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Masterpieces From Nightmares with Dave Campanella

Special Guests

Dave Campanella

Dave Campanella is an informative and entertaining seminar speaker, contributing trade columnist and genuine grooming enthusiast. He is Best Shot Pet Products sales and marketing director and has over 25 years of pet industry knowledge and experience. He and his wife Tracy co-owned a full-service pet salon and self-wash in Ohio prior to relocating with Best Shot to Kentucky. Together they enjoy exhibiting at grooming shows, being industry ambassadors and showing their Kerry Blue Terrier and Samoyed dogs.

Masterpieces From Nightmares with Dave Campanella:

Grooming is grueling work. In this episode, Joe Zuccarello teams up with groom expert Dave Campanella to learn the tricks of the trade. Together, they’ll unpack the hard-earned secrets great groom salons use to produce a masterpiece every time. Learn to master canine hair physiology, chemistry and the scientific method behind faster, easier grooming.

  • Do you know how to work smarter, not harder?
  • How critical is “tub time?”
  • What’s the difference between shedding, matting and tangling?
  • What is “porosity” and how does hair physiology play into good grooming?
  • What is the answer to the age-old question: Do you pre-brush a dog, or do you bath it first?

Tune in to find out.

Special Offer:

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Joe Zucarello: Hey there listeners. This is, Hey Joe. This is your host, Joe Zucarello. Just a quick reminder, this is a podcast where you get to listen in on a real coaching call between myself and an expert in the industry. Answering these questions that we get all the time and usually those questions are starting with, hey Joe, thus the name of the episode and the podcast. Let’s go ahead and get started. I am thrilled to say that we have a very exciting episode for you today. We are talking with Dave Campanella, who is an industry expert in the way of coat condition and grooming processes and grooming products. This is a guy that I have known for several years and who is certainly the epitome of an industry influencer. It seems that I always see him doing seminars at some of the trade shows and writing content for many of the industry magazines and articles and such.

Joe Zucarello: He’s always being interviewed because he’s so smart in those areas. I’ve always seen him as a person on a mission. Dave is on a mission to educate and elevate professionals in this industry because Dave gets it. Dave, don’t have your head blown up too big because you still get a chance to talk about yourself as well. I got to tell you, man, I’m impressed by what you do. I’m impressed by what you stand for. I am certainly impressed on the influence you bring to the industry. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your business and what you’re up to these days?

Dave Campanella: Sure. Well, thanks, Joe. It’s exciting to be here today. Again, I was thrilled and honored to have you ask. Basically, my story is grooming related of course. It all starts 28 years ago. I married a groomer. My wife Tracy and I, we’ve been in the industry, we’ve co-owned and operated a groom shop together. Me, more so part-time. What I tell folks is for me, my role in grooming when we got started, my wife and I, I had a full-time job. I’ve been pretty much in sales and customer service, sales training. I have a background in direct response marketing. Worked for a newspaper for a stint before one and up here at Best Shot. As far as grooming went, I was the guy who brought dinner into the shop at the end of the day on those long days. I worked weekends with my wife and holidays. I always found it interesting when we started that I’m the guy who… She would schedule the big hairy monster dogs, the collies with the thick matted coats or the compacted golden retrievers that weigh like a brick.

Dave Campanella: Back in the day when we got started, the mayor of the community we lived in in Tallmadge, Ohio had a Saint Bernard. I was always there when they scheduled to do him. What you’ll learn throughout the process is how thankless of a job grooming can be at times. It’s a lot of hard work and when you do it wrong, it can be a nightmare. When you do it right, it’s still a lot of work.

Joe Zucarello: You’re right, it’s probably no surprise to the Hey Joe listeners. Grooming is a tough and tiring job and the physical nature sometimes takes a toll that ends careers prematurely in some cases. That’s why I’m excited to be talking with you today because you’re going to be sharing some tips and tricks to… We’ve always heard the adage of working smarter, not harder. Right? What was interesting, what caught my attention about the topic we’re going to talk about today is that you’re looking at things a little bit differently than maybe some of our listeners might have learned. If you’re brand new to the grooming industry and just now getting some information through the Hey Joe Podcast, if you’re a baby groomer or a groomer wanna be and you’re looking at this as a career, what a great way to get started right from the beginning.

Joe Zucarello: I’m sure that some of your veteran colleagues in the industry wished that they could have went back in time and do things that were less demanding or maybe that set them up for injury. We’re going to talk about those things today. One thing I just want to remind our listeners about also is that Dave is at the end of the podcast going to give you a really cool offer. Be sure that you stick around until the very end and Dave will be letting you know what it is that he and Best Shot are up to. You can always learn more about Dave and Best Shot and those products by going to paragonpetschool.com and searching for this podcast episode. One quick note also, housekeeping. If you have not already subscribed to the Hey Joe Podcast, this is the typical type of podcast we’re going to have with subject matter experts.

Joe Zucarello: Be sure to hit the subscribe button on the website or on your mobile device to make sure that you are served up the Hey Joe Podcast as often and as regularly as they are available. Another thing real quick is if you have topics or let’s say Dave and I or any of our podcasts for that matter when we’re talking, if you have topics or questions, this podcast thrives on hearing from our listener audience. If you have a question that you want to submit for future possible use on Hey Joe Podcast, please send your questions to heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. Let’s go ahead and get started. Again, thank you Dave for joining us today. Let’s dive into the question that I get asked and you probably get asked a bunch and maybe even more than any other question and that is, how do I save time and energy in my grooming business? I know that I get asked that question quite a bit and that’s kind of what turned me on to talking with you today.

Joe Zucarello: You have written some pieces and one that really caught my eye was, Making Masterpieces out of Nightmares in Record Time. That was really an eye-catcher. Again, as I alluded to earlier, you start bringing up a little bit of maybe a controversial method or just a break from the norm, a method on how to, I guess, have more of a harmonious grooming process. One of the things that caught my eye is you said tub time is the most critical phase of the grooming process. You care to start expanding on why it is tub time?

Dave Campanella: Absolutely. Well, you know, as groomers, when my wife Tracy and I got started into this, she had a background in grooming and it wasn’t until she opened up her first shop where she realized we’re holding the reigns as far as how we’re going to do this, how we’re going to train our help. I’m a process guy and I was so fortunate from my background, I have some wonderful training, corporate training. I was able to take a lot of that knowledge and apply it to the process of running a groom shop. All of us can relate to trial and error. A lot of times we do things because we’ve wasted a lot of time figuring out for ourselves and banging our heads against the wall on what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, it’s not a very productive way of going about things. For me, I personally look at the grooming process, the process of running a grooming shop. I break it down into five pillars.

Dave Campanella: The first and foremost is if you’re going to be in this business, you have to have some basic understanding of skin and coat physiology. You don’t have to have a PhD but you got to have the basics down. The second thing that falls right in line is an understanding of the liquids. If you’re in the grooming business, the shampoo decisions and conditioner choices that you’re going to make can make or break you. You got to make the right selections and have a basic, a very basic but necessary understanding of simple chemistry. I’ll repeat, simple chemistry. Then from there, mastery of your tools and equipment becomes a lot easier. From that, the methods and techniques that you develop and hone and then I always… The fifth pillar I like to refer to as health and safety because in everything that we do, we have to be mindful of our customers, our animals, our coworkers, and ourselves. Those are the five things that I break down and try to take an approach in looking at every aspect of the grooming process.

Joe Zucarello: Hey Dave, if I can jump in real quick I think what you talked about there, that mindfulness. I think I’ve heard you call it that balance of throughout the entire grooming process and I love those two words, mindfulness and balance. Just to let the listeners know, I’m going to tease a future episode that Dave has also agreed to be a guest on where we are going to be taking a much deeper dive into those pillars that Dave just talked about, which is that balance and mindfulness that will help you out as well. One of those areas Dave that really that I think our listeners can really benefit from was as you alluded to, when you talk about using liquids to your benefit and making those wise decisions and choices based on simple chemistry. At the end of the day, obviously, grooming is still a very physical, which we talked about earlier, a very physical job. How do liquids and the tub specifically, that order, come into play? What is this controversial thing or skeptical thing that we’re putting out in front of everybody kind of dangling that carrot? What is that exactly?

Dave Campanella: I want to thank you for reeling me back in on that. The key is so often in a groom shop the focus is on get them washed and dry so we can finish them, not a very mindful approach. The number one reason why pet parents come to us is shedding, which I tell everyone that shedding, matting, tangling, it’s all the same occurrence just at different stages. Many of us are shown how to do things and we don’t, without question. What I’m proposing is by understanding basic care and skin physiology and choosing the right type of liquid. You can let the shampoos and conditioners that you use do most of the work to set you up for your tools, your dryers and other things to work easier. I can best describe it by a brief story. When I first started working with my wife, it was real evident that matted dogs and tangled dogs was the most common thing we were doing. Of course, those are the things we hate to do. I call it the four Ds. We hate deshedding, we hate dematting, we hate detangling and we’re very impatient when it comes to drying. All four of those things work hand in hand and can be accomplished so much easier by making the right liquid selection.

Dave Campanella: Somewhere along the line, my wife actually met the founder of Best Shot pet products where I now work. Bill Marshall was his name and at a grooming school or actually at a grooming seminar in Akron, Ohio, many, many decades ago. He convinced my wife to try some products. I’m not making it so much an advertisement but what he was really telling her was, if you try this method and use these products, you’re going to find shedding, matting, detangling is going to become much easier, much more effective to manage. Of course, you’re skeptical when you hear that. I mean, I think one of the comments was made, “You’re going to see mats blow out of the coat like butter,” which I never quite got that metaphor. I mean, the whole concept that was going to be easier. She bought some products and tried it and sure enough she noticed the difference. Naturally, when she and I opened our first grooming salon, these methods in particular, these products, she decided to make the mainstay of what she was doing. I never really understood why they worked or how they worked. I just knew they worked.

Joe Zucarello: Dave, what you’re saying is that when she selected these products, that method that he had recommended to her was to put the dog in the tub without pre-brushing? Is that right? Did I read your information right in the show prep? Essentially, he challenged her to think differently and to not do pre-brushing.

Dave Campanella: In our industry and unfortunately after 30 years it still exists, the question that young groomers and a lot of groomers faces, do you pre-brush the dog or do you bathe it first? It’s kind of our version of which came first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, I can honestly tell you with science we can actually prove that pre-treating the coat, washing and conditioning with the appropriate products, you can actually release more coat in the tub with water and actually use your dryer more as a brush because you’re able to release more coat with the dryer. All this is built on a basic understanding of that hair physiology. It’s referred to as porosity, P-O-R-O-S-I-T-Y. Porosity refers to the degree at which the cuticles along the hair shaft naturally tend to lift open. Some coats are high porosity. These would be like a lot of your double coated dogs or Newfoundland dogs or that mayor’s Saint Bernard that would come in. Those tend to be a high porosity coat. They’re very wide open and lifted when they’re dirty and dry. They lift open.

Dave Campanella: Then there’s medium and compact variations to which the cuticles will tend to lift on their own. Choosing the right liquids, you can actually further close these cuticles to some extent. The method that Bill Marshall was actually talking about was by mindfully selecting the right shampoo. You got to clean them but pick a shampoo that’s not going to open up the coat, followed by a conditioner that’s going to repair. Especially with the double coated breeds where you have a lot of shedding undercoat trapped in those guard hairs. The conditioner will further close that and repair the damage of the coat. Then the final step which is the one that I think the industry has backwards. I think this is where it’s somewhat controversial is by using the appropriate conditioning spray, you can snap the cuticle shut and keep them shut longer which eliminates static. That’s what gives you manageability. Manageability in coat is the ability to keep the cuticles smooth or closed longer. That doesn’t turn. You’ll notice as you run the dryer, you’re able to blow out more coat and actually dry faster. It’s like a domino effect, Joe.

Joe Zucarello: What you’re saying Dave, so the pet goes into the bathtub, you allow the products, the liquid products, these three liquid product suggestions. A dynamite shampoo, a really good coat conditioner, and then this spray, a finishing spray. Do I have it right? Is it a finishing spray?

Dave Campanella: Yeah, it’s a spray and leave-in conditioner but many people think of them as a body spray or a finishing spray.

Joe Zucarello: Okay. That’s the three step process during the tub and then to your point, you allow them to dry or to do what it’s designed to do. I think I read in your material before was that you compared these open cuticles to Velcro. As soon as you did that, I saw it, I saw it in my head, I could see these hair shafts that had these rough edges to them and the hair would actually stick to one another like Velcro. That was such a powerful visual for me that as soon as you said… I was trying to track with you as I was reading your material and things, and then as soon as I read the word Velcro, it just clicked. It was like a light bulb went off on my head and I thought, wow. What you’re telling me is that you can take this Velcro type effect and reduce it greatly. To all of our groomer listeners out there, whether you’re new or longtime grooming veteran, removing undercoat, removing tangles, removing mats is a lot of that physical elbow grease, exhaustion type elements that really can diminish the amount of time that you are able to perform in this industry. What I like about that Dave is you also said it’s using science.

Joe Zucarello: I know we could go on and on and on about, and I’m sure you would love to continue educating folks on the science of this, but I will tell you that Dave and the team, they took a sample of hair and these mats and how do they know this? I don’t think Dave has an electron microscope in his grooming salon or in the grooming business, but they sent this hair off to a university and the university studied it under a microscope and proved exactly what Dave is saying. That Velcro comparison and the photos that I’ve seen of this electron microscope close look at each individual hair shaft. I’m sure Dave, if our listeners went to your website they could find some of that information as well if you’re interested in seeing it. Just remember Velcro. Again, a light bulb in my head. It was an aha moment and I could see the hair unlocking itself and helping the groomer versus hurting the groomer. Now I got to tell you, that wasn’t the way I learned, Dave. I was the type, you know, a copy of a copy of a copy.

Joe Zucarello: I learned you brush those pets out before you put them in the tub because I was always taught that, why would you bathe more hair than you necessarily need to? Why would you be drying more hair than what you necessarily need to? If it’s not connected to the dog, get it out before the bath. Get it out before drying. You’re saying approach it from a different perspective and based on your material and I know your reputation and based on what you’re telling me, I have an inclination to go try this myself the next time somebody like your wife throws me one of those big hairy matted messes to bathe.

Dave Campanella: Well, here’s the principle here, again, the concept is referred to as porosity which again refers to those scales along the hair tend to lift open. Now, they don’t exactly open and close like a hinge door. You’ll hear in the industry different methods, close, open, close. What’s important is to get that visual and understand that yes, you can manipulate the cuticle scales. I tell people to think of this as a close, close further, fully close method. The other thing that we’re stating here is by closing lifted cuticle scales along the hair shaft, that’s the secret of mastering dematting, detangling, deshedding while at the same time minimizing further hair damage. Manipulating the hair cuticles is part of proper maintenance for achieving more manageability, as I alluded to, and producing that desired effect. The idea here is if you use too harsh of a product in your selection, those cuticles are going to open up and I use this simple analogy. Many of the older schools, simple whitening shampoos have a very high alkaline pH level. I’ll try to keep this simple.

Joe Zucarello: Okay, don’t lose me now.

Dave Campanella: Because they’re harsher and have a higher pH, those cuticles tend to lift open. Now my point to you, Joe, is why would you want to open up the coat when you have a lot of shedding undercoat already trapped within it? To your image about the Velcro, you’re actually creating more work for yourself. If you can smooth the coat and that’s what a healthy hair looks like. There’s a lot of intelligent design in the way the skin and the hair works and if you can smooth the coat, you’re going to release more of that shedding undercoat within the tub and with your dryer. We also, it begs the question, when you look at the imagery of this open cuticle scales, think of a pine cone.

Joe Zucarello: I love that. That’s even better than Velcro, Dave. You need to start using pine cones as your analogy.

Dave Campanella: Shedding blade or a slicker brush or a comb or brush, and you’re thinking of pre-brushing before, you’re going to actually damage more coat. If you pretreated it properly, got it dried and then brushed it out. Another example that I can convey to your listeners is, think of a ball of twine and a steak knife and imagine cutting through that all the twine and just pulling and tugging and that sound that you do, all the snap crackle pop. It’s not rice krispies, that’s actually hair breaking. If you treat it first and then you take the appropriate tool after it’s dried and take the tool, you’ll find the tool works through much easier. It flows through.

Joe Zucarello: It’s like butter. Right? That’s what you said earlier.

Dave Campanella: Yeah, with very minimal snap crackle pop. See, in human cosmetology, they teach when they talk about porosity, they teach that combing and brushing is actually the leading cause of most hair damage. When you look at that, we actually can be our own worst enemy or even our clients who mindlessly not fully understanding, you know, brush the top coat of their double coated dog and they’re splitting a lot of ends and damaging hair. There’s only so much that a conditioner and a liquid product can do. You can’t damage it and then put it back to normal only to damage it further. No, it’s a mindful process. Then the disclaimer that always comes up when you talk about methods like this is I always have to explain to people we’re not talking about pelted coats where they’ve been so, so terribly neglected you can literally shave off the pelt of the dog in its entirety because the coat is that damage.

Dave Campanella: We’re not talking about that because as most of us find out and most of us that had been at this a while can witness is that there’s often a lot of festering sores and other things underneath all that, that pelted coat. Now what we’re talking about is those matted areas, the spider matting we get through the coat. Rather than combing dry, damaged, dirty coat out ahead of time, what we’re merely suggesting is trusting in the science and the development and a lot of the products that we have today that they will smooth, hydrate, close and smooth the cuticle and they’ll actually even bolster the tensile strength of the hair so it can withstand the brushing and the heat of the dryer afterwards. The other point that I make too is a lot of folks like to brush and run a comb through wet hair. Just as in human cosmetology, that’s not a smart thing to do. The reason is that your wet saturated hair is more spongy and more prone to breakage when brushing. What science is teaching us is that if you can treat the coat, and by treated, I mean hydrated, smooth those cuticles. Then here’s the point, Joe, that a lot of people don’t realize.

Dave Campanella: We learned that the way that the skin works, it secretes sebum which is an oily oil that it secretes on the hair as it grows and the sebum to a certain extent will smooth the cuticle close to a point. Unfortunately, sebum is a dirt magnet though, it’ll attract a lot of other debris and oils. When we wash the hair, we can’t help but wash away the sebum. That’s how soap and shampoo work, which is a whole another discussion. What I’m simply saying is in being mindful in our practice, we want to follow up with a conditioner. We need to replace the sebum that we washed away with something superior that will help smooth and protect the coat. When you look at it, and from this standpoint it makes one really question why they ever mindlessly were brushing and pre-brushing the coat without envisioning in their mind that open cuticle in that dry hair. You know, we were never explained this properly.

Joe Zucarello: Right. It makes total sense, Dave. I think you’re blowing minds all across the grooming industry right now, to the listeners of the Hey Joe Podcasts that it’s like, wait a minute. All right, it sounds to me like Dave, we’re going to give our listeners a challenge and that is what do you have to lose? Go try it. Be sure that you follow up with making sure that you have the right type of shampoo, the right type of conditioner, the right type of sprays. Obviously, the Best Shot products are designed with this method in mind. I’m sure that if you want the best chance of success of that happening, Best Shot is one of several very high quality products. If you’re buying product, you might give this particular product lineup a try. One of those things, so Dave, I’d like to leave our audience with a couple of things. One is take the challenge, right? I think Dave is asking you to prove them wrong or prove them right and go out there and try this.

Joe Zucarello: Then the other thing is we’re knocking on the door of shedding season right now. In some areas where our listeners are hearing us, shedding is year-round and just never stops. In all of those cases, Dave, to your point, whether you mostly focus on trim breeds, so it’s hair cuts with those spider mats or tangles and such, all the way up into including what I like to call wash and wear dogs, which are the non terming breeds. This method is perfectly suited for all of those folks. Capitalize on shedding season and make shedding season and that shed control process that you are either thinking about offering to drive your revenue and client retention. If you already offer a shed control system, my gut feeling is that this is going to be very enlightening to you and maybe save you a chance of potential injury or at the very least, exhaustion. Hey Dave, I want to just thank you again for helping us out and what you’ve taught our audience today.

Joe Zucarello: I’m sure that your information is going to go a long way, especially the challenge. I’m sure you’ll probably hear results from this, from those folks. I would encourage all of our Hey Joe listeners that you can get this information available. You can go to our website at paragonpetschool.com where you get access to Dave’s really cool offer. It’s going to be an educational piece, right Dave? Like a PDF, a downloadable PDF education piece.

Dave Campanella: Yeah, something describing the process of dematting and detangling and how it works. Understanding what it is you’re doing and why the method and the selection of products works. Then also, the listeners have an opportunity to check us out online and we have some trial offers where you can put this to the test under 25 bucks. We’ll ship it for free and really see it at work and judge for yourself before investing in gallons of product through your local distributor.

Joe Zucarello: 25 bucks in the challenge and I got to believe they’re going to be thrilled with that. That’s pretty incredible. Dave, thanks for coming on the program today. Again, I want to remind the audience that our podcasts, the Hey Joe Podcast thrives on your questions. Just a quick reminder, definitely hit subscribe to the podcast so that it’s served up to you as regularly as it’s available and absolutely send us your questions. Send those questions to heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com, and you might just hear your topic discussed with an industry expert in the future. Dave, thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it. I’m really looking forward to doing some work with you in the future on future episodes.

Dave Campanella: Very good. Thank you. It’s been a joy.

Joe Zucarello: All right. Take care. Hey Joe listeners, we’ll catch you on the next episode. Have a great day. Have a great week.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is president of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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