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  • Skittish around face

    I have a few dogs that I groom, all shih-tzus actually, who are extremely scared of having scissors or clippers around their faces. I have 1 who scares the **** out of me because he jerks so suddenly and hard if I try to trim his face that I'm terrified I'm going to cut him. The more I restrain him and try to hold him as still as possible the more he freaks out. Once I had to send him home with hair still in front of his eyes because I literally couldn't trim it. His owner told me she cut him once while trying to trim his eyes...which pissed me off. But he freaks even if I trim his beard.

    Any suggestions on how to better handle this type of dog?

  • #2
    I do my normal stuff, gripping the dog by the ears and srcuff so they can't move, this causes much less of a chance of a cut. Then I very slowly put clipper toward face. If it reacts strongly ( and you're right it is usually a shihtzu) then I will place my finger around the eye, and say look it's just my finger. TAlk in soothing tones, go nice and slow. Do it several times, and after a few times they usually relax enough to let you get it done. Alternat between finger and clipper. This of course will not work on a dog that you can barely even touch for fear of being bit, I wouldn't go sticking my finger on the face of a little devil, but if it's a generally well behaved dog that just hates it face done, it usually works. Also, if you have to send a dog home with the face not perfect, oh well...I'd rather send it home with a little too much hair around the eyes, than a cut on the face! Good luck!
    Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job. ~Franklin P. Jones

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    • #3
      try trimming the face throught the grooming. Take a snip here, a snip there. Use ball tip scissors too. That way you don't lose an eye. Try giving a treat when you are about to snip to distract. I would also tell the owners to take the dog for a good long walk before grooming to tire him out.
      If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!

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      • #4
        Oh Amy welcome to the world of Shih Tzus, I have 4 of my one 3 of them no problem # 4 a total fight thats why we call them little sh_ts. Also I groom alot of shihs and I would say that 1/4 of them have this issue. I love them to death but They make grooming their face almost impossible so we hook em up to the Groomers Helper and that helps Alot and I am able to at least get their faces done
        "Whoever Said That Money Can't Buy Happiness Forgot About Puppies"
        Nancy

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        • #5
          It was mentioned by one of the legends on the board about licking your lips and yawning to help settle the dog down too. If they lick back you've made the connection. I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but it does work. I had a couple skiddish dogs that were movers (I mean constantly moving), but not aggressive. So I tried it and it really did work. I was so proud of my new found technique I decided to try it on a regular who is an aggressive biter too, but he just growled and seemed even more aggitated that I looked so relaxed. So I'm trying other things on him. But it does work for some. Maybe with a combination of these suggestions you can get their little faces groomed. Good luck!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by diamienono View Post
            try trimming the face throught the grooming. Take a snip here, a snip there. Use ball tip scissors too. That way you don't lose an eye. Try giving a treat when you are about to snip to distract. I would also tell the owners to take the dog for a good long walk before grooming to tire him out.
            A ball tip scissor will put out an eye almost as easily as a pointed one. Don't get too secure about using them.

            Some dogs will do better with less restraint. Try doing as Diamie suggested, sneak up on him, a snip here, a snip there, with little or no restraint.

            Another thing you might suggest is to eliminate trying to trim the hair in front of the eyes completely. Let it grow long enough, and it'll part down the middle and lay down flat and blend into the beard.

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            • #7
              I'm with Di on this one. I do a little snip here and there during the groom. A Groomers Helper works great for the nutty ones. After the bath and towel down is also a good time.
              Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.- Richard Carlson

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              • #8
                [QUOTE=Helly;9760]

                Some dogs will do better with less restraint. Try doing as Diamie suggested, sneak up on him, a snip here, a snip there, with little or no restraint.

                QUOTE]

                I've noticed that too. Some dogs will let you do anything if you aren't restraining them.
                Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job. ~Franklin P. Jones

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=Helly;9760]A ball tip scissor will put out an eye almost as easily as a pointed one. Don't get too secure about using them.

                  Almost but not quite, so you have less of a chance lol.
                  If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!

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                  • #10
                    [QUOTE=diamienono;9899]
                    Originally posted by Helly View Post
                    A ball tip scissor will put out an eye almost as easily as a pointed one. Don't get too secure about using them.

                    Almost but not quite, so you have less of a chance lol.
                    1/2%? Seriously, my brother punctured his eye with a pencil when he was 4. An object doesn't have to be sharp or really pointed. Not to mention shih tzu eyes aren't really "in there" to begin with. Doesn't take much to damage them, or pop them out.

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                    • #11
                      Yes, less restraint. If your face was pushed in like that, you'd be hyper too about not being able to breathe. Sometimes, they are better with thin shears than scissors too. I too don't use pointed scissors around the eyes. I know it can still puncture, but am more confident with them or thinners. Some dogs will also let you do the face in the tub soaking wet. I think it catches them by surprise. Nails too can sometimes be easier this way. And this guy has been hurt once too, makes them even more apprehensive. Calmness and patience.
                      Old groomers never die, they just go at a slower clip.

                      Groom on!!!

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                      • #12
                        Quite often I have seen shih-tzus that have problems with their heads, that have problems having their heads washed too. When bathing them people are not careful about getting water up their nose. I also run the clippers on their head to get them use to the vibration. I do it till they don't fight it anymore. Sometimes if you rub the bridge of their nose with your finger, as they normally like that, sometimes you can get them to let you scissor their face too.

                        A lot of these dogs have had previous eye problems and a lot of matting problems under the eyes, making them sensitive. Most of the time I have been able to work with them and they do gradually get better. Biggest thing is not to give them a reason to be bothered having their face worked on, and don't let them get water up their nose in the tub.

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                        • #13
                          I have (had) a regular client whose shih tsu was very skittish on anything above the shoulders. I just did the best I could with the head, getting snips in here or there, the best I could but within reason. I wasn't going to spend 2 hours in this endeavor. I guess it wasn't good enough, got a message today canceling the next appt and that they are going to try another groomer to see if "fifi will behave better" for this new groomer! I think that is code for "you aren't good enough". Oh well, she always complained about my price anyway and the dog was a dryer pooper. Oh, she did say that she would be calling me if the new groomer didn't work out. I guess that is a consolation?

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                          • #14
                            Most of the shih-tzu I groom have yucky wet faces especially under their eyes, I like to do a very short face on those. So leaving hair under the eyes is just not an option on those dog. Ever since we got a manager who is really good at restraining dogs we just call her in the room for the hard to handle ones. She has a firm non-threatening grip on them,that seems to relax them they just stop struggling once they figure they can't move -it is almost instant-she is our groomers helper. She used to be a vet tech. SHe kinda lays her armpit over the dog and holds her hands around the legs and chest Like a big snuggle hug she kinda has her armpit over the dogs shoulders putting downward pressure on the dog I think it gets most of it's strength from its shoulders somaybe this is the key. She lets them lay down if they want too. But it works very well.

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                            • #15
                              One thing that has worked for me ON OCCASION, is to scruff the dog and have it stand on it's hind legs. No pain, just stiffens up and sits there. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work and you'll have to try another option.

                              Good luck, Amysue, I have this issue too, and it's almost always with shih tzus.

                              Tammy in Utah
                              Groomers Helper Affiliate

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