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Grooming Solo ? Yikes!!

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  • Grooming Solo ? Yikes!!

    Hello All (again)!

    I've been grooming for a little over 2 months now and have opened my own shop in our garage.

    All is going really well.

    My mom works from home for an IT company and helps out when I have dogs to groom.

    Sooner or later, probably sooner, she'll have to go back to work in her office and she works 6am - 6pm, 4 days a week.

    My fear is that I'm not going to be able to groom dogs by myself as I've become accostomed to her being my assistant.

    Also, I can't afford an assistant now.

    Additionally, I've had a few fighters and biters. Today I had a severly matted poodle that took 5 hours. He scratched, bit, danced, hopped....I'm sure you know the type. Any advice on these types would also be appreciated. I was so frustrated I was in tears. 5 hours!! for a MINI-POODLE!

    Help on all fronts would be greatly appreciated.



  • #2
    You have options...
    1. You can schedule difficult dogs on the days that someone can assist.
    2. You can refuse these dogs entirely.

    Your speed will improve with time and you'll learn how to handle the asshats more effeciently. Grooming alone is not as bad as it may seem. I groom alone and always have (except when learning). I have accute ADD and that + my personality require it ;-) Just relax, book lightly at first and add more dogs as your skills improve.
    "The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind"-Theodorus Gaza


    • #3
      I groom Solo too,

      The very first thing I would suggest is to get a Groomer's Helper and learn how to use it. It's like having a second person there helping you, or at least an extra pair of hands.
      It can control the sitters, the spinners and the biters once you figure it out.
      It will be the best money you'll spend, and once you have it, you will wonder how you ever went without it.
      I have had days like yours too, so don't feel bad. Mine were with Golden Retrievers, the fat, lazy ones that won't even stand up long enough to wash their backsides. I was ready to give up on that breed altogether until today. I booked Maggie, 14 months old, 75 lbs and very co-operative.
      She made me re-think about getting rid of the GR's and just set a weight limit instead.

      It will get better, and you can do it. The Groomer's Helper would be a huge help!
      Good luck


      • #4
        Originally posted by fiveoclockdog View Post
        You have options...
        1 I groom alone and always have (except when learning). I have accute ADD and that + my personality require it ;-) Just relax, book lightly at first and add more dogs as your skills improve.
        Funny sounds like me.

        You could definitely use a groomer's helper and/or a no sit haunch holder.

        The solutions for the mini-poodle is it is probably always matted when groomed so hates it, I would tell these people they have to keep on a schedule because the dog cannot handle the stress of being groomed matted or have it groomed elsewhere


        • #5
          I think I've mentioned this before on one of your other threads, but I truly believe dogs know when they have a newer, less confident groomer (and that is not an insult, it simply takes time to build skill and confidence, we were all there at one time) and they take advantage of it. I swore in my first year all I had were the hard to do dogs, but then I would see these same dogs on a more experienced groomers table and the dog would be totally different. In that first year I always wondered how people ever groomed alone, now it's all I do. You will get there too, but it takes some time.
          How do you feel your handling skills are? Do you think possibly shadowing another groomer for a day or finding a mentor could help? There may be some good DVD's out there too that may help. I know you said you trained through a school that isn't far a way. Would going to the school for some one on one with how to handle a difficult dog be possible? It may really help just learn some tips and tricks.
          I am sure we will all share with you whatever we can with what we know to help you, but there isn't really a replacement for hands on in those circumstances and every dog is different, so having an arsenal of different things to try can really help.
          Since your mom works the 4 days, is it possible to try to schedule the difficult dogs for the one day she may be free?
          I know money is probably tight with starting a new business. I've been there, and get back to there more than I'd like LOL, but there are great groomers like Lisa Leady who you can have come to your salon to give classes. They travel all over giving weekend classes and the ones I have been to groomers from all over gather at one salon, each pay to be there, but I am sure that there are some that would even do private sessions if that is feasible. If not, if you have the room to have multiple people taking a class, it might be a great way to have someone there that is an industry leader. I mention Lisa because I have taken her classes twice and loved them both, and if she comes back this year will attend again. The classes I have taken with her, the other groomers that come range from complete beginners who have never picked up shears, to seasoned groomers looking to fine tune their skills and she is so good at NOT making you feel self conscious. There may be a salon not too far from you that will have someone like this out that you could attend.
          Are you able to attend any shows? I believe you're in NC. NJ is probably a bit of a drive, but Intergroom is AWESOME and also a great place to pick up lots of education, tips, tricks, new products.
          Have faith in yourself is probably the best piece of advice I could give you. I think you are doing amazingly well so far and I feel you can do this. Just give yourself some time, be patient with you, and you'll get there.
          What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.


          • #6
            You are new and -

            The dogs fidget and fight more with you because they can tell that you are not confident yet. That's just the way it is. Unless you learn some handling from an experienced person, it will just take whatever time it takes. If you can go and work with someone a day a week, you will likely learn a LOT and will increase your confidence and skills faster than you will by working on your own all the time.


            • #7
              It took me 4 hours for a **** zhu the other day...

              so I know how you feel! Not to mention I was trying to clean out the eyes and she kept fighting me and fighting me. So the girl that trained me (and that I work side by side with now at the clinic) happened to look over and I saw I was completely frustrated. I asked her if I was doing something wrong and she came over, lightly grabbed the chin hair and the dog sat there perfectly still while she cleaned out the eyes with a #10. I wanted to cry! She says "yeah, Fran, she's a real fighter" LOL. She was just joking but told me that I am over thinking and doubting myself too much. So yeah, I totally know and believe dogs can sense the lack of confidence. She says it'll get easier but I'm 3 months in now from training and can only do 2 full grooms a day. I can squeeze in a bath if I want to be there until the clinic closes...I'm a little disappointed in myself and at the end of the day think I made the wrong decision but we'll see!

              Hope things look up for you and good luck with your business!! - Fran =)


              • #8
                Just remember that what you are feeling is being transferred to the dog. You need to stay calm and confident and assertive. Stop depending on someone to help you, look at it like a challenge. You will learn how to do different things without help. Read some dog behavior material learn why they do the things they do.

                Get a groomers helper it’s the best investment you will make!!!!


                • #9
                  You all are the BEST!!

                  Thank you again for all the tips, advice, suggestions, and encouragement.

                  I am reminded I've only been doing this for 2 months; a babe learning to just takes time.

                  For now we (mom and I) have made a couple of decisions.

                  1. No dogs over 40 lbs ....for now.

                  2. Asked detailed questions before the appointment about mats. Then, doing a full assessment of the dog before the owners leave. Those that are seriously matted MAY be referred out. Later, we MIGHT do severely matted dogs, however, we'll assess that later.

                  3. GET Groomer's Assistant!

                  Thanks again!!!