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Hello, everyone! Please advise :)

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  • Hello, everyone! Please advise :)

    Hello! I've been reading the forums for probably more than a month now in preparation for grooming school, which I started on Monday. I'll also be attending Intergroom on June 4th to get my feet wet with products. I'm in my mid-twenties and for a long time wanted to be in a hands-on career with dogs. Since I was 16, a lot of family and friends always suggested grooming to me but I didn't think too much of it because I knew nothing about it. After a few job changes and not finding much happiness in them, I decided to take the plunge and go through grooming school. It's an 8 week full-time (M-F) program, 300 hours. I know that it will only give me the basics as a starting point, and I plan to continuously pursue further help after but right now I'm hoping all of you seasoned groomers can help a newbie out.

    I suck. lol It's only Day 4, but I realized I am so nervous handling the dogs. Not in a "Oh gosh, I'm going to get bit" sense. More of a "I don't want to hurt you!" sense. When I watch my instructors, they're so assertive when handling their dogs but almost in a way that makes me feel bad. For example, I'm TERRIBLE at holding a dog's face. My instructor showed me two ways (either grasp your fingers around the muzzle or firmly hold the chin hair) after me pleading for assistance (my main instructor is more of a figure it out type then actually teaching) and both ways the dogs squirmed out. All of my bathing dogs have had kinda wet faces at the end because I don't know how to get their muzzle without them freaking out and pulling out of my grasp. I really struggle with just grabbing these dogs because I fear them twisting or turning something and getting hurt. I had one tiny Yorkie today constantly throw herself on her back to avoid me drying her. My terrible control also affects nail clipping. Nails stress me out. Okay, well BLACK nails stress me out. I was told my goal is to trim all 20 nails in under a minute. No. Way. My instructors have NO issues zooming through and quicking a nail here or there but I really take my time because I've quicked a couple dogs and I felt so ****** about it. My main instructor says I need to get over feeling bad about this. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm hoping this is all "typical" newbie feelings and I will laugh about this weeks from now. But the other side of me is worried I'm going to be told I'm not cut out for this.

  • #2
    OMG all nails in under a minute? I can't do that and I've been grooming for 30 years. OK maybe on dogs that hold out their paw and say next, but on your average jerking, pulling away, fighter for the nails no way!

    Handling is something that comes with experience, you will get it.

    Drying faces, towel towel and towel some more and if you have a stand dryer use it, or take the nozzle off the HV and hold it away from the face and blow from a distance.

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    • #3
      Like cockerlvr said, all nails in under a minute is waaaay too unrealistic of a goal, and not only for newbie. Don't strive for speed in the beginning, make sure you learn the technique and handling, get into a routine (for example, with nails, I always start with left front foot, then move to left rear, then right rear and right front. Some of my regulars hand me the next paw after i finish with one). After you have firm grasp on technique, you will get faster.

      With drying faces, in addition to toweling them as much as I can, I also keep a roll of paper towels next to drying table, then I just tear a sheet off to blot off extra moisture in the corner of the eyes of those smooshy-faced shih-tzus, under the chin, under the ears, etc. Also, I noticed, that some dogs don't fight for face/head drying if I brush at the same time. So, I have a "third arm" that I have my dryer hose in (on low, no cone), pointing at the dog's head/face, and with two free hands I hold and brush and comb faces, beards, ears, and it seems to help.

      Also, remember, when holding the faces, or in any way handling the dog, you don't need to be mean and hurt the dog, but you DO need to be firm and calm, they will feel if you are unsure of yourself, of if you are in control and know what you are doing.

      Good luck!

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      • #4
        When I started bathing, I was kind of like that. I am still a little overly gentle. But when I started, I was so unsure of what I was doing that at least 50% of my dogs were totally crazy. Either they knew they could get away with being brats because I let them, or they were little stress balls because of my nervous energy! The dogs I thought were awful when I started are a total breeze now, and I don't think its just because they come in regularly. It's helped to give the dogs a little speech that goes like: "I'm the boss. This is my job. It sucks that you don't like it, but the calmer we are, the quicker it'll go by."
        Another thing that really helps me with nails is to remember not to pull their legs too far back. I did that for a while in the beginning and whew, it made nails take forever since it was such a struggle. I also am a fan of the football hold for little guys (left arm around and under, supporting their weight) and putting my knee up to support the bigger guys.
        I also paper towel off faces. That also seems to help with getting the caked-on gunk off.

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        • #5
          Nails in under a minute?! Only if you like blood! When I first started school, all my small dogs refused to stand up. Stand them up. They sat down. Hold up their little rears, and the front legs folded. Frustrating. A month later, they stood. Then I realized these dogs were used to unsure newbie and had fun at our expense. After a month or maybe a bit less, the dogs, apparently, no longer considered me a newbie and stood just fine.

          You, too, will get your feet under you. When drying faces, try holding the hose sort of back and to the side of the ear, blowing the air forward angling it toward the muzzle. When the air isn't coming at them, the dogs generally are more tolerant. But you also, have to get control of your nerves. They feed off of the vibes you send out.

          Hang in there.

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          • #6
            There are so many other ways to be efficient with time grooming rather than trying to do nails under a minute.

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            • #7
              A big thank you for all of the replies. I've been networking with other groomers locally and been bouncing off of them for feedback. It has been helpful to have seasoned groomers think the nail goal is a bit outrageous. I think I'm realizing that I'm being taught assembly line grooming "quick in quick out" by one instructor so I talked with another instructor who encouraged I slow down and take as much time as needed on days that I have her. And I totally get the dogs trying to sit whenever you work on them. I'll get the dogs who sit be then shift their weight to one side and start to fall off the table! Talk about nerve wrecking lol

              The more I'm around the business on a personal level (visiting independent shops doing their own thing), the more it solidifies how much I want this. I love dogs. I love helping dogs. I love handing a dog back to a client and having them ooh and aah over the change. Everyone is right. I need to find my confidence. I need to remind myself that I have the best intentions with these dogs and stay firm yet calm. I still hate nails though lol

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