By Daryl Conner
“Life hacks” have been quite popular in the last few years. This term is used to refer to a shortcut, trick, or novel method of accomplishing something in a way that makes life more efficient and productive. Sometimes “hacks” describe a method of using ordinary things in creative ways.
I’ve been thinking for a while of compiling a list of grooming hacks, and I have a feeling that this may just be the tip of the iceberg. So here you have it, the start of a happy little list of hacks that I have picked up over the years to make my grooming life easier, and a little more fun.
Chalk or Powder Hack
Let’s say you have a Cairn on your table that has already been washed and dried. It looks and smells nice, except it has greasy, clumpy hair around its ears. You remember that the owner told you they had just finished treating the dog for an ear infection, and you realize that some of that super oily medication they used remains in the coat and looks terrible. Do you re–bathe? No! Just rub some talcum powder, corn starch or grooming chalk in the area and let it sit a while as you groom the dog. After a bit, go back and gently brush the powder out of the coat. Voila! The powder will have absorbed the oils and the hair will look clean and fluffy. (In some cases, more than one application may be required.)
Nail Trimming Hacks
That dog that really hates to have its nails trimmed? You know the one. Sometimes something as simple as a change of scenery will help. Try trimming the nails in the tub instead of on the table. For many dogs this is all it will take. Alternately, try having someone trim nails while someone else is operating the high velocity dryer on the dog. The distraction often makes dogs totally forget they are getting a manicure. Another great idea? Invest a couple bucks and buy a set of rubber kitchen gloves for your grooming space. If you have one of those dogs that tries to slice your arms to ribbons with their back claws while you are working on the front ones, these babies will totally save your skin.
Some dogs can slide a muzzle off their face so fast you barely see it happen. Or, they flip out if you put a muzzle on them, making them more stressed than they already were. Often this happens with short nosed breeds, and you find yourself in the danger zone of snapping jaws while you work. Simply put an Elizabethan Collar on that extends further than the dog’s nose and you will now be free to work on its entire body in much greater safety. But what about when you get to that bitey little face? Keep reading.
Old Panty Hose Hack
I always keep a pair of old panty hose handy in the grooming area. Cut the legs off and toss the rest. Here is an example of how they come in super handy. Say you are grooming a little Shih Tzu that is determined not to cooperate with the beautification process. You used an E–collar, as above, and got everything from the ears back taken care of, but now you are left with a fuzzy face and a bad attitude. You can’t cut the hair if the dog is muzzled, but you also can’t if it’s biting you. Panty hose to the rescue. Make a loop and slide it over the dog’s muzzle. Double that loop, keeping the pressure firm, then tie the ends behind the dog’s ears snugly. You now have a few minutes in which you can trim the top of the head, ears, cheeks, and under the neck. Using your comb, you can tease hair out from under the hose, and trim it, (careful, these dogs will be sliding their tongue in and out like a hummingbird!) You can slide the hose around some and get lots of the facial hair, while the dog’s mouth is held shut. You won’t be able to get every last hair, and you will not win any styling awards with this method, but on serious biters, it’s one way to get the face trimmed to “good enough” standards. And sometimes that is all we can hope for. Only leave this make–shift muzzle on for a few minutes, because the dog cannot pant and may potentially overheat. This is a hack to be used swiftly and definitively, and as a last resort for dogs who are determined to taste you. It will NOT work on large, strong breeds.
Sticky Note Hack
If you have a computer in your work space, you know that pet hair will work its way around the keys. Peel pages off a pad of sticky notes and use the adhesive edge to press along your keyboard and gently lift hair (and cookie crumbs!) up and away. No sticky residue will remain.
Pencil it in
The zippers on grooming uniforms are notorious for getting stuck. Rub the sharpened end of a pencil on the zipper and it will slide like new, due to the graphite in that handy utensil.
For a simple way to keep hair out of your beverage, simply stretch some cling wrap over your glass, and then poke a straw through the wrap. No more Poodle in your punch, Cocker in your Coke, or Vizsla in your vino!
Pick your Polish
Grooming tools can look a lot alike. If you have more than one person working together, have everyone pick a favorite color of nail polish and simply put a dot of it on each of their tools. This simple hack can save a lot of arguing and hurt feelings.
Some dogs, (often it’s older terriers) have shaky hind legs while they are being groomed. It’s not a fear response, but more of a high–energy–dog–trying–to–stay–still response. It can make it very hard to scissor those legs. If you gently pinch the thumb and forefinger of your non–dominant hand at the back of the leg, just above the knee, the leg will stop trembling while you hold it, and you can quickly scissor the hair you need to.
I’m willing to bet you have a whole list of fun hacks, too. Feel free to share them, maybe they will show up in a later edition. Meanwhile, enjoy trying some new things to make your grooming day more efficient. ✂