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How To Choose a Good Dog Groomer

Updated: May 19, 2021

There is so much we often don't feel knowledgeable about as dog owners, and so often we allow people we see as professionals who know better to guide us. Even when our instincts disagree.

Amy wanted to share her story about the experience she and her pooch Rufus had at the dog groomers to help others.

"When we first got Rufus, I had just started my animal management qualification and I had a work placement at a local dog groomer for the first year. Rufus was our first dog and we didn't know what groomers were supposed to do. As they brushed him, if he growled or attempted to bite they would add in another restraint. You name it he had it...belly strap, head collar, muzzle, and one that attaches their head to the pole so they cannot move it (can never remember the name). He was groomed like this for almost a year and we couldn't do it ourselves at home.

We started dog training and mentioned it to the trainer who put us in contact with a groomer she knew. This groomer took her time with Rufus and only ever used the head collar. If he growled, she brushed once more and then stopped. After 2 years, my mum can now groom him fully at home with no issues and the groomer can do an almost full groom."

Now there's no doubt that dog grooming can be a risky business and groomers need to be safe when undertaking their work. However it is entirely possible to undertake fear free grooming with the right experience, understanding and commitment.

Whichever pet professional you are working with, Be Dog Wise want you to feel confident in asking for well-being and welfare led care first and foremost. Just because someone has more experience with dogs than you do, does not automatically mean they are always right!

Stephanie from Scrub A Dug Dug specializes in fearful and aggressive dogs and operates a strictly one-on-one grooming facility where she takes her time and works at establishing a trusting and a loving bond with every dog so that they can truly enjoy the Spa experience from beginning to end.

She has a strict no-force policy at her facility and believes in the benefits of Low Stress Handling® and Fear Free® techniques in which she is fully certified.

Stephanie says “What we have to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our dogs. As groomers, we need to come away from the idea that all dogs require restraints, all dogs require a firm hand, all dogs require a quick process – it’s simply not true!

I have worked with fearful and often, aggressive dogs since starting two years ago and there hasn’t been one incident where I have felt the need to use a muzzle, or a Groomers Helper. I’ve never been bitten either. If we allow ourselves to fear a somewhat difficult dog, then instantly we are setting this dog and ourselves up for failure. I talk more about this in my training.

The problem isn’t in the behavior of the dog, it’s in the way we approach a particular behavior. We aren’t taught enough about canine psychology and communication, that’s the ugly truth!

Grooming has evolved into an industry dominated by fashion, many of us have forgotten its original purpose – to preserve and enhance welfare and well-being. It’s amazing what happens when you step back and look at things from the dog’s perspective.

I always encourage my clients to do just that. Groomers are stressed, over-worked and frankly set up for failure – that’s not their fault, it’s our industry’s failures.

I’ve made it my mission to help guide both groomers and guardians alike, to implementing a more holistic approach to dog grooming. It’s not just about grooming – it’s about us, the way we interact with our dogs, the dogs themselves, the environment and the approach.

Grooming can be a fantastic opportunity to really connect with our beloved dogs in a way that enhances the health and well-being of all of us!”

Join Stephanie's Facebook community group for tips on how to begin grooming your dog at home, stress free -

And if your regular groomer doesn't currently practice fear free grooming and you can't find anyone local who does, then put them in touch with Stephanie. She offers coaching and training to groomers (and guardians) to help them update their practices so all dogs can receive a stress-free groom! Just send them here!

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