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How did yall phase out the bigger dogs?

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  • How did yall phase out the bigger dogs?

    I'm mobile with a small trailer. The big dogs are killing my back. If any of you have phased big dogs out , how did you go about it? I don't know if I should just put a weight limit on my voice mail for new customers and I'm not sure how to go about getting rid of the big dogs I currently groom that are a PIA. Is it a good idea to raise the price of the current big dogs, thinking maybe they wont want to pay. Any ideas. Just want to know what you all did. I'm ready to do something about it. I'm at that point where I don't think the money is worth the pain in my back and the freakin' clean up time. Its amazing when you compare clean up between the smaller dogs and the huge ones. Any advice would be great so i can make a change.

  • #2
    When I was told

    to stop doing the big guys, (I had a shop at the time) I simply gave them to my other groomers. I kept a few of my very special big guys, but the bulj went to my staff.

    When I went mobile (there) I didn't need to do big dogs because I had a boat-load of Bichons and other similar sized. I put a 40 lb weight limit on my new clients. I also has an easy out because my mobile was designed for med-small dogs with a smaller tub. If it didn't fit, it didnt get done.

    Unfortunatly moving back to home turf and many states away, mobile is still a new concept here. AND being in a much more rural area, every body has a hunting dog of some kind it seems. I am turning away a huge % of the doggie population that is seeking mobile. My first mobile died , my back-up unit actually has a bigger tub, but now as we start into our next project, that unit will be designed with the bigger sized dogs in mind. Table placement in relation to the tub location, ease of working the big dogs, etc. I'll still put a weight limit on the big guys, say 70-ish but that should accomidate many of the hunting breeds locally. I'm still not into doing the giant breeds, but If I had a few, with the right $ incentive, and bringing some muscle with me (one of my sons) I would consider it.

    I much prefer the smaller dogs, but so many mobile groomers do not take the bigs dogs, that in an area where mobile is established, can be a boon to anyone willing to do the big dogs. Charge for them, they can be a pain IMO if your rig is not set up for them. In my shop we has the scissor style hudraulic tables that we'd just roll up to the tub , big dog hop up and we'd hike them to the tub level and walk them in. Many mobile units are not set up this way and still use a plank (talking pirate here LOL) for the dog to walk across to the tub. If you have an unwilling plank walker, you have to heft him over (back strain waiting to happen!) I can't do that! But I can encourage one to hop over to the tub if the table is right there. My back-up unit has the tub and table next to each other. Works great!

    But as to your question, raise prices on the for any new [or seldom seen] med-large that fits your size limit (at least make it workable) or just discontinue taking any over what size is good for you.


    • #3

      I definitely think you should set a weight limit & place that info on your voice mail & website. That's what I did.

      On a couple of dogs that I made the mistake of taking on & couldn't handle, I finally got up the nerve to tell the owners that I was really sorry but I couldn't continue to groom their pet. I told them it was a safety issue & I didn't want to injure their dog due to the fact that I couldn't lift them. Then I gave them the name of a mobile that did take large dogs.

      I don't have very many large dogs anymore. The ones I do have can either hop up onto the table & tub without much help, or are at a weight that I can actually still handle by myself.

      I used to have a ramp but they sure don't seem to "get it"; so, I sold it on Craigslist.

      Let me tell you, you sure won't regret it! Less mess, less struggle and no more backaches & popping shoulders!


      • #4
        Raise prices... yes. Make the ones you do worth your while.... and do things to ease your back. I use a hydraulic table, ramps, steps, whatever makes my job easier. I don't have serious back problems, and I try to use my legs for lifting. I view it as my "workout" to keep my muscles in tone. It's better than a desk job!

        Also, I use Jodi Murphy's techniques for grooming in the tub and deshedding while wet. Makes a huge difference. I don't find the big guys make much more mess this way (maybe a little when they shake I put a used towel on the floor to soak up the water that dribbles outside the tub (you know how they love to hang their heads over the edge).

        Lastly, I prefer the big dogs. They pay soooo much better per hour than my small dogs and often their behavior is better.
        Last edited by MydogMissy; 04-24-10, 10:08 AM.
        A Light exists in Spring, Not present on the Year, At any other period -- When March is scarcely here...~~ Emily Dickensen~~


        • #5
          I'm not mobile but am going through the same thing: I'm starting to phase out the larger size dogs.

          On my new flyers and coupons, it states specializing in small/medium size dogs and with living in the city now, I haven't had one call for a large dog. With no help and a shoulder that tires out easily, it's not worth the time and energy to groom those larger size dogs. When I do get a call for the larger dogs I'll either place a weight limit on it or just tell them I don't groom the larger breeds.
          ~*~*~Shawn, C.M.G.~*~*~
          Apparently common sense isn't all that common
          *~*~emipoo on egroomer*~*~*


          • #6
            My prices went up on the big guys this year, on my current clients most are really nice & not too stubborn so I only went up $5. Any new ones trying to get in I went up $10 - 20. I have only ever dropped one client & that was a very hard to do shih. I tried to do it as nice as I could without sounding so unsure of myself but it was hard for me to do. I am glad that little guy is gone though, he stressed me out too much. If you do let go of some clients & have to do it face to face then have another groomer to send them too. I did that for the shih.

            I did lower my weight limit this yr too after doing two 70lb labs that hated the whole thing. They had only been bathed in the summer with a cold water hose. They about tore my rig apart trying to get out of the tub or table etc. I was sore for days after using every bit of muscle I had to keep them in the tub or on table etc. 70lbs had been my limit but it is now down to 50lbs for haircuts or 60lbs for short haired bath only, must be well behaved.

            I have my Grandma's back which isn't good so I need to start now in my 30's to save it. She is in her early 80's & starting in her late 60's had to have neck sugery, then back surgery as her spine was breaking down which was crushing nerves. At one point last yr she couldn't walk & couldn't use her crippled hands but after the surgery she can walk & her hands are no longer crippled.

            The Soapy Puppy
            Last edited by Starshan; 04-24-10, 02:36 PM.


            • #7
              I too was having back problems with the larger dogs. What I do now is, unhook my grooming table from the floor, slide it over to about 20” towards the tub. When I raise the table to tub level, the table top actually moves towards the tub. The dog easily jumps into the tub, and even more eagerly, jumps back onto the table when washed and dried. I then pull the table several inches towards the original placement, so that I can easily work on 3 sides of the dog. When I’m finished, the table goes down within 20” of the floor…… more lifting, no more back pains, plus I can continue to do large dogs, a win, win, win situation for me.

              Happy Table Sliding

              Dolly’s Barking Bubbles, LLC



              • #8
                I did it with no problem after my first year mobile. I severely strained my lower back and almost dislocated a shoulder catching a big heavy dog that was determined to jump out of the tub and was not cooperative at all. After that episode and many chiropractic and physical therapy sessions later, I set a weight limit (25-30 lbs) and told the big & heavy dog owners that due to back and shoulder injuries that I would no longer be able to groom "Bruno", but gave them the number of another mobile groomer that does larger/heavier dogs. I dont miss wrestling with those 60 pounders for one minute!!

                Girlfriend, stop now before you hurt yourself...there are plenty of small lightweight dogs to take their place. And you are right about all that hairy cleanup-that was a real PITA. I dont miss that either!


                • #9
                  OMGosh I am writing a blog on this as we speak! Hopefully I can get it up in a week or so.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dolly View Post
                    What I do now is, unhook my grooming table from the floor, slide it over to about 20” towards the tub.
                    Good idea Dolly, I might try that. I had DH make a short bridge from table to tub, but never thought about unhooking the the thing.

                    Oh, one other thing I do..... I limit the number of big dogs in a day. No more than two,.... that works for me.
                    A Light exists in Spring, Not present on the Year, At any other period -- When March is scarcely here...~~ Emily Dickensen~~


                    • #11
                      I too was told by Dr. to give up the big dogs about 20yrs ago, glad I did or I wouldn't have made it to 40yrs of grooming. I groom dogs under 20#, I just called my big customer and told them what my doctor said and I helped them find another groomer.

                      I don't see how raising your prices are going to get rid of the big dogs as there is always someone that doesn't care how much it costs, then you are stuck still doing big dogs!! So just come out and tell them when they call, now I'm still letting customers go as I have tendonitis in my left wrist and I can't do the squirrely ones anymore. I will prepare a statement and rehearse it so it sounds good then I will talk to them. They do understand, after all how long can a groomer last??? Longer if you stop grooming big dogs!! LOL


                      • #12
                        I started by telling new callers that we were not accepting any new large dogs, then over the course of a year slowing sent out letters to clients of large dogs stating that due to health issues we would no longer groom their dog. I may be wimping out on this one but I like letters better than trying to explain over the phone or in person that way they really can't argue. Of course we always got those calls where the client would offer to come in and do the lifting etc. but we always declined. I figure alot of those clients got sticker shock when shopping for a new groomer because I know we weren't charging enough for the big guys.


                        • #13
                          I'm not mobile, but I gave up large breeds 2 years ago. I simply posted a notice in my shop (in October) stating that due to back pain I would no longer be grooming large breeds after the 1st of the year.

                          Some ignored my notice, although I'm quite sure they saw it. lol So in December when they came for what I knew would be their "last" groom by me, I pointed it out. Some told me they understood, some acted like they were going to cry and a few even got mad at me. Had one guy put my tip back in his pocket. Merry Christmas to me. haha

                          I did keep a handful of large dogs. 4 or 5 super easy, cooperative dogs that I have been grooming for many, many years and just didn't want to give up. But besides them, I try to keep it under 30 lbs. Sometimes it's hard with all the obese cockers around here, but if they weigh 45 lbs and are well behaved I'll let it slide. If they are boneheads, forget it.


                          • #14
                            I'm mobile with a very small 6X12 trailer and also in a somewhat rural area. Lots of big dogs here and none of the other mobiles really like doing big dogs, so it is a big financial boom for me. After about six months of lifting, I purchased a hydraulic table that lowers to 18" off the floor. I have it positioned near the tub..big dog hops on the table, I raise him up to tub, he hops in tub and is oh so ready to hop back on table when he is dry.
                            I have found hardest part about doing big dogs is to keep them and the table from shaking. But I kinda lean on the table a little and that usually solves the issue. I really don't do alot of Giant Breeds, but do have several Labradoodles that are huge.....may have to faze them out if pet parents don't start taking better care of them in between grooms...grrrrrr


                            • #15
                              Protect your body - it's the only one you have!!

                              I am mobile and limit myself to the 45# dogs. But, I also bought the Anivac animal bathing system if the customer really wants me to groom their dog. It uses the accelerated peroxide so no rinsing and I think it works great. It's still alot of work on the long hairies so those I refer to other groomers in the area.