By Daryl Conner
Let me tell you a little secret. I don’t like drying pets. After over thirty years of grooming, I can still honestly say that I love my work, but that drying part? It blows. I know perfectly well how important a properly dried coat is. It looks better, is easier to style, and stays looking nice longer than an improperly dried coat. Since I don’t enjoy this aspect of the styling process, but want it done right, I have learned to get dogs and cats dried well, and quickly. Here are the tips and tricks I have learned over the years to help this process speed along.
CLEAN PETS DRY FASTER
Animals that have been properly bathed, with every possible bit of dirt, dander, and excess oil washed down the drain, dry faster. Choose your shampoo and conditioning products wisely. By using the correct shampoo and conditioner for the dog’s coat, you will not only achieve the end result of the pet looking the best it can, but you may actually shorten the amount of time you spend with a dryer in your hand.
Here is an example: I groom two beautiful Standard Poodles once a month. Their coats are kept fairly short, but they still take me ages to get dry. Recently I noticed one of them had gotten a little something greasy in his coat, so I used my favorite de-greasing shampoo on him that day. And he dried much faster! I was so impressed I tried it on the second poodle, too. I achieved the same results. I wouldn’t necessarily consider these particular dogs to have oily coats, but they looked extra terrific when I was done, and drying time was reduced. I consider this a win! Using a de-greaser shampoo is not the best thing for all coats, but now I am paying a little more attention to dogs when I pop them in the tub. Are they a little oily? If so, a pre-wash with degreaser might make a nice difference. Don’t be afraid to suds a dog up for a second (or third!) shampoo if they are dirty. The time taken to get the pet really clean will be worth it.
Heavy conditioners and re-moisturizers are wonderful things to use when you need them, but keep in mind that their job is to hold moisture in, and when you use one you should expect additional drying time. I save heavy conditioners for special cases, and instead use a light rinse on most dogs after shampooing.
Once the pet is done with the bathing process, use your hands to gently squeeze as much water as you can out of the coat. Slide your hands down the dog’s legs, ears and tail, removing water as you go. You will go through fewer towels this way and get the dog or cat dry faster.
You may prefer super absorbent “magnet” type towels or regulation terrycloth towels, or a combination of the two. Personally, I prefer terrycloth. I find investing in good quality towels pays off. They last longer, and are more absorbent. First, gently squeeze the coat all over, removing as much water as possible. If the towel gets very wet, grab a dry one and repeat. I like to wrap the dog up and let it sit in the tub a few moments to absorb more water. Little dogs get wrapped up and cuddled a bit. It’s amazing how much water the towel will take in on a dog that is wrapped up for a little while.
Topping your table with a clean, dry towel, or using a fitted absorbent table topper, is a great idea for a couple of reasons. First off, the fabric will take in any dripping water from the pet. Secondly, it will catch much of the moisture that you blow off once you start using the dryer, and thirdly, it dramatically cuts down on the noise of velocity dryers hitting the table top. This will make the whole process more comfortable for both you and the pet.
HIGH VELOCITY DRYERS
I’m a huge fan of velocity dryers and wouldn’t want to groom without one. To me, their biggest drawback is the amount of noise they produce. Depending on the model, motor noise isn’t usually the problem; it’s the sound of the air when it comes in contact with the pet, or the tub, or the table, or whatever it hits that is unpleasant. I use Happy Hoodies on pets when I dry to minimize the noise to the animal’s sensitive ears. And I use ear plugs in my ears. I hope you do, too. Regular exposure to that much noise is a sure-fire recipe for being a hard of hearing old groomer, and who wants that? Huh? Do you hear me?!
I was skeptical about drying sprays. How could adding moisture to a wet dog help it dry faster? They work by adding products to the dog’s coat that help the water sheet off the hair shafts more quickly and easily when you use the dryer. The formulas and ingredients are highly guarded by the manufacturers, but they really do work. Follow the label directions and you will be amazed at how much time you save.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR OTHER HAND
If you hold a dry towel or a moisture magnet behind the area you are drying in the hand that isn’t holding the dryer, it will catch an amazing amount of water and help you work more swiftly. Keeping that moisture out of the air by catching it in a towel is a dandy trick that really helps.
I find that if I get the pet about half way dried, then turn the dryer off and do an all over light brushing before resuming, it helps to open the coat, as well as stretch the hair, and dry a bit faster.
VENTS, FANS AND/OR DEHUMIDIFIERS
When you have moisture blowing into the air you get humid air. When the air where you are working in is full of moisture, you will have a hard time getting pets dry. Find a way to remove moisture from your work environment. It may be a good vent fan pulling that moist air out of the space, or it may be a dehumidifier catching the moisture and keeping it out of the air. Either way, you will find pets dry faster, and the air you breathe will have fewer mold spores if you reduce the amount of humidity that surrounds you.
If you, like me, dread drying, try incorporating some of these ideas into your routine. You will find you have more time to tend to the enjoyable aspects of our work, like styling and scissoring and taking a little time to enjoy the pet you are grooming. ✂