How can I groom faster?” This is a question both newer and more seasoned groomers often ask me. My first, best answer is this; develop a routine and stick with it. You can and should create a method of doing things that makes sense to you and works well for you, but if you’d like an example, here is the routine I follow on almost every dog that I groom:
• Bathe the dog first. The only time I pre-clip is if the dog is so horribly matted that shampoo and water will not get to the skin, or if it’s a regular shave–down groom that has a thick coat and is difficult to dry. These are rare events.
• Clean the ears. I clean the ears right in the tub and just after the bath so if any water got in the ears, the cleaner will dry it out.
• Towel dry.
• Trim and buff nails. I do this while the dog is still wet so if a nail is quicked and I must rinse the paw off, I can catch it before I spend time drying. I also count to 5 on each dog, trimming the regulation 4 claws most dogs have, and checking for random dew claws on each leg.
• Spritz the coat with a drying enhancing spray. Speed Dry or Quick Dry really do help dogs dry faster. I dislike spending a lot of time drying pets, so I go through a lot of this stuff!
• Lightly brush the coat to distribute the spray and open the coat.
• Dry the pet with a high velocity dryer.
• Brush and comb, removing every single knot, tangle, and as much dead coat as possible.
• For Poodles, Bichons, and other dogs with a curly coat, I may go over them again with the HV dryer or a heated dryer to make sure the coat is set.
That is the prep work routine. Next is the grooming part of the routine:
• Using my trimmer, I tidy up eye corners (when needed) and then trim paw pads and sanitary area. I refer to this as “face, feet and fanny.” If the armpits are matted, I zip those mats out while I am at it. Taking care of all the things I use my trimmer for at once is a time saver. Think of it this way, each time you pick up and put down a tool, you are wasting valuable time.
• Basic body trimming. Since I mostly groom pets, this usually means doing a good bit of clipper work. Years ago, I invested in a Clipper Vac© system. Because of this I groom most pets with a snap on comb, leaving a lovely plush finish. I rarely need to go over any area more than once, another time saver. This is where you realize the importance of good brushing/prep work. If you are finding tangles as you clip, you will be wasting time by going back to re-brush and comb the areas you missed.
• Scissoring feet. Next, I trim all the feet using my curved shears.
• Put those curves to work. While those curved scissors are in my hot little hand, I trim anything else I want to use them for. This could mean trimming the tail, neatening up the ears, or any other things that require that tool.
• Re–comb body and legs, and go over the dog with scissors to trim any areas that need it.
• Groom the head. I almost always save the head for last, so I can balance it with the body.
• Stand back. Years ago, when I was pursuing certification, one of my examiners hammered into me the importance of standing back to look at the pet before I called the job done. You get a whole new perspective of the groom when you look at it from a slight distance, and you will almost always see a little something that needs tweaking before the pet goes home.
Because I have invested in good grooming tools, and follow a set pattern on each pet, I am able to completely groom most small to medium sized dogs in just one hour.
So how does working this way improve speed? Doing things in the same pattern reduces guess work. Never again will you get to wondering if you trimmed a dog’s nails after it has gone home if you set up a methodical plan. If you are interrupted mid–groom, you can easily remember what you have already done, because each task is tackled in a familiar order.
Establishing a consistent pattern also makes you work more efficiently. And guess what? When you work efficiently you naturally save time. If you have bathing staff or other groomers working for you, setting up an orderly routine in which basic grooming tasks are completed means that you know those tasks were completed on each pet, no matter who did the work.
And here is another important reason that working in an established structure is helpful: Pets that you groom on a regular basis will learn your system. Dogs thrive on routine, and feel more comfortable when they know what to expect next. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when I was grooming Midas. Midas is an anxious dog with a bite history, but he is unfailingly good for me to groom. For some reason, yesterday I forgot to trim his nails when I usually do them. I kept reminding myself, “Don’t forget his claws.” But I did forget, until I had put his collar on and set him on the floor. Then I had to lift him back up and do the trimming. He was decidedly unhappy about this, and struggled for the process, when normally he does not.
Doing your work consistently will help you develop your skills, and it will also help you to build momentum throughout your day. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to put some thought into a structured manner of grooming each pet. Try it for two weeks and see if your speed is increased. I’m willing to venture that you will be pleased with the end results. ✂