Question - Would you build a house without putting the foundations down? You don't have to be Kevin McCloud to answer this correctly!
The foundation of an epic groom is everything you do BEFORE any clippers or scissors touch the coat, so in this blog I'm going to take you through my personal prep routine on how to get that flawless finish regardless of whether you are a seasoned scissor magician or you're just starting out.
Top Tip #1
To shave off or not to shave off? The first port of call when that dog walks through the door is to assess the coat & COMMUNICATE with the owner. If possible, put the dog straight on the table with the owner there, look through the coat looking for matting & anything else that maybe of a concern so the owner can see it with their own eyes! This also saves a stressful phone call while you're trying to groom! Now, at this point you need to use your initiative when discussing what length the dog will be going, if you feel the dog is too matted to be left fluffy be confident when your speaking & explain the reasons why this will be happening! Follow your protocol regarding disclaimers, prices etc.
Top Tip #2
Bath first, wash twice, what shampoo? As you've probably guessed Paw Naturel is my chosen shampoo for the business, there are around 3,456 reasons why I love these products but to save paper here are my top 5...
- ONE WASH. Fox poo, whitening, mud lover you name it, I can guarantee you will only need 1 shampoo to get the dog squeaky clean!
- RINSE TIME. I'll admit I have serious OCD when it comes to rinsing the shampoo off a dog, however PN virtually rinses itself. Having zero nasties in it means zero residue on the coat leaving it super crisp even with minimal rinsing!
- DRYING. Due to the lack of residue this means the dogs dry soooo much quicker, this is great for groomer & dog because let's face it we want the dog to dry as quick as possible!
- TEARLESS. Again, my OCD takes over when it comes to having 10 different shampoos for different things next to my bath. PN is tear free so you can get right into those Shih Tzu wrinkles & crusty beards without worrying about stinging the eyes!
- HANDS. I've been using PN for nearly 3 years now & I no longer have hands of an 80-year-old builder. That's a massive win on its own!
My fave is Sugar Candy, it's absolutely divine & the smell lasts ages! I always dilute the shampoo using a mixing bottle & use a zoom groom to scrub the legs, especially those thick wooly cockerpoos! Once rinsed I remove all excess water using an absorbent cloth then they are ready to be dried.
Top Tip #3
Blast until dry? In a nutshell yes, you want the dog to be dry to the touch, however you do NOT I repeat do NOT want to dry the dog curly. To prevent this, you must work your way around the dog methodically, not moving onto the section until the part you've working on is completely dry & straight! The easiest way to do this is to hold the nozzle as close to the skin as possible then slowly move away as the coat dries, this is particularly important for wool coats!
Top Tip #4
Time to fluff! So, at this point we still haven't used any tools! So now it's time to remove knots, fluff the coat & comb through using a stand dryer. At this stage the only part of the dog that should be damp is the head & tail, the stand dryer is really only needed to part the hair when brushing the coat & to dry the heads/ears.
TIP: When straightening the ears always make sure you fluff dry the inside first & then the outside this will give you perfectly straight ears!
Top Tip #5
Red, purple or green? Most of you will know why these colours are relevant, this brush set is an absolute must for any groomer at any level! So, I've tried to simplify what each one is for...
- RED - dematting or thick double coats. Use a light patting motion going with the direction of the hair to remove dead coat & matts.
- PURPLE - fluffing or brushing double coats that aren't matted. I usually go against the coat growth to get right to the skin & stretch out any waves or curls.
- GREEN - fluff drying & straightening fine coats like Yorkies or puppies.
For faces I use a small flat slicker to get the faces dry & straight.
Remember, if the comb won't go through, the comb attachment most definitely won't! Once, you're happy, the dog is now ready to be styled!
Jade Elm Cooper