I want to share with you a book that I got to read and just HAD to get the word out about it.
I recommend this book to EVERYONE who works with animals all day; I hope you’ll support Barb Hoover’s great work and
READ THIS BOOK!
Borrowed from a chemical safety & info fact site- not just someone’s personal blog-
These are lists of what’s commonly in shampoos, conditioners and topical hairsprays.
Reading through the products and familiarizing yourself with them can help you to recognize their purpose when you do see them on your pet grooming product labels. Learning about these ingredients will help you to recognize when a product ingredient is complete or partial. 🌹
We all know that grooming is hard work.
And even holistic grooming isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes pets are outright difficult, aggressive and scared. And sometimes human clients can be the same! LOL
Sometimes all you can do for a pet in the timeframe of its visit is to work quickly and quietly and gently to finish as much as you can for them, and then just let them get back home.
But each day that you come in is a new chance at giving a pet some happiness. Giving a pet some relief from a chronic ailment. Giving a pet owner the knowledge and power to help better the life of their pet.
So even the most difficult of days is still always lined with opportunity of achieving something great- no matter how small it may seem at the time.
Let's look at some of the foundational ways you as a groomer can accomplish working holistically each day.
Remember that because you are part of a network of perceptions and experiences that the pets who come to you for care have, that your energy and mindset are picked up on no matter what. You can fake being relaxed or focused, and you can't fake being happy and kind. At least with animals you can't. So be true to yourself, be conscious of who and what you are and what you are doing... take care of you, and that care will naturally ripple out every day into your work and interactions.
*Rest in your down time.
~ literally MAKE yourself rest if you struggle with this. Learn practices to settle your mind and body, look into breathing exercises and ways to attain better sleep quality.
*Put some good food in your tummy each day!
~ feed your mind while you feed your body, and DON'T skip snacks or meals or eat junk food because you prioritize yourself out of your schedule. Especially not if you expect your mind and body to be there for you when you need it. You've got just one body in this life and its with you til the end, so don't cut your end off short!
*Set your mind and your energy on having a good day.
~ take time to focus your mind on what you envision to be a successful day. Be open to and at peace with the possibility that how that actually plays out may be different than exactly what you had in mind.
~ if you meditate, take some time before leaving for work, or in your car before going in, or even in the salon to do that. If you feel comfortable meditating right at work, believe me, that positive energy fills your works space, and its fresh in your mind as you begin to work for the day. If you share Reiki, open for Reiki and share it with your work space before opening. Keep that funnel open and share it with the pets you work on thru the day as well if you feel like you should.
If you do neither of these things you can still stop for a second to purposely decide to have a good day, let fall away whatever negativity may have happened in your morning or what might be going on outside of work. Take a few deep breaths and then welcome the start of the day.
*Create your work environment.
~find those things that bring you an element of relaxation or peacefulness, and subtle reminders of happiness in your personal work space. Surround yourself with the things that bring out your most focused and energized self so that you're at your best while you are busy working.
Some brief things you can consider in your work environment:
Lighting: Be sure you have adequate lighting to work, no glaring or too much back light on those dark colored coats. Be sure to look into it being the best type of lighting for your eyes and your energy levels as poor lighting causes eye fatigue and stress and more. As well, good lighting creates atmosphere and everyone picks up on that including the pets!
~More to come on light and color therapy in subsequent blogs!
Fully functional equipment and tools that are easy on your body: Don't skimp and treat yourself well when you can, be sure everything is clean and in good repair so that you can work efficiently and be good to your body and mind.
Air quality: Keeping the air clean creates better health and safety for everyone who visits you as well as yourself, as well poor air quality clouds the brain and causes fatigue.
Scents: A good smelling shop definitely registers with every client coming through your door. And it registers with you even if you don't realize it. Keeping accidents cleaned up promptly, not cleaning with acrid or harsh chemicals, and not dousing yourself in too much perfume helps remove scents that can be stressful to pets. Consider possibly looking into aromatherapy which can help lessen stress and balance the emotional state of both you and the animals that come in.
Sounds: If you prefer working in complete quiet, make that happen. Some days I relish in listening to the soft sounds of my scissors and the hum of my clippers in between the breathing of the pet on my table or the soft little noises they make. Listening to these sounds gives one a sense of being in the moment.
If you prefer certain music through the day, get that going as part of your opening routine. You may find that music interests change from day to day or hour to hour depending on your emotional state, but across the board it should be music that is not bombarding or overwhelming to a pet's distinct and very attuned senses. The pets, even though they may not directly appreciate the music, appreciate the tones and vibrations and certainly they pick up on the energy you exchange when you are happily humming along.
Traffic flow: Be sure you have secure space to work in without people intruding. Be sure that your area is organized and free of clutter or things which inhibit your free movement and being able to position yourself properly while working.
We'll discuss more on creating your working atmosphere in later blogs.
*Pull up your client cards or files for the day and get a good feel for who'll be coming in. Envision each pet and its owner and place intent on having a good visit with each one. Look at your notes for each dog. I'm big on writing down any changes in physical and behavioral things with pets to follow up on, as well I write down things like vacations or events a client might be having at a certain visit and then ask about those things when they come in again. Clients appreciate that you cared enough to remember that stuff.
*Take time at each pet's arrival to greet them genuinely and happily. A warm welcome can really turn things around if a client is having a tough day of their own. Once they're welcomed, take the time to ask them about updates or changes with pets or to get all of the foundational info on their pet if they are new. Look and feel the pet over thoroughly.
*Throughout the day as you work, whenever you have just a moment, stop and really LOOK at and LISTEN to the pet there in front of you. Take them in. Consider their simple being. Listen to their breathing. Look at their actions and personality and appreciate that about them as a living creature. Do this ESPECIALLY if they are being difficult. Watch their outward signals and amend your movements and touch to be as little distressing as possible. Remember ALWAYS that pets do not harbor ill will nor are they making a standoff with you when they are being difficult. Almost always stress or pain is the root of acting out. That can come from a variety of reasons, but none of it has to do with you taking it personally. Sometimes certain pets just don't *want* to be groomed...but we do have a job to do, so with them just do it as kindly and quickly as you safely can.
Consider these things when you are doing a head to tail assessment on a pet:
-Run your fingers slowly through the coat and feel it and look at it. Look at the skin beneath and take note of any abnormal or "suspect" issues (oiliness, flakiness, lackluster brittle coat, sparse areas of coat, lumps or bumps and lesions. Also feel for "hot" areas as you move along the pet's body- areas like joints especially where high warmth can signal irritation or inflammation- that could mean tenderness and should be in the back of your mind as you groom that pet.
Once you've examined the pets skin and coat and structure, take a careful and quick sweep of their eyes, ears and teeth for anything suspect that catches your eye and be sure to address that with the owner while they are there. Remember that ALL things are connected along the circuitry board that makes up the network of systems inside a pet. If one thing is ailing or symptomatic, then likely that is rooted somewhere else. Consider that connection when you are grooming and tailor your care around those issues.
Being thorough in your exam of the pet and talking kindly with the owner builds great repoire and opinion of you professionally if you communicate from an honest and down to earth place of helping. Being too insistent, vague or condescending will quickly cost you the respect of a client and limit the positive impact you could have in a pet's life. And don't make things up or guess! Never, ever, be afraid to say "I don't know" when it comes to seeing something concerning with a pet. Just as quickly you can ruin a relationship by coming off as a know it all or diagnosing. That is NEVER our job. Noticing things and relaying info to the owner puts them in the driver seat of their pet's well being, and giving that power to them often gains results when its done right.
It should be mentioned that working with a good veterinarian which is like minded in their practices will support the advice you give and not undermine your ability even though you're not actually a fellow vet. In fact, not only is it extremely important to any pet needing to attain better health to have a good working relationship with a vet or several vets, but referrals between you will add an entirely new facet to your business and your reputation!
But THAT"S another blog!
As well, always remember to monitor the ambient air temperature of your drying room. In addition to very warm air, having a high amount of humidity in the air creates a breathing and overheating risk quite quickly. Anything above 80F calls for a break to allow the pet and air within the room to cool. Keep your eyes on the pet for panting, wanting to lay down, or drooling as some of the first signs that nausea and imbalance can be present, which are part of the early stages of heat stroke.