Dealing with Stress - Groomer to Groomer

Dealing with Stress

By Deborah Walker

How do we deal with stress? Or maybe the question should be, can we eliminate stress from our lives? Well, of course not…stress is all around us. How we handle that stress is vital to our well-being. Before we can deal with stress, we need to look at what leads us into that state of frustration. Recognizing when we are reaching an emotional breakdown is critical to our response.

Trigger Points

First, ask yourself what is stressing you out. Is it a personal relationship, children, a co-worker, an employer or employee? Perhaps it’s an animal you’re working with or a disturbing phone call, or maybe an unsatisfied customer. Any of these could be the catalyst to creating a feeling of exasperation. Our response to the situation can make or break our day. Have you ever noticed that if your first dog is a problem child, the rest of your day goes badly? That is quite common. But does it have to be? Was the first dog on your table the problem or did you bring the problem to work? Often, we carry that stress to work with us; things like arguing with a family member, our kids not cooperating or traffic issues can contribute to our response to that first dog on the table.

Recognizing the trigger point to our emotions is so critical to changing the outcome of our day. If you notice, the days that you are happy, jovial and in great spirits seem to be your best days ever. The dogs work with you, not against you. Did the dogs notice how you were feeling? Of course! How we approach our day and how we feel impacts not only us, but everyone around us.

Let’s say you came to work in a good mood but someone else at work was upset. Will your good mood last for long? Probably not, because our emotions feed off the responses of others around us. Does it have to be this way? NO. We are in control of our own behavior, emotions and responses. How we respond to situations and the issues at hand will make or break the atmosphere of our day.

Identifying the Stimulus

Recognizing what affects your emotions is the first key to changing your response to life issues. Ask yourself, do I feel good or bad when I respond in a negative way? Anger begets more anger, which becomes an epidemic all around us. Remember, you are in control of your own behavior.

Smiles and happiness are also contagious. We have a choice in all situations. Don’t own someone else’s behavior by your response. If we can handle people with compassion, kindness and loving thoughts, the outcome is filled with contagious smiles and
light-hearted humor that surrounds our world. This will lower the daily stress we have in our lives.

Think of it this way: children raised in a violent or negative environment often grow up with anger issues and that anger feeds everyone around them. What about a child raised in the same environment who comes out with the opposite behavior? This happens because they choose not to respond in the same way. It does not make them feel good about themselves when they are around angry people. Every single day we have choices in our life about how we want to live or who we want to be around.

Added Pressure

Stylists have additional stress because we work with animals that cannot communicate their feelings to us. Sadly, mishandling of these animals is on an increase. The burnout stage of stylists leaving this profession is normally 7 years, and the main reason they leave their careers is due to stress in their lives. BUT, this doesn’t need to be the case. Recognizing how we feel is just the beginning to enjoying each day. The old adage “leave your troubles behind” should be taken to heart when entering the door to work and, while easier said than done, we need to practice this daily.

Plan Your Day

One step to success is to arrive early to work. If you show up late, you don’t have a moment to regroup your thoughts before starting your day. It’s important to give yourself the time you need to leave personal matters at home and prepare for your day at work.

Time spent at work is just as much a relationship as the ones you have with family, kids, partners, etc. You spend an average of 6-12 hours at work, so work relationships need just as much respect, communication, and nurturing. Building a positive environment with employer, employees and
co-workers is a must to minimizing the stress level in the shop.

Thinking positive thoughts, having pleasant conversations and smiling will always put your troubles of home on the back burner. Spending about 15 minutes for your down time is all you need to get into the swing of the day. Meditation is also an excellent way to help start your day.

The Dog’s Mood

Now that you are on the right track by thinking positive thoughts and developing a good mood, we are ready to talk dogs. The second stress level of your day is the grooming shop. The time you spend with the dogs determines how they see you as a pack leader. Take time out to play with them. Let them know you’re happy to see them. This can quickly change your mood if you are not totally up to par.

Dogs have a way of loving us unconditionally with no judgments. Take note of how you’re feeling when they are so happy to see you. The next step to a stress-free environment is to see how the dogs are feeling. It might be their first time, something could have happened at home or on the ride to the shop, and they brought their own issues with them. Since dogs cannot communicate with us verbally, it’s important to read their body language and their responses to us. Normally, dogs that are happy to be with you are also willing to work with you. Pick the one that is most happy so the others can follow by example.


As you know, proper grooming equipment is essential. Having tables that move up and down is critical not only for your physical health, but also as a tool to communicate with the dogs. By teaching dogs to jump onto the table themselves, you will soon know whether they are willing to work with you or not. In the beginning it may take a little time to teach them that jump, but the benefits of less stress outweigh the time it takes to teach. Even smaller dogs should learn this method

What you see from watching them move is a great indicator that can help with your handling skills as you process them through. What are indicators? A dog that normally jumps onto the table but does not want to or acts like it wants to but can’t are indications something is wrong. You may need to look into more information about what has happened to the dog for it not to jump onto the table.

Taking these simple steps will help reduce stress levels in your grooming shop and ensure your day is an enjoyable one.

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