Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

The Different Avenues of Dog Grooming

Hello pet parents! In this article I want to go over the different avenues that groomers may choose to go down in their grooming career. Most people know of grooming salons, and places like Petco and PetSmart that offer grooming inside of their stores but this article will go over the different places you may be able to find a dog groomer that works best for you and your dog! 

Here is a list of all the avenues of grooming that a dog groomer may take! I will break down each to the best of my knowledge with their pros and cons. There may be even more avenues out there and I will update this article if I find them!

Avenues of grooming:

*Corporate grooming salons

*Private grooming salons

*Private homes

*Veterinarian offices

*Grooming schools/academies

*Mobile vans/trailers

*House calls

Corporate Grooming Salons

I owe my grooming career to a corporate salon! These places hire those who are wanting to become dog groomers as bathers, and then send them to their grooming programs to teach them how to groom. These places are very convenient for pet parents as they can get all of their pet’s needs taken care of in one place. They also allow you to stick with the same groomer if you please or see whomever has an availability first. Some cons are that because they are typically high volume stores they may not be a good fit for dogs who are dog aggressive, have anxiety, or other health problems that need to be monitored by the entire groom. You will find the prices typically in the middle of most private salons as these companies do a pretty good job surveying prices in areas and adjusting to them. 

Private Grooming Salons

These salons are owned by individuals who are either groomers themselves or employ groomers to work for them. They are hired typically from corporate groomers looking for a change, out of grooming school or even training them at their facilities. They typically have great atmospheres and because you are there solely for grooming these groomers do not have the added stress of getting you to add on products or services and can solely focus on the groom. There is also less foot traffic and may be less stressful for your pet and private salons may be able to work a little better with pets who have special needs or are seniors. They will be priced similar to corporate salons, but depending on the location and experience of the staff you could pay more at a corporate salon. These groomers may also specialize in certain grooming techniques and styles, and will charge for those accordingly. 

Veterinarian Offices

I would like to start off saying, not every veterinarian office offers grooming services. These places are good for dogs who may need some medical assistance like infections, or severe matting. It is also a good option for those who want their dogs to be around familiar faces, and if anything does go wrong during the grooming session (accidents do happen), they will be able to take care of them immediately. Salons will also refer dogs who may need to be sedated due to aggression or extreme anxiety while the pet parent works with a dog trainer or behavior specialist. Because they typically deal with more difficult dogs or will use medications/additional staff to help they may charge more a corporate or private grooming salon but will be honest in stating that I’m not entirely sure about grooming prices at veterinarian offices. 

At Home/Private Residence 

These groomers work right out of their own homes! They convert either an outdoor patio, garage, basement, or even a shed into a mini grooming salon. Some may use cages but typically they do not work with more than a couple dogs at a time. These groomers create a relaxing, cozy environment for their dogs. They have the ability to use their own tools and products and can specialize in whatever specialty they like. These groomers keep overhead very low and can typically charge less than a grooming salon or other avenues of grooming but that will depend on what grooming service you are looking for, the experience of the groomer and condition of the coat. 

Grooming Schools/Academies 

There are several industries that need clients to come visit them so they can get the experience they need to work unsupervised: dental hygienist, massage therapists, and dog groomers! Although there are not many grooming schools, if you take your dog there, they will be in good hands! Every dog is looked over before leaving by an instructor before leaving and students are encouraged to ask questions. No, your groom may not be perfect but your pet will be in good hands, you will be helping students, and will be saving money too!

Mobile Van/Trailer

Sometimes, traveling to the groomer can be a bit of a hassle. You may have a crazy schedule, work from home while watching the kids, your dog may get motion sickness or you just love the idea of someone coming to you so you can stay home and relax. This is where the mobile groomer comes in! They typically have a large van they groom out of, or a trailer that they pull behind their vehicle. They will either come to your door to grab your pup or you can walk to them but they will perform the entire groom one on one at the curb of your house! These groomers are on the luxury price end of grooming, from what I have seen they are typically the most expensive, but the cage free environment and no travel makes this avenue a lot less stressful for pets! These groomers can also offer specialized grooms and typically have years of experience in the field.

House Call

The last on the list, but certainly not least, is the house call groomer. That’s me! House call groomers take things a step further than mobile groomers and will set up right inside your home. They bring a table and all of their tools and only need your bathtub or sink to wash your dog in. This avenue is really good for dogs who need someone to work with them due to health conditions or behavioral problems. This is also good for senior dogs who just need comfort grooming at the end of their lives and do not do so well with the loud sounds and hustle and bustle of a grooming salon (mobile is also good for this as well). House call groomers also are on the more expensive end. They have to carry all of their tools and typically have a very physically taxing job of working on the ground or wherever the pet is the most comfortable. That is not to say the other avenues are not physically taxing, they are! 

I hope you enjoyed this list of the different areas you will find groomers! All of this stems from my experience in the grooming world, and I do apologize if there is some information that may not pertain to your area like it does mine. Please know pricing and practices do vary by location so please look more into each avenue before deciding on a dog groomer. I absolutely love all my groomers out there in any avenue that they chose to take because it gives you, the pet parent, so many avenues to choose from and be able to see what works best for you and your pooch!

General Dog Care

Dog Parks; What You Need To Know Before Visiting!

Dog parks, normally when I think about dog parks I visualize large green pastures with high fences with dogs running around off leash playing with each other while their pet parents socialize and relax. Is that what you envision as well? I’ll be honest in saying that I have personally never seen a dog park in real life and only in movies. So in order to write this article, I did quite a bit of research to find out what REAL dog parks are like, are they safe and what you should do to prepare for your visit to the dog park, or if you should even visit a dog park at all. After this article there will be a page of references, I highly recommend you read them as they contain lots of amazing information that I was not able to dive into during this article. 

Firstly, I would like to go over the benefits of dog parks. Dog parks can be great places for dogs to get off leash and burn some energy, especially in big cities and places where local governments may have put restrictions on dogs and where they are not allowed to be. It creates a space for the dog parent and dog to bond and be outside and get some fresh air, and is a great way for the pet parent to get in some exercise too!

Now the next part is breaking down what you should take note of at the dog park to help you decide if it is appropriate for you and your pet. 

The Park’s Structure

One of the very first things you can do to make sure your dog will be safe at the dog park is to check out the park itself first. You’ll want a dog park that has high fences and plenty of spaces for dogs to separate from each other in case one needs a break. You don’t want another dog to be able to charge at another and tackle them, even in play, and the other dog does not have an option to hide if they are not interested in playing with that dog or that way. Take note to see if dogs are conjuring around the openings of the park and how big the entrances are. If dogs seem to loiter around this spot, it could possibly start some anxiety with your dog being bombarded with new dogs and scents all at once especially by dogs who are hyper and may not read body language signs from other dogs, but we will go over that in detail after. 

Is it located next to a busy road? Do you feel secure with the park’s entrance that it could stop your dog or other dogs from running outside of the park? Do they have benches, clean up areas or communal watering areas for dogs? Be careful about letting your dog drink from communal areas as they could spread unwanted germs and illnesses from dog to dog. 

The behaviors of your dog and other dogs

The other area of mention is to watch how your dog is with other dogs, even before going to the dog park. Just like humans, not every dog is interested in every other dog and they may not get along with every other dog. Once a dog hits mature age, they may have less drive to meet new dogs or to play with others (and just like humans, there may be some who simply cannot get enough of other people and dogs). 

If your dog is showing signs like: yawning a lot, panting, becoming suddenly startled, possessive of toys or food then maybe the dog park is not for you. Also be conscious if your dog is overly hyper and plays rough. Not every dog is going to want to play with your dog, especially if they are very hyper! Keep an eye on your dog and other dogs, if they start giving signs that they are becoming uncomfortable around your dog, or your dog is uncomfortable around another dog, you will need to be able to remove yourself and your dog until both have calmed down. 

Preparing to go to the Park

After doing some research, checking out your local park and determining if your dog plays well with others then it is time to get ready to go to the park! Leashes and collars are not the only items you will need to go to the park. Disposable bags for accidents are a must, along with bringing a dish and water for your dog to drink from when they get thirsty. There are lots of cool portable water carriers for dogs that you can find online or at your local pet retailer. 

Aside from physical items, I highly recommend that your dog is fully up to date all their vaccinations before visiting the park. If you wonder how long you should wait, your vet can tell you that information. They will also be able to tell you what vaccinations they believe your dog should have if you plan on visiting dog parks. 

So what if the dog park isn’t for you and your pup?

As I stated before, dog parks are not for every pair of pet parents and dogs. But there are still plenty of cool activities that you can do with your dog that don’t involve them having to socialize with tons of other dogs. Consider joining a sport with them like agility or frisbee! There are also events called Barn Hunt which you can find more about at the American Kennel Club’s website. 

I hope this article helped you in deciding if dog parks are right for you and your dog, and if they are not I truly hope you look into those fun activities listed just above! They will help give your pet and you some amazing bonding experiences. 

References

Barn Hunt. (n.d.). American Kennel Club. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.akc.org/sports/title-recognition-program/barn-hunt/

Bergel, H., KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, & CBCC-KA. (2021, June 7). Should Your Pup Go to the Dog Park? Daily Paws. https://www.dailypaws.com/dogs-puppies/dog-exercise-play/are-dog-parks-safe-for-all-dogs

Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – APDT. (2017, March 10). APDT. https://apdt.com/resource-center/dog-parks-good-bad-ugly/

Helmer, J. (n.d.). Dog Park Safety: What to Know Before You Go. WebMD. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-park-safety#2

Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

What are Tear Stains and How to Help Reduce Them on your Pets

Tear stains are those pesky brown or reddish spots that develop under your dogs’ eyes, muzzle and feet. We noticed this mostly on lighter colored dogs, but this can develop on dark colored coats too. 

What are they exactly? According to Dogtime.com, these stains are a build up of porphyrin which is a pigment that is found in tears. Now, the reason this build up occurs is typically due to a condition called Epiphora. This condition causes an excess production of tears or is the inability to drain tears correctly. 

Dogs who typically have a hard time with draining their tears are poodles and cocker spaniels due to possible genetic conditions that prevent the tear duct from developing correctly, but this can happen to many breeds. Dogs who are brachycephalic, think pugs and shih tzu, sometimes have a hard time closing their eyes all the way along with these development issues. This inability to close their eyes causes more debris and irritants to be able to come in contact with their eyes creating more tears (dogtime.com). 

There are many medical reasons why your dog is developing tear stains, but this article won’t dive too deep into these. I will provide links to the information I found at the end of this article if you would like to dig deeper! I HIGHLY recommend and encourage talking to your veterinarian. Everything that I said does not come as medical advice for your dog and I am strictly here to help you understand what may be occurring with your dog. Every dog is different, and the veterinarian field is always changing! Again, speak with your vet for better understanding. 

Besides medical issues, in my grooming experience and also listed by dogtime.com, tear stains are also created or are made worse by dyes in a dog’s food, minerals in their water, or stress. 

So what can we do about these tear stains? 

Again, the first thing I would recommend is talk to your vet. Make sure your dog does not have a yeast build up or any other medical conditions that could be causing this build up. As you can see, there are so many factors that can come into play so it’s better to be safe!

After we have seen our vet and made sure that nothing serious is going on, here are 4 things you can look into and try to see if they help reduce/eliminate these stains.

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Look into the quality of your dog’s food

A big contributor for tear stains are the dyes that are in some dog foods. I generally tell my clients to avoid foods that have different colors in them. This is just to appeal to us, the owners. Pick foods that do not start with ‘corn’ or ‘corn meal’ in their ingredients as these are just fillers and convert into sugar. No corn, no dyes!

Look into your dog’s water supply

Some of the brown colors coming out of those tear ducts may be the extra minerals that are found in tap water. For this, the solution is pretty simple! Filtered water helps to remove all that excess ‘stuff’ that you find in tap water and will hopefully help to relieve some of those stains!

Start a daily eye hygiene routine with your dog

Pet stores and some online retailers (I would try chewy.com if you can’t make it into your local pet store! I’m not affiliated in any way, they just have a great selection of products) sell wipes that you can use around the eyes to help reduce tear stains. Be careful to make sure not to get any product into the eye itself. With some dogs it will take practice and patience until they are used to having their face handled, but don’t give up and just stay calm and patient. 

When face shy dogs come into my salon or I am grooming them house call, I talk to them in a gentle soothing voice as I pet the top of their head until they calm down. I then work around the checks until they eventually let me touch around their eyes. And yes, sometimes it can take several visits and several tries until the dog trusts me enough to really clean those eyes out like their mom and dad may want. It’s all about trust building!

Keep these areas as dry as possible

If you can, keep some soft paper towels or cloths around and when you notice that there is moisture there, dry it up the best you can. The more moisture that sits there the more of a chance for yeast and other bacteria will build up which can make the stains worse. Again, just like the daily hygiene routine this can take a bit of time before your pup doesn’t make you wiping around their eyes. 

I hope that the information provided and tips given help you get rid of those pesky tear stains! Some of this information is also useful if you find some staining around the mouth and the feet as well! 

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References:

Tear Stains Under Dogs’ Eyes: What They Mean And What You Should Do About Them

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tear-stains/