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The Three C’s: Calm, Cool, and Collected

How do you stay Calm, Cool and Collected when grooming dogs? It’s all in the attitude. Learning to read “dog body language” and to correct undesirable behaviors before things get out of control. Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the tips to mastering the 3Cs.

Want to learn more from the pros? Check out the video tutorials at Learn2GroomDogs.com, and get 50% off your first month!

Interested in learning to become a professional groomer but don’t live near Paragon’s Pet School? Check out our new Distance Learning Program at ParagonPetSchool.com/home-study – All the great curriculum materials and mentoring brought to YOU, wherever you are, from Melissa Verplank. Sign up with code LUCKYDOG and get $100 Off tuition.

Melissa V: Hi guys, Melissa here again and I want to share another one of my favorite time-saving tips with you. This one is practicing the three C’s. What are the three C’s? Whenever you’re working with pets you always want to maintain being calm, cool, and collected. So when you’re working with the pets you want to maintain an attitude of aloofness with the dogs and you want to be friendly but aloof.

Melissa V: Dogs can get really jazzed up if you start talking in a high pitched type tone, so if you just minimize the amount of chatter that you have with that pet, maintain a friendly but an aloof attitude, guaranteed it’s going to go a lot further for you. You’re going to win the trust and the cooperation of that pet a lot faster.

Melissa V: You know if a pet starts to do something that you really don’t want them to do, correct an undesirable action before it gets out of control. To me, one of the most overused words in a dogs language is the word no. So I always come up with a sound that means or indicates to the pet, cut it out, don’t be doing that. A lot of times it’s just something sharp and quick, a sound sometimes not necessarily a word.

Melissa V: I want to make sure that I am going to use that sound early on before an action becomes totally out of control. So, be aloof, be friendly but aloof, stop an undesirable action before it goes out of control and remember that there is absolutely no place for frustration or anger when you’re working with animals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cat, a dog, whether you’re, I work with horses a lot and we use the same thing. There’s just absolutely no place for frustration or anger with a horse either.

Melissa V: So it’s going to carry through with all animals and I’m sure it’s going to carry through with kids too, now I don’t have kids but you get what I’m saying there. So, always, always maintain the three C’s when you’re working with animals, calm, cool, and collected. Don’t try to be a hero, not every animal that comes into our salon is groom able. You always want to maintain safety for those pets, and so you know, sometimes you got turn something away. So don’t try to be a hero, maintain those three C’s at all times and your day is going to go a whole lot smoother for you.

Shredding Shedding Problems

????????This is the time of year the big shedding breeds come in. They’re often the ones that haven’t been groomed in FOREVER. You know the ones – Goldens…arctic-type breeds…Saint Bernards. They have that coat that totally trashes your salon – and maybe even you. There are tricks to getting this type of job done without too much agony.  For anyone who’s missed this blog in the past – it’s a perfect time to revisit my blog on salvage work.

As many of you know, I’m a big dog person.  Working on these large furry dogs is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon.  Call me crazy – but I just love the transformation in this type of job.  Over the years, the process rarely makes me cringe, no matter the size or condition of the dog – I see it as a fun challenge!

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Maintaining Focus

Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses one of her favorite keys to success: focus. Focus during a grooming session is critical for safety, technique, and style. Maintaining focus will also help improve your efficiency. Read the rest of this entry »

Introduction to Paragon’s Distance Learning Program

For those who want to become a professional pet groomer, but have difficulty attending a physical grooming school, Paragon’s Distance Learning Program offers more options. In this video, Melissa Verplank shares an update on the Paragon Pet School’s Distance Learning Program. Not only has this home study program proven itself effective for training people entering the industry, but it’s also being embraced by grooming salons of all sizes too!

If you want to learn the skills necessary to become a professional pet groomer at home, or you need help training your grooming staff, check out Paragon’s Distance Learning Program. Visit ParagonPetSchool.com today and use the promo code “LUCKYDOG” and get $100 Off your tuition!

Why Become a Dog Groomer?

Is professional pet grooming the right career choice for you? It’s a field with many benefits, and Melissa shares some of the perks that resonate with many people entering the field. In this video, she shares her own experiences with what it’s like to work as a professional groomer and what can make a groomer successful.

If you’re ready to start your pet grooming career, whether full or part-time, check out Paragon Pet School’s Distance Learning Program and start learning all the skills you need from home. Get started on our Home Study Page today and use the promo code “LUCKYDOG” and get $100 Off your tuition!

Alicia Ellis – Story from APF 2019

Alicia Ellis is a Paragon Pet School graduate who owns and operates Alicia’s Mobile Pet Service in Clarksville TN. We caught up with her in Atlanta, where she shared the value of Paragon for training staff.

If you or your grooming staff would benefit from Paragon’s cutting-edge curriculum, check out our new Distance Learning Program. New students who signup this month using “LUCKYDOG” get $100 off their tuition! Click Here for more information.

The Importance Of Setting Goals and Planning

Time is money. How long does it take to dry a small dog? How long should you budget for a full groom on a Shih Tzu? Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about the importance of setting goals and planning to improve efficiency without compromising quality. Focus and a methodical tracking of time will help you improve your workflow and increase your profitability.

Want to learn time-saving tips from the pros? Join https://www.Learn2GroomDogs.com today for access to hundreds of videos from top groomers. Use code word “LUCKYDOG” to get 50% off your first month!

Do you have staff or friends who would like to train the Paragon way, using Melissa’s cutting edge curriculum? Check out Paragon’s new Distance Learning Program. Refer someone and get a free Pocket Pal. New students who signup this month using “LUCKYDOG” get $100 off.



Melissa: Hi, guys. Melissa here, again. I want to talk to you about one of my time saving tips. That is setting time goals and objectives. If you don’t know how long something takes there is no way you are going to be able to improve your best times on anything. So it’s important, first, to know where you’re at, where you’re going to start. If you’re a brand new newbie you are not going to be as quick as somebody who’s got 14, 15 years of experience underneath their belt. So be a little bit patient with yourself but know that’s an area that you’ve got to work on. Let’s start with where you’re at.

Melissa: Now, my personal objective is always to turn a pretty normal groom, an everyday, simple groom, small to medium-sized dog, nothing fancy, no scissoring, not a whole lot of styling, just no-nonsense everyday groom. I want to turn one of those types of dogs, generally about one an hour, maybe a little bit less. I’ll tell you what, if you’ve got a bather working for you, half of the time is in the bath and the dry area. So if you’ve got a bather you might be turning those dogs a lot quicker than one dog an hour. But let’s say you’re doing the full thing. You’re doing the bath, the dry, and the finish trim.

Melissa: My general rule of thumb is if water can penetrate the coat and the dog is coming in on a regular basis, it doesn’t had anything done to it, it just goes directly to the bathtub. With that type of dog, that’s where I’m saying the bath, the dry, and the haircut should all take roughly about an hour. If you’re not hitting those time goals, let’s take a look and see what you can do to improve upon your time. The first thing I want you to do if figure out where you’re at. Know how long does it take you to bathe a small, simple-type haircut. Know how long it takes to dry a simple-type haircut. Know how long it takes to finish a basic haircut. Once you establish the ground rules, now you’ve broken it up into chunks. Now you can take a look and start working on improving those times and those particular areas. So break it apart in chunks, into steps.

Melissa: Get yourself a timer. It doesn’t matter whether it be a kitchen egg timer, one of those types with a dial and it turns and you hear it ticking off and bing it goes off and you need to be done or whether it’s a digital timer. Or you can even use your phone and set the timer on your phone. But time yourself. Break it in chunks and time yourself. Always try to beat your best. So know how long it’s going to take to do any procedure and then work really, really hard to beat your best time. Whenever you’re working on beating your best time, you don’t ever want to sacrifice quality or safety. Those are going to be really critical areas that you’re not going to want to shave off five or 10 minutes. That’s not what we’re looking for.

Melissa: We’re looking for just really small incremental steps to get better. Because once you start adding all of those little minutes and those seconds up, it’s amazing how fast it adds up. In no time, you’re going to be able to be doing and turning those dogs in an hour. If it’s a bigger dog, if it’s a fuzzy dog, no, you’re not going to turn it in an hour. There’s no way, or it’s hard, to turn a Doodle, a big, fuzzy Doodle, in an hour, big Standard Poodle, in an hour. It’s not going to happen. So I’m not talking about the big fuzzies. I am talking about your small, everyday, your Lhasas, your Shih Tzus, your mixed breeds, the dogs that are getting really basic, simple haircuts where you’re being able to do most of it with clippers or guard work. You can knock those dogs off pretty quickly.

Melissa: That just means more time for yourself, more time for your family, more time doing more things that you want to do. Or maybe it’s putting more money in your pocket. If you can do six dogs versus four dogs you’re going to be making more money. If you can do eight dogs versus six. When you first start out from grooming school or when you’re first learning or you’re apprenticing or whatever, I mean, your success might be finishing four dogs a day. That might be great for you. But know that as you work down the road, most professional pet stylists are working at a much quicker rate than that.

Melissa: We have seasoned stylists at one of my organizations over at Whiskers Resort, and they do anywhere between 10 and 16 dogs a day. Now, granted, a lot of times they’re working with assistants so they’ve got bathers that are helping them get through those dogs. But the bottom line is they are focused, they know how long it takes them to do a particular job, and they’re being able to work through their day very methodically, and they’re getting through it without killing themselves. When they leave, they’re still smiling at the end of the day.

Melissa: So working faster isn’t necessarily about killing yourself. It is about being efficient with what you’re doing and having the confidence to do it well. The only way that you’re going to be able to build speed is to be able to know where you’re at, where you’re starting from, and to get better from that point and move forward. So good luck getting through those dogs in the most efficient manner that you possibly can.

Grooming Tips for Rustic Coated Dogs

Have you ever worked with a Rustic Coated dog? In this video, certified master groomer Melissa Verplank shares her learning journey on the topic of Rustic-Coated breeds. Learn2GroomDogs expert groomer, Kendra Otto, introduced the MV team to tips and tricks on grooming the Lagotto and Pumi breeds.

Want to watch Kendra working on a Rustic Coated Lagotto? Sign up today at https://www. Learn2GroomDogs.com and Get 50% off your first month. Use code: “LUCKYDOG” on check out.

If you’re already a member, visit this link to see Kendra’s video: Video @Learn2GroomDogs

Looking to train staff or level-up your own grooming techniques? Check out Paragon Pet School’s Distance Learning Program  – Sign up and Get $100 Off with code “LUCKYDOG.”

Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here and today I want to give a shout-out to one of our Learn2GroomDogs.com training partners and that is Kendra Otto, and Kendra Otto has been one of our training partners for quite a while now and when I first approached Kendra and asked her to be one of our educators on the streaming video library, I asked her what did she want to film, what does she want to share, what did she feel confident with, and what she said was rustic coated breeds. No one knew how to deal with a rustic coat at that time and that was a very new coat type that we were just starting to see at the time that Kendra was really working with rustic coated breeds.

The two that really come to mind and that we have filed with Kendra is both the Pumi and the Lagotto. When she first approached us and she said she wanted to do a Lagotto, I didn’t know what it was, but I didn’t want to let on to Kendra I didn’t know what it was, so I just said, “Okay, that would be great.” I quickly ran to the computer because at the time the Lagotto wasn’t even in the AKC book. It was just being introduced. It might have been in the miscellaneous class at that time or it still might have been in the foundation stock area coming up and looking at being accepted into the AKC.

Melissa: But at any rate, I went home, did my research, found out what a rustic coated breed was, found out what a Lagotto was and we ended up filming with Kendra. I didn’t know anything about that coat type at all, and some of you may not have had the opportunity even to see them, or maybe you’ve seen them at dog shows but haven’t really gotten your hands on them and luckily I have, but this is the 22nd edition of the American Kennel Club complete dog book.

Melissa: We’ve got a little bit of a … there we go. There’s a Lagotto and so just really a no-nonsense kind of a breed as far as look. It’s a medium sized breed with what they call a rustic coat and then this one is the Pumi, and the Pumi is a very whimsical looking little dog, goofy. They’ve got a little different ear set. They have a wedged shape head and their ears are semi-erect and the way that you end up doing them is it’s almost like a Bedlington ear but where the Bedlington ear is gonna be down, the Pumi ear is gonna be semi-erect and so it really lends to this whimsical type expression that they have.

Melissa: But until I met Kendra, I didn’t know anything about either one of these breeds and that rustic coat is really different. The other thing with a rustic coated breed is they are not to be blown out, where normally when you’re looking at your scissor type breeds, the Bichons, the Poodles, you want them blown out straight, straight, straight so that you can get that really plush finish on your scissor work. But with the rustic coated breeds, that’s not the case at all. You want that coat curling. You don’t … you want it to look almost messy. Perfection is not what you’re looking for when you’re grooming those breeds.

Melissa: Again, until I met Kendra and actually filmed for Learn2GroomDogs with Kendra, I just didn’t know what these breeds were at all, so it was really interesting to learn about these newer breeds. Both of these breeds are now in, fully in, the American Kennel Club. The Lagotto is in the sporting group and the Pumi is in the herding group. They both had very different jobs and very ancient breeds, but caring for their coats is definitely different.

Melissa: One of the things I learned from Kendra was that you really want to use a wide toothed undercoat type rake, and that because they definitely have an undercoat and they have coat that … actually it’s not considered coat, it’s considered hair. Both breeds are considered somewhat non-shedding and so for folks that have allergies many times this is a breed that they can tolerate pretty well. But you’ve really got to get in there. You have got to keep them combed out but you don’t want to remove all of the undercoat so that wide toothed type comb really does a nice job to get in there and get the snarls removed, the mats removed, but then when you go to dry them, they need to be air dried because you need that coat really curly.

Melissa: The biggest thing with the rustic coated breeds is you don’t go for perfection. That’s kind of nice. But if you want to take a look or learn more about how to groom the rustic coated breeds, definitely check out Kendra on Learn2GroomDogs.com. She’s got a couple great videos on dealing with the rustic coat and rustic coat care plus she’s got videos on the Lagotto and also on the Pumi and I want to say with the Pumi we have a show Pumi and also how to work with a pet Pumi and how to maintain that coat and how to give the client a haircut that is going to accentuate the breed profile of the dog but be manageable for that dog to live in a pet home as well. Definitely check them out. It is the rustic coated breeds, the Lagotto and the Pumi.

Get Ready for the Westminster Dog Show

Master Groomer Melissa Verplank explains why you should save the date to watch the Westminster Dog Show, America’s oldest institution for purebred conformation. Spawned in 1877, Westminster’s all-breed show is a source of inspiration for great grooms as breeders and owners show their top dogs.

See the “stack” of the 204 eligible breeds across every group and variety as the best-in-breed and best-in-show are selected Monday, Feb. 11 and Tuesday, Feb. 12. Check out the Masters’ Agility competition starting on Saturday, Feb.9 and Sunday, Feb. 10. Visit Westminster for the full schedule to tune-in: https://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/plan-your-visit/general-info

Whether you’re just learning to groom or striving to improve your repertoire, don’t miss this chance to study top dogs!

Want to brush up on your AKC standards? Look into our advanced education opportunities at https://www.paragonpetschool.com/home-study.

Want to pick up new tips on the fly? Check out https://www.Learn2GroomDogs.com, where our library of great grooming videos can help you level-up.

Melissa: Hi guys. Melissa here. I want to talk to you about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. That is coming up pretty soon here. It is going to be February 11th and 12th. For us in America, this is definitely our premiere dog show. There’s a lot of really high end dog shows but what I love about this one is that it’s actually televised, and they do a really nice job with it being televised. If you’re a little bit like me, I just don’t get out to dog shows the way that I did at one point in time. Now, some of you guys, you’re dog show junkies. Hey, have at it. I’m sure not only do you watch it but more than likely, you’re immersed in it. You might even be exhibiting, which is wonderful, and I know a lot of my friends are definitely there and get really caught up with the excitement.

Melissa: For me, I would really prefer to watch it from the comfort of my living room, cuddled up on my couch. Even though I might be in the comfort of my own living room watching it, I am learning so much. Each year when the dog show is aired, I get to see the new breeds that are being introduced. There have been so many new breed introduced since even I wrote Notes from the Grooming Table, or way in the back in the day when I first got my certification, there’s been a lot of new breeds have been introduced. This is my way to stay current and up to date with what’s going on in the dog show world.

Melissa: Everything that we do in the pet grooming world, it literally transfers from the confirmation ring to our grooming salons, and so even though we’re working on every day pet dogs, and they’re not getting these high show style trims, it doesn’t matter. We are visual. If you show me a nice representation of any single breed, I can turn around with my skillset and my knowledge and transfer it into a very functional pet trim for my clients. That’s what I love to be able to do, is to be able to pull the best attributes of the dog and be able to turn it into something that the owners are going to really enjoy, and be able to live with it.

Melissa: But, you know what, I couldn’t do that if I didn’t know what it should look like. Being able to watch the Westminster Dog Club, the dog show, that is absolutely the best way for me to stay current with those trends. When we look back at it, dog styles have changed over the years. Not only are there new breeds, and a lot of the breeds aren’t necessarily new, they’re very ancient breeds, they’re just new to the United States, but when we start looking at how those haircuts have changed over the years on different breeds, it’s pretty astounding.

Melissa: Not only does the breed itself kind of change and morph into something else based on what it needs to be doing today versus what it did when it actually had a real job, but also the haircuts are also changing. When you look at Bichons from 20 years ago, it’s a very, very different haircut today than what it was back then. Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers are gonna be the same type of thing. There’s a lot of breeds that are like that. Being able to watch these top dogs being shown really gives me that edge to know what to do, or what not to do.

Melissa: There’s so many, again, with those new breeds coming in. If all of a sudden you’ve got a Pumi that a client calls and they want you to groom their Pumi, more than likely when it comes in, it might just be a shave off. But, if all of a sudden you know exactly what that breed is supposed to look like, and you know it’s got these funky cute little ears and it’s got this little wedge head, and it’s got this rustic kind of coat that is a little bit different, it’s not supposed to be blown out and straight. It’s supposed to be messy looking and curly. But, if a client calls and you don’t know visually, you can’t see what that dog is supposed to look like, you are gonna have a really hard time making that dog, or even pulling components of what that breed is supposed to look like onto your pet dog when it comes through your door.

Melissa: Again, I really encourage you to watch the show. It was one of our favorite things to do back in the day when I had a whole team of stylists, and actually a lot of our stylists still do this, is they watch the dog show either online or on TV. They talk about it. It’s just a really great way to open up communications within your own salon, and within your own team members.

Melissa: Definitely check it out. Like I said, it’s gonna be airing this year February 11th and 12th. It airs normally in the evening on TV, but you can catch it streaming online at a lot of different time points, and you can actually see a lot of the classes as well. Go to, I think it is the WestminsterKennelClub.org, and check out all of the schedule of events. You go to their website, everything is there that you need to find out what’s going on and how you can best check out the show yourself, so, enjoy.

Anatomy: The K9 Blueprint

Do you know your croup from your withers? In this video, master groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the vital role of canine anatomy knowledge in successful grooming. Great grooms flow from a solid understanding of the structure and kinetic capabilities of your subject.

Want to bone up on your canine anatomy? Check out Melissa’s definitive Notes from the Grooming Table at the Paragon Pet School bookstore: https://paragonpetschool.com/product/notes-from-the-grooming-table-second-edition/

Want to take a course? Explore your distance learning options at Paragon: https://paragonpetschool.com/home-study/


Melissa: Hi, guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you about the importance of canine anatomy and structure. This is the root or foundation of everything we do in the pet grooming world. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a pure bred dog or whether it is a mixed breed. There is going to be basic structure and basic anatomy that we all need to understand so that we can bring out the best features of the pet or possibly hide some features that may not be that desirable. And you know, when you’re looking at canine structure and canine anatomy, it’s kind of like as groomers, we are the architects of this groom.

Melissa: If you were building a home, and you didn’t have an architect that was formally and professionally trained, more than likely, that house isn’t going to be as sturdy and as strong as what it could be. And so when I look at dealing with dogs, the more you understand about canine structure, about canine anatomy, and also movement, you’re going to be able to do a better job in your everyday pet grooms just by having that knowledge in your head. So I really want you to think about how important it is, because if we don’t have an understanding of canine anatomy and structure, we, number one, aren’t going to be able to work efficiently, and with a harmonious relationship with that pet, because you just don’t understand how they’re put together. And if you don’t understand how they’re put together, then you know, we’ve got to move and manipulate these dogs all through the grooming process. And if you don’t understand what is comfortable for that pet or what’s going to hurt it, you’re going to constantly be at a disadvantage, and you’re not going to win the trust and cooperation of that pet.

Melissa: So understanding canine anatomy just from a working relationship with a pet is really, really critical. But then we’re going to take it another step further. If you don’t understand canine anatomy and canine structure, we’re not going to be able to communicate to one another. Nor are we going to be able to or are you going to be able to set patterns on a dog that’s going to accentuate their best features and detract from less desirable features. And so it’s really important that you’ve got a well-rounded education with canine structure and anatomy.

Melissa: And so when we first start out, what I want people to understand is to think about the dog in almost X-ray vision. I want you to be able to see the bones and how they lay in. I want you to understand that a hip is held in position by a ball and socket, and there’s only going to be certain ways that that hip can move. So that’s going to determine the range of motion when you’re moving that pet, how far you can lift that dog’s leg up to maybe get the sanitary area done. And depending on whether it’s a young dog or an older dog, they’re going to have a different range of motion. So you’ve got to be really, really aware of that.

Melissa: The shoulder is held together with muscles and tendons. But what type of lay back, how should that shoulder fall in on that dog? What’s the perfect structure for that particular dog? You know, every breed of dog was built to do … well, not every breed of dog, but most breeds of dogs had originally had a job to do. And depending on how they’re built will determine how efficient they are at doing that job, whether they are a digging type breed, like a lot of the terriers, and they’re going to ground. Or maybe it’s an arctic dog that was a sled dog originally. They’re going to have a different structure than the terrier is going to have. And that’s … the purebred dog is a man-made creature. And man developed it to help him do the job that it was originally intended for. So every dog is going to be a little bit different. And that’s where those breed standards are going to come in.

Melissa: They’re going to tell you, you know, if it was the perfect dog. How would it be built so that it can do its job? So again, the better you understand that, and it takes time to learn all of this. But when you first start grooming, the minimum I want you to understand is to be able to shut those eyes, shut your eyes and be able to see how those bones lay out so that you know how to move and how to work with that dog. And then the next thing you really need to understand is topographical anatomy. And that’s so we can communicate back and forth.

Melissa: If I say take your clippers from the withers and go to the croup, if you don’t know where the withers are, and you don’t know where the croup is, you’re going to have a hard time doing what I’m telling you to do. So that’s really, really important. Where is the elbow? Where’s the spring of grip? Where’s the upper thigh? Those are all terminologies that we’re going to use when we’re talking and giving direction about how to groom a particular dog. It’s also, you need to be able to get your hands on that dog and literally feel where those underlying bones are and how the muscles are going to play in, because the muscles are the key to setting the patterns.

Melissa: And if you don’t know where those muscles are and how they interrelate with the terminology and the bones, again, you’re going to have a really hard time making that dog be the absolute best it can be. So I want you to be able to tie everything together. From the foundation, you got to understand it, to what may be the finished picture should look like. If it was the perfect world or not, sometimes you’re looking at a matted dog, and you can’t be the sculptor of the fur. You’re not going to be setting patterns. But you still need to understand where those bones and muscles are going to play in, so you can handle that dog, and you can hold it so that it is safe and solid on the table, you’re not going to hurt it. All of those things are really, really critical. So it doesn’t really matter whether you’re doing a #7 All strip, or whether you are doing a contest-style trim, or you’re dealing with just an everyday pet in a low maintenance type trim. The better you understand canine anatomy and canine structure, the easier it’s going to be for you to get through that groom in the least amount of time possible while doing the best job possible.

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