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Learn how to improve your skill set or discover the latest news in the grooming industry.
Check out our latest blog posts!
Learn how to improve your skill set or discover the latest news in the grooming industry.
The soft, inner layer of a double coated dog acts as insulation, cooling a dog in summer. After shedding, the undercoat hair that is left helps capture air between the two coats, which helps regulate body temperature. Guard hair (the outer coat) protects the dog from sunburn from UV and insects.
Guard hair is slower growing, taking up to two years to regrow, if it regrows at all. The faster-growing undercoat can crowd out the guard hairs. Sometimes shaving guard hair can cause alopecia, resulting in patches and damaging the coat in perpetuity. Discussing this risk with clients is essential.
It may be hard to tell, but many double coated dogs have extra skin around their neck. Their guard hair or outer coat will be a different texture than the “fuzzier” undercoat.
The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Established in 1877, Westminster’s influence has been felt for more than a century through its famous all-breed, benched dog show held every year at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Today, America’s dog show has expanded into Westminster Week which includes the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster and the Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster. More than 3,000 dogs entered from around the world make Westminster Week like no other. As Master Groomer and our founder, Melissa Verplank encourages our pet grooming students to watch Westminster as a great way to improve their pet trims! (watch Melissa’s video HERE )We’ve highlighted information to help you tune in.
Learn more @ Westminster
Each dog at a dog show is presented to a judge by either its owner, breeder, or a hired professional. This person is known as the exhibitor or the handler of the dog.
The purpose of conformation shows (also known as dog shows) is to evaluate breeding stock. Judges select winners based on their ability to contribute and improve the next generation of dogs. Dogs start out in the classes competing for points toward their AKC championship title. Dogs win points based on the number of dogs defeated. The more dogs entered, the more points per win. It takes fifteen points, including two majors (wins of three, four or five points), awarded by at least three different judges, to become an American Kennel Club champion.
Breed Groups judged to the AKC Breed Standard include the Working, Herding, Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding.
Learn more, including judging criteria, a glossary and terminology, at Westminster Dog Shows 101
Agility is a timed competition that tests a dog’s ability to complete an obstacle course following the commands of its handler. Purebred and All-American (mixed breed) dogs are eligible, to compete in 1 of 5 height classes and are judged on time and completion (minus faults) of the course.
Obedience is a command-driven competition that tests a dog’s ability to comply with the asks of the handler. Commands can include a combination of sit, stay, jump, retrieve and scent discrimination. Purebred and All-American (mixed breed) dogs will compete to showcase the desired skills of a model dog.
The dogs entered at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show each competes within their own breed to be chosen as Best of their Breed/Variety. There are 211 AKC-recognized breeds and varieties.
Junior Showmanship is a competition assessing the handling skills of children 9-18 years of age-independent of the traits of the dog. The competition promotes proper training and care to prepare future generations for responsible dog ownership, sportsmanship, and future success in the sport.
Once selected as Best of Breed/Variety, dogs advance to compete within their AKC-recognized Group: Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding, Sporting, Working, and Terrier.
The winning dogs across the seven Groups compete for the ultimate prize. From those seven Reserve Best in Show is awarded as a runner up, followed by the Best in Show selection.
If you joined our Facebook Live on effectively communicating with clients, here are some of the resources discussed to assist you. Communication is key to happy outcomes between groomers and pet parents!
Do you own “Notes from the Grooming Table – 2nd Edition”? This book will help you build your grooming career, boost your communication levels with your peers and clients, while expanding your career growth! You can purchase a copy HERE or at any one of our partner book sellers.
If you’ve just watched Paragon’s Facebook Live on Staffing Secrets: Reward & Retain, here are some followup resources that may assist you in creating a great work culture!
• Help Your Groomers Avoid Burnout with This Article from Melissa Verplank:
• Rejuvenate Your Team Through Continuing Education – Hey Joe Podcast with Connie Bailey
Listen in to find out ways to get your team ready for continued education, engagement, plus ways to educate your customers.
Continuing Education: The Benefits of Knowing More
Want help engaging your staff through continuing education?
As a professional pet groomer, we always need to remember – humanity before vanity.
Can you demat a badly tangled coat?
Once in a great while, a client will have a legitimate reason why their dog is in poor condition. Occasionally, I will demat a dog if I sense it’s a one-time occurrence. I know the tricks to get a dog detangled relatively quickly. I have the skill, products, and tools to do it safely and humanely. However, there are two main reasons why I won’t always do it.
Here’s a perfect example. Years ago, I had a Bichon owner who always brought her dog in matted. This Bichon had a dense, curly coat. She was a regular six-week client. The owner was always immaculately presented when she dropped her dog off – the clothing, the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the jewelry, and nails. You get the idea. Oh, and she drove a Cadillac.
This was a woman who was used to getting her way. Her dog was always on the edge of whether we could brush it out or not. She never brushed the dog at home between groomings. The dog was a great advanced student dog. He was quite tolerant of the brushing process making him a super lesson dog.
One week she missed her six-week scheduled appointment. When she showed up two weeks later, the dog was trashed – matted all the way to the skin.
Crest. Head. Legs.
We told her we were going to have to start over. We would need to shave her Bichon down to the skin. He would be naked. It was the only humane option.
She was horrified. She couldn’t be seen with a naked dog! There must be some way to save the coat.
There was. She could get the dog combed out HERSELF and bring it back. But we were going to have to be able to sink the comb in all the way to the skin and pull it easily through the coat.
We gave her a thorough lesson. We even sent her home with the proper tools. We told her to come back when she felt her Bichon was totally combed out. Then, and only then, would we would give him his longer, fuller Bichon haircut.
She went home determined that she would be able to get him detangled. A few days later she returned. When we did the comb test, do you think he passed?
Not a chance. She watched the comb clearly get hung up in the coat on the first pass.
We told her to take the dog home and continue working on him.
Long story short, she returned six more times before she finally gave up. We shaved the dog with a #7F blade. We were able to leave a little tiny bit of extra coat on his head and a tiny bit of fluff on his tail. Everything else was naked.
When her sweet Bichon finally grew out about 12 weeks later, we set her up on a two-week maintenance schedule. She never missed another appointment. She learned her lesson.
The conversation needs to be sincere. It needs to focus on what is in the best interest for the pet. You need to be sympathetic to the reasons why the dog got in this condition.
(Stop rolling your eyes… I can see you.)
When you speak with an owner, they need to understand there’s only so much we as groomers can do. The last thing we want to do is hurt, injure, or bring discomfort to their pet.
Dogs have the mentality of a two-year-old child. If their two-year-old child, grandchild, niece, or nephew came to them with their hair matted all over their head, would they ask the child to tolerate having it combed out? If the tangles were tight and right next to the scalp, making every stroke of a comb or brush painful, they would most likely trim the matted hair out. Have you ever tried to remove gum or candy stuck in a child’s hair? Imagine the same impossible tangle right next to the scalp, covering the entire head. Trimming off that hair would be the most humane thing to do, even if the end result is not the haircut you would typically prefer.
It’s similar with a dog, only with the dog, the hair isn’t just on their head. It’s all over their entire body. You might be able to salvage a very small section but it’s not fair to ask the dog to submit to a lengthy dematting process. Most dogs do not have the pain tolerance or patience to sit through it. It could take hours to thoroughly brush and comb a dog out. Plus, there is a high risk of injury to their skin. And to top it off, asking a dog to sit through an extensive dematting process could be traumatic. It could scar them for the rest of their grooming life.
Even if a dog does have the tolerance for it, the cost will be extensive. Tell them what your hourly rate is. Estimate how long the dematting process would be. On a small dog, it might be about two to three hours (and yes, I would estimate on the high side), plus the regular grooming time.
If my hourly rate was $60 an hour, the customer would be looking at an extra $90-$120 for the dematting, alone. Money talks, so most of the time you can stop there.
If you sense the client is willing to pay your dematting rates, move into your next talking point: what’s in the best interest of the pet.
While it’s good to know they would be willing to spend the extra money to have the dog combed out, it’s also important to see if the dog will even tolerate it. At this point put the dog on the counter or grooming table. Grab your combination comb, sink the wide toothed end down to the skin – and give a firm tug. Gauge the reaction of the dog. Most of the time they will flip around with extreme displeasure. It’s visually clear to the pet parent their fur baby is being hurt. That’s exactly the reaction you want.
Most pet parents cannot stand seeing their dog in pain. If they understand this condition is painful to the dog they can often be trained not to allow their pet to become matted again.
The reaction of the pet, how deep the pet parent’s pockets are, and whether you feel the owner can be rehabilitated into a well-trained client will determine where your conversation will go next.
Most of the time, you’ll want to go with the humane route – and that means a full shave off. I might – or might not – try to salvage a small amount of coat on the head and tail, if possible. Mentally prepare the owner for what the dog will look like after the grooming process. Remember to emphasize that this is the only option for their pet.
Once you settle on what you are going to do that day, talk about future haircuts and how to maintain the dog so it never gets in this condition again.
Talk to them about their lifestyle and how their pet plays a role.
Ask if they are willing to find the time to properly brush and comb their dog between professional groomings. If they are, give them a thorough demonstration on proper brushing and combing techniques for their pet’s coat type. We always keep the necessary tools on hand in our retail area. Make sure your clients leave with the proper equipment to maintain their pets at home. Having a handout outlining proper line brushing techniques is also extremely helpful.
If they don’t have the time or the desire to brush their pet at home between groomings, talk about booking more frequent appointments and setting them up on an economical maintenance schedule. The maintenance schedule could be weekly or biweekly.
If the dog is just too far gone, if the client is a repeat offender, or you just don’t have time to deal with a matted dog – skip to the chase. I would simply tell them, no – I will not comb their dog out. There are no other options other than to shave the coat off.
Talk to them about rebooking their next appointment in 6-8 weeks. By about 12-14 weeks they should be grown in enough to be able to get the trim of their choice if they want to maintain a fuller look. They might also opt for a simpler trim style that is short – one length all over. Their choice will be based on how they want to care for their fur baby.
Regardless of whether you are doing a brush out on a matted dog or simply shaving the matted coat off, I encourage having owner sign a matted pet release form. This form opens the door to talk about the dangers involved with matted coats. It’s a simple fact: if the dog is extremely matted, there is going to be a higher risk of injury to the pet. If you talk about it prior to the grooming and the dog does get injured in any way, most of the responsibility has been lifted from your shoulders. However, that doesn’t give you the excuse to be careless. The last thing any of us want to do is injure a pet. However, when they are severely matted, the risk of them being hurt is always present.
There are limits on what you can – and should – do for the animal. Be honest. Be sincere. Keeping the pet foremost in your mind when coming up with a solution will always play in your favor. Even if the client is upset, stick to your guns. It’s the client’s fault the dog is matted, not yours.
Mentally prepare your client the worst-case scenario: a totally naked dog. Over-estimate the amount of time it’s going to take. Over-estimate the amount of money it’s going to cost. Over-estimate the risks involved with dealing with a severely matted pet. If you do that, anything beyond naked or less expensive or even a mild nick is going to be seen in a positive light by the client.
Melissa Verplank, CMG and Founder of the Paragon companies, shares some of her time-tested tips to master speed and efficiency in grooming. Boost your profits while freeing up more time for work-life balance by becoming the most efficient, productive groomer you can be!
Thanks for joining us on Facebook Live! Below, you’ll find some helpful resources from Dave Campenella, as well as every episode of the Hey Joe Podcast he’s appeared in to date!
Save the Date: April 6-7, 2022 in Jacksonville, FL
Paragon’s Partners at The Dog Gurus know how to put on an exciting workshop! This year, Paragon President Joe Zuccarello will be a panelist on The Value of Prioritizing Working on Your Business to help pet businesses accelerate a business breakthrough. This is the Workshop you need to plan your way forward in the post-covid world of inflation, wage increases, and staff shortages! Your business can still thrive…and The Dog Gurus will show you how!
Join The Dog Gurus in Florida! 2 days of your time invested in this workshop will help you
While February is the “official” month of Pet Dental Awareness, keeping canine (and feline) teeth clean and breath fresh is a year-round proposition. That’s because poor oral hygiene can cause a number of issues for dogs and cats — and they can’t tell us when it hurts. Approximately 84 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats in the U.S. will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they’re three years old, experts say.
The trouble begins with gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque. If it is not removed, tartar begins to form, and over time, advances under the gum line, resulting in periodontal disease. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect the pet’s mouth, it can also affect the heart and other organs of the body, and possibly shorten the pet’s life expectancy.
Groomers can be the first line of defense to help pet parents stay ahead of pet dental discomfort and disease:
• When grooming, look for signs of red swollen gums and tartar accumulation and point these out to pet owners. Report any sensitivity or signs of mouth pain in the pet.
• Encourage the pet parent to seek veterinary assistance for a deep cleaning in obvious cases. Educate pet parents about the risks of deferred treatment, which can include abscess, infection, bone loss and heart disease (endocarditis).
• Use the “sniff test” as a quick way to identify bad breath in the pet. If a dog or cat’s breath smells really bad, he or she may have an oral infection that requires inspection or treatment by a veterinarian. But if the pet simply smells ‘fishy’ from food, you can freshen their breath to a more kissable standard and win the loyalty of pet parents in the process.
• Offer a brushless cleaning service, dental care products, and dental chews as add-ons in your pet business to give clients convenient access to oral care products.
Our friends at TropiClean have developed a program for groomers to use — and resell — their Fresh Breath treatment line. It’s a great way to help educate clients about pet dental health care and encourage daily maintenance. It’s also a good way to generate additional business revenue. Benefits of the Fresh Breath program include:
In a recent Facebook Live, Melissa Verplank, CMG and Founder of the Paragon companies, shared some of her time-tested tips to master speed and efficiency in grooming. Boost your profits while freeing up more time for work-life balance by becoming the most efficient, productive groomer you can be! Stay tuned for future installments!
How Many Pets a Day Should You Groom (Opens Learn2GroomDogs.com)
Do you enjoy learning something new? Figuring out how to do something easier. Faster. Give you a more satisfying result? Expand your knowledge base. Build your confidence.
Sure you do. We all love learning when it’s easy right? But most of the time learning takes work. Effort. And sometimes it’s difficult and confusing.
I mean – really learn. Absorb it. Get it. Can do it and achieve results you are happy with?
So, what’s the best way to learn?
There are lots of different learning methods, but most fall into two categories. Passive or active learning.
What’s the difference?
Passive learning is when communication is mostly one-way for the sole purpose of gathering information.
Active learning includes doing anything interactive with the content to enhance your understanding of the topic and/or skill.
Which is best? It depends on what you are doing and how you need to apply the information.
Not everyone learns at the same pace. Nor does one technique work the best for everyone. Learning is a personal effort. Your level of involvement combined with a variety of learning techniques will greatly influence your long-term results.
Think back to a time when you learned something.
I’m talking about a time when you were curious about something. You wanted to know more. You researched it. Maybe you watched a few videos on the topic. Talked to people. If it was a skill, you tested it and practiced it, right?
You thought about the topic a lot. You wondered how it related to you or how you could apply it in your life. As you explored, you uncovered more and more on the topic. Connections were made. Dots were joined. You discussed the topic with friends and co-workers. You strengthened your understanding even further.
When it comes to learning retention, hands-down active learning is far more effective than passive learning. However, both have their place in your learning toolbox. Personally, I like to use more passive methods of learning first to familiarize myself with a topic. However, I almost always tuck a bit of active learning into it to ensure I can recall the information more readily.
Active learning promotes a deep, understanding of a topic. For most people, this is how we learn the best. In an active learning environment, you are engaged, empowered, and excited to learn.
Active learning occurs through collaboration, discussion, critical thinking, problem-solving, and connecting new knowledge with your own world.
Passive learning is all around us. But it’s not the best way to truly understand a topic or test your skills.
While reading, you can highlight, tab important passages, take notes, or write your own comments. When you do this, it becomes more of a two-way conversation in your head instead of passively reading the material.
After learning, take some time to think about how you can apply the information. Ask yourself questions to obtain the most out of what you just learned. Here are a few thoughts to get started with to help cement the learning in your own mind.
When you are working on a new skill, break down the steps. Think about how you could follow you progress. Track you progress by simply jotting it down, use an app or create a spreadsheet to monitor your progress.
This is a great way to improve your speed, track your progress when mastering a new skill or learning a new breed, or ensure the effectiveness of new sales techniques. You could even make a game out of the learning.
The sooner you can apply a new skill or technique, the better. Test it out while it is still fresh in your mind.
Studies show even within 20 minutes of learning something new, you will forget about 40% of the details! After 2 days, you will forget up to 70% of what you learned.
The saying, ‘Use it or lose it’ certainly applies when learning a new skill!
Coaches or mentors can help you fast track your learning.
Because they give you instant feedback helping you improve your skills immediately. A great coach will help you take years off the learning process verse trying to learn on your own.
If the learning revolves around a skill, a technique or a thing – collect images of what it looks like when done correctly. Assemble the images into a grouping you have easy access to. Actively work on building your collection. As you add images, think about HOW the results were achieved and visualize yourself achieving similar results.
To find out if you have really absorbed the knowledge, explain it to someone else.
Go step-by-step. Describe the details of the lesson. Keep it streamlined and simple so whomever you are talking with can absorb correct information.
If you struggle anywhere, go back and review where there are gaps in your own understanding. Continue to share with others your new knowledge until you can explain the topic confidently and the listener understands clearly.
To verify you have positively progressed in your learning or mastered a skill, go for validation. How? There are many ways.
You need discipline and nerve to admit what you don’t understand. What you find hard to do.
Ignoring those things is the worst mistakes a learner can make. You’ll need a strong foundation before you move on to a more advanced level.
When you’re self-learning, you’ve got to go the extra step to gauge yourself. It’s the only way you can learn improve and develop faster. Validation is how you’ll find your strong and weak points, so you know what to focus on.
Learning a subject or skill takes time and effort. You will never thoroughly understand something if you only use passive learning.
By utilizing a few of the active learning method outlined above, you will create shortcuts to your own growth. Mix and match these methods based on the skill or subject you want to learn – or come up with other ways to retain new information.