By Melissa Viera
A short clip can be an excellent grooming choice for many breeds of dogs when clients want something low maintenance for their pet, but what are the style possibilities for clients who want their dogs in fuller coats?
When clients imagine their dog in a full coat, it is the job of their groomer to help them decide if this is a practical style for them.
Both purebred dogs and mixed breeds have styles that they have become known for. Purebred dogs have breed standards in which the accepted trimming is explained. These styles might seem like a fashion statement, but they have a history just like the breed itself. Some owners may choose to follow the guidelines of the breed standard, while others want a modified trim. When it comes to mixed breeds, styles that make pets look puppy–like or even like plush toys, are becoming more and more popular. Asian fusion grooming and personality trims can be fun for both groomers and pet owners.
Chances are, your clients with breeds that have longer coats have spent some time searching the web for trims. Keeping dogs in either show trims or longer and fluffier coats can be fun if the client is willing to put in the necessary work.
One of the benefits for the client who keeps their dog in a fuller coat is that they will be spending more time brushing and grooming their dogs at home which can be a wonderful bonding experience. Regular at–home grooming can be a relaxing experience for the dog and the owner. Along with working on caring for the coat, the dog owner will have the chance to thoroughly go over their dog and notice any skin changes or abnormalities.
Although many clients will love the idea of keeping their dogs in fluffy or long styles (referencing their favorite fancy trims that they find browsing the web) it is not always the best choice for the dog. As a professional groomer, helping clients understand the facts about keeping their dog in full coat is important.
When clients see a photo of a dog with flowing coat or they see a dog show on TV with the dogs groomed to breed standard perfection, they might not know the work that goes into maintaining the coats on a more frequent basis than a visit to the groomers every six weeks or so.
When talking with your clients about style options, there are a few important areas to address to make sure that they understand the pros and cons of longer styles and to help them from feeling disappointed if you are unable to transform a matted dog into a show champion clone. When discussing the requirements of maintaining a full coat with clients, it’s important to address these four areas. Always be ready to show clients how to line–brush and find matts with a comb as you are going over these four topics.
1. Brushing and Combing
Different coat types will have different requirements. Instead of using a one–size–fits–all explanation of how often a dog’s coat should be combed and brushed, make personalized recommendations based on the individual dog’s coat and the lifestyle of the dog. When showing clients how to brush and comb the coat, ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle. Does the dog wear a harness? Does the dog go swimming often or play with other dogs at daycare or dog parks? Some dogs will need their coats brushed through daily or even multiple times a day, depending on their activities, while other dogs can get by with less frequent brushing.
Show your clients the common areas for the coat to become matted like in the dog’s armpits, under the collar and behind the ears. Explain the difference between brushes and combs and show them how to thoroughly go through the entire coat. Once you have given your recommendation on how and how often to brush and comb, your client will have the choice to either follow your recommendations or choose a short style which will require less brushing at home.
When recommending short styles, have some photos you can show the client. A short clip does not have to be a basic one–length all over. If the client wants their dog’s grooming to be beyond basic, show them that you can provide just that. If the client still chooses a longer style, send them home with a print out of your brushing recommendations so that they have your brushing expectations on paper and will be more likely to follow them. You could also offer a bath and brush service between full grooms.
2. Cleaning and Conditioning the Coat
Along with brushing and combing, dog owners who want to keep their dog long will have to put in the work to keep their dog’s coats clean and conditioned. Dirt, urine, and other build up on the coat will cause it to clump together, become brittle and be in poor condition. Spot cleaning the coat and keeping it conditioned is important. Talk with your clients about your favorite conditioners and about how to bath and condition their dog at home, which includes properly blowing out the coat so it does not become matted after washing.
3. Taking off Harnesses, Collars, and Clothes
Leaving harness, collar or clothes on dogs can cause the coat to become matted. It’s important that clients understand that keeping equipment on their dogs can lead to matts, and that combing under collars and harnesses after use is a must. Even with regular brushing and conditioning, leaving equipment on for too long can cause problems if it is over looked.
4. Preventing Matts and Coat Damage
It can be a lot of work to keep a dog’s coat matt–free and in good condition. In addition to regular maintenance, there are a few things dog owners should be aware of to prevent problems with the coat. Dogs that enjoy a romp through the woods, playing with friends, swimming or other adventuress activities are going to get their coats dirty and possibly matted. It is important for dog owners to take care of the coat after activities. Long–eared dogs like spaniels also have their own set of requirements. Ears that are always dragging in dirt and being dipped in food and water can quickly matt up. Show your clients items that can help prevent their spaniel’s ears from getting dirty and matted like snoods and spaniel bowls.
As a groomer, you can help your clients decide on the best style for their dogs and teach them about proper maintenance. Sometimes a full coat is not practical, but without knowing about the maintenance requirements, it is no fault of the client’s for not understanding why their dogs can’t be kept long. You are more than a groomer, you are an educator. Show your clients how to care for their dog’s coat and share your favorite tips with them, and their trust for you will only grow. ✂